2010 Devil's Gulch Pinot Noir
Devil's Gulch Vineyard
Aged 17 months in French oak (45% barrels)
Open top fermentation, cold soak, punch down
Cold, capricious vintages bring out the character of a vineyard and a winemaker; and the crazy 2010 vintage certainly did that for Mark, Dan and Devil’s Gulch. The wet, foggy spring gave Mark a tiny crop, and the continued cold kept it hanging. When the first heat spell hit at the end of August, veraison had hardly started so there was no real impact, and at second spike in late September (when Sonoma fruit came pouring in) Devil’s was just getting rolling. When we finally harvested on October 20, the fruit was classic Marin Pinot: miniscule berries, great acidity and super bright fruit. The final wine is a particularly silky, high toned Devil’s Gulch offering showing the refined nature of Devil’s, if not the people associated with it. In the nose, it’s candied raspberry, strawberry, coriander and cloves. We love how it continues to open in the glass, and different nuances keep popping up. The mouth offers sweet red berry fruit, Asian spice overtones, and super fine, resolved tannins. The moderate alcohol and fresh acidity provide a cherry toffee finish that keeps you wanting more.
Pinot Noir fans appreciate exotic vineyard sites and eccentric vineyard owners. Mark Pasternak and his Devil’s Gulch vineyard fit the bill on both counts. Located on a steep, convoluted hillside adjacent to the Point Reyes Peninsula in Western Marin County, Devil’s Gulch is a pioneering planting. Mark lives on the property with his family and is truly passionate (some would say obsessive) about increasing the fame of Marin County as a viticultural area. He is dedicated to sustainable agricultural practices and minimal chemical use. The ranch combines steep terraces (up to 60% grade), shallow soil, the harsh climate of the Marin coast, protected exposures, and well-chosen Dijon clonal selections to produce a small crop of unique fruit. The blustery spring weather of Marin gives us poor set and an extremely small crop of tiny berries, while the reliable late fall weather promotes great phenolic maturity and wild fruit intensity in the wine. For us, wine is all about personality, and Devil’s Gulch is one of our favorite examples of that.
The fruit was hand sorted and destemmed into small open top fermenters, then cold-soaked for 5 days in order to gently extract spice and fruit characters, while mitigating harsher tannins. We are particularly gentle on the Devil’s Gulch in order to produce silky wine from the inherently high tannin tiny berries. The incoming fruit was split into two lots—one from the terraces, one from the upper slope—to vary fermentation techniques according to the nature of each particular area. After fermentation, the lots were aged separately until the spring of 2011 when final blend was assembled from our favorite barrels in each lot. For this wine, the Seguin Moreau Icone barrels bring out its natural earthiness, and Taransaud fills in an underlying richness. In both cases, we love once used barrels even better than new ones. The wine aged in our chosen barrels for another year before being bottled in spring of 2012.