“I get asked all the time how much Syrah is in our Pinot Noir,” said Eric Hickey, President and Winemaker at Laetitia Vineyard & Winery on California’s Central Coast. “Yes, our Pinots have a purplish hue to them. But no, we don’t put Syrah in our Pinot.”
The real reason behind the dark robe on Laetitia Pinot Noir is anthocyanin, a compound that develops in the skins of fruit under certain levels of stress and sun exposure, producing a rich blue pigmentation.
“Being so cool and coastal, we do very aggressive leafing, even compared to our neighbors in Edna Valley and Santa Maria,” said Hickey of Laetitia’s estate vineyard, situated only a few miles from the ocean. “If you visit the vineyard just after fruit set in May or June, we’ve almost totally leafed it to expose the fruit to more of the sun because we only get cool sunshine. High heat will actually reduce color, but because we have that cool sunshine, our grapes get phenolics that are a little more advanced than elsewhere.”
Hickey likens the way grapes color to the way people tan in the sun. “It’s like fair skin. The earlier in the year I’m exposed to the sun, and the more regularly that sunshine hits me, the less burnable my skin becomes. The same is true for our Pinot Noir grapes.”
Despite 2011 being a challenging year across California for growers and farmers of all crops, Laetitia Pinot Noir from that year still show the brand’s signature purple hue. “We look on the bright side when it comes to tough vintages,” said Hickey. “Years like two-thousand eleven force us to be extremely diligent about our farming, sorting, and managing the good fruit we’re able to get. To me, that was a vintage worth working for, because the wines are showing the benefits of everyone’s hard work.” The 2011 Whole Cluster Pinot Noir and 2011 Reserve du Domaine Pinot Noir will be released this spring, as well as Laetitia’s latest single-vineyard offerings: 2010 La Coupelle Pinot Noir, 2010 Les Galets Pinot Noir, and 2010 La Colline Pinot Noir.
Since 1982, the Laetitia Vineyard & Winery has produced elegant wines that champion the exceptional character and diversity of the Arroyo Grande Valley AVA. Originally founded by an established French Champagne house, the Laetitia estate carries on in the longstanding traditions of Burgundy and Champagne with a focus on small-lot Pinot Noir and sparkling wines. Valuing legacy, balance, innovation, and sustainable practices from harvest to glass, the Laetitia team works meticulously from vintage to vintage to ensure that every bottle of Laetitia wine is as expressive as the land from which it originates. For more information about Laetitia Vineyard & Winery please call 805-481-1772, 1-888-809-VINE, or visit http://www.LaetitiaWine.com. Laetitia Vineyard & Winery is located at 453 Laetitia Vineyard Drive, Arroyo Grande, CA 93420.