Archive for the '2009 Garagistes' Category

Pinot picked

The Dundee Hills, early morning in mid-OctoberToday I drove out to the Dundee Hills and Oracle Vineyard to pick up our Pinot Gris. It was a beautiful but bone-chillingly cold morning, as co-owner Amy confirmed when I got there, wrapped in all the clothes she could find and still freezing. By the time I left, the sun had started to break out of the clouds (perhaps for one last encore before heading south for the winter), Amy was finally warming up, and we had all our fruit in hand for 2009. That makes me one relieved Garagiste.

Now that the Gris has been processed, we have 7 wines downstairs in various stages of completion, from the Syrah which we’ll probably press Tuesday, to the Cabernet which isn’t even thinking about fermenting yet.

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Syrah notes

We picked up our Syrah at the same time we did our Merlot, but as you might remember, we let the Syrah determine the pick date and let the Merlot fall where it might. That decision ultimately showed up in the flavor (more backbone and structure), but of course, in the numbers, too…
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The Merlot-down

Ah, Merlot, you corpulent, shar-pei of a wine, you. Despised by many, tolerated by few, I alone sense your inner beauty, your generosity of fruit, your gentle tannins…

… but this? 27.5 brix? 4.02 pH?! Girl, how could you?!

Oh, well. Nothing a tummy tuck and boob job can’t fix. Follow along with me as we do the merlot numbers…
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Cab 25.8 and holding

Field samples from our Cab block show brix at 25.8, but pH at 3.4. That pH is down in Pinot country, and at .73, the TA (titratable acidity, a number loosely but not directly related to pH) is also high. So for Cab to have those numbers, something isn’t quite ready yet. The fruit may have enough sugar (that brix is more or less perfect), but the acid’s too high, so the fruit isn’t in balance.

I asked the vineyard manager to taste the fruit for us, and he reported back today that indeed, the Cab isn’t ready yet: seeds are still green, and the jelly-like sac around the seeds is still expansive. So he guesses as much as 2 weeks, though hopefully closer to one.

That’ll undoubtedly put our brix in the stratosphere, but as long as pH continues to rise, we can always add a little water to bring the sugar back into balance once we pick.

So hold on: this one may be a cliffhanger!

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2009 Crush begins Friday

It’s official: we’re road-tripping to Yakima (or thereabouts) on Friday to haul back a combined ton of merlot and syrah. Both are in the 25-26 brix range; with luck, they won’t get much higher than that before we can rescue them, but the vineyard manager says they’re both tasting perfect.

It’s the first crush of the season, so there will probably be a lot of head scratching as we try to remember what it was that worked so well last year. But with luck, it’s like riding a sticky, sugary bicycle, and it’ll come back to us once the fragrance of fruit fills the air.

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