Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Harvest Update From Napa Valley

Harvest is progressing nicely, if slowly, here in Napa Valley. Our 2011 St. Helena Sauvignon Blanc is all barreled down and aging nicely. The wine in stainless steel barrel tastes bright and ripe, but the new and once used oak adds this complexity that is lost from either lot alone. The riper fruit that we fermented separately in a steel tank is now barreled and beginning malolactic fermentation. We are stirring the lees regularly to maximize flavors.

Our chardonnay was picked on the 14th after the early October rains that lasted four days. Our two tons of fruit was dropped to half a ton and is now racked to barrel and starting fermentation. The fruit is lower in sugars than usual but the flavors are uniform with soft acids and tannins and ripe notes of melon.

We'll be picking the Oak Knoll District Merlot next. The fruit here is tasting very nice, showing some senescence and ripe blackberry. The clusters are larger than average but the berries are dimpling in places and the soft skins and seeds are uniformly ripe.

In Rutherford our newly contracted 1.27 acre vineyard of clone 338 organic Cabernet Sauvignon is coming along slow and nice, with notes of mostly blueberry and very soft tannins. The seeds I guesstimate are about 80% ripe and will benefit from about another week of soft sunlight. Up on Mt. Veeder our .8-acre block of clone 337 Cabernet (pictured above) is showing wonderful notes of mixed berry compote. Here and there it's sweet blackberry or tart raspberry, where in places you can taste more nuanced flavors of loam and brine.

What We're Drinking ...

2008 Hanzell Estate Sonoma Pinot Noir *** Briny, musky, with notes of damp earth and mild but fresh spice aromas with bright fresh and sweet grape notes on top. Lovely cheap perfume and and goldfish notes. Sort of all over the place which is partly why I love it.

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