2010 Update: the pretty damn good

Garagiste Mike shows the gods at Stonehenge how to properly dispose of a sacrifice -- in this case, Cabernet Franc

As promised in a few days ago, here’s the next installment of how our 2010 wines are faring. We begin with dessert: the wines that really seem like they’ll be excellent — assuming we let them make it to bottle and don’t gleefully guzzle them right now.

Cabernet Franc
We like to rack the Franc only two or three times over the year, supposing that minimal handling will help preserve its bewitching aroma. One of those rackings was a few weeks ago, and like a saucy mermaid, it beckoned us with a irresistible floral nose, and then lured us ever-further into the depths with succulent, floral fruit. Wow. Once again, this will be both hard to blend away and deservedly form the backbone of the Peugeot.

I’ve opened two 2009 Syrahs in the last couple of weeks, and holy crap, this is the most adult wine I think we’ve ever made: deep and powerful but unmistakably syrah (vs. liquid oak with varietal flavoring, as many are). The 2010 looks to be a good follow-up, but with better acidity and rich, crisply-articulated fruit resonating through great depth. Awesome.

This is the first year we’ve tried Grenache, and typical of our sober, judicious approach to winemaking, we blindly hurled ourselves over the edge, investing heavily. Luckily, it paid off: when we racked it about a month ago, its aroma was as bewitching as the Franc’s, but more luscious and Provençal-herby. Thankfully, we’ll have enough to bottle separately and cast in our first Côtes-du-Rhône blend this year. It’ll be one stunning leading lady in that road show.

We pressed this varietal into service for the first time this year as the third leg of a Côtes-du-Rhône stool, but to our suprise, it stands on its own just fine, thank you. Inky dark, and redolent of pepper and roses. Holy moley.

Pinot Noir
After three vintages working with fruit from a highly reputed Dundee Hills vineyard, our Pinot this year is finally beautiful — if willowy. Since this varietal totally ate our lunch in the 90s, we’ve been pretty gun-shy about it: as with white wines, its essential delicacy means there are fewer places to hide crappy fruit or bad winemaking, both of which we had in ample supply back in the day. As a result, for the last few years we’ve only produced small batches as “side-bets” for the braver Garagistes.

This year, I’m proud to report, it looks like that bet will pay off, in part because we’re better winemakers, but more importantly, because we’re working with better fruit. Of course, 2010 was a lighter vintage in Oregon — no Parker wines this year without heavy manipulation — and our Pinot is no anomaly. But it’s not watery or bland. It’s just… elegant, with beautiful, focused fruit. We put a little oak on it a month ago (just a little), so by the time we bottle it in September, it ought to be really lovely.

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