Pinot Noir James Thomas Block Rapley Trail Vineyard espresses beautiful perfume of red currants, red cherries, crushed violets, and ample rocky, earthy minerality.
The Rapley Trail Vineyard ( avg. elev. 1650 ft.) was planted in 1981, consisting of six contiguous acres of Pinot Noir vines on our Estate’s rugged southeastern slopes. It has long been the backbone of our past “Estate Reserve” Pinot Noir, but beginning in 2002 we have begun to bottle portions of the vineyard separately. This “deconstruction” displays the unique aspects and interactions of soil and climate that account for grapes whose flavor is a direct product of where they are grown; this is terroir.
The James Thomas’s Block (former ‘M’ Block) sits just above Henry Aryton’s Block (former ‘B’ Block), moving from the bottom of the top of the Rapley Trail Vineyard. The soil is shallow and rocky, and the exposure lends itself to a great amount of wind. These factors contribute to a unique flavor profile and well structured wine.
The 2018 vintage started with the cool, mildly inclement springtime that we are reluctantly becoming accustomed to here at the north end of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Unlike 2015, however, the cool weather didn't severely hamper flowering, and when clusters began to form we found a nearly perfect number of small clusters throughout the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyards at the northern estate and close to a "normal" (whatever that means these days) crop load at the Gist vineyard with the "Bordeaux" grapes. We really prefer a smaller crop, particularly with Pinot Noir, as it ensures intensity and concentration in the berries at harvest. The growing season saw mild temperatures and harvesting began in Gist's "Will's Cabin" vineyard on September 5 and we began picking the northern estate on September 12 with Razorback. It is typical for us to pick Pinot Noir before anything else, but it's unusual to pick the Gist vineyards first. In the bottle, we can expect exceptionally balanced wines with very nice intensity. Noteworthy, perhaps, in the 2018 vintage would be the Chardonnay wines (all of them) for purity and energy that (improbably) raises the bar once again, as our Estate vineyards show their age with edgy, cantankerous intensity. Also, the "Lexington" Cabernet Sauvignon from Gist vineyard continues to impress and evolve as seven years on from the first vintage we see slightly softer tannins and balanced intensity in youth. All the 2018 wines are probably more drinkable in youth than some recent vintages (2015 comes to mind), but still very cellar-worthy with the potential to age for many years. In many ways, 2018 is a "Goldilox" vintage, with enough balance to be enjoyed upon release but with the intensity and structure to lay down for a special treat years down the road.