We hand harvested the grapes at night to capture bright fruit character and then
destemmed the grapes into small stainless steel tanks. After cold soaking for gentle
flavor, color and tannin extraction, we fermented the wine until dry. Extended skin
contact softened the tannins before we gently pressed the wine and transferred it to
French and Hungarian oak barrels for in-barrel malolactic fermentation and aging. The fabulous 2013 vintage even surpassed the 2012 vintage in grape quality. A very
low-rainfall winter was followed by a dry, warm spring and nearly ideal summer.
These factors resulted in balanced vine canopies, excellent fruit set and small,
concentrated grapes. “The harvest was very condensed; we picked all the grapes in
a three-week span,” says Robert. “Instead of driving back down the mountain, I
spent nights at the winery so I could begin crushing again very early in the morning.
Late in the evenings, I’d unwind by pursuing my other passion—photographing
wildlife in our remote vineyards, including cougars and bobcats. Those brilliantly
clear, cold nights, with ideal temperatures during the days, made for an enjoyable
harvest that fostered beautifully balanced wines.”
We selected the grapes for our 2013 Gavilan Pinot Noir from vines that yield
delicious, fruity wines, but without the highly structured tannins we desire for our
top-tier, long-aging Chalone Estate wines. Our Pinot Noir vines are planted on a
plateau at 1,650 to 1,800 feet of elevation, with nutrient-poor limestone soils similar
to those found in Burgundy and very low annual rainfall. The grapes for this wine
were selected primarily from vines grafted to Dijon Pinot Noir clones that contribute
bright, supple fruit character.