2014 Pinot Noir Whole Cluster Series
Our 2014 whole cluster Pinot Noir collection includes one bottle each of the experimental wines, and the control wine, the 2014 Pinot Noir Yamhill-Carlton, for a total of six wines.
For notes on these wines, see Prince of Pinot v11 i25.
What is Whole Cluster Fermentation?
What is Whole Cluster Fermentation? This refers to the practice of fermenting entire bunches of grapes, stems and all. Typically, our grapes go through a destemmer, a machine that knocks the berries off the stems. In the process, many of the berries split and begin to release juice immediately. When we bypass that step, the fruit stays intact longer, releasing the sugar available to the yeast more slowly. This results in fermentations that take longer to complete, at much lower temperatures. The shift in fermentation kinetics, along with the presence of the stem has an impact on aroma, flavor, and structure of the wine. Are these features beneficial to the overall quality? How much whole cluster is the ideal amount, if any? Will our ideas about this change as the wine ages? With the vintage? These are all questions we hope to answer through our whole cluster series.
In 2014, we harvested five tons of Pinot Noir from the same part of the vineyard and separated the fruit into five fermenters. We added a whole cluster layer in four of these vats, 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100%. The fifth bin was all destemmed. We proceeded with our typical fermentation management protocols, with pumpovers and punch downs twice daily, and pressing at dryness. The wines were aged in neutral French oak barrels and bottled the winter of 2016. For more technical details, see our Winemaker's Blog.
Now that the wines have been aging under cork for several years, their differences are more pronounced than ever. All beautiful wines in their own right, it's truly fascinating to experience how different the fruit expression can be from one lot to the next. Wines with more whole clusters tend to be powerful, complex, spicy, textural, and ageworthy. On the other end of the spectrum, destemming makes wines that are vibrant in color, fruity, lush, and expressive in their youth. The right amount of whole cluster fermentation for our wines is a moving target from year to year but making wines like these helps us to better understand the technique, and ultimately, make better wines.
So how does whole cluster fermentation influence flavor, aroma, color, and structure in Pinot Noir? Find out with our 2014 Pinot Noir Whole Cluster Series.
50 cases produced.