Carneros is renowned for stellar Chardonnay, so although our project is focused on Pinot, we couldn’t resist planting a small block of Chardonnay. The selection of Old Wente Chardonnay came to us as budwood from the Winery Lake and Larry Hyde vineyards. It’s a charming field selection, yielding a host of aromas and flavors from classic apple to banana to floral, including the occasional heady perfume of a musqué cluster. While Pinot is our obsession, we love drinking this Chardonnay, and wanted to offer you the same opportunity. In 2013 we planted another small block of Wente clone Chardonnay and this fruit is included in the final blend for the first time in 2016.
The Donum Ranch covers the slopes of three hills in the Carneros region just north of San Pablo Bay. Nestled amid these hills is a 50-acre vineyard, planted to a diverse collection of Dijon clones and heirloom selections of Pinot Noir. Our Carneros Estate Grown Pinot Noir not only comes from the best blocks in our vineyard – our grand cru sites – but also is a selection of the most appealing barrels within each lot. For the first time in 2015, the Donum Carneros Pinot Noir included fruit from our newest vineyard blocks at the front of the property as you drive in. Despite their young age, these vines are already showing exceptional quality, and over the coming years we expect to add even more fruit from these blocks to the Estate blend.
West Slope comes from the middle portion of our west-sloping 4-90 vineyard block, a 5.5-acre site at the Donum Ranch. The Donum Selection has always been the mainstay clone of our Donum Carneros Pinot Noir. Beginning in 2007, as the vines developed further depth and complexity with age, this block seemed to cry out to be bottled as a stand-alone, and the West Slope bottling was born. The West Slope truly represents the culmination of our search for the top Pinot Noir terroirs in Carneros.
With all the new vineyards coming into production on our estate, there is a natural inclination to start doing some single block bottlings. However, we have held fast to the idea that we will only do such bottlings when a block really stands out for its unique character. The block of Wadenswil clone next to our “White Barn” has stood out from the beginning due to its unique exposure and slightly different soils. For this wine we pick a little bit earlier, and use some stems in the fermentation to vinify a wine with light, delicate structure and a more red-fruit driven expression of Pinot Noir.Tech sheet
When our Russian River Vineyard was planted in 1997 by Anne Moller-Racke and Joe Nugent, 11 acres were planted to Dijon clones 115 and 667. In 2008 we decided to plant 5 more acres on an adjacent plot, this time to Pommard clone. The idea was that in these slightly more gravelly soils, the Pommard clone would thrive and produce an elegant, perfumed wine to play off of the rich, powerful dark fruit flavors produced by the Dijon clones. We named this block of Pommard clone “Ten Oaks” after the ten majestic trees that border it on two sides.
The Winside Vineyard was planted to all Pinot Noir in 1997 and 2008, but over the years we couldn’t help but think that chardonnay might also thrive on this site. After a certain clone continued to fall short of our expectations over several years, we decided in 2015 to take the opportunity to t-bud some different clones onto the already existing root system to learn what might perform better on this site. In addition, we took a small section and budded over to chardonnay, finally giving us the chance to make a Russian River chardonnay. The 2016 marks the inaugural release of this wine, and if it is any indication, the site is certainly well-suited to chardonnay.Tech sheet
Our Russian River Valley Pinot Noir comes from the Nugent vineyard, planted in 1997 by Anne Moller-Racke and Joe Nugent. The natural variations in soil across the vineyard, along with the blend of Dijon and heritage clones, results in a complex wine, with richness from the 667 and elegance and finesse from the Pommard and Calera clones. Fog from the Pacific generally recedes fairly early in the day resulting in plenty of sun, but prevailing winds from the west keep this site cooler in the afternoon, allowing for extended hang time. Starting in 2012 we began to include some fruit from the Pommard block in the estate blend.
Our Russian River Reserve Pinot Noir is a best-barrel selection from the Winside vineyard, planted in 1997. We have developed an intimate knowledge of the blocks over the past 20 years, but we have found that several of the blocks are close enough in pedigree that the ultimate quality in a given vintage comes down to the vagaries of the growing conditions and fermentations that year. For this reason, when it comes time to select the blend for the Russian River Reserve, we keep an open mind, and allow the wine in barrel to dictate the final blend. In 2015, the Dijon 667 proved to be the better wine, and so is the predominate part of the blend.
In 2015 we decided to graft part of our Russian River estate vineyard to different clones of pinot noir and chardonnay. The advantage of grafting is that it allows us to bring some new plant diversity to the vineyard, while at same time keeping of the existing root system, which is the main reason that older vines produce deeper, more complex wines. One of the clones that we planted is the Calera selection, which has been one of our favorites on our Carneros ranch. This decision was immediately rewarded, as from the very first vintage it has been clear that this clone performs exceedingly well on our Russian River site. The Heritage Clones Pinot Noir is a selection of the top barrels from this block.Tech sheet
One of two Donum wines from the Angel Camp vineyard in the “deep end” of the Anderson Valley, north of Philo, where ocean fog keeps temperatures cool much of the summer, the Anderson Valley bottling is blended from across the ranch. The vineyard is planted to seven different clones of Pinot Noir planted in iron-rich, sandy soil at about 500 feet above sea level on a knoll with several different aspects. The Anderson Valley bottling represents a barrel-selected blend from all of these blocks and offers Donum’s interpretation of this fast growing appellation.
The 2015 Angel Camp Vineyard Pinot Noir represents our top barrel blend from this impressive hillside vineyard. With seven different clones planted, the vineyard provides plenty of variety to work with, presenting a unique blending challenge. When we decided to work with Anderson Valley fruit, our goal was to create a wine that stays true to the terroir of the region but also expresses the Donum style of Pinot Noir. This elegant, expressive, and balanced Pinot Noir is exactly what we had in mind.
The best Pinot Noir I've tasted all year ...
Greg WalterPinot Report
Few vintners in Carneros are more capable at growing Pinot Noir than Anne Moller-Racke, who has farmed wine grapes in the region for nearly 30 years. Donum wines are routinely outstanding, typically among the highest scoring Pinot Noirs from the region.
Your wines have achieved a level of excellence that few wineries attain in California.
Rusty GaffneyPrince of Pinot
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