Newsletter October 2010

2010 Fall Release

The other day, a friend who knew I was writing our Fall 2010 Release Announcement asked me if I still get excited or nervous  releasing new wines. After more than a quarter century, the answer is still an unequivocal yes to both excited and nervous, but I’d also add in a good dose of anticipation and pride to the list of feelings a new release stirs up. As vintages come and go, it is easy to lose track of the fact that we essentially spend a year growing the grapes for a given wine, and another year making that wine. It is an amazing experience to start with a bare vine in the dead of winter and to finish with a beautiful bottle of Chardonnay or Pinot Noir. On that note, I am very pleased to announce our stellar fall 2010 releases: 

2008 Dutton Ranch – Russian River Valley Chardonnay
2008 Hyde Vineyard – Carneros Chardonnay
2008 Hyde Vineyard – Carneros Pinot Noir
2008 Chenoweth Ranch – Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
2009 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

Despite challenges in the 2008 growing season, I couldn’t be happier with these wines. There is a freshness and purity to them that is profoundly vibrant and engaging. Following in the footsteps of the spectacular 2007 vintage, these wines are standing tall. In fact, every time I try them, they get better and better. Put simply, this was a hard growing season, but an exceptional and deeply rewarding vintage. For its part, the 2009 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir is a compelling preview of what will likely be regarded as another great vintage. 2009 brings together many of the qualities I love about the two previous vintages, combining the balance and sophistication of ’07 with the vibrancy and exuberance of ’08. As a result, the 2009 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir is spectacular. 

In closing, it seems only fitting to say a few words about 2010. As I write this, the story so far has been the cold and the lateness of the season. It sounds gloomy, but it’s not a bad thing—especially since we exclusively produce cool-climate, earlier-ripening varietals. A cooler growing season means slower ripening, higher acidity, lower alcohols and riper tannins. The last time we had a season as late as this was 1999—a year that yielded some of the most elegant and age-worthy wines we have ever produced.

Very best wishes,

James Hall