Tinged with the slightest copper hue, our Pinot Gris adeptly balances ripe white tree-fruits with vibrant acidity and sprightliness. The wine opens with expressive aromas of white peach and Bartlett pear, which are joined by wafts of orange blossom, lemon peel and river rock and a touch of allspice. The entry is supple and smooth, leading with ripe, succulent stone fruit and then picking up a tantalizing brightness of grapefruit, citrus and chalky mineral notes on the finish. This wine is a perfect companion for summer picnics or seafood cookouts.
Our Pinot Gris comes from a small corner of our Oak Knoll Vineyard, where we have two Pinot Gris clones, clone 152 and the DVX clone, planted adjacent to each other. This vineyard, located at the southern end of the valley, just below Yountville, is the second-coolest growing region within the Napa Valley. Not only does it enjoy breezes from San Pablo Bay to the south, but it also sits just east of a beneficial gap in the Mayacamas Mountains, which allows Pacific breezes to funnel in from the west. Combined, these cooling influences balance the warm days, creating grapes with well-balanced aromas and flavors.
The extended drought caused concern as the 2016 growing season began, but welcomed winter rain hinted at the relief to come. Following a relatively dry January significant rainfall arrived in February, along with mild temperatures. Bud break was early, but was slowed by heavy April showers. While still early by historical standards, picking began about a week later than 2015, in mid-September. A traditionally sized harvest followed the lighter vintage of 2015, and the extended mild season helped balance the acids and add complexity to the fruit.
Our style of Pinot Gris echoes that of Alsace, capturing ripe fruit character finely tuned with dazzling aromas, nice body and subtle hints of spice. To achieve this, we evenly blended two Alsatian Pinot Gris clones, clone 152 and the DVX clone, which gave us a wonderful balance of aromas and flavors as well as adding a rich textural element to the wine. After the grapes were picked, the challenge was to maintain those distinct flavors while avoiding any of the color or tannins that are trapped in the copper-hued skins of the Pinot Gris. At the winery, we used gentle handling, lightly pressing the grapes clear from their skins. The juice was then allowed to cool and settle before being racked into stainless steel tanks for fermentation. We maintained low temperatures for a long, slow fermentation, which further preserved the delicate, dancing fruit character.