2016 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 2016 vintage: The 2016 Pinot Noirs are graced with the long, supple tannins that are a hallmark of our wines. The lengthy growing season and cool, sunny weather imparted notable fruit character to the wines. They are concentrated but elegant: the fruit is vertical, rather than horizontal.
Tasting notes, updated Fall 2020: Purity and energy define the 2016 West Ridge. Mysterious, complex aromatics are backed by generous red fruit. Very expressive now, this wine will only gain in complexity and interest with a few years in the cellar.