Archive for October, 2011

Next up: Grenache and Viognier on Saturday

Syrah almost magically floating over Mount Hood - a miracle! Gods be praised!Just as the syrah and merlot from last weekend are starting to think about fermenting, we’re off to Eastern Washington to fetch the next Garagiste candidates: Grenache and Viognier. The weather looks like it will hold both here and there, so here’s hoping for both flavor and favor at the vineyard

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Dare I say it out loud?

Syrah to quench the thirsts of the godsOkay, I will, but sotto voce: so far, so good.

2011 is shaping up to be a tough vintage for everyone in the Northwest, but you wouldn’t know it from the two grapes we picked up over the weekend. Last Saturday, James and I had an extremely pleasant — and more importantly, rain-free — road trip out to Elephant Mountain to pick up Syrah and Merlot. Denis, the vineyard manager, had been gently lowering expectations leading up to harvest, but the fruit we tasted as we walked through the vineyard with him was supreme.

And back in the winery, the numbers matched: 25.5 brix and 3.43 pH for the Syrah, and 25/3.39 for the Merlot. Great depth of flavor, nice acidity (reflected in the lower pH), ripe but not jammy. Considering the tales we’ve been hearing from our winemaking brothers and sisters in the Willamette Valley — nightmarish tales of grapes stalled a few brix short of the finish line of pickability — we’re incredibly lucky.

Back at the winery, a small but experienced crew gathered and we took care of the fruit in short order. We’d done a little R&D on the crusher/destemmer to adjust its rollers (the part that should crack the berries, but not smash them), and I think we found a setting that, at least for these two grapes, gave us mostly happy, rolling grapes out the other end.

Next weekend, it’ll be Viognier and perhaps Tempranillo and Grenache. Here’s hoping for a copy/paste of this past weekend…

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Vintage 2011 Begins!

Through a Wine Glass Darkly
Just about to head out the Gorge with James to round up the first grapes of the season: syrah and merlot, about 3/4 ton all told.

Because of the resolutely crappy weather this spring and summer, this vintage promises to be a wild ride, so I’m wondering for the first time in years what we’ll find when we walk the vineyard four hours from now. Luckily, we’ll be doing it with Denis Gayte, the seasoned and savvy vineyard manager at Elephant Mountain, so I know that if it can be good, it will be. Then, it’ll be up to us not to f*ck it up.

Let’s find out what happens. Come along?

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