2016 Cuvée L'Inconnu Blanc de Noirs

2016 Cuvée L'Inconnu Blanc de Noirs

$ 150.00

Production: 102 cases

Harvested August 6, 2016

Disgorged ~ May 2024

Zero Dosage

12.75% abv 

Farming ~ Organic

Winemaking: 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 plump 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 2017, we put it through its secondary fermentation and capped it. It rested on the lees for 7 years. In May 2024, we disgorged the wine and 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: The Blanc de Noirs is surprisingly aromatic and juicy. 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. Bright acidity and red stone fruit notes flow from this lovely sparkler. The intentional low bottle pressure creates beautiful, tiny bubbles. This is a bare naked, authentic, climate driven wine with no manipulation.

The Vintage:  2016 welcomed the end of the 3-year drought with some ground soaking precipitation. The wet winter was followed by intermittent rains during a mild spring.  There was some extreme heat in the region during late September, but our fruit was picked by then and our vineyard was not affected. The vines welcomed the drought-relief by producing a good quality bloom and fruit set, followed by a long growing season and a healthy harvest. The 2016 berries were plump and juicy. Still, the yields in 2016 were slightly below average throughout the region. The long, cool growing season produced a complexity in the juice that is compelling. The climate and rugged topography of our site conveys all the attributes so special and unique to this place; power, elegance and density balanced with minerality and 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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