2014 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 2014 vintage: To quote Antonio Galloni of Vinous, “The 2014 wines are absolutely brilliant, with a highly appealing interplay of richness, energy and structure. An unusual set of events unfolded during the year, leading to a magical Pinot harvest.” We could not agree more.
Tasting notes, updated Fall 2020: The 2014 West Ridge is reminiscent of the 2009, with concentrated, bright red fruit and well-integrated tannins. This was a phenomenal vintage for West Ridge, matching fruit density with this wine’s characteristic elegance. While already quite expressive, the 2014 will only improve with time.