Saturday, October 28, 2006

Ink Grade Cab "scratch-n-sniff" data sheet

There is a saying that "Great wines are made in the vineyard", but most great wines also have a data sheet like this showing all of the steps taken in the winery to ensure they get to the finish line in the best shape possible. Various additions of chemicals, yeast and yeast nutrients as well as temperature controls and punchdowns or pumpovers to keep juice and skins mingling all add up to make contributions to final wine quality. Based on this early tasting I would say the effort has paid off!


Anonymous said...

Scott, will leave this to you to amend as needed. Report from sorting white hawk syrah: white hawk first, but had the opportunity to taste inkgrade and hein pinot for this year, all are early and in barrel, so just some impressions, and for those of you who I don't know well, had Jlin to confirm.
White hawk fruit was very clean, but a bit late picking. Having said that, acidulating is easy, and it is ideal to let those grapes hang a bit, because you can never replicate what 'earned' in the vineyard by getting some more hang time with the clusters. Tasting the fruit...about every fourth cluster was peppery, and replaced lots of what crushpad pre-sorted with browner stems for the whole-cluster component. Still, whole cluster this year is 20% at best, which is fine for the fruit nature gave us...oppulent, refined, ultra-aromaed fruit...hints of spice, pepper, but most delicate and important for syrah, floral elements....who didn't as a kid pull of a honeysuckle flower and 'sip' it. That is one of many components our '06 syrah has. Better yet, we got (twist an arm) pulled to the numerous barrel rooms Crushpad has and tried all sorts of last-vintage White Hawk Syrah, and no shit, the formula Scott has this year was the best of what we barrel tasted...come on out try it yourself if you don't believe! The best of class was 25% whole cluster, 25% new oak (zebra barrel, recooped with staves so ratio is 25% new French oak...those guys in Sebastapol are forward thinking), which exhibits fruit and nature, which '06, imho will be stellar, and not oak bits, which are easily overdone.

We also tasted through the Hein Pinot, and Inkgrade cab. In order, here is the progress report: Hein-damn, must be better than last year...why? been in barrel a month, so fully fermented but still has 9 months to pick up character-I tasted stawberry preserves, and loads of cranberry, the whole-berry variety you find when you're lucky. This differs from the '05 in magnitude....the '05, if any are Burgundy fans, is Anderson Valley*read cool climate*, and is oppulent and pretty, with ultra-floral notes. The '06 will be that, if barrel samples hold true, just more preserved fruit qualities, so look for both, and try them side by side.

Next, Inkgrade. Do you know how hard it is to find a cabernet with chocolate and cocoa notes? tough to do with a young one, and that is EXACTLY what Inkgrade is yielding this year so far. This is an inaugural year for Inkgrade with Crushpad, and thank goodness we jumped on it. Scott C. was all over this one, as he was out here doing 'time' with Siduri, and since the cab came from 2 VERY distinct blocks, both good but one higher altitude with more sun, he assured we got the best ratio of fruit, and damn its good. Inkgrade just finished malo, and has a complexity and flavor, so far, which easily tops your favorite Napa cab if you are looking for something aside from ultra-toasted, oaky cab. Nothing wrong with that if that's your Robert Parker preference, but this is less oaked, and meant to be so because it shows what nature gave us this year. I like 'oaked' too, but this exhibits real varietal character, and with well treated *thank you Scott* Howell Mountain fruit, chocolate/cocoa notes get to show themselves. It's going to be a yummy cab, gang.

That's it from the source, and realize that is mostly one pallette, all opinions stated are mine, not necessarily from JLin, our resident sommelier, who was there too, and sure she'll have her say as time permits, but think we were of a mind for basic impressions. Rockroom wineauxs, this year is looking good across the board, so pay attention!


dscott said...

Go to the main blog page to see a reprint of this comment from Dave...