2014 Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir


Average Purchase Price : $28.25

Red fruit, savory, wild, forest, rhubarb, lemon, rose, stones, mineral — complex and subtle aromas. Weightless, long, balanced, lithe texture.

12.6% Alc., 5.1g/L TA, 3.7 pH
Bottled on May 10 2016
190 cases produced

For some years I have been the winemaker for a family who had replanted a venerable vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains in 2006.  A distinguished vineyard, the land was originally planted with vines during the Civil War and occupies an important historical place in the old guard of California Pinot Noir pioneers.  For three decades beginning in 1975, the wines from this vineyard were made by Ken Burnap and Jeff Emery under the label of Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard. Prior to that, David Bruce owned the vineyard.

I consider this wine to be a very good Santa Cruz estate Pinot Noir.  We had previously created a second label for U.S. Grant, called General Grant, represented by these 8 barrels.  The remaining 15 barrels of this vintage were bottled as U.S. Grant, which I consider to be a great Pinot Noir.  After 2014, the maturity of this tiny vineyard (around six acres) allowed us to maintain the highest quality without the need for a second label, so we retired the General Grant label.

Harvested at 21.7 Brix on August 18th, 2014, I recall the crunch of firm clusters nipped from the vines.  The marine layer had visited in the night, wetting and chilling everything.  The fruit that morning was so pretty, and I gave it a good bleeding of 15 gallons from each teacup, the unique concrete fermentation vessels the winery had designed and built in the prior year.  That saignée was clear, not even a hint of pigment, and I was worried that the wine would be disappointingly delicate. 

As it often is with pedigreed yet delicate wines, cellar aging brings about transformation:  thin becomes weightless; flavors expand; simple fruit gains complexity.  So it is with this last vintage of General Grant.  The wine is a credit to the vineyard and a simpler expression of the greatness this site attains under the U.S. Grant label.  Other details worth noting:  organically, dry-farmed grapes, wild yeast, whole-cluster cool (<28C) fermentation, 20 months in French oak barrels from the prior vintage, not filtered, bottled directly from barrel.