By committing to pursuing high quality California Pinot Noir back in the late 1970’s, Saintsbury founders Dick Ward and David Graves put themselves in the forefront of a movement that would eventually catapult California wines, Carneros Pinot Noir and Saintsbury onto the world wine stage. According to the Wine Spectator’s Matt Kramer, Saintsbury not only “single-handedly demolished the old assertion that California cannot create Pinot Noirs of a Burgundian standard of delicacy and finesse,” but also “no winery has been more methodical in its investigation and pursuit of newly available Pinot Noir clones than Saintsbury.” Saintsbury were one of the first to plant Pommard clone in 1986, planted Brown Ranch in 1992 to newer Dijon clones 115, 667 and 777 and focused on one appellation, Carneros. The stellar range of Saintsbury Pinot Noirs and unfiltered Chardonnays have never performed better than today. Hats off to Dick and Dave who continue to lead the way with innovation and inspiration. The wines are sorted at the cellar using a sorting table and age in a mix of French oak barrels from Francois Frere and Taransaud. Saintsbury is named in honor of George Saintsbury, a journalist and Professor of rhetoric and English literature at the University of Edinburgh. He was also a wine lover and in 1920, at the age of 75, published Notes on a Cellar.
|Wine maker notes
The moderate climate and proximity to San Francisco attracted grape growers to Carneros as early as the 1850's. In 1983, the area became one of the first American Viticultural Areas (AVA). Since then, Carneros has become synonymous with fine Pinot Noir from California. Saintsbury harvests from as many as twelve different vineyards within Carneros. Each lot is made into wine separately and later evaluated for its individual merits and what it can bring to the final blend.
Production techniques at Saintsbury emphasize gentle handling of the fruit throughout the winemaking process. The grapes are picked by hand and brought to the winery in half-ton bins. From the bins, the fruit is loaded directly into the stemmer-crusher, where the roller bars are spaced such that roughly 30% of the fruit enter the fermenter as whole berries. During fermentation, moderate temperatures are maintained and the pumpover regime consists of a gentle irrigation three times per day.
After fermentation and extended maceration, the wines are racked into barrels where they complete malolactic fermentation and remain undisturbed until blending begins in the late Spring. The barrels at Saintsbury are from new to three years old. They are all French oak, coopered to our specifications in Burgundy by Seguin Moreau and Francois Freres.