The 2012 Vintage
The 2012 vintage was one of California’s most heralded. Nature was generous in providing a bountiful vintage that is also one of the finest we have ever seen in terms of quality. It has produced some of the most exceptional and cellar-worthy wines we have ever seen at Hirsch Vineyards. The pinot noirs are characterized by fruit intensity, a profound tannic structure, and complexity. They will benefit time in the cellar to show their full potential.
The year began with much moisture and warm weather so there was movement in the buds in mid February. The pruning results seemed average in terms of projected quality and quantity, so we were totally unprepared for the high average yields and exceptional quality the vintage produced.
March was cool, wet, and windy with some snow on the ground. Plant nature has her own calendar specific to each year, and the vines told us in 2012 that it was to be a year of early development and ripening. In spite of the nasty weather, the buds began to open March 10, and the vineyards were in full bud break on April 1. Still, flowering was delayed until June 1 when the good weather hit and continued into June producing one of the quickest bloom time periods on record: only 23 days.
Once the crop is set (pollination is complete and seed development begins), the berries expanded at a dramatic rate as their cells both divided and enlarged. This went on for about a month until cell division ceased. At this point berry growth is only by expansion. This latter, pre-veraison period, is called the lag time. And it was the exceptional enlargement of the fruit during the lag time that lead to the big crop at harvest.
We saw some color in late July as we began to thin back the big crop. Veraison (judged by when roughly 50% of the fruit shows color.) was August 3, forty-one days from set, the longest period of berry sizing since 1997. The weather was funky with short shots of mist and fog, so we had to contend with mildew and, later on, botrytis wanting to infect the vines and fruit. Being on the front of the coastal hills, we have developed over time effective means of dealing with this disease pressure. Also, our new biodynamic preparations and teas were very useful in helping to control the fungus and mold.
We finished the green harvest September 6, the day after the harvest began. Weather during harvest was great other than a four day period of fog and cold in the middle. The last bin was unloaded on October 3. Our hard-working vines produced a record total of 214 tons or 3.14 tons per acre. As we have mentioned before, good farming is about the totality of effects and is not limited to a selection of factors. Quality is all about balance, not individual numbers. Given the care and attention that our soils and vines receive, the 2012 yields did not produce stress nor did it diminish the fruit and wine quality. Rather the 2012 vintage at the Hirsch Vineyards site gave us the gift of quality in abundance.
THE 2012 WINES
In 2012 we produced the following wines at Hirsch Vineyards:
There are a mere 3.9 acres of chardonnay vines planted at Hirsch. From this tiny planting, we produce one wine per year, our Hirsch Vineyards Estate Chardonnay. Purity, restraint, acidity and moderate use of new oak define this wine.
760 cs produced, 13.5% alc, 3.58 pH
The 2012 Bohan-Dillon Estate Pinot Noir is 100% Hirsch, 100% estate. It is an affordable world-class pinot noir that brings to your glass the full spectrum of Hirsch, at a very agreeable price.
600 cs produced, 12.8% alc, 3.66 pH
The San Andreas Fault Estate Pinot Noir is the flagship wine from Hirsch, and the wine that represents the summation of our complex vineyard. The 2012 vintage has produced one of the most exceptional and cellar-worthy vintages we have ever seen. Produced in magnum, 750ml and 375ml.
2,098 cs produced, 13.2% alc.
The 2012 Hirsch West Ridge Estate Pinot Noir is a very limited production bottling from the oldest and most exceptional sections on the cool West Ridge of Hirsch. It is feminine and mysterious, with an elegant structure and complex aromatics. The West Ridge is the most delicate of our wines, with soft tannins and transparent fruit. It is a wine that seduces with complexity and mystery, rather than with power.
320 cs produced, 12.8% alc.
The 2012 East Ridge Estate Pinot Noir is a selection of the very best barrels from the oldest blocks on the East Ridge, a topographically distinct micro-site within the Hirsch Vineyard. Sloping into a steep canyon on the east side of Hirsch, it is planted to the heritage pinot noir clones of Mount Eden, Swan and Pommard, with a smattering of the Dijon clone 114. The East Ridge is a masculine and powerful expression of the Vineyard, with fantastic structure, concentration and fruit.
470 cs produced, 13.0% alc.
Located on the western ridge of the Hirsch Vineyard, Block 8 has long seduced us with its power, complexity and singular character. David Hirsch has always considered this his grand cru parcel. The Block 8 Pinot Noir is produced 100% from this special block, planted in 1993 to the heritage pinot noir clone of Pommard mixed with Wädenswil.
290 cs produced, 13.4% alc.
The 2012 Hirsch Vineyards Reserve Pinot Noir is a selection of the best barrels from the oldest and finest vineyard blocks at Hirsch. It is a true reserve of very limited production.
570 cs produced, 13.1% alc.
The oldest vines at Hirsch were planted by David Hirsch in 1980. Less than one acre of those vines remain, planted on their own roots (ungrafted) to the heritage pinot noir clone of Pommard mixed with Wädenswil. In 2012 we bottled this special block on its own.
95 cs produced, 12.8% alc.
We are holding this wine back for release at a future date.