2012 Pinot Noir, Oehlman Vineyard
The Oehlman family has been in the farming business for over 100 years. In 2012, Karl Oehlman’s son Cliff took over management of the vineyards and orchards at the Oehlman Ranch. The cool climate, good sun exposure, and light sandy soil of this hillside property make it ideal for growing Pinot Noir grapes. For years California vintners struggled to find the secret to making Pinot Noir, the famous red grape of France’s Burgundy region. We now know that the key to this great wine is starting with the best grapes and that the best grapes come from shy bearing vines grown in a cool location. In California our best Pinot Noir grapes come from coastal vineyards. The 2012 growing season was ideal. Heavy winter rains provided abundant water for vine growth. Moderate weather throughout the year, with no major hot spells, slowed vine growth and the slow ripening led to excellent flavor development in the grapes. As always, we monitored the vineyard closely and got lucky, harvesting the grapes at perfect maturity (24.5 percent sugar), only one day before a major rain storm arrived. Pinot Noir requires more hand labor than any other grape variety. Pinot Noir ferments very quickly so we have to punch down each small open-top fermenter up to ten times per day. Because each tank ferments differently, we press them out as they finish fermenting using a small wooden basket press. The wine is gently pressed into French oak barrels (50% new and 50% two year old) and aged for 18 months. The resulting wine has a beautiful garnet color and a delightful aroma of cherries raspberries and violets with notes of spice and vanilla. In the mouth the wine is silky smooth with loads of fruit and perfect balance. This most versatile wine will pair well with any food from salmon to prime rib or cheese souffle or enjoy it by itself as an aperitif. Though delightful today this 2012 Oehlman Vineyard Pinot Noir will benefit from additional cellaring for up to five years. The only negative thing I can say about this wine is we only made 300 cases!