Update 2010: The good

Pressing the merlot at the end of October, 2010Part Two of your 2010 update

Cabernet Sauvignon
The Cab in particular betrayed a self-destructive love of the EA (ethyl acetate) this year, so we’ve had to carpet bomb it with sulfite to jerk it back onto the straight and narrow. The good news is that it now appears to be EA-free, and as it emerges from beneath its heavy blanket of sulfite, it seems pretty nice, though still hard to get a clear sense of.

The EA problem also had at least one downstream consequence: some of the Cab is pretty dang oaky. That’s because the EA was particularly bad in our half barrel, so we (I think wisely) quarantined it until it was cured. But as a result, because that half barrel was new, the Cab therefore soaked up more new oak than we’d normally have liked.

I don’t think it’s a disaster by any means, but as a general rule, our philosophy is that oak should be like salt in food — if you notice it, you’ve put in too much. This year, whether we like it or not, we’ll see what happens when we’re forced to ignore that rule. The downside is oaky, woody vanillin potentially dominating; the upside, though, is more tannic backbone than we’re used to, so it’ll be very instructive to see how that unfolds over time. (How’s that for “[wine] glass half-full” take on things!?)

I know: to sum up this wine’s life story as “it is what it is”, as I did earlier, is unfair and probably a little lazy, too — fashion has made looking down on Merlot way too easy. Nevertheless, this year’s Merlot is exactly that — Merlot — an amiable, good-natured wine that offers great companionship with little complication. We’ve lowered our harvest of this grape over the years, mostly because its part in the Peugeot blend has dropped over time, but I for one still enjoy it. There’s something comforting about a wine waiting for you when you get home on a weekday, wagging its tail with unconditional love. Who else is so glad to see you every time? Not that Cabernet, anyway — at least for now…

Next, the problem children…

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