Flaneur Cuvee Constantin Pinot noir 2018
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2017 vintage notes
You have read extensively about our fondness for the 2017 vintage. So we were stoked to taste Flaneur’s ‘17s with Grant, not knowing that we’d find our favorite Flaneur wine yet, Cuvee Constantin 2017. Strangely, as I looked back at my notes I wrote very little. From memory, I stopped writing because I wanted to experience it, to savor the colliding forces of supreme tastiness and intellectual intrigue. I’d rather not have to look back at a tasting note; I’d rather be moved enough to know I want to get behind a wine and to urge our loyal supporters to do the same. Consider me so moved.
For Grant, “2017 is one of my favorite vintages. We had ample fruit, very consistent growing conditions, it was cooler towards harvest, we got to pick at our leisure and I had time to really think about what kind of wines I could make while we were harvesting.”
“Cuvee Constantin is a very personal wine to me. It encompasses all the things I love in wines I drink from other people: whole cluster notes, richness of texture, something that will unfold layers over a meal. That’s the process I’m looking for in the cellar–how can I marry the different components to create a vision of the wines I really like to drink. That is Constantin, my most idiosyncratic experiments incorporated into one wine.”
Grant met Flaneur founder Marty DoerschIag when Grant was still at Beaux Freres.
“He liked what I was doing with Beaux Freres and Hundred Suns. He thought it was a good fit for what he wanted to do with Flaneur; he embraced my curiosity and experimentation.”
Speaking of curiosity, the more I synthesized my interview with Grant the more I needed this question answered: what was the source of his intellectual curiosity and experimentation? Turns out, it’s lifelong.
“I have always been a curious fellow; as a kid I was always very tactile and liked to work with my hands. I have vivid childhood memories of becoming obsessed with medieval weapons. I wouldn't just go out in the woods and grab any old stick to make a bow and arrow but I would plop down in the Pacific Grove Library and research how bows were made throughout the ages, from China to Great Britain. What was the best wood to use? How do you bend the wood without breaking it? What is the best material for a bow string? Now I couldn't find Yew branches to make my bow and didn't have access to sinew for string. So I improvised and worked with what I had around me, experimenting with different materials until I made something I was proud of.
“This curiosity has followed me throughout my life. When I started learning about winemaking I realized there were so many different paths to take. School taught me how to break the process down into digestible bites that could be quantified and synthesized with defined results. While these were valuable skills, after I graduated I began to learn about people who were making wines from a holistic perspective – looking at the land and how it can be expressed and transmitted through the grape and into the wine.
“Once I began to understand the meaning of ‘sense of place’ I wanted to go to the next level and start learning about how truly compelling wines are made by using only the natural tools given. The grape, the seed, the stem, the yeast and bacteria, these are all the simple components that go into making wines. By reorienting the composition of these elements and changing levels of each time they are in contact with each other and their environment, I discovered you can make a vast array of different flavor, aromatic and textural landscapes that when combined create a unique wine composition. The dizzying amount of subtle variables is what keeps me constantly engaged in the process of making and creating new, hopefully unique wines each new vintage.”
Grant found his true calling in the organic and biodynamic vineyards of Oregon. “I fell in love with the vineyards at Flaneur. With the phenomenal range of raw materials and the freedom to express my artistic vision, I’m able to take risks and guide the wines in different directions without chemicals and manipulation.
“Marty and I share that vision: to make wines that are compelling, to take risks, as long as I sign off on it. He knows that I will never put out a wine that isn’t delicious.”