2008 Richard Grant Wrotham Clone Napa Valley Pinot Noir
Weatherwise, 2007 and 2008 were remarkably similar to 2006. Both seemed only slightly warmer during summer and we were surprised when the 2007 crop ripened 'all at once' and was harvested on September 13th, twelve days earlier than in 2006. The 2008 was harvested on September 15th and crop size was almost exactly as small as 2007. I later realized that the combination of a lighter crop in 2007 and 2008 (added to slightly warmer days) made the difference. Normally a lighter crop means more varietal flavor but a warmer summer can mean less flavor, so how do the wines of these vintages compare? Comparing 'blind' in August, 2010, 2006 and 2007 seemed very similar to me. In fact, I was unable to identify them correctly when I tasted unmarked bottles with coded labels! I thought sample "A" was slightly bigger than "B" but sample "B" had more finesse. Both wines have wonderful balance and will go quite well with food. The one with more finesse turned out to be the 2007. The 2008 is a bigger wine, with more body and color than either the 2006 or 2007. Yet I expect that the 2008 will develop beautifully during further bottle-aging and eventually, we will all agree that 2008 is the best Wrotham clone Pinot Noir produced to date.
Having watched these vintages closely during aging, I've come to realize that this Wrotham clone of Pinot Noir has three attributes that set it apart from ordinary Pinot wines. First, it produces a cleaner, fresher looking red color than other Pinot Noirs. OK, that's not a big thing on its own because no Pinot Noir clone is known for huge red color. Second, Wrotham wines develop a pleasing softness and silky-smooth texture in the mouthfeel which was totally unexpected. It develops a few months after bottling and it is a major reason why you should expect R.G. Pinot Noir to enhance your finest dinner entrees paricularly well. (Not to put too fine an edge on that point, I have to admit that I've also enjoyed more than a few hamburgers with Wrotham too). Wrotham is a truly nice Pinot Noir and I guess it can be snooty or not depending on what you serve it with.