Richard Grant

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It should not surprise you to learn that I have made a rule not to release any vintage of Richard Grant Pinot Noir for sale until we bottle-age the wine for at least one full year. Current usage rates suggest that we will be out of the 2006 vintage by about April/May, 2010. So, will the 2007 be ready when we need it?

After aging in barrels for the first year of its life, the 2007 was bottled in March, 2009, expecting to release it after another year -- around April, 2010. I am preparing the 2008 vintage for bottling in late March or early April, 2010. The 2009 vintage is drowsy and aging in French oak barrels in a warehouse near St Helena, to be removed for bottling sometime in early 2011. These wines will be ready for market on schedule.


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Pinot Noir

Richard Grant Pinot Noir (Wrotham Clone)

At least three things set this clone apart from all the ordinary Pinot clones:

First, it tends to produce table wines with a cleaner looking and more vivid red color than do most other clones of Pinot Noir. Ordinary Pinot Noir table wines often lack color -- but the Wrotham clone stands out by appearing just a little richer than the others. Winemakers have learned not to expect Pinot Noir wines to rival the big, dark and often inky color of expensive Cabernets. That’s O.K. wine lovers who choose Pinot often do so because of this wine’s delicacy and finesse. It is a plus for Wrotham that its color stands out in comparison with the commonly used clones.

The second thing wasn’t noticed until the 2006 Wrotham Pinot red wine had been aged in bottle for nearly a year. At that time this wine started to show a particularly pleasing softness and “silk-texture” mouthfeel that is rarely found in other Pinot Noir wines. It is almost unheard-of to find it in Cabernet Sauvignon or other Bordeaux varieties because of their excessive “massiveness.” In public tastings and competitions, I often overhear the description “silky smooth” given to the Richard Grant Pinot Noir wine by tasters and wine judges. Softness and finesse are major reasons why this wine goes so well with food. Other Pinot Noirs often seem too hot, alcoholic and lacking in varietal flavor to enjoy at mealtime. I’ve come to the conclusion that too-high alcohol in wine is a major reason why those wines’ appeal is lacking at table. They are usually consumed only at parties while walking around, and not enjoyed with meals. By contrast, enjoyment at mealtime is a primary virtue of Wrotham Pinot.

The third feature of Richard Grant Pinot Noir also was noticed only after the wine had been aged in the bottle for many months. It is even more noticeable after a new bottle is opened and the wine poured into a glass for a few minutes prior to smelling and tasting. At that time, tasters notice a beautiful clove-like spiciness in the nose and taste. Some call the spice nutmeg or cinnamon, some say it’s a combination. In any case it’s a desirable character that is lacking in ordinary Pinots but very appealing in Wrotham.

The Story Behind the Vine