Archive for the '2010 Garagistes' Category

Syrah and Merlot numbers

Courtesy of the good folks at ETS Labs, we’ve now got some scientified digits to noodle on the Syrah and Merlot.

The top line, I suppose, is the acidity this year: it’s excellent. I don’t think we’ve ever gotten Washington fruit that didn’t need some pH adjustment to bring into safe territory. But this year, Washington’s weather mirrored Oregon’s, only a little warmer and with a lot less rain. That cool summer kept acidity lower than usual (heat and in particular warm nights tend to evaporate acidity), the result being lively wines right out of the chute.

That doesn’t mean these wines won’t require a few “Jesus units” (“water into wine,” as one wine pundit quipped), but we’re within striking range of well-balanced wines — again, especially because of those acid numbers. A good harbinger of a great vintage, I’d say…

Actual numbers after the jump.
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One down, seven to go

Syrah-crifice over Stonehenge

Somewhere around 6am, I pulled out of the Safeway parking lot with snacks and a 4-pack of Red Bull, and pointed the truck east into the sunrise. Ten hours and an enological sacrifice later, I was backing up the driveway with a combined 1200 lbs of merlot and syrah. Like slipping into an old pair of jeans: the 350-mile harvest road trip to fetch the good stuff!

I’ll post our numbers later, but the grapes tasted pretty good, and in fact, surprisingly racy for Washington fruit. I think we could have pulled the merlot a day or two earlier, but picking it when we picked the syrah saved us a trip — and besides, of the two, the blend-destined merlot quite usable a little less than perfect.

But yeah, the syrah: great acidity but also great flavor; clean berries, crunchy seeds. This one’s going to be fantastic if we don’t F it up — something I made sure of by stopping at Stonehenge on the way back for our ritual sacrifice (see picture above).

More pics below the fold…
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It’s SO on! Crush begins tomorrow!

Truck and trailer rented, new crusher/destemmer on-site, and 3 or 4 Red Bulls to prop up a looooong road trip: Vintage 2010 is ON, people!

I’ll be schlepping both merlot and syrah tomorrow. For various logistical reasons here and at the vineyard, they’ll probably be a bit riper than we’d like, but the cool weather there (and here) has ensured they’ve retained the acid they’ll need to make a balanced wine. Can’t wait to taste ’em.

So, sometime around 1pm Tuesday, listen to the east for thunderclaps and the distant caroling or angels as I make the first ritual sacrifice at Stonehenge on the back back into the Gorge. Gosh bless Les Garagistes and their fermentin’ ways!

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Merlot in the lead…

… with syrah breathing down its neck. Merlot’s right around 24 brix, syrah about half a click behind. Perhaps the Garagiste harvest will lurch out of the gate this weekend, my friends!

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The grapes are hanging

Just got off the phone with our Eastern Washington grower, who reported that the vines there and pretty much everywhere else are behind schedule, perhaps as much as a week to ten days. That would start our Washington harvest in October for the first time I can remember.

He says things are looking good, though, and to be sure, Washington has a wider picking window that the Willamette Valley, which is also behind. There’s a danger things may get so late we’ll slide into frost territory, but he’s confident the upper Yakima valley will get a few more degree days between now and then to ripen things up.

What the vintage won’t be is heavy, jammy, and Parker-friendly, I’ll bet. And that suits us just fine. In fact, I mentioned to the grower — who made wine in Southern France’s Côtes du Rhône for nearly a decade — that the cooler season would probably produce a truly French and correspondingly stellar Cabernet Franc, aromatic, floral, and effortless. He agreed.

The Willamette Valley may not get off so lightly, however. If Nazi scientists were to design a perfect set of circumstances to fester powdery mildew around here, this year would be it. Luckily, our Red Hills fruit is tended by pros, so while for many this may indeed be a vintage made on the sorting table, we’re feeling good we may not need one — and net some delicate, authentically Pinot fruit in the bargain.

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