2020 Pét Nat Pinot Noir Production Notes

“Let’s Party” was crafted by hand in an ancient sparkling wine process, Méthode Ancestral. The result was a this feisty, young, fruit forward, low tannin, playful way of revisiting the past. Full cluster fermentation.  Cherry notes on the palette. Orange blossom, Indian baking spices, high-tone cherry, dusty tannins on the finish.  A delightful wine. Case production 34.

First, the Saignee! While crafting our popular and delicious Bacigalupi Pinot Noir, we typically “bleed off” just a little bit of the juice from the tank of fermenting must. This leaves a higher skin-to-juice ratio for the main tank during fermentation, giving us the desired concentration and richness we seek in that wine. The French call this Saignee, literally translated as “to bleed”, and it leaves us with a rose colored bi-product wine, typically just used for “topping”.

Aubrey shaking each bottle to agitate the lees and encourage fermentation.

The second step we then took was to keep this juice separate while it continued to ferment, and then, using an ancient process called the Méthode Ancestral, we bottled the wine while it was still fermenting, thus trapping in CO2, producing bubbles.

Juan freezing the “lees.”

The last step is to riddle the sediment from the native yeast to the neck of the bottle, freeze it and disgorge the ice “plug”.

Once disgorging (each bottle by hand) is complete, each bottle is topped off and a new crown cap applied.
Disgorged, ready for labeling.
Kimmy hand labeling each bottle.

All of this is done by hand, so very time consuming and labor intensive. But the result, a delicious Pétillant Naturel of Pinot Noir (frequently referred to as a “Pét Nat”) is worth it. If we hadn’t already committed these bottles, we probably would have just kept them for ourselves.

Learn more about the CAST Creative Lab Here.

CAST Creative Lab Wraps Up for 2021

We have wrapped up the first year of the CAST Creative Lab (CCL) and a huge THANK YOU for all those exploratory wine drinkers out there who fearlessly explored some familiar wine varietals made in bright, exciting and surprising ways. Supporting CAST in this program not only allowed us to roll up our sleeves during the pandemic and try some new processes, but also allowed our winemaking and marketing teams to engage their skills, stretch their intuitive wine making senses, and explore their creativity. We are certainly honored to have a team that exemplifies the spirit of exploration and understands that taking risks can yield the some delightful results.

Two wines from the CCL program will graduate to our main assortment in the Spring of 2022 ; the Pét Nat of Pinot Noir (Let’s Party) and the White Zinfandel (Don’t Judge Me). These two wines were received so well when introduced  into our tasting flights we decided to continue them, bottling this coming January.

CCL for 2022 is still under development, two of three wines we had planned for the vintage suffered from a fruit shortage (no, not the drought) courtesy of a hungry bear. We hope she/he has delightful dreams this winter! But we are moving forward with a unique  style Rosé, if you’re interested in being on the CCL mailing list, please send us a note and we’ll keep you current on this and future experimental wines.

Night Picking

Night picking – It’s what the cool kids do.

Cooler temperatures keep sugar levels stable, and acid levels are better. Cool fruit means better control over the fermentation process. Night picking (or should we say early morning picking) happens during the coolest time of day, which is around 3AM.

Safe to say the pickers prefer the night as well. The lower temperatures not only mean less sunburns from the sweltering sun, but bees and snakes are sound asleep as well. All in all, it is worth the early wake up call.

Additionally, we prefer a good cold soak after pick. Grapes are cooled to below 55 Degrees for several says before fermentation. Cold soaking gives us more color, and more flavor!

 

Flowering

Flowering usually happens about 4 to 6 weeks after bud break, depending on weather. This can be a stressful time, as this stage will determine the amount of berries on each grape cluster, and the delicate grape flowers are vulnerable to damage from wind, rain, or even late frost.

Precautions can be taken – the use of giant fans to circulate the air, or sprinkling the vines with water to shield them in ice (yes, really!). Fortunately, frost is rarely an issue for us here in beautiful Dry Creek Valley.

On April 14th, we noticed the very first signs of flowering in the Zinfandel Vineyard this year. No, bees aren’t needed here, as the grape vines take care of the pollinating process on their own!

 

The Barrels

Bottling started around July 27th this year.

The tasty juice has been sitting in barrel, just waiting for its moment to shine. We feel that French Oak gives the grapes the best opportunity to show their true personality. From the Barrel Aged Sauvignon Blanc (6 months in barrel), to the inaugural Bordeaux Blend (24 months in Barrel), they all took different paths until finally settling again in the bottle.

Cross-Flow Filtration

Cross-Flow Filtration – used right before we bottle the wine.

Wine is run over a thin organic membrane. The liquid parts of the wine pass through the membrane, while the particles are pushed across. Wine passed through the membrane is bottled.

We don’t always filter. But when we do, we prefer to use a Padovan 4 Chamber Cross-Flow Filtration System.

WHY DO WE FILTER?

Wine is ever-changing, even in the bottle. There is always a chance the wine can spoil. Any bacteria remaining in the wine after bottling increases the risk of spoilage. Cross-flow filtration not only removes remaining yeast particles that cloud the wine, but it also eliminates all presence of bacteria. We prefer our wine to be bacteria-free.

WHEN DO WE LEAVE A WINE UNFILTERED?

When the opportunity presents itself. For the 2019 vintage, we have two wines that are unfiltered. Our 2019 Quail Hill Chardonnay, and the 2019 Bacigalupi Pinot Noir.

Both wines went through full Malolactic Fermentation (we will talk more about this in a future post). This secondary fermentation gets rid of any unwanted bacteria.

We are extremely excited about all the changes at Cast. This is the first vintage we have used a cross-filtration system. Imagine feeding the wine through a giant sponge several times. Now imagine the wine flowing across the surface of the sponge. Both get the job done. The latter is much gentler on the wine, works more efficiently, and wastes less wine.

Cold Stabilization

Cold Stabilization – the process of cooling the wine that causes tartaric acid to form tartrate crystals, also known as wine diamonds.

WHY DO WE DO IT?

Well, as fun as wine diamonds sound, most people would prefer that they weren’t in their wine. They are completely harmless and have no taste. Oddly enough, crushed tartrate crystals are the same thing as cream of tartar, which makes snickerdoodle cookies taste better.

We put all of our white wines through cold stabilization. For 2 weeks before bottling, the wine sits in the tank at 30 degrees. The copper pipes freeze, as well as the outer coat of the tank.

Veraison

The official definition of veraison is “change of color of the grape berries”.

It represents the transition from berry growth to berry ripening. We first noticed this change for the 2020 season on July 10th in the Watson Old Vine Zinfandel Vineyard.

The green berries have zero brix (brix is the measurement of sugar level in the grapes), and the purple berries that we spotted were closer to 5 brix. We are looking for around 23 brix to harvest.

White grapes of course go through the veraison process as well, but instead of changing color, they become more translucent.

To see this process for yourself, we highly recommend visiting a vineyard in the Summer – late July or August is the best time to be able to spot this transition in the grapes.

Things are moving along very quickly this year!

Happy 2022!Take advantage of this rare deal andrestock your cellar.

As a thank you for your support, and to celebrate a new year, 
we want to offer everyone 15% off ANY WINE purchase and $1 dollar ground shipping on 6+ bottles now through January 31st. Members enjoy 25% off ALL WINES and $1 ground shipping on 6+ bottles now until January 31st! Not a member?
Please reach out to our
 Member Concierge to assist you selecting the perfect CAST Membership for you.

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