In 1983, Saintsbury adopted the proprietary name "Garnet" to distinguish this perfumed and fresh style of Pinot Noir from our more full-bodied wine that is labeled simply "Carneros Pinot Noir".
Garnet is produced entirely from Pinot Noir grown in the Carneros district. Our aim in creating each vintage of Garnet is to produce a refreshing, early drinking style of Pinot. One that is full of cherry, raspberry varietal fruit, enriched and developed by aging in French oak barrels.
We are often asked if we use a different winemaking technique during fermentation in order to produce a lighter wine than our Carneros Pinot Noir. To understand fully one must start in the vineyard. Saintsbury purchases Pinot Noir grapes from fourteen different vineyards, and each of these lots is made into wine separately. We use our experience to judge which techniques will bring out the best in each vineyard's grapes.
After pressing, the wines are barrel-aged separately to allow them to show us their potential. After five months in barrel, a representative sample is drawn from each lot and evaluated. We discuss the merits of each lot and then make trial blends, with the goal of producing wines that will properly represent our three Pinot styles. In early Spring the lots selected to become Garnet are blended and the wine is then bottled in early summer. The remaining lots continue for further barrel aging until just before the next harvest when the Carneros Pinot Noir and the Reserve blends are bottled.
We are extremely pleased with the 2000 edition of Garnet. A lighter red wine does not succeed as a shadow of bigger ones: rather, it should be enjoyable on its own terms for the right combination of freshness and extract, grace and length. The '00 has the same bright, refreshing fruit we've come to expect from this bottling: the raspberry, cherry, strawberry fruit is complemented by some typical Carneros nutmeg and clove spice. This affordable Pinot Noir is a perennial favorite during the holidays, and complements a wide variety of dishes.
Saintsbury specializes in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The Chardonnay is fermented and aged in barrels coopered in Burgundy. Three styles of Pinot Noir are produced: "Garnet" is a fresh, lively wine full of cherry and raspberry fruit; the wine simply called Carneros Pinot Noir is a more classic rendition; and the Reserve Pinot Noir is the richest and most fully flavored of the vintage.
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Technically a part of Napa Valley, the Carneros region straddles both Sonoma & Napa counties. It's the Napa region closest to the San Francisco peninsula and the San Pablo Bay, which is instrumental in controlling the climate of the area. The winds from the San Pablo bay create a cool weather pattern ideal for growing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Carneros are delicate, yet complex, with firm structure and acidity. And while the pair are the most popular varieties of the region, some winemakers have branched out, particularly with Syrah. The cool climate Syrah of Carneros is well structured and stylistically similar to Syrah from the Northern Rhone, though often fuller-bodied.
It's not rare to see a wine's country of origin listed as "California." A country into itself in the wine world, California makes enough varieties and styles to match many European wine countries. It produces a diverse range of wines that span the quality spectrum.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.