Loring doesn't discount the influence of soil and weather on a wine's terroir, its sense of place, but he suspects that clonal selection also plays an important role. "The idea was that Pinots from Carneros in Napa Valley were lighter in style, but those vines are all 30, 40 years old. When they replant them with new clones, you're going to start having big, bold Pinots come out of Carneros." He grants that his winemaking practices — cold-soaking his fruit for maximum extraction -- may have something to do with bigness but notes that "there are guys who do whole-cluster fermentations with no cold soaks, and their wines end up being fairly similar. Maybe a little lighter, but still way bigger than what you were drinking 10 years ago."
His style hasn't hurt him any in the marketplace. "When Pinots got bigger, they suddenly became desirable for people who were into big reds. In California, the percentage of people who buy Cabernet is way bigger than the percentage who buy Syrah, and that's way bigger than the percentage that buy Pinot Noir. The complaint you heard from the Cab people was 'I tried Pinot, and it was kind of light.' Now, with the bigger Pinots, you've opened up this huge market. People who are willing to pay $100 for a bottle of Cab are looking at a $50 bottle of Pinot as a bargain. They're flowing down the price gradient to Pinot like you wouldn't believe."
People who love the Burgundian style of Pinot Noir, however, have not been as interested in moving toward the stylistic middle. "They're entrenched in the lighter style of Pinot. If they want a bigger wine, they'll jump to Cabernet." An embittered Burgophile might accuse Loring of abandoning Pinot's typicity to chase the Cab market. Not so, he counters: "It wasn't a conscious decision. It was just looking back and seeing where our market was coming from. As far as typicity, I just see it as a different type of typicity. It's just a different clone, a different thing."