Chris Corley
September 15, 2008 | Questions | Chris Corley

A Question from Leslie Burma : 1999 Corley Reserve Pinot Noir

"What was so special about 1999 that you created a 1999 CORLEY RESERVE Pinot Noir (totally awesome btw). You had a CORLEY Pinot Noir in 2006, but not a CORLEY RESERVE. Do you see a Pinot in the near future that is worthy of the CORLEY RESERVE title ?"

Leslie Burma - Napa, CA
(Leslie is a member of our Monticello Retail Staff)

Thanks for the question Leslie. As long as we've known Leslie, she's always had a soft spot for Pinot Noir ...

1999 was the last vintage we produced a CORLEY RESERVE Pinot Noir. It is a wine that we are very proud of, as it displays our required balance of fruit and longevity. Shortly after that vintage was bottled, our Pinot Noir plantings were entering a state of transition. Our Pinot Noir at Knollwood Vineyard was beginning to decline, and was in need of replanting. Our blocks in Monticello were showing incredible promise, but were still young, and we required a few years of consistency from them first. We made a conscious decision to forego CORLEY RESERVE bottlings of Pinot Noir so we could refocus our efforts for a while on the MONTICELLO Estate bottlings.

In 2002, we made another step forward by bottling our MONTICELLO Estate Pinot Noir entirely from the 'new' plantings in Blocks 2 & 3 on our Home Ranch. After four vintages (2002-2005) of bottlings from the Home Ranch (and copious amounts of quality control on our parts, mind you) we felt comfortable in 2006 to produce a special Pinot Noir that carried the family designation.

Meanwhile ... the success of our CORLEY bottlings of Proprietary Red Wine, and Heirloom and Dijon Clone Chardonnays got us thinking. The CORLEY designation presented itself as an outlet for the smaller, family designated wines that we love to produce, but for wines that don't necessarily have the history of the CORLEY RESERVE moniker going back to the early 1980s, such as our CORLEY RESERVE Cabernet Sauvignon and CORLEY RESERVE Chardonnay.

You will have already begun to see some exciting new wines being released under the CORLEY banner - CORLEY State Lane Cabernet Sauvignon (first vintage 2004), CORLEY Yewell Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (first vintage 2006), CORLEY Pinot Noir (first vintage 2006).

Specifically as it relates to the Pinot Noir - we'll likely continue to bottle specialty Pinot Noirs in given years under the CORLEY label for the foreseeable future, as it gives us a little more flexibility to produce clonal bottlings, individual blocks, barrel designates, etc.

In a small way as well, it is also a show of respect to the CORLEY RESERVE Cabernet Sauvignon and the CORLEY RESERVE Chardonnay, which have histories going back to the early 1980s, and have earned their prime space on the mantle ...


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