2018 Hopkins Ranch Pinot Noir
I don’t typically look for fruit from Russian River Valley – I prefer the colder and extreme reaches of the coast, but Bob Hopkins has something unique on his ranch. It’s just a few rows of old Swan clone Pinot Noir. (Clones are mutations of Pinot Noir vines that showed positive or improved traits and were then selected to be grown commercially. There are at least a dozen different Pinot Noir clones in California. Most come from France, but the Swan comes from right down the Russian River, original to Joseph Swan’s vineyard).
These particular vines at Hopkins Ranch are like tree trunks with double cordon arms that make them look like giant candelabras. They’re striking plants. Despite their grandeur, they’re past their most productive years and struggle a bit to ripen fruit. This means that they produce a small crop and that I have to be careful that any underripe clusters get separated, and that extraction stays low in the winemaking process. The cool thing is that they are super flavorful grapes, and although it’s a Pinot Noir with less color and extraction than I usually make, it’s balanced and delicious. Hopkins Ranch isn’t certified, but they farm organically, which I appreciate.