Les Welcome

Whether by intent or tragic typo, you’ve landed on the home of Les Garagistes winery collective. If you’re new to our dark cabal, a rich and heady stew of bad French grammar and subterranean winemaking awaits. But where to start? Here are a few suggestions:

Thanks much for stopping by. Our 2017s are gently aging in the cellar, and another exciting vintage is just ahead. Hope you can join us for it, and let us know what you think of what we’ve cobbled together.

The (back yard) estate pinot noir

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30 pounds of back yard goodness, in one 5-gallon bucket! This is actually the most viable crop I’ve ever gotten from the 21 plants in my back yard – plants I started from cuttings the acclaimed winemaker John Thomas gave me 20 years ago. Usually they succumb to powdery mildew well before harvest comes along. One of many reasons we leave to the pros the viticulture on which our wines depend.

Which isn’t to say this will be an exquisite pinot noir. Oh, no. Just that it will exist and may actually be drinkable. I’ll take it!

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What’s next in the vineyard?

My notes from tasting through our vines on Monday. In a nutshell, close, but not quite there yet.

Cabernet Sauvignon: on Monday, most of the Cabernet Sauvignon clusters tasted beautiful. The problem is that a good percentage of them did not. Really odd range of variation. So we’re going to let the Cab hang a bit more to bring those problem clusters closer to loveliness, but not so far that the good stuff goes too far. Maybe early next week?

Sangiovese: some wineries are already picking this, and I can see how you’d make an elegant wine out of it. But I want a little more depth — not too much, by any stretch — so I decided to let those hang as well. Maybe an additional week, too.

Grenache: so very close. As I mentioned earlier, super odd that the juice tastes great but the skins are way behind. But those should be ready to go in a week, too, if not sooner.

Viognier: not there yet; maybe mid next week?

Mourvedre: definitely not there. Maybe 14 days out.

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Syrah and Franc, nice and… ripe

This morning I collected samples of Syrah and Franc and headed out to Newberg, where the wine analysis lab we use has an outpost. And just moments ago, I got the results. The highlights:

Syrah: 25.4 brix, 3.91 pH
Franc: 27.7 brix, 4.07 pH

In a nutshell, this is definitely ripe fruit! Now, Washington fruit always gives us numbers like this — high sugar, low pH — and we’ve rehydrated accordingly, to excellent results. But that said, I have to say these numbers are higher than I’d have thought after tasting them in the vineyard.

But that’s okay. First, the fruit tastes damn good. The flavors are mature and in balance — they taste right — and to me, that takes precedence over the numbers. Not to their exclusion, for sure, but definitely not picking solely by them.

Especially because, second, we can adjust those numbers downstream. And we definitely will: left as they are, the Syrah would be about 15% alcohol, and the Franc 16.5% – way too much alcohol for anyone but teenage boys. So we’ll be adding a few Jesus units (turning water into wine) to bring both down below 14%, and I’ll also be adding acid to bring that pH down into microbially safe territory.

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Syrah and Cabernet Franc are in the house!

Today we brought in Syrah and Cabernet Franc – both tasted great in the vineyard.

We also brought back a little bit of Viognier (in advance of our actual pick later this month) to co-ferment with the Syrah, as they do in Southern France. We did that in 2013, and it transformed what had been in previous vintages a kind of one-note wine into the best Syrah we’ve ever made. Here’s hoping the magic happens twice!

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The Franc (nearly) cometh

Just got new brix, pH and TA numbers from the vineyard, so after a quick call to the vineyard manager, it seems the Franc is almost certainly ready, the Cab Sauv is almost certainly ready, and the Grenache probably in the window.

So we may have 3 delicious grapes coming at us Monday or Tuesday..!

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Well, that was fast: the Tempranillo’s pressed

We hardly knew ye - the Tempranillo, pressed off

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Early ripening Tempranillo ripens even earlier

Les Garagistes 2015 TempranilloAfter looking incredulously at the numbers from the vineyard, we headed east for our first pick today – Tempranillo and Merlot. Yeah, that’s 3 weeks early — wow.

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