2016 Newsletter and Release Information
We are proud to announce the release of the Pascale Pinot Noir vintages 2012 and 2013. They are on track to be our best vintages to date. Pascale Pinot Noir takes a comparatively long time to develop in the bottle remaining in our cellar for 3-4 years after bottling. Unlike many vineyards, we only release when we consider it mature enough to be enjoyed not long after receipt by our customers. All vintages will peak several years out. Vintages 2012 and 2013 have followed this trajectory and are now showing beautifully.
If you recall, Pescadero Creek Vineyard lies in the northern-most part of the Santa Cruz Mountains just 5 miles from the ocean. This cool climate is perfect for growing pinot noir. A marine fog graces the vineyard on summer mornings clearing to cloudless sunshine in the afternoons. The original half-acre was planted in 2001, with a second half added in 2003 and a final acre in 2008, but with twice the number of vines.
The lapse between Pescadero Creek Vineyard’s critically acclaimed first vintages and this release testifies to twin perils. First, pinot noir is a fickle, weather-dependent fruit in the best of circumstances. Second, our extreme climate of cool days dancing with fog hovering near the vineyard boundary combined with our ambition to release a pinot noir that rivals the best of the French is a recipe for grower suspense. Proving the point, Vintages ’10 and ’11 (enduring aberrant weather conditions and ill-timed rains) did not clear the hurdle.
Below is detail about the 2012 and 2013 release and an update on our painstaking process of making this wine. One of the joys of being a micro-vineyard is the ability to have a close relationship with those who enjoy our wine. We love hearing feedback and discussing the process and look forward to hearing your thoughts on the 2012 and 2013.
Richard and Ann Carol
2012 Vintage ($80/Bottle)
The 2012 season followed a disastrous 2011 weather year for Northern California. Bloom-dissipating winds, late frost and the coldest summer on record led to sparse crops and poorly developed grapes across California’s vineyards. Yields were down 70%. Many vineyards found it uneconomic to harvest the meagre crop. Perhaps in compensation, 2012 was a picture perfect year. Rains ended early. Light winds and sunny days resulted in perfect clusters. Vintage 2012 is a beneficiary of these factors.
Ian Cauble, the Master Sommelier featured in the documentary film “Somm”, has tracked our vintages over their evolution: “The 2012 is very dark, concentrated in color. Nicely structured. I taste dark fruits, blueberry, chocolate-covered raspberries, tree bark, black tea, cherry and spices. It is a concentrated wine and will show well with food/roast beef. I expect it to hit its peak in 2018-2025."
For fans of the 2009 vintage, the 2012 is very similar in taste and body. It is luscious, concentrated and rich in style. Recall, the 2009 evolved as the best wine produced to that date. It and Vintage ‘07 found their way on to the wine lists of Michelin starred restaurants-- San Francisco’s Gary Denko’s and Napa’s Meadowood; it received favorable reviews from Napa’s Bill Harlan of Harlan Vineyards and the Sommeliers of New York’s Café Boulud among others.
The 2012 Vintage is best drunk at 66-68°. Open 30 minutes to one hour before drinking. Decant.
2013 Vintage ($80/Bottle)
2013 proved to be another exceptionally good year for growing pinot noir. Moderate winter rains ended well before bloom in what was to be the second year of California’s drought. Pescadero Creek Vineyard is blessed with a creek that runs through the property, a pond and a well thus guaranteeing an adequate water supply. Summer was unusual with fogless sunny days in May and June followed by a perfect July and August. As in much of Northern California, harvest occurred 2 weeks earlier than normal. With 2000 more vines planted in 2008-9 coming on line, this was our first year to surpass 100 cases in volume.
This vintage also reflects the evolution of our wine making. We are shifting toward less new oak and a slightly less extractive process with shorter time in the barrel. We continue with whole clusters that include stems, seeds and tannins consistent with the Burgundian tradition.
Again from Ian Cauble: “The 2013 is the best wine you have made so far for my palate. It is very refreshing and more age worthy. I detect cut stems, the green scent inside of a rose petal, a quality like fresh, wet, forest flowers. It shows as more feminine, lighter with red fruit, red cherry, light pomegranate and cranberry."
The 2013 vintage, slightly lighter in color and weight, is more akin to the popular 2007 vintage. For many, this could well turn out to be your favorite. It should peak at 7-8 years. 55-65°F is the optimum serving temperature. Open 30 minutes to one hour before drinking and decant.
Pascale Pinot Noir is available for purchase through our website using your credit card.
Please remember to hold your shipped wines for at least one month to avoid the bottle shock that can occur with Pinot Noir.
Note: We do not ship beyond California between the months of December thru March and July to mid September to ensure the wine is not damaged by extreme temperatures en route to you. You can go ahead and order, we will simply hold shipment until there is no further weather danger.
We intend to stay a micro-boutique wine but as our vines continue to mature we anticipate enjoying some increase in volume with the 2013 being the first example of this. Consequently, we have done away with allocation restrictions. Also fans of Pascale Pinot Noir are now welcome to introduce it to others and help expand our mailing list.
THE PROCESS OF CREATING PASCALE PINOT NOIR
There are many steps in producing an exemplary wine. Pruning seeks to optimize vine yield— too much fruit load negatively affects quality; overly aggressive pruning sacrifices more yield than necessary. Canes are positioned and leaves thinned to permit the optimum amount of sun to reach the bunches as they mature while avoiding sunburn. Vine moisture content and soil health are monitored throughout the year. The season culminates with hand harvesting. Picking crews take only the highest quality clusters.
Our wine maker, Nathan Kandler, oversees the vital signs of the vintage as it arrives at the winery for cold soak. Whole clusters with stems attached are poured into a fermentation tank one layer at a time. Each layer is lightly crushed to avoid breaking seeds and skins through a labor-intensive process of treading on the grapes wearing fly fishing waders. The juice is then transferred to thermo-regulated vats and held just above 32°F. Fermentation, sparked by natural yeast, progresses. After 5-7 days in cold soak to extract color and flavor, the free run juice is collected and segregated. The remaining liquid entrained in the must is then gently extracted in a basket-press. The free run and pressed are placed in separate medium-toast French oak barrels. New and old oak is balanced to achieve a pinot noir that is neither too extractive nor too buttery.
Geology adds to these challenges. What the French call “terroir” encompasses soil, climate and the exposure to sun that establish a vineyard’s baseline. Most agree terroir accounts for 80% of a wine’s potential. In addition to a low elevation and close proximity to the sea, Pescadero Creek Vineyard has a unique geology. We differ significantly from other vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Santa Maria, Sonoma and the Russian River where most California pinot noir is grown. Approximately 100 million years ago, a small undersea basin filled with marine organisms (sponges, diatoms, and fish scales), forming a porous silt. As the Pacific Plate shifted the California coastline from today’s border with Nevada to its present location, this basin moved inland and upward. The San Andreas Fault opened a fissure near San Diego 30 million years ago and reached the San Francisco Bay Area 15 million years later, shifting the earth laterally along the fault line. This undersea basin forms the foundation of Pescadero Creek Vineyard, (split away from its genetic twin which today sits 200 miles south in a five-acre plot near Bakersfield!). Our soil is porous Pleistocene debris which drains very rapidly. It is ideal for the Pinot clone but poses a constant challenge in balancing irrigation, desirable levels of plant stress and soil nutrition. [See our geologist’s full description.]