2015 Cuvée L'Inconnu Blanc de Noirs
107 cases ~ harvested July 28, 2015
Disgorged ~ Summer 2022
Farming ~ Organic
Winemaking Notes: Cuvée L'Inconnu (meaning the unknown) is made from a single vintage, single vineyard, single block in the traditional Méthode Champenoise. The fruit was harvested in the foggy, early morning hours from clone 115, and is 100% Pinot Noir. The smaller than usual grapes were lightly pressed with stems in our vintage Coquard press directly into stainless steel tank. The juice fermented there, then was racked to a 2nd tank where it rested 12 months. July 2016, we put it through its secondary fermentation and capped it. It rested on the lees for 6 years. In summer 2022, we began the disgorging process, topped off with the same vintage, sans dosage (no sugar added).
The Pressing: “White from black” is the literal translation of Blanc de Noirs and therefore it designates a white wine made from black grapes; in our case Pinot Noir. The color in red wines come mostly from the skins of the dark fruit. The trick in making the wine “white” when using dark Pinot Noir berries is to press the just-harvested fruit gently and slowly. We eliminate the typical and more aggressive, second pressing that squeezes the last drops of juice from the fruit. For our “secret” recipe we use a small vintage basket press from Champagne and, over several hours, we gradually apply pressure allowing the juices to filter through the wooden slots creating the “first press” juice colored with hints of rose gold. While the process may be tedious and time consuming, the resulting juice ferments into something unique, delicious, and a bit rare.
Tasting Notes: To date we have only offered our sparkling Blanc de Blancs made from our Chardonnay grapes. Our sparkling Chardonnay is steely and precise. In contrast, our Blanc de Noirs is rounder offering a juicier flavor. The flavor profile of this sparkling wine reflects where the vines are anchored, in loamy soils on the windy cliff above the banks of the Santa Ynez River. It possesses breathtaking textural elegance and balance. Green apples, pears, spices, ash and flowers flow from this seductive sparkler. The intentional low bottle pressure creates beautiful, tiny bubbles. This is a bare naked, authentic, climate driven wine with no manipulation.
The Vintage: The winter of 2015 was mild and dry and bud break came a few weeks early, and so, in turn, did harvest. The yields in 2015 were significantly lower throughout the region, in some cases, by as much as half, likely in response to the 3rd straight year of severe drought. The 2015 crop was small, both in tonnage and berry size. This creates a special opportunity for a dark and powerful Pinot Noir due to more intense flavors concentrated in the juice with an increase in skin contact. The benefits of this combination are exciting! These bubbles really convey all the attributes so special and unique to this place; power and density balanced with brightness all framed with a strong sense of the nearby ocean.
The Site: Organically farmed and planted on tierra loam soils as well as diatomaceous outcroppings (lots of crushed seashells and river rocks), this very west slope gets pounded by the onshore flow coming off the Pacific. The struggle these vines endure forces their roots deep into the signature Sta. Rita Hills diatomaceous earth and dense, dark clay soil to steady themselves against the constant wind. The constant wind off the Pacific Ocean blows over this elevated plot and cools the vines, extending the growing season. This longer hang time for the grapes results in added complexity in the juice.
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