What’s in a Name? A Spotlight on Sandy’s Pinot Noir
When it comes to crafting a name of a wine, the process and thought behind it are not to be taken lightly. This is what identifies the winery, the wine, the land, and the persona of the brand. At Melville, the thoughtful actions we take throughout our winegrowing process don’t stop in the cellar—we place just as much importance on the naming of our wines. Our Pinot Noir – Sandy’s Block is named after my aunt, my favorite aunt, my only aunt, and my dad’s only sibling. She happens to be one of the greatest humans on Earth, and it’s an honor to grow our wine in this special, challenging, and highly rewarding patch of land that produces our distinct and compelling Sandy’s Pinot Noir.
This area of the vineyard was originally planted to Syrah in 1998, but in 2005 the decision was made to add more Pinot Noir to our portfolio. Instead of replanting, we grafted four clones of Pinot Noir. A clone is a 100% replica of its parent. Whether isolated for its aromas, structure, early-ripening, cold resistance, or other properties, it’s extremely predictable and allows for a tremendous amount of distinction and diversity in the expression of a varietal. Three of these clones were new to us; 459 which came from Seasmoke Vineyard, 828, which came from Merry Edwards’ Archery Summit vineyard in Oregon, and Calera, from Josh Jensen (former owner of Calera Winery), rumored to have been brought back by Josh in his suitcase from La Tȃche vineyard in Vosne-Romaneé. The fourth is 114, which is also found in Anna’s Block and Block M.
When working with many different clones and unique soils you’re bound to create a beautifully complex wine. Farming in sand is a complicated challenge, offering low nutrients and water holding abilities, but this dramatic setting ultimately yields healthy vines that produce small amounts of intense fruit. There is no shortage of aromas or textures in the Pinot Noir coming from this truly special block. On the nose, you can expect dried roses and white pepper, and once it hits your palate, you’ll experience an incredible variety of fruits ranging from pomegranate to delicious candied tangerine peel. The finish is complemented by fine tannins, a backbone of acid, and a lift of minerality to complete your experience. Ultimately, these clones work in harmony to make the wines dynamic and complete.
Much like the namesake of this portion of our estate, we believe in the beauty of the complexity that defines our small lot productions. We value our ability to honor the woman that has had such an impact on me, my family, and our winery. A name says a lot, and our wines have a lot to say.
Sandy’s Block continues to perform heroically year after year, producing an elegant and complex Pinot Noir despite its harsh conditions. It’s both humbling and gratifying when our wines receive noteworthy scores, and our newly released 2019 Estate Pinot Noir – Sandy’s Block was awarded 97 points from Wine Enthusiast. Be sure to snag this special bottling and share your thoughts with us!