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PINOT NOIR - 2018
This is the first vintage of La Grande Grande Majesté Pinot Noir, a wine more than thirty years in the making. Since 1988, when the Indelicato family purchased the San Bernabe Vineyard. The present estate includes a mix of gently rolling hills, alluvial terraces, benchlands and foothills, which together offer a wide range of exposures and soils types. Today, the Indelicatos farm the top one-fourth of the vines in the San Bernabe AVA, all of which have been replanted to maximize quality rather than quantity, with a precise match of ideal variety, clone and rootstock to the micro-terroir of each vineyard block. La Grande Majesté is the first Pinot Noir from this vineyard to carry the San Bernabe appellation; its name is inspired by the magnificent sunset view over the vineyard from its highest point, which climbs the foothills of the Santa Lucia Range.
Dark ruby in the glass, the wine opens with aromas of dark cherries and cocoa and a hint of toasted nutmeg. Silky, smooth tannins and opulent black cherry and raspberry flavors define the palate. The long, lingering finish offers a suggestion of wild sage. The wine instills a lasting impression of rich layered flavors.
– Winemaker, James Ewart
The 2018 Monterey growing season was superb, delivering the kind of classically cool and moderate coastal weather that make San Bernabe Vineyard an ideal home for Burgundian varieties. Mild temperatures, overnight fog, and strong afternoon winds provided extra hang-time, allowing grapes to achieve great phenolic ripeness while retaining acidity. With no significant heat spikes, grapes at San Bernabe Vineyard ripened slowly and evenly, leading to excellent fruit quality and a textbook harvest timeline.
In the replanting of San Bernabe Vineyard, rows were oriented at 20 degrees North, in order to mitigate damage to the vines from strong, onshore winds that roar south from Monterey Bay on summer afternoons. These cooling currents are critical to grape quality: by driving down temperatures, they slow grape maturation and aid in developing their complex flavors and balanced ripeness. James Ewart selected the majority of the fruit for this wine from Block 309, which is planted with Pinot Noir clone 115. This clone yields exceptionally small clusters and berries with a dark purple hue. Block 309 sits against the hills of the northwest side of the estate, whose soils are dominated by Lockwood Shaly Loam, a soil terrain formed in alluvium and derived from sedimentary rocks, chiefly siliceous shale. Its excellent drainage and low fertility help to develop small berries and dark fruit aromas in the grapes. One-third of the 9 barrels used for this wine come from a more exposed, warmer area of the vineyard, where sandy loam soils dominate. Planted to clone 828, this block, 44A, yields grapes defined by their intense flavors and good acid structure. A small percentage of the fruit is clone 777 and contributes a velvety richness to the midpalate.
Diora’s veteran winemaker, James Ewart, and his team, work out of a small-lot winery built in the vineyard in 2013. Fruit for this wine was picked vine-by-vine, based on ideal ripeness, over a three-week window. James employs the saignée method, up to 10% for every lot, which refers to the process of bleeding or pulling juice from a tank of red must that is just beginning fermentation. Each block was kept separate while it was cold-soaked for up to five days, before it was transferred to small, open-top tanks to ferment. Caps were punched down four times a day until the desired tannins were extracted, after which the wine was gently pressed and transferred into barrels. After primary fermentation and malolactic fermentation, the wine was racked and returned to French oak barrels for aging. Late the following summer, after extensive evaluations and trial blending, James selected the best six barrels from Block 309 for this wine. To add a subtle herbal edge and complexity, he blended in three barrels from Block 44A. The blend was then returned to barrels for an additional six months of aging before bottling.
This wine was aged in nine barrels of French oak, of which six were new. The remainder were one year old and neutral oak. Seven of these barrels were made by François Frères, whose oak adds subtle toasty notes to the wine; the remaining two come from Tonnellerie de Mercurey, A portion of these barrels contained toasted heads, in order to add toasty aromas to complement the wine’s rich fruit.
Varietal: Pinot NoirAppellation: San Bernabe Estate Vineyard
Aging: 14 months, French and American oak (60% new)
Malolactic Fermentation: 100%
Alcohol: 14.5% by volume
Cases Produced: 198
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