2022 Split Rail Vineyard Pinot Noir

Split Rail Vineyard, planted between 1984 and 1986 by David Bruce's vineyard manager Greg Stokes, sits on a mountaintop at 1700' elevation above Corralitos on an ancient lake bed of gray sandstone and clay, with marble deep down.  Situated only 5 miles from the Monterey Bay, the coastal fog creeps up Eureka Canyon 1000' below, providing a key cooling influence for the old vines. The 5 acre vineyard is planted in 4 blocks: at the top we have a mix of heritage clones known as "David Bruce Selection" or "Wente Selection", the lineage of which has been traced directly back to the first suitcase of clonal material Paul Masson brought from Latour in 1896-- these particular selections were handed down directly from Masson to Martin Ray to David Bruce and came largely from the Mt Eden and Bruce estate plantings, with supplements from the Wente overstock block in Arroyo Seco (which had been supplied by David Bruce).  The middle block is planted to clone 32-- a Roederer clone-- which provides leather and spice to the blend. The lower block is planted to Pommard.  The west-facing hillside is all Chardonnay clone 4, Mt Eden and some more obscure clones: 95, 809 and 76.

Pinot Noir from Split Rail Vineyard, with its distinctive old world essence, delicate structure and floral aromas, has been singled out year-after-year as a standout among New World Pinot Noir. In 2020 it was listed in Wine Advocate's Top 100 discoveries (chosen among 33,000 wines from around the world), and has continued to impress critics and fans year-after-year since our first major commercial vintage in 2012.

Geek stuff on the 2022:
We had a good growing season in 2022, albeit with some heat spikes here and there. Heat spikes have a way of enhancing the earthy aspects of this vineyard, which can be really nice in the wine. The earth provides perfect balance to the floral aspects of the David Bruce Selections and the leather/fruit combo of the Clone 32 and Pommard. Still, those cool-climate vineyard tends to ripen much later than, say, Russian River Valley, with lower sugars and zippy acid.  This vintage is in perfect balance-- one of my favorite vintages to-date.  She drinks well now, but will benefit immensely from 3-5 years in your cellar, with a much longer life after that.

  • Only 9 barrels produced.
  • pH: 3.59. Alcohol: 13.5%.
  • Clones: Martini, Mt. Eden, 2A, Swan, 32, Pommard.
  • Hand harvested over 3 days between 22.8 - 23.5 brix.
  • 95% destemmed.
  • 3 day cold soak followed by a 10 day cuvaison in 1.5 ton opentop fermentors.
  • Yeasts: Native, AMH, BRG.
  • Hand punchdowns 2x per day.
  • Pressed at 3 degrees brix and finished in tank before barrel-down.
  • Aged on the lees 7 months, then racked and aged another 4 months.
  • 100% French oak, 30% new.
  • Coopers: Billon, TN Coopers, Montgillard, Ermitage.


Wine Enthusisast: 96/Editor's Choice.
This bottling from a 30-plus-year-old vineyard set at 1,700 feet in the mountains exemplifies a sense of place remarkably. Rustic and wild aromas of sagebrush and charcuterie meet with cranberry and raspberry on the nose. The palate is gamy and herby, offering thyme, singed chaparral, bay leaf and pomegranate flavors.

Wine Advocate: 94+ 
The 2022 Pinot Noir Split Rail Vineyard is a higher-elevation expression of Corralitos; located at 1,700 feet in elevation, it especially showcases the signature coniferous, energetic nature of wines from the southern Santa Cruz Mountains. The nose is immediately expressive and inviting, showing aromas of sandalwood, incense, evergreen and fresh herbs. The palate is nimble and precise, leading to a nuanced, layered finish that continuously builds with aeration. A gorgeous showing and a particular favorite in the Sante Arcangeli lineup.

Also from Wine Advocate, April 2024:

"A small group of historic producers and a handful of their proteges have explored and harnessed the trifecta of mountainous terrain, oceanic influence and endlessly varied geology to produce some of the most compelling wines in California....

...Winemaker John Benedetti expresses extreme corners of the Santa Cruz Mountains through his Sante Arcangeli label, from Lester and Saveria vineyards in Corralitos to Bonny Doon's Coast Grade. While his entire lineup of Pinot Noir showcases a lacy, deft touch, the Split Rail bottling is one to underscore: the fruit from this historic, high-elevation site was sold off to larger producers before being entrusted to Benedetti exclusively, who makes it into a centerpiece example of Pinot Noir from this section of the Santa Cruz Mountains."

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Wine Specs
Pinot Noir
Santa Cruz Mountains
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