Richard Grant now produces these three fine wines from the Wrotham clone of Pinot Noir.
Toulouse Geese are by far the most gentle waterfowl that occupy our lake
Richard Grant Pinot Noir is the end result of plenty of individual effort.
Our 2006 Vintage was awarded Double Gold by Appellation America Judging (March 2009)
Every vine in the Richard Grant 2 acre Yountville (Napa Valley) vineyard was propagated from cuttings taken from the original old wild vine found in the village of Wrotham, Kent, England.
Lots of artifacts from Roman occupation occur throughout England
Now BOTH Richard Grant Wrotham Pinot Wines have been awarded Double Golds!
2007 Vintage R.G. Pinot Noir (Wrotham Clone)
Over and over again I hear these comments from consumers. And more and more visitors take the time to call and stop to see my small vineyard and taste the wines when they visit Napa Valley. To schedule a visit and tasting, get my phone number off the order form by clicking on Order Wine.
We think 2007 may have been only the second vintage to produce this red table wine since the Romans brought Pinot vines into England many centuries ago (2006 was the first vintage and that wine is beautifully Burgundy-like today). We are out of 2006 but those aging it in their cellars have something special to brag about. Spicey yet delicate at the same time, it continues to get better as it develops "bouquet" while aging in bottles.
Weatherwise, 2007 was remarkably similar to 2006. It seemed only slightly warmer during summer and we were surprised when the crop ripened 'all at once' and was harvested on September 13th, twelve days earlier than in 2006. I later realized that the combination of a lighter crop in 2007 (added to slightly warmer days) made the difference. Normally a lighter crop means more varietal flavor but a warmer summer means less flavor, so how do the wines of these vintages compare? Comparing both 'blind' in August, 2010, they seemed very similar to me. In fact, I was unable to identify them correctly when I tasted unmarked bottles with coded labels! I thought sample "A" was slightly bigger than "B" but sample "B" had more finesse. Both wines have wonderful balance and will go quite well with food. The one with more finesse turned out to be the 2007, yet we already know the 2006 is excellent by worldwide Pinot Noir standards. I expect that the 2007 will develop beautifully during further bottle-aging.
Having watched both vintages closely during aging, I've come to realize that this Wrotham clone of Pinot Noir has three attributes that set it apart from ordinary Pinot wines. First, it produces a cleaner, fresher looking red color than other Pinot Noirs. OK, that's not a big thing on its own because no Pinot Noir clone is known for huge red color. Second, Wrotham wines develop a pleasing softness and silky-smooth texture in the mouthfeel which was totally unexpected. It developed only seven or eight months after bottling and it is a major reason why you should expect R.G. Pinot Noir to enhance your finest dinner entrees paricularly well. (Not to put too fine an edge on that point, I have to admit that I've also enjoyed more than a few hamburgers with Wrotham as well). Wrotham is a truly great Pinot Noir but it can be snooty or not depending on what you serve it with.
Third, we first noticed what my wife Sandra called a 'Holiday spice' character developing in the 2006 Wrotham Pinot Noir almost a year after bottling. I called it 'Clove, with a hint of Cinnamon' until a chef friend in Monterey told me that it is "not exactly Clove, but clearly -- and beautifully, Cardamom," so I'm happy to stand corrected. He uses that spice regularly and I think he knows. I really puffed up when he told me "it isn't just Cardamom, it's excellent Cardamom." I've noticed a slightly spicey Cherry-like character in some Pinot Noir wines but, in fifty years of tasting wines I've never noticed this great Cardamom-like spiciness in any other Pinot. It just seems to develop in this clone. That's a great thing about natural mutations of grapevines, they give our food a special interest that we wouldn't see without the mutation.
Please memorize. I'll (ahem) ask questions later:
We now age every vintage of Wrotham Pinot red table wine at least one year after bottling prior to release for public sale. The correct answer to the quiz will be:
'because during bottle-aging is when that natural spiciness develops.'
2006 Vintage R.G. Pinot Noir (Wrotham Clone)
REPRINTED FOR THOSE WHO WANT THE ORIGINAL STORY
Spring, 2006 was colder than usual in Napa Valley, but otherwise, the year was well suited to red wine production. To play it safe, we thinned the crop a full 10% in early July, 2006. I felt especially courageous about deliberately under-cropping because the crop level wasn’'t heavy to begin with. This 2006 would be the very first red wine made from Wrotham Pinot grapes in many centuries, so we wanted to do everything as cautiously as possible. In the end, we harvested just 8.725 tons of fruit, which gave our 2006 "First vintage" every chance to stand out.
Harvest date was September 25, about one month later than it would have been if we had made Sparkling Wine that year. Grape maturity was just over 24 degrees Brix, whereas we would have picked at 19 degrees if we had been making Sparkling Wine. The crushing and fermentation were done at nearby Monticello Vineyards. Natural grape acidity was nearly perfect; we added just a smidge of tartaric acid to lower the pH from 3.54 to 3.47 to guarantee a clean fermentation. D-254 natural yeast was used and the must fermented smoothly at 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
After malo-lactic fermentation, we aged the wine in French oak barrels for just over a year before the bottling on March 26, 2008. Oak character in this wine is particularly well balanced and I think you'll like this wine as much as I do. We ended up with only 516 cases and the first release took place in late 2008.The best news: We've adjusted the price to reflect today's weak economy. The CA retail price is now only $30 per 750 (down from the original $40). Take advantage of the 10% off for 12-bottle case purchases, but remember that we made only 516 cases in 2006 and less than a hundred of that remains in January, 2010.
It was clearly ready to drink by the Autumn 2008 initial release but the quality has improved further with more bottle age. The 2006 was served successfully on Thanksgiving 2008, then again on Thanksgiving and Christmas 2009, and it is certain to hold well in bottle at cellar temperatures for at least fifteen and probably twenty five years. I made this wine in the style of classic French Burgundies rather than those "high alcohol bomb" type Pinots that consumers now endure too often in California. Expect this 2006 to age beautifully, developing significant "Bottle Bouquet" by 2011. See aging comments in the tab above titled ‘'Three R.G. Wines.'’
It surprises many wine enthusiasts to learn that, many times, a Fine Pinot Noir will outlive a Fine Cabernet Sauvignon in the bottle. The best examples were provided by Beaulieu Vineyard, which produced the vast majority of California's truly world-class varietal wines in the 1940s, 50s, 60s and 70s (long before today's high class wineries arrived on the scene). As winemaster at Beaulieu from 1968 through 1973, I tasted all of the Beaulieu earliest vintages with Andre Tchelistcheff and can confirm that his greatest Pinot Noirs of 1945, 6 and 7 actually held up several years longer than his greatest Cabernet Sauvignons of the same vintages!
March 24, 2009 Announcement: We just received notification from Appellation America that this 2006 Richard Grant Pinot Noir received a Double Gold Medal in their tasting and evaluation of March 12, 2009. "Double Gold" is rare and it means that every one of the judges gave the wine a gold medal in their original evaluation.
In Blind Wine Tasting Competitions, all the judges don't necessarily agree precisely in their first scorings of any given wine. One judge might think a given wine deserves a Silver Medal, two others might think it's only a Bronze while the fourth judge might not like that wine at all and say "no award." If that happens, the panel would then discuss their scores, maybe taste again, and finally come to some compromise about whether, say, "wine number K1639" deserves a Silver, Bronze or No award.