Archive for the Category ◊ Wine Production ◊

19 Feb 2009 2008 Rose and bottling soon…

Yesterday, I was supposed to be bottling the 2008 Rose (Sangiovese / Syrah), Santa Barbara and my 07 White Hawk Vineyard, Sangiovese.  The bottling did not happen due to the wine being too cold — did not have enough time to warm up after being cold stablized in the cold room.  The wine must be closer to room temperature to make sure the bottling machine fills the bottles with the correct volume of wine.  In this case, the machine would have put in more than 750 ml / bottle due to the volume of the liquid being slightly smaller than when it is at room temperature.  If the bottles were filled with cold wine, there is a chance that the corks would be forced out as the wine reached room temperature.

I should be bottling the 2008 Rose, 2007 Dry Creek Syrah and the 2007 White Hawk Vineyard, Sangiovese, Santa Barbara next Wednesday.  The labels have not been printed yet, so they will be put into “shiners” — no label and no foils. 

The 2008 Rose has turned out quite well.  I am proud of how my experiment has turned out.  The blend of Sangiovese bleed and Syrah bleed is very distinctive and very good.  The chemistry on the Rose is: 4.0 grams/liter of sugar, total acidity is 5.5 grams/liter, 3.62 pH, 14.17% abv (will need to work on getting that down in the future).   Jen is working on a name for the Rose, so we should be getting the labels printed soon.  The Rose will be great with a bit of chill on it during the summer months!

05 Feb 2009 Vintage 2008 Barrel Sampling results

I have been tasting through my 2008 barrels to see how the vintage is coming along.  So far, the vintage looks to have promise — the final wines could be very impressive but it will take some careful work with them to make it happen.   At the moment, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Sangiovese are looking very good.

2008 Combsville Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Appearance: opaque red/purple core -> purple rim
Nose: medium+ intensity; coffee/espresso, cedar, black currant, boysenberry, herbs
Palate: Acidity = high; tannins = high, grippy; Flavors = black currant, boysenberry, cedar; Intensity = pronouned; alcohol = medium+, length = medium+
This wine is going to be the backbone of our Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon — it is off to a great start and I can not wait to see how it evolves in barrel.

2008 Rafael Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Appearance: opaque- ruby/slight purple hue core -> purple rim
Nose: pronounced intensity; red fruit (cherry, pomegranite, strawberry, slight sour cherry), black currant, fresh raspberry
Palate: intensity = pronounced; acidity = high; tannins = medium, fine-grained; flavor = black pepper, red cherry, strawberry, red curants, slight espresso; length = long
This wine will be the “fruit” component to the Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon blend.  It tastes lovely now with a lot of complexity already.

2008 White hawk vineyard, Syrah, Santa Barbara
Appearance: opaque purple/ruby core -> purple rim
Nose: intensity = medium-; violets, plum, rhubbarb, slight cedar
Palate: intensity = medium+; tannins = medium; length = medium+; flavors: espresso, strawberry, pomegranite, cedar (on finish), slight black pepper on finish; alcohol = medium+

2008 Thompson Vineyard, Syrah, Santa Barbara
Appearance: opaque ruby/purple core -> purple rim
Nose: intensity = pronounced; oak, coffee/espresso, red fruit (cherry, currant), slight floral, black fruit (olive and cherry), green olive
Palate: acidity = medium+; tannins = medium+ grippy; length = long; alcohol = medium+; flavors = olive tempanda, black pepper, oak, rhubbarb (red savory), star anise; finish = slightly bitter

2008 Bohemian Vineyard, Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley/Sonoma Coast
Appearance: medium ruby with slight purple hue core -> pink rim
Nose: intensity = medium+; toasted oak, red cherry, fresh strawberry, violets, slight espresso, smoke
Palate: Acidity = high; tannins = medium-, soft; length = medium+; concentration = medium-; flavors = cherry, strawberry, watermelon, smome, white pepper on finish (slight bitterness with a bit of angular acidity).
This wine is quite different from prior vintage: prior vintage= long even growing season, this vintage = short growing season with heavy frost damage early in the vintage.

2008 Gap’s Crown Vineyard, Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
Appearance: deep ruby/purple core -> pink rim
Nose: intensity = medium+; sulphur, black fruits (cola, cherry, currant), anise, warm spices
Palate: acidity = high; tannins = medium, slightly grippy; length = medium+; flavors = dark cherry, cola, earth, slight pomegranite, dried strawberry
This wine was sulphured two days before I tasted the wine, so nothing to worry about here.

2008 Saralee’s Vineyard, Marsanne, Russian River Valley
Appearance: light gold core -> water white rim
Nose: intensity = pronounced; mineral, white floral, tea, honeysuckle, pear blossom, pear, asian pear, fresh cut grass
Palate: Acidity = high; length = medium+; flavors = mineral, honeysuckle, bosc pear, white pepper on finish; concentration = medium-
This wine is off to great start.  The concentration/body weight is a bit light right now but the stirring program has just been started.  The palate weight will improve as the lees are stirred (once every two weeks).

2008 Saralee’s Vineyard, Roussanne, Russian River Valley
Appearance: light gold core -> water-white rim
Nose: intensity = medium+; mineral, white floral (apple blossom), perfume, green fruit (pear), warm spice
Palate: acidity = medium+; intensity = medium+; length = medium+; concentration = medium+; flavors: mineral, white floral, pear, fuji apple, cardamon
This wine is turning out very nicely.  The wine did not go through malolactic fermentation to help retain the natural acidity.  The combination of the Marsanne and the Roussanne should make for another lovely white Rhone blend, The Angel’s Share!

30 Jan 2009 Wine Valleys of Chile
Overview of Chile's wine valleys

Overview of Chile

Chile is long narrow country next to the Pacific Oceans.  The proximity to the cool Pacific Ocean allows creates some great growing conditions in the valleys closest to the ocean — cool breezes at night to cool down the vineyards while the ocean acts as a thermal reservoir to keep the top temperatures in a good range.  The wide diurinal temperature swings is great for varietals that require a good amount of acidity.

Here are the valleys from the north to the south of Chile:

Limari Valley — vineyards: Francisco de Aguirre, Casa Tamaya, Tabli, Soler
The valley itself is mostly known for white grapes varieties distilled to make Pisco.  New technologies are being used to be able to grow grapes in the semi-arid conditions.

Aconcagua Valley — vineyards: Errazuriz, Sena, von Siebenthal
The region is known for its pioneering of Syrah.

Casablanca Valley — vineyards: Casas del Bosque, Catrala, Indomita, Matetic, Veramonte, Vina Mar, William Cole, Carmen, Casablanca, Casa Lapostolle, Morande Kingston, Quintay, Santa Rita, Ventisquero y Vinedos Organicos Emiliana

Casablanca Valley is Santiago’s gateway to the sea — located between Coastal Mountain Range and the Pacific Range.  The earliest vineyards were planted 20 years ago and was selected to grow white varietals due to the cool climate.  Currently, the area is known for Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Wine route information: Ruta de Casablanca, Phone: (56-32) 274-3933,

San Antonio Valley — Vineyards: Garces Silva, Leyda, Matetic
San Antionio Valley is a very small growing area which is close to the sea (maritime climate).  The cool climate is excellent for Syrah which is helping to improve Chile’s repuation for Syrah.

Maipo Valley — Vineyards: Almaviva, Aquitania, Baron P. de Rothschild, Canepa, Carmen, Concha y Toro, Cousino Macul, Chocalan, de Martino, Domus, La rosa Odfjell, Santa ema, Santa Rita, Tarapaca, Undurraga, Ventisquero.

Maipo Valley is located between the Andes and the Coastal Mountains.  The Valley is considered to have three unofficial regions: Alto Maipo (closest to the Andes), Central Maipo (valley floor) and Pacific Maipo (closest to the ocean).  The valley has a Mediterranean climate with some climate adjustment based on the nearby geography (ocean or the mountains).  The Alto Maipo produce ulta-premium wines while the other regions produce softer, fruiter wines.

Wine route information: Ruta del Vino Maipo Alto, Phone: (56-2) 3350732,

Cachapoal Valley — Wine Route: Altair, Anakena, Casas del Toqui, Chateau Los Boldos, Gracia, Lagar de Bezana, La Rosa, Morande, Porta, Saint Gobain,Torreon de Paredes.

Carmenere is ideally suited for this valley.

Wine route information: Ruta de Cachapoal, Phone: (56-72) 584360,

Colchagua Valley — Wine Route: Bisquertt, Casa Lapostolle, Caliterra, Casa Silva, Cono Sur, Vinedos Organicos Emiliana, Estampa, Hacienda Araucano, Laura Hartwig, Las Ninas, Los Vascos, Luis Felipe Edwards, Montes, MontGras, Santa Cruz, Santa Helena, Santa Rita, Siegel, Viu Manent.

The valley is known to produce Chile’s finest red wines made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Syrah, Malbec.  The valley is closer to the ocean so the cooling breezes at night help to maintain acidity in the red grapes despite the warm daytime temperatures.  The net results is a long, slow ripening period.

Wine route: Ruta del Vino de Colchagua, Phone: (56-72) 823199,

Curico Valley — wine route: Altacima, Aresti, Astaburuaga, Correa Albano, Chilcas, echeverria, Ines Escobar, La Fortuna, Las Pitras, Los Robles, Miguel Torres, Mario Edwards, Miguel Torres, Millaman, Molina, Pirazzoli, San Pedro, San Rafael, Santa Hortensia, Valdivieso.

The Curico Valley is the second largest producer of wine in Chile with strong representation by Chile’s top producers.  Miguel Torres brought modern winemaking techniques to Chile in the 1970’s.  The region grows 17 red varieties and 15 white varieties.

Wine route — Ruta Del Vino Curico, Phone: (56-75) 328972,

Maule Valley — Wine route: Balduzzi, Botalcura, Calina, Casa Donoso, Casas Patronales, Corral Victoria, Cremaschi Furlotti, J. Bouchon, Los Acantos, Hugo Casanova, Terranoble, Valle Frio, Via Wine Group.
The Maule Valley is largest producing valley featuring 43% of the countries total planted acreage.  The valley has diverse geography so there is no one style of wine the valley is known for.

Wine route: Ruta del Vino Valle del Maule, Phone: (56-71) 246460,

Itata valley — Vineyards: Calina, Casas Patronales, Hugo Casanova, Via Wine Group, Casas Giner
The Spanish black grape Pais still predominates in the area.  The valley has some of the earliest vineyards in Chile.

Bio Bio Valley — Vineyards: Canata, Gracia, Guilisasti
The region is known for rain and colder weather.  The climate helps Chardonnay, Gewurtztraminer and Riesling to express near old world levels of acidity.

25 Dec 2008 Researching South American wine first hand

I will not be updating my blog for the next several weeks as I will be in South America touring several wine region.  I will try to post interim updates when possible but online access will be random.  When I get back, I will post detailed information about the wines and wineries discovered / visited.

I will be visiting the Equador (Galapagos Islands), Peru, Chile and Argentina.  It will be a great trip with many opportunities to enjoy the local wine and spirit pairings.   I will make an effort to record local prices vs. prices of the wines in the US (assuming the wine is available in the US) to see what the typical importer mark up is.

Have a Wonderful New Year!  I hope you enjoy some lovely sparkling wines on New Year’s Eve to ring in 2009.  I will be ringing in 2009 and celebrating my fabulous wifes 40th birthday from the equator.

06 Dec 2008 Adventures in blending — 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Sangiovese

I started the blending process for four of 2007 vintage wines:  Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Roaring Red, Dry Creek Valley Syrah and Santa Barbara Sangiovese.

We have three distinct Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: Vineyard X vineyard, hot fermentation Young-Inglewood vineyard, and a cool fermented Young-Inglewood vineyard.  The Vineyard X wine is tremendous wine — the Transault barrel has provided a pronounced aromas of freshly made fine Italian espresso, black currants and red currants; the mouthfeel is great from front to back with the standard dip in the mid-palate associated with Cabernet Sauvignon.  The two Young-Inglewood fermentations were done to provide good blending components for the Vineyard X fruit.  The cool fermentation provides good fruitiness aromas and flavors with lower tannin extraction while the hot fermentation provides a structure and color component at the expense of very little aromatics.  While evaluating the separate wines, I noticed that the cool fermented Young-Inglewood wine had noticably different (more reddish with some purple) and better color than the hot fermented Young-Inglewood which did not make sense initially.  The cool fermented wine was in a neutral barrel to preserve the fruit purity while the hot fermented wine was in a new barrel to provide ample oak tannins for oak flavor and color fixation.   The hot fermented wine was brighter and clearer than the cool fermented wine.  The new barrel seems to have worked as expected with brighter and more stable color and good structure/oak flavoring.    I was hoping to work out the first or gross blend of the Cabernet Sauvigons to get the blend done and allow time for it to stablize.  However, after evaluating the wines, I have decided to combine the two Young-Inglewood lots into a single lot, do 5% concentration to get the body and mouthfeel to be on par with the Vineyard X wine. return the wine to neutral barrels and reevaluate the wines in January for the next blending step.  The next steps are to determine if the Vineyard X lot should be combined with the Young-Inglewood for a single Cabernet Sauvignon lot or do fractional blending of the Young-Inglewood lot with the Vineyard X lot and try for highly rated “Parker” style wine.  It is a very difficult choice given that in order to sell more wine, I need to get highly-rated wines given my price point or make a better wine in the Lionheart Wines Style.  My initial thoughts are to make a wine more in the Lionheart Wines style — bold, approachable, some agability and fantastic with food.  If we end up with the Lionheart Wine style, there may not be a Roaring Red in 2007 as all of the Cabernet Sauvignon will be used for the flagship Cabernet Sauvignon.

The White Hawk vineyard Sangiovese from Santa Barbara tasted great and has great chemistry numbers (14.47% abv, 3.42 PH, 7.9 grams/liter TA and a low VA).  The acidity is a bit higher than will be in the final wine but it is much better for the wine to have higher acidity at the point than the reverse.  The high acidity provides good protection to the wine by helping the effectiveness of SO2 in solution as an anti-oxidant and anti-bacterial agent.  A potassium carbonate (e.g. potcarb) trial will be done to determine the final bottling acidity in January.  My initial guess is that we will end up lowering the TA by 0.5 to 0.7 grams/liter.   A sample blend of 5% Vineyard X Cabernet Sauvignon was done with the Sangiovese post postcab adjustment resulting in a very exciting wine — you are going to love it!  The final blend will be done in done in late December or mid-January.

The Dry Creek Valley Syrah from Ray Teldeschi vineyard has been a bit of mystery on where to take it since it was fermenting in 2007.  The wine has been very tight since it was put in barrel.  After 11 months, the wine started to open up and show classic Syrah characteristics of ground pepper, red fruit, black olive, earth and some smoke.   I have been aging the wine in two lots — 1 new Hermitage barrel to add oak structure in the classic French Syrah style, 1 neutral barrel to preserve the fruit characteristic unmasked by oak and the balance of the wine in a stainless steel topping tank.   The Hermitage barrel has provided an abundance of oak with some similar characteristics to American oak — slight coconut and a far amount of Vanillin plus the more standard French spices (warm) and cracker pepper.  After tastings both lots, it is clear that the wine needs to be racked together into neutral barrels to avoid anymore oak flavor pick up.  The oak flavor is good but anymore would be distracting. 

A key goal of this blending / tasting session was to see what the gross blend for the syrah would be to enhance the aromatics, provide a layer flavor/aroma profile and make sure to have a long balanced finished.  The initial thoughts were to use the traditional blenders with the syrah: Tempranillo (Spanish style), Grenache (French) and Viognier (Australia and some French).  I would like to try Mouvedre but I do not access to any.  The Tempranillo was very interesting by itself but when combined with the Syrah it highlights the worst of each wine — so the Tempranillo was ruled out.  The Eaglepoint Ranch Vineyard Grenache is a great blending component; it has bold and pleasant aromas of ripe pumpkin, cracked pepper (white and black), strawberry, cranberry and rhubbarb.  The Broken Leg Vineyard Viognier from Anderson Valley is also a good blending component by providing a nice aromatic lift of apricot, orange blossom and tangerines.  After several blends being tried, the target blend of 6% Eaglepoint Ranch Vineyard Grenache provides a good complexity of aromas and flavors that compliments the base Syrah.  The Grenache will be blending in during the rack and return to neutral barrels for the Syrah.  The Viognier provides a good lift to the aromatics and enhances the mouthfeel and finish of the syrah.  The Viognier will be blended in January after the Grenache has had time to integrate into the syrah.  It is best to take the blending in stages to make sure the blend in your glass works in the barrel.

Overall, I am quite happy with the wines.  I would have liked to get all the gross blends done in December but the wine indicates patience and several steps are going to be required to produce the best wine possible.  Naturally, I am going to listen to what the wines are indicating not my will.

12 Nov 2008 Clonal selection — how important is it?
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I was asked a few days ago about clonal selection for a given varietal, Cabernet Sauvignon, and what difference it really makes in a final wine.  My initial impression was that clonal selection of the cultivar(varietal) from a given site is not that important.  However, after thinking about this for a day or so, I have a different point of view.

My initial thoughts were based on key assumption — the vineyard was planted with the exact perfect clonal selection and rootstocks for each block’s soil, weather, water and temperature conditions.  This is a very large assumption on my part.  It is nearly impossible to get the perfect match of clone, rootstock, capopy management, water regime, nutrient regime, etc the first time for a vineyard manager.  There is a reason why it takes decades to determine the best varietals for a given area/vineyard, let alone a specific set of clones.

From a winemaking perspective, clonal selection is very important when a vineyard is young as some clones match up better with the specific growing conditions than others.  Each clone is going to express different elements more boldly than other clones.  Clonal differences such as cluster density and cluster size make a large difference in areas that have rain during the ripening season, heavy fog, etc — a loose cluster will be able to dry out more easily and have a lesser tendency to develop fungal issues than a tightly packaged cluster would be able to dry off.  Each clone is going to bring different nuances to your finished wine.

For each wine, I have a particular style and flavor profile that I am looking for.  I will try to select a mixture of clones when possible to give me more flavors / aromas / tannin profiles to work with for the final blend of the wine.  It is the same concept as a painter wanting to have more shades of a autumn colors when painting an Autumn scene — more gradiations, great more depth and interest in the viewer.  A wine from a selection of clones should have a more layered and complex profile than a wine from a single clone.  If a specific clone gives you just what you are looking for, then fabulous — enjoy the great wine!  If not, you will need to either make up for the missing element by blending in wine from another location or use some additional clones of the same varietal.

From a growers perspective, clonal selection is very important but for slightly different reasons.  Clones are selected based on the easy of growing healthy grapes (cluster size, cluster density, flower period, degree of millerage, evenness of ripening), yield, heat tolerance, drought tolerance, etc.   The type of grower makes a large difference on what elements they focus on — a bulk grower is selecting clones for highest yield, highest disease and fungus resistance, larger berry size; while a quality grower is looking for small berry size, low yields of highly concentrated berries, particular tannin profiles, rarity of the clone (premium value for a desired clone), etc.

Cabernet Sauvignon Clones (note all of this is subjective to each person’s palate and desired style):
Clone 7 according to Winemaker Phillip Corallo-Titus of Chappellet Winery: considered perfect match for our rocky, volcanic soils.  The fruit it produces is valued for the rich, forward blackberry and casis flavors and balanced tanninns.

Clone 337 is considered to be one of the best selections for Napa Valley high-end wines.  Yet, Clone 337 has shown some poor terroir results in Sonoma County hillsides if the cultivar was matched with the wrong rootstock and had low water availability.  Clone 337 is considered to be quite fruity and has a depth of flavors.

Clone 7 is considered to be rustic (aka rough tannins) compared to Clone 337.  Other say that Clone 7 is just fine when not grown on hillsides.

My conclusion is that clonal selection is very important for growing the best possible fruit for a given location with the realization that each person’s view of what is the best is subjective.  Some combinations of specific clones on a given site will produce more concentrated and healthier fruit that others.  If that combination produces grapes that suits your wine style, then you are a very happy grower/winemaker.  If not, you need to either try another combination or look at a different location to grow/source your grapes from.

05 Nov 2008 It is coming up rose…

Last night, I did an experiment of combining the still fermenting rose batches (White Hawk – Sangiovese and Syrah bleeds + Thompson Syrah bleed) to see what the result would be like and get some initial chemistry numbers. 

The results of the combination were quite good.  The White Hawk Rose is a deep lavender color (so rose is a bit of misnomer at this point), good fruit characteristics (currant, cherry, strawberry), good aromas (floral – violets, candied rose petal), nice crisp acidity but has a hint of a slight bitterness on the finish; the Brix level is currently at 0.2 Brix where -2.0 Brix should be roughly dry.  The Thompson Rose is not as far along fermenting (3.5 brix) and has sweet fruit especially strawberry but no bitterness on the finish.  When I combined the two in amounts equal to a straight combination of the current roses, I got a very lovely rose that is quite enjoyable, crisp acidity, nice sweetness (too high at the moment) and a complexity of aromas and flavors that I was not expecting.

The chemical analysis indicated the following: 17 grams / liter of Fructose/Glucose, TA = 6.3 g/l, pH = 3.53, alcohol % = 13.1, Malic acid = 1.16 grams/liter and VA = 0.53.  The sugar level will come down as the roses continue to ferment.  The acidity and pH are great.  The alcohol level is a bit high as I was trying for 12.5% but that can be adjust right before bottling.  The VA is just fine but needs to be watched.

I am going to let each of the roses finish fermenting individually, then rack them into a single tank and then make final adjustments prior to bottling.  The rose will probably be bottled in January due to the bottling schedule at Crushpad is already backed up into December even with harvest just wrapping up. 

I think everyone who gets to try to the rose will be pleasantly surprised.  Next harvest, I am  planning on making a rose for sale.  This year’s rose maybe just for wine club members as a thank you gift.

26 Oct 2008 To bleed or just dilute ?

One of the key questions a winemaker asks him/herself is whether you should do a bleed on the processed grapes before innoculating with yeast to start the primary fermentation.  A bleed is the removal of some of the liquid (mostly sugar and water) from popped/crushed grapes as part of a brix adjustment.  Generally, a bleed is used to lower the sugar amount / potential alcohol by bleeding some liquid out roughly 12 to 18 hours after processing while replacing it with the same volume of water.  If the grapes are very juicy (lots of water in them, you may want to remove some liquid to help increase the ratio of liquid to skins for better concentration.  This approach is done for varietals such as Merlot, Syrah and cult Cabernet Sauvignons.

I decided to bleed both Syrahs and Sangiovese to go for a better skin to liquid ratio after the water adjustment to lower the potential alcohol into the target range.  Normally, wineries will just pour out the bleed liquid.  The bleed was such a lovely violet color and smelled so good that I decided to try to make Rose or Violet in this case.  I kept the White Hawk fruit bleeds together (60% Syrah and 40% Sangiovese) and put the Thompson Syrah bleed in a different vessel.  The White Hawk Rose is coming along great with fantastic aromas and flavors over a slow cool fermentation; I am very happy with this so far!  The Thompson Syrah only started fermenting a few days ago, so not sure how it may turn out.  If both Roses are good and blend well, I will make one Rose that will only be available to Wine Club members.

I will keep you up to date on the Rose progress in future posts.  Note: I am tickled pink that Rose is working out as I hate to waste good juice.

26 Oct 2008 2008 harvest is coming to a close

2008 will probably not be considered a great vintage due to the rough growing season especially in Northern California — frost at budbreak / fruitset, early hot weather, little rain and a cool growing season.  The quality of each AVA will vary greatly with the level of vinicultural practices used.  The main issue was frost-protection in part of the Russian River valley, Napa Valley and the Sonoma Valley; Santa Barbara was skipped from much frost damage.  If frost damage happens early enough in the season, the vines will lose initial shoots and flowers but the vine will push a second set of shoots and flowers.  The second set is behind the first set by 3 to 5 weeks depending on condition, yet fruit from both sets will start to change color at the same time.  If the vineyard manager did not drop the second clusters before veriasian, it will be impossible to differentiate the unripe clusters when harvesting the fruit.  The resulting mix of ripe and unripe fruit would produce a terrible wine! 

The frost and cool growing season resulting in much lower yields than in past years.  We lost part of our Bohemian Pinot Noir allocation due to early frost damage to the vineyard.  If the vineyard management was good, the fruit could be quite nice especially from the Santa Barbara County area.

The Crush phase of the 2008 harvest is coming to a close for Lionheart Wines with the last fermentations starting to kick off today.  The Crush season started early at the end of August with an early high-temperature spike that forced some growers to bring their fruit in earlier than expected due to sugar levels and raisining of the berries.  The Crush is ending at a more gentle pace that the start which is always appreciated considering the long hours in the winery up to this point. :)

Initial thoughts on our 2008 Wines:

  • 2008 White Hawk vineyard, Sangiovese, Santa Barbara County — this wine is going to be spectacular!  The fermentation was well-behaved and cool resulting in fantastic aromas and flavors.  At the pressing, the wine could be smelled all over the winery with many people commenting on what was the wine and how do I get some!
  • 2008 White Hawk vineyard, Syrah, Santa Barbara County — the wine has fantastic fruit flavors/aromas with the distinctive pomegranite and orange peel notes.  The syrah was co-fermented with Viognier and Marsanne with some very nice complexity and enhanced aromatics.  The wine is going to be blended with Syrah from Thompson vineyard resulting in a syrah made in the 2006 style — big fruit, some jamminess, good structure and begging you to have it with lamb!
  • 2008 Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon — the first fermentation went well with the results not clear until pressing happens on Monday.  The second fermentation is kicking off today and should be basically done by next Sunday unless I decide to do extended maceration for mid-palate complexity.  The wines should be quite nice and done in the 2006 style when the final blend comes around.
  • 2008 The Angel’s Share, Saralee’s Vineyard, White Rhone blend — the Marsanne and Roussanne have just recently started to fermented coolly.  It will take several weeks for the fermentations to be completed but the racked juice tastes very good and already has great aromas.
  • 2008 Gap’s Crown, Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast – the wine is currently going through malolactic fermentation.  The overall quality will not be clear until malolactic fermentation is complete but initial indications are that it will be a good blending component for our Sonoma Coast blend. The wine is a co-ferment of clones 115 and 828 fruit.
  • 2008 Bohemian, Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley/Sonoma Coast –  the wine is currently going through malolactic fermentation.  The overall quality will not be clear until malo. fermentation is complete.  The wine is a co-ferment of 115 and 667 clones; the aromas are very nice and similar to aromas/flavors in our 2007 Pinot Noir.  I will be blending in some 777 clone wine after malolactic fermentation completes.

Unfortunately, I was not able to secure some of the McGinley Roussanne for this year.  I will be taking immediate steps to remeady that situation for next harvest.