Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Zin and Chardonnay harvest this week

Our Russian River zinfandel gets picked tomorrow. I made wine from this vineyard in 03 and 04 but skipped last year when we did the barrel with 100% Mendocino zinfandel instead. I am looking forward to trying a barrel of this one. We will do it in a French oak quarter barrel, medium toast - I ordered the barrel today. Note the photo of the vineyard - these are the old head-trained vines that grow in clumps with no trellis and as they were planted in 1937 should qualify as "old vines". Top quality stuff.

Our Carneros chardonnay from Sangiacomo Vineyard is picked Friday and so far is showing great acidity which is good news as we go to barrel-ferment it. Let's hope this will allow for a rich malolactic-fermented wine that still has the acidity to round it out. The 2003 I did with this fruit turned out really nicely and barrel fermenting will ratchet things up a notch.

Here is an excerpt from an email our vineyard broker Peter Brehm sent out. He has a good view of things going on all over wine country as he coordinates grapes from many vineyards...

The flooding from winter rains of 2006 were topped by heavy Spring rain. This cocktail made farming difficult and very expensive and labor intensive. An unusually hot (up to 115°F) August spell stunned some grape vines, while stimulating others. A cool September nursed most grapes back to more normal conditions. The grapes growing within the immediate influence of the Pacific's cold water, accumulated sugar very slowly, while keeping their acids.
Harvesting Zinfandel & Petite Sirah before any Pinot Noir has set a new standard in grape ripening. Harvesting cool Russian River Malbec & Cab Franc while the yellow trays of the sparkling wine houses were still being filled - unheard of!
The California North Coast has broken down into two distinct zones. One near the coast and Bay which is producing intense wine with higher than normal acid and lower than normal pH. The warmer inland, California vineyards are on a more normal ripening track. On the 24th of September we will harvest the final two clones from Mahoney's Las Brisas Vineyard. A few days before harvest I got a 3.17pH and malic acid content of 2.9. This is with a sugar of over 25°. BV's White Salmon Vineyard staff will be harvesting Pinot Noir during the same week we are harvesting Pinot Noir in the Carneros. In 20 years I have never had a parallel; the same time harvest separated by 600 miles. This is indeed a unique year.

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