Archive for May, 2009

Rosé est arrivée

Earlier tonight, a hardy crew assembled to lay the rosé to rest and give the port a quick racking. The port tasted very lovely but very young, and was surprisingly different across carboys, but the star of the evening was the luscious rosé.

You may recall that this wine was a seignée of the syrah we picked this year — that is, you “bleed” (seignée) the fermenter of juice just after crush, and then ferment that pink juice as a rosé. Unfortunately, I waited a bit too long before drawing blood, so this rosé is actually quite bloody — good for drinking, but it probably took a little something from the syrah left fermenting.

In any case, the rosé started out with a relatively high pH — which is to say, it was very low on acid. That not only meant it had less ability to fight off deadly contagion (like the bacteria that turn wine to vinegar), it tasted “flabby” and even a bit soapy (though ladies, I’m told, like it too). Luckily, it was otherwise clean, so a few days ago, I added a bit of acid to perk the young scalliwag up.

Sure enough, that brought down the pH to around 3.66, which is still pretty high for a white/rose wine, but much healthier. Those assembled for bottling tonight all soberly tasted it, and admired its ample fruit and generous taste. Nevertheless, I was still nervous about that pH, and we all agreed it could take a little more acid without freaking out and seeing spiders.

After a second addition, the pH had dropped to 3.55, much safer microbially speaking (and isn’t that the only way to speak, these days?). Better, we all noticed the difference instantly in the glass: much more forwardly floral, and much more alive in the mouth.

As the wine equalizes and absorbs that late acid addition, the pH will probably creep back up a hair. Nevertheless, after maybe a month’s worth of solitude to recover from bottling, this should be a lovely summer quaffer to lie down in the tall grass and enjoy.

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Racking the ’08 Cab

On Wednesday, Melissa, Whit and I racked the Cabernet Sauvignon, which had been split between a barrel and a variable height tank.

Readers with ESP will remember that in mid-winter, before we were able to get another variable tank, about 3/4-barrel’s worth of Cab had been exposed to a lot of oxygen as it went through malolactic. I’d crossed my fingers that the CO2 produced during malo would offer it some protection, but when Whit, Mike and James racked it late January, they detected some off odors — “compost,” Mike even said. I don’t know about you, but that’s a je ne sais quoi I know I’m always looking for in a fine wine. In any case, they cordoned off the offending wine into the variable tank, keeping the barrel pure.

Happily, I didn’t detect anything like that in the tank as I popped the lid — or as we racked it — so hopefully, what they were smelling/tasting was simply the end of malo. In any case, both barrel and tank tasted fresh and full, though the wine in the tank was much more closed and youthful, as you might expect. Because of that, the vegetal tiny of the Cab (due both to the varietal, but also less ripe fruit than we’d hoped for) was much higher in the tank; in barrel, the oak seems to be intertwining itself with the veg to make it less apparent and the wine correspondingly more pleasant.

All in all, the wine is sound and as I said, it looks lovely. My guess is that unless we can pull back the green pepper in the wine, however, the Cab will have less of a voice in the blend than we might like.

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