A dream creation for winemaker Jon Priest, years in the making, our first Blanc de Noirs - a white sparkling wine made from Pinot Noir (black) and Chardonnay (white) grapes, is inspired by a playful experimentation which yielded a few precious cases of this truly unique California sparkling wine from our hallmark Grace Benoist Ranch, Carneros vineyards. Meant to showcase traditional Blanc de Noirs characteristics of bright fruity fleshiness and a bit more body and texture, we hope this sparkling becomes an Etude cult favorite, as its only available in very small quantities exclusively at the winery.
Our inaugural 2017 Blanc de Noirs sparkling wine is a classically styled Brut Méthode Traditionnelle offering the truest expression of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from our Grace Benoist Ranch. On the palate there is depth and structure, with a supple richness to the mousse delivering elegant vibrancy throughout. Lifted floral aromatics and flavors of white peach, nectarine, Meyer lemon citrus and orange peel are supported by toasty brioche and vanilla crème notes. A delicate pale golden straw color with flecked hints of bronze, and a fine, persistent bead allow the bubbles to dance lightly on the palate, finishing with a creamy, lush palate and lengthy crisp mouthwatering finish. Perfect as an aperitif on its own or accompany alongside a variety of cuisines and special occasions.
In the micro-climate of the Carneros, cool weather during spring flowering impacted vine yields, but with lower yields quality generally increases, and that is the tale of this vintage. Ample winter rains continued to recharge aquifers and rebuild storage lost during drought years. Near perfect summer weather with traditional diurnal temperature swings averaging 25-40 degrees defined the sunny days, cool nights mantra. Where August cooled a bit, allowing for extended hang time and allowing flavors to more fully develop, a high-pressure system stalled and held cooling fog off the coast line as September arrived, leading to the earliest harvest experienced at Grace Benoist, finishing just after Labor Day.
An exemplary expression of Grace Benoist Ranch estate vineyard, this cuvée is a blend of the best vineyard blocks on the Ranch, tucked away in the far northwest corner of the Carneros appellation. Unlike most Carneros vineyards, which are largely uplifted bay bottoms with soils composed of clay, the soils of Grace Benoist Ranch are variations of volcanic origin. Combining these well-drained, rocky upland soils with the extreme western location closer to San Pablo Bay, makes this cooler site an ideal place to grow Burgundian varieties, known for crafting the world’s best sparkling wines. Vineyard blocks are individually managed to conform to various soil types and the changing contours of the hillside topography. Individual vineyards within Grace Benoist Ranch average only eight acres in size, and spacing is dense to ensure low per vine yields of fully concentrated fruit. As stewards of the property, Etude remains steadfast in our commitment to adhere to sustainable agricultural practices that enable us to farm in concert with the surrounding environment. Wildlife corridors, raptor roosts and owl boxes are abundant throughout the Ranch.
The 2017 vintage presented the perfect opportunity and conditions for our inaugural Blanc de Noirs. Our winemaker’s intention was to craft a sparkling wine to mimic a grower produced sparkling approach, accomplishing a classically styled Méthode Traditionnelle Blanc de Noirs. Handpicked fruit was harvested in the cool morning hours and sent directly to the winery where it was gently whole cluster pressed. When producing Blanc de Noirs wine, the winemaker removes the dark grape skins just after the fruit has been pressed. This way, the clear grape juice ferments separately and produces white sparkling wine. Pinot Noir from our Grace Benoist vineyard is the base wine of this cuvee, 10% of which went to barrel for fermentation, while chardonnay completes the rest of the blend, adding brightness, complexity, and fruit on the mid palate while also drawing out the finish. The wine spent over four years on lees prior to disgorging, then some time resting on cork before releasing in Fall of 2021.
For more than a decade Jon has fashioned Etude wines with a simple creed. Inspired winegrowing diminishes the need for a winemaker to intervene in the cellar. Whether sourcing from the estate Grace Benoist Ranch in Sonoma's Los Carneros, or vineyards like Fiddlestix and North Canyon in famed growing regions of California's Central Coast, his focus is on coaxing the very best from the vineyard. It shows in every glass of Etude.
|Oak Treatment||90% Stainless steel barrels, 10% neutral French oak barrels|
|Blend||87% Pinot Noir & 13% Chardonnay|
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