2019 Old Vines
We have a small pinot noir vineyard block. Most years, we use the pinot noir to make our sparkling wine: Lenz Cuvee. In the 1990s, we tried to make a red pinot noir using these grapes. The results were middling; the wines were fine but not distinctive. In 2019, we decided to try again, using some new techniques both in the vineyard and in the cellar. In the vineyard, we hand-harvested about 2/3rds of the clusters for Cuvee leaving the best-looking clusters to ripen further; the weather cooperated (pinot noir is very sensitive to humidity when approaching full ripeness) and we ended up with a near-perfect crop.
The grapes were fermented in open-ended French oak barrels.
When we tasted this 2019 wine, we compared it to one we had made in 1998, now 23 years old. The first interesting note was how well the 1998 held up. The fruit-acid balance was still good, even though the fruit was fading a little. The color was pale, rather than rich, with some brick at the edges. The nose included violets and the wine flavor profile was a combination of sour cherry and a trace of ginger.
The 2019, on the other hand, is young. The aromas included tea rose, black tea, licorice and cherries. It is very soft in the mouth, and very textured, with a long finish. The flavor profile includes cherry (on the ‘cherry-flavor-scale’ of white, to red, to black, this wine’s cherry flavors are somewhere between white and red!) There is also a soft clementine-orange hint. And toasted almonds.
Overall, it’s just delicious and we will be looking for opportunities to make this wine again, when growing conditions are conducive (they weren’t in either 2020 or 2021).