1998 Sonoma Mountain Pinot Noir
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About the Vineyard...
Perched atop Sonoma Mountain at 1000 feet elevation, on the cool northwestern slope, Steiner Vineyard is a
mere 17 miles from the ocean. Dave Steiner planted his first grapes up here in 1973 - making him a pioneer of
the region. Seeing the unique qualities of grapes grown in this outstanding area, Dave (together with Patrick
Campell of Laurel Glen) was a driving force in creating the Sonoma Mountain Appellation. While it remains
sparsely planted in comparison to other well known appellations, the proven quality of the grapes have
created high demand among winemakers.
The soils vary through the vineyard changing from clay loamy stuff with fractured ryolite to an austere rocky
area that Dave theorizes was "probably an ancient rock slide" composed of alluvial soils intermixed with
rocks and gravel. All soils are very old and leached of nutrients giving them low fertility.
It is a truly spectacular vista point but a challenging place to grow grapes (as are most great Pinot noir areas).
As the vines wake up after their fall dormancy, they are greeted to the cold, harsh, maritime breezes that
sweep through the area unimpeded by the lower hills in the coastal range. This makes for sometimes
problematic fruit set resulting in low yields.
About the Wine...
The grapes were 100% destemmed into an open top fermenter and cold soaked for 4 days. We punched down by
hand 4 times per day at the beginning of fermentation. This was decreased to 2 times per day by the end of
fermentation. We innoculated with RC 212 yeast (a Burgundian isolate) and fermented warm, peaking about
92°F. The wine given a post-fermentation maceration, with a total skin contact time of 14 days. The wine was
aged entirely in French barrels from the Tonnellerie Remond cooperage, of which 50% were new. The wine was
racked once prior to bottling. Wine movements were made by pushing with inert gas all the way until bottling.
Wine analysis: Alc. 13.7 %, pH 3.66, ta 6.1 g/l. , r.s. 0.01 g/l. 56 cases produced.
Very aromatic with exotic spices, sage, violets, dried roses, truffle nuances, and black tea. Black cherry and
blueberry fruit predominate on the palate framed nicely by subtle vanillin, cocoa and toasted oak. The wine is
velvety in texture and finishes with very long, lingering flavors echoing the floral aromas in the nose.