A vibrant red ruby trending garnet color, aromas of heady red plum, dark cherry and berry confiture dominate, alongside bright fresh fruit with slight bay and thyme, white pepper and slight oak spice. Flavors follow the same pattern, with the familiar cinnamon graham cracker note often found in this wine. Rich and round and showcasing red fruits such as Bing cherry, raspberry with bright acidity and long, fine-grained tannins that suggest the opportunity to age a bit for further development of complex layers of flavors. Glossy, a bit showy, a fine example of what Grace Benoist Ranch offers.
The Etude Carneros Pinot Noir hails from our estate vineyards tucked away in the far Northwest corner of the Carneros appellation, just on the Southwest corner of Sonoma. Unlike most of Carneros, which is largely uplifted bay bottoms with soils composed of clay, the soils at Grace Benoist Ranch are variations of soils influenced by volcanic origin. Combining these well-drained, rocky upland soils with the extreme western location closer to the Pacific Ocean and San Pablo Bay make this site an ideal place to grow Burgundian varieties. The vineyard parcels at Grace Benoist Ranch conform to the various soil types and the changing contours of the Ranch topography. Individual vineyards average only eight acres in size and spacing is dense to ensure low per vine yields of fully concentrated fruit. Grace Benoist Ranch is farmed to Etude’s exacting standards, using environmentally sound viticultural practices. The Ranch is sustainably farmed and certified by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance as well as Fish Friendly Farming. At the Ranch, there are four smaller vineyards (Laniger, Deer Camp, Temblor and Heirloom) with five principal unique soil types and 20 distinct Pinot Noir clones.
In the micro-climate of the Carneros, cool weather during spring flowering impacted vine yields, but with lower yields quality generally increases, and that is the tale of this vintage. Ample winter rains continued to recharge aquifers and rebuild storage lost during drought years. Near perfect summer weather with traditional diurnal temperature swings averaging 25-40 degrees defined the sunny days, cool nights mantra. Where August cooled a bit, allowing for extended hang time and allowing flavors to more fully develop, a high-pressure system stalled and held cooling fog off the coast line as September arrived, leading to the earliest harvest experienced at Grace Benoist, finishing just after Labor Day.
The Carneros Estate Pinot Noir underwent cold maceration in small lot open-top fermenters with extended time on the skins and including a small number of whole clusters. Vineyard lots are vinified and aged individually and final blending is subject to a rigorous selection process, whereby only the best casks are chosen to represent the Grace Benoist Ranch Estate Pinot Noir. The wine is aged in French Oak with a small percentage of new barrels.