Pinot Noir vineyards in Marin County are scarce and nestled into the hills for shelter from the Pacific wind and fog. The favorable intersection of soil and climate determines the success of a vineyard in any appellation but making a geographical claim on quality in Marin is vainglorious; only about a hundred of the county’s half-million acres are planted to Pinot. Corda vineyard, the source for Terrien Pinot, is farmed by Mark Pasternak of Devil’s Gulch and sits 10 miles inland from Tomales Bay in an amphitheater of hills. Dry-farmed, sloping to the north-east with rows running along the contours, these are some of the variables that conspire to produce consistently low yields of intensely flavored, palm-small clusters.
These whole clusters are layered into the tank and left undisturbed for several weeks. Carbonic maceration with attendant flavors of kirsh and raspberry characterize the first stage of low temperature fermentation. Once the skins break down and tannins emerge, a quick and gentle press liberates the juice that then is reintegrated with the pomace for a proper aerobic fermentation by yeast. Maceration is complete once structure develops. Aged for a year in once-filled French barrels, the weight of the wine increases while the oak lingers in support.
Terrien Pinot Noir has a fine-grain texture and bright aromas which speaks to the climate out there by the coast in Marin. It just doesn’t taste like Pinot Noir from other regions in California.