Archive for the '2006 Garagistes' Category

2006 Peugeot sighting

Last night — purely in the interest of science, you understand — Garagiste Mike opened a bottle of the 2006 Peugeot we bottled back in April. While it’s had two months to get its sea legs, it should have been far from ready for active duty; the 05, for example, took about a year after bottling to finally skate about the deck.

The 2006 seems generally on the same trajectory, but we were both surprised at how far it’s come along. After a half hour to catch its breath in a decanter, the Peug tasted rich and full, with great depth of fruit, hint of chocolate, and a generous, luxurious feel in the mouth. And the fragrance: holy olfactory! A backdraft of pure, ripe fruit that’s totally disarming.

It was still on the hard side, though — more laser-cut steel than sanded wood — and by the time we got to the finish, it was already a few miles into Mexico and out of our jurisdiction. While there’s no guarantee it will slip back into the country some day, I think all that flavor and fragrance suggest there’s a good chance it’ll do just that.

Any one else tried it since bottling?

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Putting a cork in 2006

A Case \'o PeugeotSomewhere around 10pm last night, we stretched the last label over the last bottle of 2006 Peugeot, drawing to a close that plucky vintage. It’s kind of like putting the last fin-fold on a paper airplane and then flicking it into space — it could crash, it could sail, but aside from the momentum you put into the construction and the toss, its destiny is now pretty much out of your hands.

Based on what I tasted last night, though, I think it’ll float on the breeze quite elegantly for a while. Into a holding tank, we siphoned half of each of the barrels we’d put the blend into back in the fall, and then added half of the stainless steel container that held the rest of the blend. After bottling that, we siphoned what remained in each of those containers into the tank, bottling until the last dregs dripped through the hose. A pain in the ass, but the idea behind it was that each barrel probably evolved a little differently over the last 7 months, so bottling them one after the other would result in different wines. More critically, the wine stored in the stainless — because it had no further oak exposure after blending — was indeed tighter, so it at least had to be spread around.

We’d never bottled this much wine at one sitting, so while we knew it would be a slog, we didn’t really know how much of one. A few volunteers came early to think through the system, get it set up, and begin the first blend into tank, and then the full complement came a few hours later at 3. While the two blends into tank added to the time, it was, as always, the labeling that took for-effing-ever. We’ve got to figure out a better way to do that. If George hadn’t requested his cases come un-labeled, we might still be sticky with glue.

All in all, though, I think it was worth it. The Peug was remarkably fragrant in the tank, and it laid gracefully in the mouth with lovely ripe fruit, subtle tannin, and a good spine of acidity. Before we added the first portion from the stainless, it tasted round, full, and ready to slide down the gullet; after the tighter product from the stainless, it clenched up again, but it says to me that after a year or so, this one should be exceptionally lovely. That’s borne out by the 2005 Peug, which blossomed about 3 years out.

Mmmmmm… when is 2009 again? Pics from bottling after the break…
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Blending (and, much later, bottling) the ’06

Three mysterious figures pour Peugeot back into barrel to slumber until March '08Last weekend, we got together for what we thought would be a relatively quick blending and bottling session. Our mission: blend the 2006 Peugeot and squirrel it away until March; blend the 2006 Deux-Chevaux and bottle it; and then bottle the remaining Merlot.

Unfortunately, we discovered too late that we aren’t quite set up to blend that much wine at one sitting: we need a much larger blending vessel. So we had to divide the Peugeot blend in half which slowed us to an escargot’s pace. In fact, I don’t think we got to bottling until 10:30 or so. That’s just too long, despite the good spirits and ample, lubricating vino.

So here’s a general call for a used, stainless steel blending and fermenting vessel, open-topped if possible, somewhere in the 750 liter (~200 gallon) range. In the Willamette Valley area and got one you want to unload? Send us an email, a few photos, and what you want for it.

Despite the long night, however, I think we were all amazed at the quality of the Peugeot going into the bottle: deep, ruby color; lovely nose; nice richness and fresh fruit in the mouth but well-integrated tannins and backbone. Can’t wait to enjoy it.

And happy anniversary to Brian and Liz, who spent a bit of their magic evening with us studiously sampling the blend for any flaws (there were none, natch). Yes, when it comes to romantic ambiance, our basement lair is unequalled.

More photos below the waterline…

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Racking, and a plan

We have a blend for the Peugeot: 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, and 30% Cabernet Franc. And we’re going to make as much of it as we can.

We tasted this winning blend from the trials last weekend against a Cab Sauv-dominated blend of 70% CS, 15% M, and 15% CF, but we unanimously agreed that the Cab-centric blend lacked the depth, nose, complexity and pleasure of the 40/30/30 blend. That blend, by contrast, had a fantastic, berry-bramble nose (largely courtesy of the Franc), great sustain of flavor throughout the taste, and a wonderful, fresh and long finish. Good weight, but still young: a few more months in barrel – and maybe one more racking – will probably give this baby the weight it needs to take it to the stratosphere.

So we’ll put all the Cab Sauv into this blend, squirreling away 2 barrels’ worth until the spring, bottling the remainder as an early release with the balance of the Franc and Merlot. For those, James had the excellent idea of blending a little bit of the Merlot into the Franc, and after a few trials, we settled a on 7% Merlot addition – added weight and smoothness while keeping the spotlight firmly on the Franc.

The blends firmly in hand, we racked the Cab Sauv and the Merlot, but left the Franc alone – it tasted pretty drinkable as is, so we opted to keep it fresh.

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2006 Blending Trials

100% delicious[ Mike live-blogging our blending trials, Saturday. – Ziraud ]

Cab Sav Solo: Unimpressive, oakey beast

Merlot Solo: Varietally correct with a flavor slump in the middle

Cab Franc Solo: Intriguing acids and nose, impressive possibilities

[ all blend recipes Cab Sauv / Merlot / Cab Franc – Z ]

50/30/20: aboriginal, not meaty enough, war, oaky, ripe? but somehow… lifeless.

40/30/30: the mix to beat, oak subdued and the structure enhanced

30/40/30: nose like previous but too hot, candy-like, flabby

40/35/25: boring, candy dandy, not much nose, life savers

45/30/25: pretty good, big upfront, no middle, surprisingly long tail, no nose, many (but certainly not all) liked this one

40/25/35: meh

42/30/28: more sack, no more drop-off in the middle, sweet pillowy nose, nice finish, bacon

[ 2 favorites blended and then served back to tasters blind -Z ]

A: Nice but no cigar

B: Stronger acids, tannins, flavor depths

Ta-da! A = 42/30/28, B = 40/30/30, so 40/30/30 is da winner and still champion!

and it’s got lots of sac(k)!

[Pics below the fold -Z]
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(P)retty (V)irulent (C)apsules

Traditional wine capsules on Burgundy and Bordeaux bottlesVirtually all professional winemakers finish the tops of their wine bottles with some kind of capsule — and while we are as unprofessional as they come, we’ve mostly done the same. Whether it’s composed of wax, lead, tin, or plastic, the capsule is thought to help protect the cork from microbial intrusion, but also to betray any evidence of tampering. A swig-safety cap, if you will.

But what if that seal — whose function is to keep the wine safe — is itself unsafe? That’s what I wondered when I discovered that the capsules we’d been using (and most of the industry uses) are made from PVC, a material targeted by scores of watchdog agencies for its dire environmental impact.

So I did some research, and the surprisingly terrifying results spurred me into a little R&D about how to finish our treasured bottles differently. This gripping journey of revelation and redemption awaits you below the fold… Read more

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Garagistes 2007 Update June 27

Whit, James and I (joined by James’ friend Bill) racked all the wines on Wednesday night, rigorously (of course!) tasting through all the barrels and carboys to ensure top quality. A few notes to share:

The Perils of a Stainless Steel Tank. We’ve been housing whatever merlot didn’t fit in the barrel in a new 100 liter stainless steel tank. When we opened it up, however, the perils of not filling it absolutely to the top became apparent: a white film had formed on the surface of the wine, probably candida mycoderma. We wrangled it out and sprayed the surface with ethyl alcohol. In sampling the wine, there was no obvious acetaldehyde formation (an oxidized or stale sense to the wine which can result from over-exposure to candida), so we proceeded to rack it.

In refilling the tank, we poured in wine until screwing in the top just barely squirted out wine, so there should be no more trouble with candida. That said, we may want to sulfite the merlot a little more highly at the next (and final) racking.

Specific tasting notes after the jump.
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