The Tasting Panel magazine

August 2012

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Page 87 of 128

INTRO-VINOUS Rearing Pinot Noir I WITH THE EVOLUTION OF ITS FRUIT, LAETITIA REAPS AN ERA OF SOPHISTICATION by Meridith May n the heart of the Arroyo Grande appellation along California's Central Coast, about a two-hour drive north from Santa Barbara, Laetitia Vineyard and Winery is visible from the Highway 101 as one heads north. Graced with hillsides of vines and cobblestones that accentuate its soils, this property has developed in its 30 years of existence to become one of the most acclaimed Burgundian-style Pinot Noir houses in the region. While it is adored for its Brut Cuvée and Brut Rosé (the property was originally home to French-owned sparkling wine house Maison Deutz), the property has evolved to bear expressive Pinot Noir fruit for its estate and single-vineyard labels. VP of Vineyard Operations Lino Bozzano and President/Head Laetitia's trio: VP of Production and Sparkling Winemaker Dave Hickey; President and Head Winemaker Eric Hickey; and VP of Vineyard Operations Lino Bozzano. La Colline is named for the hillside on which she is grown. Colline is French for hillside. Winemaker Eric Hickey recently took a break at the winery, to sit down with THE TASTING PANEL to talk about progress and production. "We used to have one way to handle the fruit zone and canopy management," explains Bozzano, in reference to our last visit with them—eight years ago. "Now we factor in soil texture and sun exposure. We've tailored leaf removal to mimic a rotisserie." With many blocks expressing different styles, Bozzano and Hickey have learned how to achieve more sophistication in the glass. "But there's something else that has helped the wines since we've seen you," notes Hickey, who looks like he got younger. "Vine age! Eight years ago the majority of the ranch was still in its infant stages. "We're actually in the fifteenth year of making wine from the new plantings. Through our process of making small lots of wine from the different soils, clone and rootstocks (75 batches annually), we've learned the vineyards and witnessed the transformation from wines dominated by clonal characteristic to wines dominated by site characteristics. Utilizing 65 percent of fruit from the SIP Certified sustainable estate, Laetitia sells the remainder to other wine producers. The Pinot Fog hits the vineyards in Arroyo Grande at Laetitia Winery, one of the largest contigu- ous Pinot Noir estates in California. Noirs gravitate towards red fruit and structured spice: there's a common thread of ripeness, accented with minerals. We fell in love with Laetitia 2008 La Colline Pinot Noir, Arroyo Grande ($60), the single-vineyard beauty that took up residence in an old "champagne" block, planted with tight spacing that mirrors a French approach. While many single vineyards are blends of clones, La Colline is planted to a single Martini (California Heritage) clone. With her nose an earthen rose and raspberry, her body is sensual, tannins balancing her with every step. Hickey predicts the '09 vintage will be even sexier. august 2012 / the tasting panel / 87 PHOTO: DIANNE PORCHIA PHOTO: COURTESY OF LAETITIA WINERY PHOTO: COURTESY OF LAETITIA WINERY

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