This is our greatest experiment in years. Two things are behind it: our recent success with 1MN has given us the confidence to try our hands with some other grapes that (seem to us) to demand gentle and subtle treatment. It is part of our learning to move beyond the somewhat monstrous and exuberant reds that we are sort of good at. The second factor was Bill Brosseau offering us some fruit from the Antle Vineyard, and the recollection that Robert Dentice had become interested in the vineyard a few years before. Antle is an extremely interesting property in the Chalone appellation in the Gavilan mountains, very high up-- a kind of rolling desert a few thousand feet above the valley floor, and directly facing the Pacific. The soils are marine in origin and really wel drained, all of the vineyards slope, the vines are old and embedded in struggle. We could not resist.
Our first effort is very good. It is masculine, with deep earthiness and a nearly rough muscularity. There is no fruitiness or any form of sweetness-- this was not our aim. The wine is subtle for all of its strength, and complex, yet it is neither as delicate as we would have liked, nor as simply expressive. It is somewhat brooding. I know so little about Pinot Noir-- I know that there are some excellent wines that have the same brooding character. Is this wine excellent? Is the vineyard by nature muscular and brooding? It is too early for us to tell, but we are going to devote ourselves to making something excellent from this very compelling site.
(I have about a week to get a name and a label design the printers. I am thinking of something from the Iliad. This site is more Homeric than any I have worked with!)