Tag-Archive for ◊ Marsanne ◊

19 May 2009 Spring Blending Update

Spring blending is underway at Lionheart Wines!  I have been working on blending the following wines:

2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2007 Roaring Red, California
2008 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
2008 white Rhone blend (we can not use ‘The Angel’s Share’ anymore due to a trademark issue…if you have a suggestion for what to call the wine, please let me know)

The blending has gone very well.  I really enjoy working on blending the wines as you get to “fine tune” the work started way back at harvest of the grapes.   I have a wine style in mind which I try to reach in the final blend but do not artificially impose my will on what the wines are showing as their best qualities.  I want to make the best possible wine given the base blending components.

The 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon is looking to be a different style than then 2006; the 2007 has more ripe cherry / plum fruit which the blending will need to tone down.  I am going to be doing blend tests with Petite Verdot (to add spicyness and warm baking spices), Cabernet Franc (to add some floral aromas and more velvety tannins) and a bit of Malbec (make the wine more interesting, more layered in aromas and flavors).  The exact blend has not been worked out yet; the primary blend should be done by the first week in June.  The primary blend will then be put back in barrel to let it integrate before any final adjustments and bottling later this year.

The 2007 Roaring Red has been a bit of challenge this year.  I had to do a fining trial to get the tannin profile in line with the target wine.  The fining trial was done by taking equal volume samples of the current blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley and Kiona, Washington) and Dry Creek Syrah and adding 1 egg white worth to one sample, 2 egg white worth to another sample, etc and then left in a refrigerate to cold stablize it for a week.  The results from the fining trial indicated that about 1.25 egg whites per barrel seemed to get the proper tannin softness and structure for the wine.   After the actual fining is completed, the last part of the primary blend will be done.  The blending wines to be tested are Eaglepoint Grenache (for spiceyness and addition of light red fruits (currants, strawberry, etc) ), Contra Costa Mourvedre (for aromas and flavor complexity) and Petite Verdot ( for spiceyness and warm baking spices).

The 2008 Pinot Noir primary blending was very easy — equal parts of the Bohemian Vineyard and Gap’s Crown vineyard.  The blend was really nice and very similar to the 2007 Pinot Noir.   The blend will be topped with some of the Bohemian 777 clone from the second pick to add a bit more concentration to the wine as it integrates.   I am very happy with the base wines from these two vineyards!

The 2008 Saralee’s Vineyard, White Rhone Blend (formerly ‘The Angel’s Share’) blending was a several hour and over 15 blends tested for the primary blend to be determined.  The blend components all look very good by themselves but when properly combined you get a really lovely wine.   The final blend should be very similar to the 2007 White Rhone blend.   The 2008 primary blend is going to be 48% Roussanne / 50% Marsanne / 2% Viognier.    It was very cool to  be able to tell how the wine was going to evolve given this would be the third vintage — remember what the wines were like when initially blended versus the current state of each vintage.   I really enjoy working with the white Rhone varietals as the flavors and aromas are very complex and beguiling.  The white Rhone wine maybe bottled near the end of June depending on how the primary blend stablizes in tank.

23 Apr 2009 2005 Andrew Murray, Enchante (50% roussanne,50% marsanne), Santa Ynez Valley

Appearance: bright, medium- gold core -> water-white rim

Nose: clean, medium+ intensity aromas of mineral, white flowers, dried pear, apricot, caramelized pineapple

Palate: medium+ acidity, long length, medium+ concentration (weighty on the palate — but nice), medium alcohol, pronounced intensity flavors of pear, asian pear, pear brandy, glyceral (viscous), white floral, red apple and mineral.  There is a bit of bitterness on the finish (not bad but noticablee).

Quality: The wine is good quality due to complexity of aromas/flavors, layered flavors/aromas, good concentration.  I can highly recommend this wine.

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!

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.