Tasting Pinot Noir from the Estate Vineyard before transferring clusters to the hand-sorting line, Sept. 2020.
I like to do between 5 and 20 percent whole cluster fermentation for two of our single-vineyard Pinots. It augments complexity, structure, spice, and subtle herbal notes. As we’re sorting the clusters, we’ll periodically taste the bare stems coming out of the back of the destemmer to get an idea of their intensity and flavor. I’ll make an initial decision on how many bins to hold back from the destemmer, and ferment the whole clusters separately from the destemmed grapes. Walker Station Vineyard got 6 percent whole cluster this year. The Estate Reserve will be more than that—still to be determined. Mes Filles, our other single-vineyard Pinot you may be familiar with, is always zero percent whole cluster. That wine has plenty of spice and herbal notes on its own. It also has a fairly high pH naturally—and stems increase your pH.