1995 marked the first year of full production from the new Dijon Pinot Noir selections in our estate vineyards and 1996 firmly established the "Brown Ranch" as integral to the future quality of Saintsbury wines.
74% of the blend is from these younger, close planted, vertically trellised vines, 16% comes from the other two Saintsbury estate vineyards, and the balance comes from older, modest yielding vines planted on two wire trellises.
The Brown Ranch is on a combination of typical Carneros clay loams as well as some more volcanic soil types and steeper hillsides; the other ranches are on mostly clay loams. Yields ranged from 2.5 to 3.75 tons/acre.
Vinification is in mostly small stainless steel fermentors. About 40% of the wines were punched down in open top tanks. The balance was made in closed tanks, with frequent but gentle irrigation of the cap. The clusters are completely destemmed but with the crusher rollers all the way open, about 30% of the berries remain uncrushed.
The destemmed grapes get a cold maceration for two days and then are inoculated with small amounts of pure culture yeast or are allowed to ferment with native yeasts.
After two weeks on the skins, the free run wine is drained directly to barrel for M-L and aging. No press wine is incorporated into the Reserve blend. After M-L is finished each barrel has SO2 added and is then tight bunged. It is racked once to assemble the blend, then left undisturbed until it is bottled the following December.
The 99 Reserve Pinot Noir was aged for 14 months in 50% new Francois Freres barrels of Nevers and Alliers oak. The wine is not fined or filtered before bottling.