Pinot Noir expresses the place it was grown to a degree that no other wine grape can. The varietal offers a delicate transparency that when pursued right, effortlessly reveals its origins. After 30 years of crafting Pinot Noir in Carneros, Etude continues its study of this captivating varietal and its varying expressions in some of the New World’s most renowned Pinot-producing regions.
In the heart of Sta. Rita Hills, Fiddlestix Vineyard was deliberately planted for Pinot Noir and the alluring varietal remains not only the vineyard’s, but the appellation’s forté. Comprised of the finest blocks of the vintage, Etude Forté is a limited bottling that best exemplifies the characteristics of Fiddlestix Vineyard: dense concentration of fruit flavors, natural balance and vibrant acidity.
Source: Fiddlestix Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills, Santa Barbara County
Certified Sustainable: Napa Green Certified Winery and Sustainability In Practice (SIP) Certified Vineyard
Varietal Composition: 100% Pinot Noir
Harvest Dates: August 25 - September 2, 2016
Vinification: 100% French oak barrels (25% new) for 14 months
Clones: Dijon 667, 777, 113, 115, Pommard
ABV: 14.2%, pH: 3.50, TA: 0.57 bms/100ml
Cases produced: 420
“The 2016 Pinot Noir Forté Fiddlestix Vineyard emerges from a selection of nine blocks on the property split between hillside and floor sites where the clonal selection yields wines with more darkness, power and textural resonance. Winemaker Jon Priest gives the Forté an extra four months in barrel, which accentuates the wine's overall intensity. Black cherry, plum, chocolate and earthy notes add to the wine's dark, virile feel.” - Antonio Galloni, December 2018
"The 2016 Pinot Noir Forté-Fiddlestix Vineyard, aged in 25% new French oak for 14 months, has a medium to deep garnet-purple color and opens with black cherries, crushed raspberries and blackberries with touches of dried Provence herbs, damp soil and fungi plus a waft of truffles. Medium-bodied with a taut frame of grainy tannins, it has loads of black and red berry layers and a long earthy finish.” - Lisa Perrotti-Brown, October 2018
Elegant is sometimes overused when describing a wine, but not so with this vintage of Forté. Silky tannins underpin a round, plush mouthfeel that remains bright with aromas and flavors of red fruit accented by black cherry, currants and boysenberry. Nicely balanced with evident acid and minerality notes, the wine reveals a bit of baking spice and toasted graham cracker with a finish that lingers, with the promise of more complexity to be revealed.
The extended drought was beginning to cause real concern as the 2016 growing season kicked off. However, a very warm spring and early summer with almost no rain allowed the fruit to ripen at a very steady and deliberate pace. July and August brought cool nights and gentle warmth to the Sta. Rita Hills that allowed the smaller-sized crop to mature perfectly, producing small berries in pristine condition. The drier-than-normal conditions and the region’s abundant sunshine resulted in wines with excellent concentration, balance, color and intensity, resulting in Pinot Noir fruit showing exceptional depth and finesse.
One of the smaller AVAs in California, Sta. Rita Hills occupies the portion of Santa Ynez Valley west of Highway 101 and is home to some of Santa Barbara’s best-known Pinot Noirs. Located a few miles inland alongside the Santa Ynez River bench at the western end of the transverse-oriented Santa Ynez Valley, Fiddlestix Vineyard receives a consistent draw of Pacific currents, but sits low enough against the hills to achieve some protection from the area’s strong afternoon winds. This unique exposure to coastal breezes and fog ensures cooling influences throughout extended sunny days, which helps to add depth and vibrancy in resulting Pinot Noirs. In 35 small blocks, a variety of rootstocks and clones are planted in well-draining clay loam and calcareous marine shale.
Crafted with the same minimal winemaking techniques no matter the growing region, Etude Pinot Noir purely reflects the unique essence and character of the vineyard, maintaining Etude’s signature hallmarks of aromatic intrigue, vibrancy of expression and depth in ageability.