Archive for September, 2009

Pinot crush Tuesday or Wednesday

Just got the word from Amy at Oracle: their old(er) vine pinot looks like it’ll be sliding for home next week, so that’ll beat the Franc as the next wine we crush.

With luck, we’ll have ironed out the kinks in the crusher and chute, so this crush will be smooooooth as a 6 year old pinot noir. Can’t wait to taste the fruit.

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Fermentation begins

Looking over Sam’s shoulder as he was beginning to punch down just now, the Merlot is showing a telltale mini-cap rising toward one edge of the fermenter. And on closer look, there are a few bubbles popping through every now and then.

Thus fermentation begins for 2009!

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Cab 25.8 and holding

Field samples from our Cab block show brix at 25.8, but pH at 3.4. That pH is down in Pinot country, and at .73, the TA (titratable acidity, a number loosely but not directly related to pH) is also high. So for Cab to have those numbers, something isn’t quite ready yet. The fruit may have enough sugar (that brix is more or less perfect), but the acid’s too high, so the fruit isn’t in balance.

I asked the vineyard manager to taste the fruit for us, and he reported back today that indeed, the Cab isn’t ready yet: seeds are still green, and the jelly-like sac around the seeds is still expansive. So he guesses as much as 2 weeks, though hopefully closer to one.

That’ll undoubtedly put our brix in the stratosphere, but as long as pH continues to rise, we can always add a little water to bring the sugar back into balance once we pick.

So hold on: this one may be a cliffhanger!

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Road Trip: Syrah and Merlot

Looking down a row of Barbera at Elephant Mountain
The first grape fetchin’ of the year happened last Friday. It got off to a bang — literally — when the house behind us burst into flames a little before 5am, just as I was waking up to get on the road. Luckily, no one was in the house and no one was hurt, but investigators now seem to think it was arson, according to news reports.

Leaving the smoldering ruin in my wake (as is my way), I got on the road about 6am, an hour late. Three and a half hours later, through a magnificent sunrise in the Gorge, I pulled into Elephant Mountain Vineyard with a trailer hungry for fresh fruit. It was soon sated…
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2009 Crush begins Friday

It’s official: we’re road-tripping to Yakima (or thereabouts) on Friday to haul back a combined ton of merlot and syrah. Both are in the 25-26 brix range; with luck, they won’t get much higher than that before we can rescue them, but the vineyard manager says they’re both tasting perfect.

It’s the first crush of the season, so there will probably be a lot of head scratching as we try to remember what it was that worked so well last year. But with luck, it’s like riding a sticky, sugary bicycle, and it’ll come back to us once the fragrance of fruit fills the air.

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Vineyard Recon

Hwy 241 between Mabton and AlderdaleOn the way to a wedding over Labor Day weekend, I set up appointments with the two Eastern Washington vineyards we’ll be working with this year: Elephant Mountain Vineyards and Coyote Canyon Vineyards. It was a long, long day of driving, but it was great to get a picture in my head of what the vineyards look like, and to walk the rows with the owners before the chaos of harvest.
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First 2008 into bottle

The new label series, this one for the FrancLast Saturday night, we successfully coaxed all the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc (that didn’t go into the Peugeot, that is) into bottle. We had a photographer from the Oregonian’s Mix Magazine along for the ride, so I didn’t think to take many pics (sorry), but we had our hands full anyway: about 50 cases of lovely Garagistes to fill, cork, label and sort into shares. A bit of a long night (switching between wines always slows things down), but the awesome feast just after made it all worthwhile.
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