From a historic Mendocino vineyard pitched on the lofty slopes of Cloverdale’s Pine Mountain. Jim McCutchen boast 70-year old, head-pruned, dry-farmed vines planted on south-facing exposures at 2200-2400 feet. The soil is a mix of hard shale & clay. This rapidly vanishing California grape variety—made in this ‘old-timey’ way—harkens back to the Golden State’s earliest winemaking efforts.
Most of the nearly-extinct Carignan in California is found on the valley floor near Ukiah. Back in 2012, we followed a lead to a remote vineyard up on Pine Mountain—pitched on a rocky slope at 2,400 feet. Our first glimpse at this site told us all we needed to know. Before us, was a stand of mid-century, dry-farmed Carignan vines being attended to by the reclusive grower who hand-planted them nearly 70-years ago. The tough soil and steep slopes would challenge even a well-equipped vineyard crew and yet here was this 83-year old grower from another era going at it alone. Incredible.
22.8 tons of this old-vine Carignan were hand-harvested on Sept 14, 24, and 25. An intense sorting was done to select for only the best clusters. The triaged fruit was ‘submerged cap’ fermented (100% whole cluster) in T-bins & was pumped-over only when necessary during an 18-day fermentation. It spent 9-mos. in neutral oak & 1-month in tank prior to bottling.