THE 2018 VINTAGE
2018 was a wonderfully cool, sunny vintage. Mother Nature was generous: after a spell of intense summer fog, the skies parted and the sun came out, accompanied by a perfectly timed wind. Ripening continued under clear blue skies, slow and steady, as the best vintages do.
The 2018 wines are incredibly expressive – inviting, charming and complex. The Pinot Noirs are red fruited and forward on the attack, with long, supple tannins that speak to ideal ripening conditions. The Chardonnay, which loves cold vintages, is one of the best in recent years.
The dark fruit intensity and freshness of the 2018 Pinot Noirs remind us of the superb 2011s, but with more structure and aging potential. 2018 is an excellent year for both the impatient drinker and the collector.
The winter of 2018 was a rollercoaster. December was very dry and significantly warmer than average. Then the weather gods changed their minds and January was wetter than average, although almost all the rain fell in one weather event on January 8-9.
We had a nerve-wracking spell of very warm, dry weather in late January and into early February. Luckily the vines were not deceived, and they remained dormant. We waited as long as we could to finish the pruning and were rewarded with dramatically cooler weather in mid-February, including snow on February 19.
Bud break began in late March under ideal weather conditions. The first week of April we received a perfectly timed 7” of rain over two days.
Due to cool and cloudy weather in most of May, bloom was slow to start. As it warmed up at the end of May, bloom took off and set finished around June 10.
July was mostly cool until the end of the month, when a heat wave began: 90 degree temps during the day, and barely cooling off to the high 60s at night. Due to the cool weather, veraison was barely at 1% as of July 30th. The first half of August was temperate: 80 to low 90s during the day; 60s at night.
Around August 19 the fog rolled in with a vengeance and it cooled down dramatically. The Pinot at this point was on average about 40% veraison. Temps barely reached the high 60s during the day, and most days we had heavy, wet fog with high humidity. Many days, the morning fog didn’t burn off until noon, and then come rolling back at 4pm. It was starting to feel a lot like the difficult 2010 vintage.
These foggy conditions increased disease pressure, which we combatted with intensive canopy management (leaf removal, et al) and biodynamic anti-fungals like stinging nettle tea. The grape skins continued to develop while sugar accumulation remained very slow, ideal circumstances which allowed us to thin carefully and take our time with this all-important vineyard work.
Finally the fog lifted, the sun came out, and the wind arrived! Just in time – the grape skins had not yet softened, so we were spared the worst of the potential disease issues. The wind dried everything out, and verasion continued. It remained remarkably cold, but sunny and clear. Sugar accumulation was exceedingly slow, meanwhile skins matured and color was developing.
Around September 7, it began to warm up. Prior to the heat, we were seeing fully colored skins but with exceedingly high acid and a lack of flavor. After the heat, color and flavor increased dramatically, and harvest started on the 11th. It cooled off in mid-September gifting us with ideal conditions for picking.
THE 2018 WINES
The 2018 wines are incredibly expressive – inviting, charming and complex. The wines are mostly red fruited and forward on the attack, with long, supple tannins that speak to ideal ripening conditions. The vintage reminds us of the excellent 2011 wines, but with a bit more structure and aging potential. 2018 is an excellent year for both the impatient drinker and the collector.
In 2018, we produced the following wines at Hirsch Vineyards:
2018 HIRSCH VINEYARDS ESTATE CHARDONNAY
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. The Chardonnay vines thrive in cooler growing seasons, and the wine really shines this year.
2018 HIRSCH VINEYARDS ‘BOHAN DILLON’ PINOT NOIR
The Bohan Dillon is an affordable world-class Pinot Noir that brings to your glass the full spectrum of the True Sonoma Coast. Precociously charming and utterly quaffable, this wine is produced using the exact same winemaking methods and with the same attention to detail as our other pinots. The 2018 Bohan Dillon is a blend of 70% Hirsch Vineyards Pinot Noir and 30% Hellenthal Vineyard Pinot Noir, the only vineyard contiguous to Hirsch.
2018 HIRSCH VINEYARDS ‘FAMILY BLEND’ ESTATE PINOT NOIR
To craft the 2018 Family Blend, David and Jasmine Hirsch selected eight of our most delicious and happiness-inducing barrels from the 2018 vintage. This is a wine with the drinkability and lustiness of our Bohan Dillon Pinot, but with heightened concentration and complexity.
2018 HIRSCH VINEYARDS ‘SAN ANDREAS FAULT’ ESTATE PINOT NOIR
The San Andreas Fault Estate Pinot Noir is the flagship wine from Hirsch, and the wine that represents the summation of our complex vineyard. David Hirsch says if you drink only one of our wines this should be it. 100% estate, 100% Hirsch. Produced in magnum, 750ml and 375ml.
2018 HIRSCH VINEYARDS ‘MARITIME RIDGE’ ESTATE PINOT NOIR
David Hirsch planted the Maritime Fields in 1990. Just five years later, they tragically succumbed to the vine disease phylloxera. Undaunted, he replanted them. In 2018, twenty-eight years after first breaking ground, we bottled the inaugural release of the Hirsch Maritime Estate Pinot Noir. This wine is a deep expression of a unique and particular place, and a celebration of David's determination and optimism.
2018 HIRSCH VINEYARDS ‘WEST RIDGE’ ESTATE PINOT NOIR
The West Ridge Estate Pinot Noir is a very limited production bottling from the cool Western Ridge of Hirsch. Heavy clay soils and leaf-roll virus act as dramatic stressors to the vines in part of the West Ridge, resulting in a wine of delicacy, ethereal fruit and soft tannins. It is a wine that seduces with perfume and mystery, rather than with power. Produced in magnum and 750ml.
2018 HIRSCH VINEYARDS ‘EAST RIDGE’ ESTATE PINOT NOIR
The East Ridge is a topographically distinct micro-site within the Hirsch Vineyard, sloping steeply into our eastern canyon and thereby relatively protected from the Pacific Ocean. Two thirds of the vines on the East Ridge have phylloxera, a disease that attacks the roots and inhibits the vine’s uptake of nutrients. This results in some of the lowest yields at Hirsch, and requires extremely intensive and careful farming. The East Ridge Pinot Noir is a powerful expression of the Hirsch Vineyard, with fantastic structure, concentration and fruit. One of our most cellar-worthy wines. Produced in magnum and 750ml.
2018 HIRSCH VINEYARDS ‘RASCHEN RIDGE’ ESTATE PINOT NOIR
Made from the highest elevation vineyards at Hirsch, the Raschen Ridge Estate Pinot Noir is a wine of electric, kinetic expressiveness. Highly perfumed with bright red fruit on the nose, it has tremendous structure and concentration on the palate. Sexy and serious, drinkable and age-worthy, the Raschen Ridge is a wine for both the hedonist and the collector. Henry Raschen (1854–1937) was a painter of the American West who lived on the ranch that is now Hirsch Vineyards. Old-timers called our ranch the Raschen Place, and Henry’s house stood here until 1954. Produced in magnum and 750ml.
2018 HIRSCH VINEYARDS ‘BLOCK 8’ ESTATE PINOT NOIR
Block 8 has long seduced us with its power, complexity and singular character. David Hirsch has always considered this his grand cru parcel. The soils here are comprised of a reddish rock, high in iron oxide and with superb drainage. The Block 8 Pinot Noir is produced 100% from this special block, planted in 1993 to a field blend of the heritage Pinot Noir clones of Pommard and Wädenswil. In this wine you will find a pure and focused expression of one of the most unique sections of the Hirsch Vineyard. Produced in magnum and 750ml.
2018 HIRSCH VINEYARDS ‘RESERVE’ ESTATE PINOT NOIR
The Hirsch Reserve Pinot Noir is a selection of our best barrels from the oldest and finest vineyard blocks at Hirsch. It is the highest expression of this complex and deeply expressive site, and a true reserve of very limited production. The 2018 Reserve is red-fruited with hints of earth and mint. Classic Hirsch tannins provide backbone and gravitas. A true reserve of very limited production. Produced in magnum, 750ml and 375ml.