2017 Oppenlander Pinot Noir
Our fourth vintage of Oppenlander Pinot Noir. The extremely cool location, just 8 miles from the town of Mendocino, and deeply rooted vines meant that this vineyard just shrugged off the effects of the Labor Day weekend heatwave. There was a short pause in the fruit development but the vines had chance to recover and continue normal fruit development with harvest occurring September 28th. We utilized 40% whole-cluster and this wine was aged with 20% new French oak. The yield was a slightly light 1.5 tons/acre and the blend of clones was the same as in 2016 – 2/3rds 115 and 1/3rd Pommard.
Like most of our 2017 wines, the Oppenlander Pinot has bright acids and a fruit forward profile. More red fruited than the very dense, darker 2016 version. There is a lot of early approachability and complexity - this wine is full of earthy, forest floor notes. Medium bodied and showing great balance this is our favorite Oppenlander to date. The acid and tannin structure suggest that aging for 3-5 years will be rewarded. Bottled unfined, unfiltered. 215 cases. 13.3% alc.
At times it feels like we have spent more time nurturing our one acre of Mourvèdre than the rest of our 15 acres combined. Halcôn temperatures very closely match Côte Rôtie historical averages, meaning that we are on the very edge of ripeness for Mourvèdre. In order to ensure fruit maturity we have pruned our Mourvèdre vines back to 3-4 spurs per plant, typically leading to 8-12 clusters per plant. In 2017, we saw yields towards the higher end of this range. Given a light Grenache yield and a desire to keep the Esquisto ratio at approximately 20% Mourvèdre, we were in the enviable position of producing a small bottling of 100% Mourvèdre. A very mature crop at just 22.1b was picked October 14th. We used 50% whole-cluster, aged in neutral French 500L puncheons and, like all our wines, fermented with native yeasts.
This wine is nothing like the bigger Mourvèdre produced in Paso Robles or Southern Spain. There is an excellent density and texture - nothing superficial here. A very floral nose, bright red fruits, that leathery Mourvedre funk and lots of pepper. Medium bodied with great detail. For reference, Ken Zinns of GrapeNutz picked this as his wine of the day out of 200+ wines at the Garagiste Sonoma tasting in May 2018. He described it as “a standout, herbal red fruits, smoky, peppery, and floral, with notes of iron and game, a bright mouthfeel and fine tannins”. Just 70 cases produced. As always, bottled unfined and unfiltered. 12.5% alc.
Following a very typical mid-April budbreak and moderate temps during the spring and early summer, we experienced some very high temperatures over Labor Day weekend. The altitude of our vineyard tempered the highs (we never exceeded 100F) but the heat was enough to temporarily shut down the vines. Fortunately we had just completed veraison, giving the vines ample time to recover and continue fruit development. We picked very mature Syrah fruit on October 4th – the seeds very dark, the pulp had saturated color and there were highly lignified stems. All this at lower sugars, leading to a finish alcohol of 12.7% We again utilized 50% whole-cluster and aged in 90% neutral oak with just a single new French puncheon. 3% estate Viognier was co-fermented.
The 2017 vintage at Halcón has a close analogy to 2014. Both had moderate yields, slightly low sugars and good acid spine. Compared to the last two vintages this version of Alturas is a slightly less savory but has very bright, forward red fruits. There is great complexity and lots of stony minerality. It is drinking well straight out of the gate. Jeb Dunnuck described a very early barrel sample as “deep ruby-colored and opaque, with notes of blackberries, green herbs, bay leaf, and pepper. It's exotic, sappy, and interesting.” This vintage of Alturasis a very worthy successor to the previous vintages. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. 270 cases.