2012 Hirsch 'West Ridge' Estate Pinot Noir
The West Ridge Estate Pinot Noir is a selection of the finest and most expressive blocks on the west ridge of Hirsch. Planted between 1990 and 2003, it is a series of hilltop vineyard blocks, spread like vertebrae along the ridge’s spine. The soils on the West Ridge are highly heterogeneous, ranging from heavy black clay to sand to loam to yellow clay mixed with rock.
The foundation of the West Ridge Pinot Noir is Block 7, planted in 1990 with cuttings David Hirsch took from the Mount Eden Vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It is a true massale selection, with a diverse genetic makeup. The lineage of these plants can be traced back to Paul Masson, who brought Pinot Noir cuttings from Burgundy to California in the late 1800s. The genetic diversity of the plants imparts greater complexity to the wine, but also perpetuates the leaf-roll virus that came with the vines from Burgundy. The virus inhibits the ability of the vines to carry out photosynthesis and produce sugar. The result is wines that are more delicate, naturally lower in alcohol, and have extremely fine tannins.
The West Ridge Pinot Noir also includes the very best barrels from Blocks 6 and 12, planted to the heritage California Pinot Noir clones of Swan and Pommard-Wädenswil.
The West Ridge is the most delicate of our Pinot Noirs, with soft tannins and transparent fruit. This wine seduces with complexity and mystery, rather than with power. Despite its delicate body, it has fantastic aging potential, gaining complexity and aromatic lift with age. The tannins soften and lengthen, resulting in a supple, lifted mouthfeel that is remarkably persistent.
About the 2012 vintage: The 2012 vintage was one of California’s most heralded. It produced some of the most exceptional and cellar-worthy wines we have ever seen at Hirsch Vineyards. The wines are characterized by fruit intensity, a profound tannic structure, and complexity. They will benefit from time in the cellar to show their full potential.
Tasting notes, updated Fall 2020: The 2012 has more tannin than is typical for the West Ridge, yet it remains a supple and elegant wine. Concentrated fruit gives the wine heft, resulting in a more powerful expression of West Ridge. This wine has great potential to age, while also showing well now. Recommend to hold.