2008 Kazmer and Blaise “Primo's Hill” Pinot Noir
The characters we expect from this site, specifically the spicy-sweet pipe tobacco, leather, plum and blackberry, are present and distinct. But, there is also more red-fruit character, such as raspberry and cherry. Typically quite dark, the 2008 vintage withheld some of the darker pigments and there is a gem-like gleam to this year’s wine rather than the inscrutable depths common in other vintages. In the mouth, the silk of very fine tannins provides the illusion of weight to what could be described as a delicate year.
At our Poseidon Vineyard, originally planted in 1973, the maritime influence of the Carneros grape-growing season delivers cool, foggy mornings followed by warm days; ripening is nurtured slowly. At the center of our vineyard rises Primo’s Hill. Carneros soils began as the bed under San Pablo Bay; the silt of marine plants and animals, decomposing over time—and integrating with the finest particles of eroded rock—became clay. This darker and heavier soil comprises most of the vineyard land in Carneros, but as the Bay retreated and the drainage of Napa and Sonoma Valley cut through the clay, deposits of pebbles accumulated on the embankments. It is one such gravelly patch that is exposed on Primo’s Hill, allowing for better drainage and reduced soil compaction and resulting in deeper root penetration. The two-acre flanks of Primo’s Hill consistently produce our finest and most distinct Pinot Noir, which we capture in this reserve bottling.
This was the second year of what would turn out to be a three-year dry spell. The drought conditions limited green growth on the vines that are already, under normal circumstances, appropriately stressed by the gravelly-sloped drainage of Primo’s Hill. The growing season had few heat spikes (which can be quite painful for the thin-skinned Pinot Noir grape), but September brought on the usual blast of dry heat marked by a reversal of the winds as they swung around to the northeast. We harvested at night to avoid the daytime temperatures and brought in a gorgeous crop of small clusters.
Our winemaking approach is informed by Burgundian tradition but tailored to the unique fruit of our vineyard and to the Carneros climate. Farming and winemaking in California have evolved to accommodate the generous growing conditions in which the grapes thrive. Where Californian winemaking previously emulated the techniques that suited the cooler climate of Burgundy, we have recently redefined tradition. Both in the vineyard and cellar, our approach acknowledges and embraces the differences between Old and New World.
Michael Blaise Terrien, Winemaker