2017 Botanica Pinot Noir
2017 was the third in a string of warm, dry vintages. We always imagine that similar vintage conditions will manifest themselves in the wines in similar ways and yet, we see in these three vintages, how disparate the effects can be.
In 2015, the heat in the near the end of the summer caused a significant amount of raisining. For this we need to go more slowly. Where we can usually hand-sort one ton of fruit an hour, here we slow down to a tenth or a twelfth of a ton per hour, picking the raisins from the unaffected fruit one by one. I find this work untroubling. We are sorters. When the imperfect is so easily identifiable, the guesswork recedes and we fall into a sweet hypnotic clarity in our work. The days are long and the progress is slow but the result is knowable and immediate. Those wines feel like wines of a cooler vintage that carry a magnitude of depth unfathomable in a season lacking light.
Ripening started slowly in the following year. The fruit was immature through most of the summer. I walked up and down the vinerows daily in 2016; tasting, tasting, hunting for ripe fruit. Basset Hounds of summer, the fruit was sweet but just kind of dumb, lacked focus or power. After, however, a four day heat spike, the character of the vintage changed all at once. All of the opulence, depth and power emerged all at once and strangely evenly across all sites. What was once hard to see, charged forth with undeniable clarity.
In this vintage, 2017, the same heat spike occurred earlier in the summer. The intense heat caused a few berries in each cluster to abort ripening altogether. Seven to eight percent of the berries were stunted, neither growing nor gaining in sweetness, in flavor. I had imagined that we would remove these berries on the sorting table but found instead that they were neither bitter nor green. Intensely tart but lacking hardness, we allowed these peppercorn-sized berries into the vats, their presence the season’s ill begot gain. Where we would normally see a reduction in acid in a vintage bathed in so much light, these tiny berries allowed the wines to take a shape and achieve a level of lift and energy unusual for a season so warm.
Botanica is always sappy and sanguine with a taste of wild rose, sour cherries, and blood orange. It is tempting to define it solely by its compelling texture and lush personality but there is a structural element that is equally striking. This balance between extraordinarily concentrated fruit and intense levels of extract is the essence of this wine.
910 cases produced
release date October 1, 2019