This cool-climate pinot noir begins with black cherry and raspberry aromas, lovely whiffs of jasmine, and touches of smoked ham, sagebrush and orange zest. The smoothly textured palate has flavors of black cherry, raspberry, umami, vanilla, spice and toasted oak with well-integrated tannins and bright acidity that provide considerable structure.
The deep, frigid waters of Monterey Bay provide the dynamics for generating a mild climate in much of Monterey County that gradually warms with increased distance from the coast. Driven by stiff winds, cold air masses above the bay move inland each afternoon to begin an overnight cooling cycle that lasts until mid-morning. Grapes fully ripen under extended periods of sunlight, but they retain optimum acidity with the help of low overnight temperatures and intermittent patterns of morning fog.
Just a few miles downwind from the bay, the east-facing Santa Lucia Highlands is an elevated wine region that was planted with grapes by Franciscan missionaries in the 1790s, but not declared an official AVA until 1991. Most vineyards are located on a narrow strip of steep-sloping geological benches that is approximately eighteen miles long by one mile wide. The region is known for producing feminine-style pinot noirs with classic dark tones, thus explaining its dominance (46%) as the most widely planted grape.
Tondre Grapefield was developed in 1997 at 200 feet above sea level near the heart of the Santa Lucia Highlands. Overlooking the Salinas River, the vineyards consist of varied terrain that generally slopes to the southeast in soils consisting of decomposed granite, gravel and sandy loam. Grapes were selected from a 12-acre block planted in 2008 with pinot noir clones 777 and Pommard 4. The Tondre family maintains ideal vine balance with conservative winter pruning that leads to small crops of intensely flavored fruit.