The Singular Beauty of Single Vineyard Wines
At Twomey we’ve always had a passion for single vineyard wines; after all, the winery was founded as a way of showcasing Merlot from our Soda Canyon Vineyard, a remarkable vineyard in southeastern Napa Valley. So as we’ve branched out into other varieties, most notably Pinot Noir, our search for outstanding vineyards suitable for vineyard-designated bottlings has continued, and beginning with the 2012 vintage, our portfolio of wines includes three single vineyard Pinot Noirs.
Sites capable of producing complex, high quality wines all on their own are a rarity. “The immutable characteristics have to be there – the soils and climate, orientation and slope,” says Director of Winemaking Daniel Baron. “But how the site is planted and farmed is also critical, factors like rootstock and clonal selection, row spacing and direction, trellising, irrigation…all these things play a role in fruit character and quality.”
Twomey Winemaker Erin Miller agrees, adding that by its very nature, Pinot Noir is a varietal that lends itself well to vineyard designation. “Pinot Noir has a certain transparency, a deep sensitivity to its environment,” she says. “The same clone grown on a site with varying soils, slopes or aspects will present itself very differently; it’s a highly expressive grape variety that really lets you taste the vineyard.”
Having gained a deep appreciation for vineyard-driven wines from working in France, Erin is particularly excited about Twomey’s new single vineyard Pinot Noirs from our Monument Tree Vineyard in Anderson Valley and the Soberanes Vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands. These 2012 bottlings join our Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir from Santa Maria Valley, and the three wines are fascinating examples of California Pinot Noirs grown in dramatically different regions and sites.
“Monument Tree is about as far west as you can go in the Anderson Valley and still get fruit ripe,” says Erin of this cool, 17-acre site that Twomey purchased in 2010. “Soberanes is also cool, but it sits on a long narrow bench rising out of the Salinas Valley. The vineyards are entirely different, but they both have what it takes to make distinctive, exciting Pinot Noir.”
Though 2012 was our first bottling of these wines as single vineyards, Twomey has been making wine from Monument Tree since 2007 and Soberanes since 2010. Dan and Erin agree that no matter how promising a site looks, it’s only when you’ve made wine from it that you truly know whether its worthy of vineyard designation. It’s also critical, notes Dan, to understand what a vineyard can produce in different vintages, and to know that in different growing seasons the vineyard can consistently make great wine.
“Great vineyards make compelling wines in both good years and challenging years,” he says, adding that in his experience, single vineyard wines have a way of declaring themselves. “Year in and year out, a great single vineyard wine stands on its hind legs and says ‘I deserve to be bottled on my own.’”