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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