For us, it will always be about the fruit since our first love lies with growing the grapes. We have been growing Pinot Noir at this site since the early 1980's. Its all we grow.
Carter fruit has gone to Ken Wright Cellars for many years now, and we are proud to have shared with Canary Hill the honor of being one of Ken's first two vineyard designates under the Panther Creek Label. Since 1990, both vineyards have continued as single vineyard bottlings with Ken Wright, retaining their distinctive tastes over the thirteen years.
In 1990 Domaine Serene Winery began to use the fruit from our Pommard Vines while Ken Wright kept the Wadensvil Clone. In 1999, 2000, and 2001 Domaine Serene made a Carter vineyard designate using the Pommard fruit with Tony Rynders as winemaker. We are very honored to have been associated with Panther Creek and Domaine Serene.
While there are no published ratings for vineyard management, Mark Gould would win top honors if there were.
Beginning with the 2002 vintage, the 3 acre Hillblock Pommard site forms the backbone of our own bottling. The Hillblock is the oldest area of the vineyard and, as our first grape growing experience, holds a particular connection for us.
The cool, wet spring in 2010 continued into early summer, delaying vine development and yielding a lower fruit set than we see in a typical year. Concern increased as the cool summer continued into September. Then the gift arrived Ė a beautiful Indian summer that took us through most of October, allowing the fruit to hang longer and ripen slowly. At Carter Vineyard we were lucky to have relatively few bird problems and were able to pick later in October, after the grape flavors had fully matured. Overall, the cool growing season, lower yields, and extended hang time contributed to a medium-bodied, classic style of Pinot, our personal favorite. We are pleased to end our wine production with such a vibrant, elegant vintage. In our recent sampling of the wine we noted the bright ruby color, and the hints of strawberry, raspberry, currant and cumin in the nose. These continue into the taste, combining with a lush mouth feel and hints of toast and black pepper. The cooler year provides both the structure to age well and a slightly lower alcohol level(12.4%). It is delicious now, but will only improve with further cellaring.
In 2009 we had record snowfall and cold. Both were helpful in suppressing pest populations, and gave way slowly to a long, cool spring. Bud break, typically in mid April, was instead at the end of the month, and we didnít encounter really warm weather until into July when sustained temperatures in the 100s were followed by several weeks in the 90s and 80s, and hot dry winds. Some dehydration occurred in shallow rooted young plants where sugars raced ahead of flavor development. August saved us with warm days and cool nights. The Hillblockís old (1983) vines with their deep roots sailed through the summerís trials in beautiful shape. Harvest was on October 10th with the grapes coming in at 26.0 degrees Brix and a pH of 3.30. The 2009 wine is a clear garnet color and bright in the nose with black cherries, raspberries, pepper, and nutmeg. The mouth opens with a burst of the same fruit and lingers as notes of vanilla and sandalwood slide over the ripe tannins. Delicious now.
Growing conditions in 2008 were excellent. Bud break was about two weeks late, and was followed by very moderate temperatures through most of the rest of the summer. Fruit set was good and, unlike some years, the berries and clusters were both evenly and moderately sized. Nature made up for the two week delay in bud break by providing a lovely long spell of warm, dry weather in October, allowing for wonderful flavor development and acid balance. We had the luxury of a leisurely harvest and picked the grapes exactly when we wanted - October 17 at 24.9 degrees Brix, with a pH of 3.32. The nose is rich with ripe black raspberry, cherry, hints of violets, coffee, spice, and an underlay of forest floor freshness. In the mouth, black cherries burst through, backed up by toast and a long, smooth, velvet finish.
You may remember 2007 as the summer that went well until the rains hit. We had a cool, damp spring that yielded a surprisingly good fruit set. May, June, and July gave us weeks of moderately warm weather, with only a few really hot days in July. August and the first half of September were mostly hot, then the temperature dropped into the 70's. Rain and very cool weather started on the 29th of September, and just kept coming. Everyone's dilemma was whether to pick at the end of September when the grapes were close to ripe, avoiding the potential loss to mold and rot, or to wait and see if the grapes would mature completely. With crossed fingers, we elected to wait, and we're glad we did. The vineyard was in excellent shape, thanks to strong management, and the grapes came through. When we harvested on October 16 we were at 24.5 degrees Brix , a pH of 3.55, and solidly ripe flavors. The wine is delicately fruity with cassis, black cherry, and boysenberry flavors underlain by earthy, chocolate spice and held together with deliciously ripe tannins.