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Block 8

by Jasmine Hirsch, April 2022

David Hirsch has long considered Block 8 to be his grand cru parcel. It produces wines of remarkable elegance and confidence, with a consistent expression year after year. Characterized by plush, rich fruit, interwoven with elegant and seamless tannins, it is one of our most expressive and age-worthy wines.

Since planting Block 8 in 1993, the quality of the vineyard has been evident. The vines find their own natural balance, requiring minimal farming inputs. However, it has taken us time to understand how best to vinify the wine.

The First Vintage

In 2007 we decided to bottle our first single block wines at Hirsch. It was a superb vintage, and many of our best vineyards were approaching 20 to 30 years of age. The time was right. To select the single block wines, we blind-tasted all our top fields, of which Block 8 was of course one. We fully expected Block 8 to win out, but when the wines were revealed, we had all voted it down. The consensus was that it was an excellent wine, but not a standalone one. In other words, it lacked individuality and terroir.

This was a wake-up call for us to evaluate our farming and winemaking approach to Block 8. We knew the vineyard was stellar; the question was how to realize its full potential in the cellar. Over the next few years,  we allowed the vines to express more of their natural vigor, leaving a heavier crop and modifying our pruning techniques. In the winemaking, we started picking earlier and employed a judicious use of whole cluster in the fermentation.

Finally, in 2011, the vineyard and wine arrived, and we produced our first Block 8 Pinot Noir bottling. Every year since then we have produced this wine. Quantities are small, and we reserve almost all of the wine for our members. The final Block 8 Pinot Noir is always a selection of the finest barrels from the best parcels in Block 8 in the given vintage. 

The Vineyard

David planted Block 8 with cuttings from The Old Vineyard. It’s a field blend of two heritage Pinot Noir clones, the French Pommard and the Swiss Wädenswil. Block 8 is the only vineyard at Hirsch with soils predominantly from the Boomer (Mendocino) formation. This soil is characterized by a reddish tint from high amounts of iron oxide, and the rock and gravel content in the soil averages 40-70% throughout. This results in superb drainage, allowing the roots to run deep and pervasive.

Block 8 is located at the north-western end of Hirsch, nestled at the foot of the old Chardonnay hill. It enjoys the Goldilocks climate of the West Ridge, with just the right amount of fog. It's slightly warmer than the West Ridge, however, due to a more sheltered aspect and its rocky soils, which hold the afternoon sun.

The field is laid out in six individual farming blocks, based on the rock content, associated water holding capacity, and aspect. Each block is farmed and vinified individually.