2022 Five Rows Pinot Gris
When our newest block of Pinot Gris was planted back in 2019, the original plan was to allow it to establish over the next couple of vintages then flourish into a full crop in 2022. Mother Nature had other plans, and those vulnerable young vines were forced to bear the brunt of a brutal winter.
The idea in founding a second block of Pinot Gris (Clone 53, rootstock 3309) was to provide a complimentary 8-row parcel to our original planting, which was starting to show signs of decline in both yield and vine health. The two blocks would co-exist for some time until the older vines needed to be pulled out altogether, hopefully later than sooner.
As it turned out, the only fruit available from either block in 2022 was that provided by the sucker shoots sprouting up from the bottom of the vine. Any clusters provided by these future trunks are a bonus, but can be challenging to keep clean growing so close to the ground. The number one concern for the vines at this stage is re-establishing trunks for next season, so this bonus fruit inevitably becomes a bit of an afterthought through the growing season.
That low hanging fruit was hand harvested on September 14th, 2022. We ended up with about 45 picking boxes in total or 542kg to be exact. After whole cluster pressing, the juice yield was a whopping 370L. It was decided to ferment 220L in neutral French oak and 150L in tank, using X16 yeast. The fermentations were conducted at an average of 9C and stopped at a specific gravity of 0.997.
The small volume winemaking employed in crafting this wine brought me back to the early days of Five Rows. Something about having an entire year’s production housed in one barrel and a very small tank rekindled those initial feelings of anticipation I experienced when making my first Pinot Gris in our “new” barn some 15 years earlier.
In the end, I’m very happy that we undertook the effort to vinify that small amount of Pinot Gris, as it would have been very easy to let the birds or the wasps have their way with the tasty, sweet clusters. Sentimentally, this vintage will always mark the first time we blended the fruit from both of our Pinot Gris blocks into one wine. The result is a beautifully complex and compelling white wine, with typical Pinot Gris aromatics of pear, apple, peach and honey. The texture is delicate and the wine comes across slightly off-dry on the palate. Best enjoyed at 50-60F, or just above typical refrigerator temperature.