The Etude Carneros Pinot Noir is a true reflection of the winery’s estate vineyard, Grace Benoist Ranch. A blend of the best grapes from individual vineyard parcels on the Ranch, this wine tells the story of a particular vintage from a very unique place.
"Beautifully ripe strawberry, bark and pine needle aromas with dried flowers. Dried tea, too. Orange peel. Medium to full body. Plenty of soft tannins. Earth. Granite. Pumice. Plenty of flavor. Very structured. Broad spine. Drink after 2026.” - James Suckling
This garnet-colored gem of a Pinot Noir is youthful and vibrant. Boisterous red berry fruit aromas are mimicked on the palate with flavors of red raspberry, Bing cherry, pomegranate, pink peppercorn, and a hint of floral potpourri, supported by earthier notes of clay and leather. The mouthfeel is bright and lively with linear tannins. The wine finishes long and supple with hints of caramel and spiced clove, a signature characteristic of Grace Benoist Ranch Pinot Noir. Ethereal and soft with a fresh core of acidity, it pairs beautifully with a variety of cuisines and culinary dishes.
Despite some memorably atypical factors, the 2020 season was another successful vintage. It was a warm, dry winter and the rain and cooler weather didn’t arrive until the end of March. While the mild spring provided a great early start, the winery followed extensive safety protocols due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Summer brought very cool mornings and very warm days. Harvest was interrupted by wildfires across California, which came just as grapes started to be picked. We were very fortunate that none of our vineyards were in the active fire areas. The red wine harvest started in late August and the wines showed excellent development in cellars, reflecting the fine vintage year.
The Etude Carneros Pinot Noir hails from our estate vineyards tucked away in the far Northwest corner of the Carneros appellation, just on the Southwest corner of Sonoma. Unlike most of Carneros, which is largely uplifted bay bottoms with soils composed of clay, the soils at Grace Benoist Ranch are variations of soils influenced by volcanic origin. Combining these well-drained, rocky upland soils with the extreme western location closer to the Pacific Ocean and San Pablo Bay make this site an ideal place to grow Burgundian varieties. The vineyard parcels at Grace Benoist Ranch conform to the various soil types and the changing contours of the Ranch topography. Individual vineyards average only eight acres in size and spacing is dense to ensure low per vine yields of fully concentrated fruit. Grace Benoist Ranch is farmed to Etude’s exacting standards, using environmentally sound viticultural practices. The Ranch is sustainably farmed and certified by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance as well as Fish Friendly Farming. At the Ranch, there are four smaller vineyards (Laniger, Deer Camp, Temblor and Heirloom) with five principal unique soil types and 20 distinct Pinot Noir clones.
The Carneros Estate Pinot Noir underwent cold maceration in small lot open-top fermenters with extended time on the skins and including a small number of whole clusters. Vineyard lots are vinified and aged individually and final blending is subject to a rigorous selection process, whereby only the best casks are chosen to represent the Grace Benoist Ranch Estate Pinot Noir. The wine is aged in French Oak with a small percentage of new barrels.
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.
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