2016 Azaya Ranch Pinot Noir
Azaya Ranch Vineyard
September 26, 2016
Aged 16 months in French oak (50% new barrels)
Open top fermentation, cold soak, punch down
The nose offers up a dizzying array of spicy blackberry, raspberry, violets and rosehips. After a bit of time in the glass, notes of rhubarb pie join the mix, adding a bit of a savory element. The first sip brings lively toffee covered raspberry, along with cassis, dried cranberries and sandalwood, a perfect mix of fruit and spice, all carried on fine-grained tannins.
We at Dutton-Goldfield have a special affinity for exotic sites in sparsely planted Marin County, and Azaya Ranch perfectly fits the bill. Mark Pasternak planted Azaya Ranch for the McEvoy family on an ideal south and west facing hill in Hicks Valley. This could be the sweet spot of Marin Viticulture: in the cold heart, but on a protected, well-drained slope. Mark and Dan chose 5 clones for this 18-acre ranch: 667, 828, 115, 777 and a touch of 2A. The fruit ripens very slowly, but the tiny berries stay plump and develop thick, chewy skins. For the Dutton-Goldfield offering, we harvest the 667 for its focused dark fruit character and structure, the 828 for its lively high tones, and a touch of 115 for its aromatic beauty. With its great natural acidity, the hallmark of this neighborhood is precise and nuanced berry fruit, lively intensity, and a refreshing lingering finish.
After hand sorting and destemming into a small open top fermenter, the must is coldsoaked for 7 days in order to gently extract color, spice and fruit characters, while mitigating harsher tannins. To further this aim, no SO2 was used at the crusher. Gentle treatment helps bring the innate floral and berry notes of this wine to the forefront and preserve its intricate complexity. We punch down 1 to 3 times daily, according to the stage of the fermentation; less often and shorter at later stages to avoid bitter tannin pickup. After initial aging in 45% new wood, we blended in the early spring to homogenize the wine and hone our barrel choices. The bright and juicy nature of the 2016 Azaya just loved to soak up the earthy spice of Seguin Moreau Icone barrels, and absorb the sweet toffee of Taransaud barrels.
Food Pairing Notes
The essential core of sweet fruit makes this a great match for a smoky glazed ham, mushroom risotto, an earthy roasted beet salad, or a mild feta cheese.