January 28, 2009
An Update on Our 2006 Red Wines and the Winemaking
Hello everyone, Steve Pride here. I just wanted to share a few thoughts about our current release wines and current winemaking team.
Our red wines from the 2006 vintage distinguish themselves from 2005 by having finer tannins that are better integrated at a younger age. To be sure, these wines have a definite structure to them as you should expect from us, but the ripe finish is more elegant and refined than in recent vintages. In general, all of our 2006 red wines are more forward and integrated at their young age than their 2005 counterparts were at a similar age. This flies in contrast to the reputation the vintage is acquiring for having produced Bordeaux varietals that bear an excessive tannic structure. With our own unique climate at 2000’ above the Napa Valley, the nature of our growing and ripening season is often in notable contrast to what other wineries in Napa and Sonoma experience.
For those of you who use Robert Parker’s advice to make buying decisions, please note that he reviewed our 2005 Reserve wines in his recent Wine Advocate #180. These wines were referred to as the 2006 Reserve wines in his report. Mr. Parker has not yet tasted our 2006 Reserve wines that were bottled just before Christmas and will be sold in February (more about them below).
An update on winemaking at Pride Mountain Vineyards: The last vintage in which Bob Foley was involved in all aspects of the winemaking was the 2004 vintage. Starting with the 2005 vintage, many of the harvest decisions were made by our long-time associate winemaker Romel Rivera. Romel and I put all the blends together on the 2005 wines and made all of the fining decisions. The 2006 vintage saw Romel making the vast majority of harvest decisions. It also was the first vintage to be entirely handled by the new winemaking team of Sally Johnson, who we hired in May of 2007, Romel Rivera and myself. This is the team we plan to go with into the indefinite future. The 2006, 2007 and 2008 vintages are all knock outs in concentrated ripeness and bode well of the future. Please come sample them for yourselves this winter at the winery. We would love to see you.
This new team has instilled a bit more elegance to the finish of our red wines without taking anything away from the intense fruit concentration that is one of our hallmarks. Although we want our wines to continue to stand out from the pack by having a bold structure to the finish (no worry there), we also want to emphasize a lingering sensuality that is never marred by overly gritty or chewy tannins. Mother Nature did this for us on the 2006 vintage while from the 2007 vintage onward, we have removed the stems from the must, reduced the intensity of our presses and changed certain protocols for the handling of the lees. The effect is to remove any excessive residual chalkiness from the finish of certain lots while filling out the mid-palate. Our 2006 reserve wines possess this quality and are going to be absolutely sensational after they rest in the bottle for the upcoming year; they are among the very finest wines we have ever made.
In the vineyards, the 2007 vintage saw the emergence of a new team involving our long-time consultant Paul Skinner (with us since 1990), who many believe is Napa Valley’s top expert on vines and soils, Sally Johnson and myself. The three of us have implemented many changes in each vineyard block designed to obtain optimal balance between fruit and canopy. Further, roughly 10 of our 83 acres have been replanted over the past three years in a goal of getting the optimal rootstock and clone on each block (and sub-block) across our entire estate. We now separately vinify more than 50 lots of wines in our cave each vintage in order to individually track all of the improvements we are making in the vineyards. By improving those blocks that had historically made weaker wines, the final blends are necessarily getting better with each passing vintage.
Despite the current economic situation, I wish you all a prosperous and enjoyable 2009. You can count on all of the wines to be released by us in 2009 to be as good, or better, than any wines we have produced. We are sparing no costs (this past year we spent hundreds of thousands of dollars updating our crush and production equipment, for example) and are cutting no corners, in order to make the best bottle of wine we can for you while still holding the line on prices. Your fidelity over the years is greatly appreciated. I can assure you that we here at Pride take nothing for granted and will continue to challenge ourselves to meet, and hopefully exceed, your expectations each and every vintage.
All the best, Steve Pride
Pictured left to right above: Steve Pride, Sally Johnson and Romel Rivera