Archive for the 'Les Tasting Notes' Category

Scaling a Peugeot vertical

An 11 year vertical of our Peugeot Bordeaux-style blendsWhat an opportunity: twelve years of our Peugeot Bordeaux-style blends, all in one place. So before everyone descended upon them with glad cries, George and I tasted through them in relative silence. Standouts for me: 2006, 2007, and 2013. Our notes:

A little vegetal back in there somewhere, but surprisingly excellent overall. Bricky color, but still lively. There’s something astringent and/or tannic running along the base, but pretty nice for 12! Drink Soon.
GW: Holding up well. Elegant. Engaging. Mellow. Fruits fading with dignity.

Odd and pungent dill, almost American Oak smell dominate nose. The fruit is okay in the mouth, but they give way to old tannins pretty quickly. A LOT of sediment. Past Prime.
GW: A little thin and old but steady, smooth. Fruits linger in the finish.

Oaky nose, but a lovely nose! Full, lively and fun as well. Higher acidity and nice bright cherry throughout – it tastes *less* old than the 2007. Fruity, but excellent backbone. A lot of sediment on this one. Drink soon (but it’s great)
GW: Getting old but still engaging. Good balance and length. Mature and elegant.

It still has a beautiful nose! Violets, and very Franc-driven. Great finish, beautiful and still full of life. This one has aged VERY gracefully. Perfect now.
GW: Good nose, impressive flavors. A little old in the finish, but lingers nicely.

Not much nose but beautiful in the mouth. Lean, and *definitely* showing its age, but good structure/bones. Good, but on its way down.
GW: Minor nose. Bright and lively. Fun fruit, good acidity. Steady presence on the palate.

Nice, reasonably approachable nose. Luscious, some chalky cocoa, a good finish. Decent acidity, tannins could keep it around for a bit. Drink now.
GW: Very good, all rounded, medium finish. Starting to show its age

Mature nose, floral with a good dose of oak. Rich and full in mouth, very approachable. Not a super long finish, but not too bad, either. The character of this P is defined by its oak, for better or worse (mostly better). Drinking great right now.
GW:Very approachable, lovely fruit, low acid, short finish.

Short, short finish, but decent if lean fruit. Astringent for sure. Everything falls away quickly (even faster than the 2012) and worse, sucks the flavor out of your mouth. Downhill from here
GW: balanced but thin fruit, slightly thin and acidic finish

Full rich nose, with deep ripe fruit and beautiful in the mouth but almost instantly, it disappears/drops off. Really odd.
GW: Good but weaker than the 2013. Poor finish.

Maybe a tad unripe in the nose somehow. Real Bordeaux character about it. Full, good balance, length. Not hugely ripe, but that’s balanced by lots of character. Drink now.
GW: Great balance, nice degree of age

Tight, angular, good acid. Much less approachable than the 2015. Needs 2 years?
GW: falls off a little. Slightly overripe

Smells approachable, tho you can also smell the alcohol. A little dead in the mouth right now, but has a decent finish. Maybe a year away.

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Improved vintage chart goodness

Check out our much-spiffier vintage note page, which not only features better lozenge-icons, but on click of same, recent tasting notes by card-carrying Garagistes to better guide the opening or holding of our wines.

Hope you like it!

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Two down, five or so to go

As of last night around 10pm, Merlot and Viognier are bank yo.

The Merlot was amiable and lush, but surprisingly, not as overripe as I’d feared. We’re at about 26 brix (which is a measure of the sugar in the grapes), which in turn translates into about 15.5% alcohol. That’s a little rocket-fuel-y for genteel palates such as ours, so we’ll be adding some water, as well as acid, to bring this cuddly critter of a wine back into balance.

From the numbers and how it tasted, I think we ended up picking the Viognier at the perfect time. The sugar’s at 26 also (so as you might guess from the Merlot’s numbers, we’ll be watering back a bit), but the pH is at 3.45, which is phenomenal. So we’ve got a wine that, right off the vine, is already pretty balanced. Can’t wait to smell it fermenting… mmmmmm …

From the numbers I’ve seen from the vineyard, next up will either be the Cabernet Sauvignon or the Syrah, and very possibly in the next 5 days or so. So keep an eye on this space …

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Let 2012 begin!

Today’s the first crush of 2012! Quarter-ton dollops of Merlot and Viognier will get us started – not a tsunami of fruit, but enough to get us warmed up before the larger harvests downstream.

What a difference a year makes: last year, we brought in Merlot (an early-ripening varietal that’s always the first to come in for us) on October 8, nine days later. The Viognier is even more striking: we picked that on the 15th of October. Practically winter!

So yes, the weather this year has been much more accommodating, though the cool weather and long hang times of last year did get us acid profiles that made for naturally beautiful and lively wines. This year will be more typical: more lush, but as always, we’ll need to keep a gimlet eye on acidity and alcohol.

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Two to go and 2011’s done

Pressing the 2011 Garagistes mourvedre
A couple of days ago, we pressed off the Mourvedre (in our fancy new balloon press, pictured above!) and tucked it safely away in a variable. That means there are only two grapes left to finish fermenting before vintage 2011 is behind us: the Cabernets Sauvignon and Franc.

The Sauv is the closest at 1.002 specific gravity (about 1/2 brix). Officially, all the sugar is gone at a reading of 1.000, but because we’re not working with totally clean liquid (sediment, yeast and MOG still swirling about, albeit listlessly), we’ll still see evidence of fermentation at .997 — what would be about -1 brix if you could have negative sugar. (Hmm: maybe this is how they make Aspartame …)

So I think I’ll hold my breath for another day or so and press it Monday. After last year’s minor epidemic of ethyl-acetate (apparently not unique to our winery), I’m leery of letting it sit too long without the protective layer of CO2 that an active ferment generates. Still, the Sauv is the one we’d like most to have a tannic backbone, so I’ll watch it like a hawk and perhaps try to wrap and gas it tomorrow night if the ferment’s too anemic.

That would leave the Franc, which is only just entering the earth’s atmosphere at about 3.5 brix. And slowing down — so much, in fact, that I’m nervous about it getting stuck before it’s done. We’ve never been fermenting this late into the fall — I mean, holy crap, there’s a chance we may press this wine after Thanksgiving! — which is fine except that as fall wanes, so do yeast-friendly temperatures. So as a precaution, I swaddled the Franc back into an electric blanket this morning, nice and low but enough to keep the yeasties awake enough to finish their epic sugar binge.

All in all, though, it’s getting a little lonely downstairs. After the explosive beginning of crush and a house full of friends and fragrance for a month and a half, the end of harvest ends up being a little like that Haydn symphony, during the course of which the musicians, one by one, gradually pack up their instruments and leave the stage. Just two lonely violins left at this point, and then too soon, silence.

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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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Bottling the 2010s tomorrow

2010 Elephant Mountain Mourvedre
… including our first Mourvèdre (and Grenache, come to think of it)!

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