First there was the egg, the concrete egg-shaped fermenter that debuted at King Estate in 2017. Now, meet “the nubs,” four square concrete vessels that arrived at King Estate last August. Custom made for King Estate by Sonoma Cast Stone, the same manufacturer that made our egg, the nubs (officially called NuBarrel®) are uniquely King Estate.
The concrete for each of these “block designate tanks” was made with a bucket of soil from a specific block planted with a specific clone: Wadensvil from Block 4A; Clone 375, which carries the Stone’s Throw label, from Block 4B; Clone 538 (High Wire) from Block 4C; and Clone 777 (Blackjack, of course) from Block 4D. The Wadensvil Clone doesn’t have a King Estate moniker yet (we’re open to suggestions!).
Each tank will hold the wine from its corresponding block, so the concrete will “match” the clone. “We liked what fermenting in concrete has done for Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris so we wanted to experiment with Pinot Noir,” Winemaker/COO Brent Stone says. “We’re having some fun with it.”
The tanks are for fermenting and aging both. Each tank holds the equivalent of four barrels. In addition to the distinct characteristics the vessel imparts to the wine – enhanced mouthfeel, a hint of crisp minerality, natural oxidation – the tanks last up to 50 years, 10 times longer than barrels. The finished wines are thought to be softer, richer and more expressive of the fruit. We will have to wait and see: The 2019 vintage should be released in 2022.