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Kramer Vineyards

2015 Pinot Noir Whole Cluster Series

2015 Pinot Noir Whole Cluster Series

Our 2015 whole cluster Pinot Noir collection includes one bottle of each experimental wine and the control wine, the 2015 Pinot Noir Yamhill-Carlton, for six wines.

The Kramers will host a virtual tasting of these wines on April 20 at 6 pm PST. For this event, we'll send you detailed winemaking notes for each bottle to enhance your experience. 

What is Whole Cluster Fermentation?

This refers to fermenting entire bunches of grapes, stems, and all. Before 2012, our grapes would typically go through a de-stemmer, a machine that knocks the berries off the stems. In the process, many of the berries split and release sweet juice immediately. When we bypass that step, the fruit stays intact longer, removing 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, impacts the aroma, flavor, and structure of the wine. Are these features beneficial to the overall quality? How much is the 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.

The Experiment 

In 2015, 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 pump-overs and punch-downs twice daily and pressed at dryness. The wines were aged in neutral French oak barrels and bottled in the winter 2017.

The Wines

The wines have been aging under cork for several years, making their differences 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 bottle to the next. Wines with more whole clusters tend to be robust, complex, spicy, textural, and age-worthy. On the other end of the spectrum, destemming makes wines that are vibrant in color, fruity, lush, and expressive wines 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 understand the technique better and, ultimately, make better wines.

So how does whole cluster fermentation influence flavor, aroma, color, and structure in Pinot Noir? Find out with our 2015 Pinot Noir Whole Cluster Series!

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