Some winemakers say, with justification, that most of the decisions and events that determine the quality of a wine occur in the vineyard. But the winemaking itself is crucial in perfecting the wine, bringing out nuances that might otherwise not be expressed. After destemming, our grapes are lightly crushed into one-ton, open-top bins. During the fermentation process, there is vigilant monitoring of the fermentation of sugars into alcohol and daily hand punching through the cap that forms over the resulting “must” to improve color and flavors. This process lasts about two weeks. Once the fermentation is completed, the must is gently pressed into a holding tank, where the wine is allowed to settle to remove sediment.
We believe the choice of barrels and the length of barrel storage are very important. We use all French oak, with as much as 30% new barrels from some of France’s best-known Burgundian coopers. Depending on the cooperage, the “toasted” interior of a new barrel can interact with the wine to bring out flavors, such as earthy or leather hints, and accentuate the aromatics, particularly spicy notes. While in the barrels, our wine is continually tasted to check on the development of the taste profile. If warranted, the wine is reracked and redistributed back into the barrels. Our vintages are typically moved from the barrels to bottles in about 11 to 12 months, a relatively short period of time, so the wood doesn’t start to overwhelm the natural flavors and aromas of the wine. We typically do not release the wine for at least another year of two. The pinot continues to change and improve in the bottle, starting to reach its zenith several years after harvest.