Etude’s Heirloom Pinot Noir, produced from several heirloom selections of the variety, is dedicated to the celebration and preservation of plant diversity. It exemplifies the singular, superior wines – unusually expressive, concentrated and pure – that issue from original varieties or vine selections chosen for the inherent wine quality they produce.
"Love the nose here, which is lifted in a really good way with violets, balsamic vinegar, raspberry coulis, pink grapefruit and cranberries. This is so laser-sharp, in terms of bright and punchy acidity, which carves out a super well defined core of forest fruit. Full-bodied and very long on the finish. Edgy and exciting. Drink in 2020." - James Suckling, May 2019
"The 2016 Pinot Noir Estate Heirloom from the Grace Benoist Ranch was aged in 25% new French oak for 14 months. Medium ruby-purple colored, it has a compelling perfume of roses, lilacs and mandarin peel over a core of black raspberries and Bing cherries with wafts of forest floor and fertile loam. The palate is medium-bodied with fine-grained tannins and lovely freshness, finishing long and minerally. 579 cases produced." - Lisa Perrotti-Brown, October 2018
Elegant and impressive lead the descriptors for the Heirloom Pinot Noir. Well structured, neatly balanced, the wine has welcoming tannins, bright acidity and aromas and flavors of cola, orange pekoe tea and evident spice. Red fruits dominate, with notable minerality in the persistent, lingering finish.
Grown on the Etude Estate Vineyards at Grace Benoist Ranch, the grapes for our Heirloom Pinot Noir come from shy-bearing selections that produce small bunches and even smaller berries. Although some growers hold these vines in low regard due to their extremely low yields, we prize their ability to produce wines that are both expressive of their genetic origins and the unique and varied site on which they’re grown.
The extended drought was causing concern as the growing season began, but some welcomed winter rain hinted at the relief to come. After a relatively dry January we enjoyed significant February rainfall, along with mild temperatures. Bud break was early, but was slowed by heavy April showers. While still early by historical standards, picking began about a week later than 2015, and continued at a leisurely pace, allowing the grapes to reach full flavor maturity. A traditionally sized harvest followed the lighter showing of 2015, and the extended season helped to balance the acids and add complexity to the layers of flavors.
The grapes for this wine were handpicked at night to preserve freshness and acidity. They were placed in open-top fermenters for 3-5 days of cold maceration followed by fermentation. Some 20 percent of the fruit was kept whole cluster during fermentation to add further complexity, buoyancy of aromatics and an element of structure and refinement. We performed punch downs during the early stages of fermentation with the extraction becoming gentler as the wine became dry, and followed with a quiet extended maceration to help enhance the richness and mouthfeel of the wine. We lightly pressed the wine into small French oak barrels where it rested for 14 months. The wine was bottled with no fining or filtration.