Summer Garagistes update

Oracle Vineyard at sunset, July 2010Harvest 2011 is just now visible on the horizon, and the prospect of a fresh river of juice has similarly quickened this blog out of its traditional winter/spring slumber. [yawn] Good morning! What did we miss?

Quite a bit, as it turns out. Despite the radio silence here at Les Blog, we’ve actually been busy little microbes downstairs, racking wines, adjusting this and that, and rigorously sampling our wares to ensure top quality (oh, was that what we were doing?). As a result, I have a few reports to share with you over the next few days on how all the varietals in our stable downstairs are faring:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Merlot
  • Cabernet Franc
  • Syrah
  • Mourvedre
  • Grenache
  • Pinot Noir
  • Viognier
  • Rosé (of Grenache)

Overall, I think this vintage has produced truly excellent wines, primarily because the late, cool harvest meant higher acidity in just about everything. So the wines have structure and liveliness straight off the vine, and that I think will make this year’s crop arguably one of the best we’ve ever overseen.

But for scientific reasons I only dimly understand, the vintage also presented its share of problems, in particular a low-level epidemic of EA (ethyl acetate – think nail polish remover) through a number of the wines. Thanks to great advice from friends who are real winemakers, and some timely intervention on our part, all of our wines muscled through the EA and are now perfectly sound, but WTF? You’d think those higher acidities would afford some protection, but that EA must have tunneled in through the basement of the flower shop next door or something…

Anyway, based on where things taste now, I can say this: the 2010 Cabernet Franc, Grenache, Mourvedre, and Syrah will be utterly stunning. The Pinot Noir will also be lovely and elegant, though reflective of the lighter vintage. The Cabernet Sauvignon is a bucking, unruly stallion I don’t think we’ve quite tamed yet, but we will. The Merlot is… Merlot. The Viognier will also be lovely, but very… crisp, as the wine industry likes to spin high-acid wines. And the Rosé — man, it may yet excel, but it’s one sullen teenager.

So on the eve of blending trials, our wines fall into three categories: great, good, and problematic. Next up in a day or so, more on the great, followed in due course by reports on the other two.

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