The 2016 Napa Valley harvest launched yesterday morning at Mumm Napa with an early morning pick of Pinot Meunier at Mumm’s Green Island Vineyard in American Canyon. Traditionally the first to pick, what happens at Mumm gives an insight to the vintage in general.
Catching up with winemaker Ludovic Dervin and vineyard manager Julie Nord in the vines, quality seemed to be determined early in the season with more moisture in the soils thanks to El Nino, and generally good weather during bloom and fruit set.
This led to more even fruit set and uniform size berries. Last year, a cool spring led to uneven fruit set with more ‘hens and chicks’ clusters that needed to be dropped early to ensure balanced, high quality sparkling wines.
The winter and spring rains this season also helped to push the canopy growth compared to 2015 when the continued drought led to uneven shoot elongation. As vineyard manager Linda Nord said, “when shoots are long, you get more even ripening”
While the summer may have seemed exceptionally hot for us up-valley, the temperatures in this cooler, breezier vineyard closer to the Bay were ideal for ripening. According to Nord, there were lots of days in the 80’s F with the hottest day peaking at 93 deg. At harvest, the fruit was in excellent condition with “no raisins, no rot, with fresh acid”
Dervin, who is from the Champagne region, loves Pinot Meunier, one of the classic Champagne grapes together with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. For him, Meunier is a red grape that adds a bright rhubard and orange citrus complexity to Pinot Noir’s berry fruit. He also believes that Pinot Meunier amplifies the autolytic notes of the lees during aging, adding “toasty, croissant” expressiveness to the sparkling wines.
Pinot Meunier is blended into many of their 20 different sparkling wines, but he also makes a single varietal Pinot Meunier in certain vintages. The 2016 may be one of them.
Mumm Napa is open daily to the public from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. 8445 Silverado Trail, Rutherford