You might not realize it but Spring is a busy time in the cellar. The winter is when malolactic fermentation typically happens assuming the wines have not been sulphured and the temperature does not dip too low. In Bordeaux, the temperature in the cellars typically does too low and malolactic fermentation shut downs but will complete in Spring. The wines I wanted to go through malolactic fermentation are innoculated with a malolactic bacteria culture to make sure the malolactic fermentation completes in a timely fashion — it simplifies work in the cellar later. All of the 2008 wines that are supposed to go through malolactic fermentation have completed.
Racking is the next big task usually done in the Spring. The red wine is racked off the gross lees to avoid any autolytic flavors from developing. White wine make be aged on lees to add creaminess to the texture and slight autolytic notes. My white wines (Roussanne, Marsanne and Viognier) are all still on their lees and a stirring program has been started to enhance the body / palate weight and give a bit of creaminess to the wines.
Blending is the next large task in the cellar. I have been doing blending work on three wines: 07 White Hawk Vineyard, Sangiovese, Santa Barbara; 08 Santa Barbara Rose, and 07 Syrah, Dry Creek Valley.
Sangiovese: The Sangiovese has turned out really well! I am very happy with the wine. A small amount of 08 White Hawk vineyard Sangiovese (5%) and a small amount of 07 Young-Inglewood Cabernet Sauvignon was blended into the 07 Sangiovese. The 08 was added to freshen up the flavors/aromas and give a bit more power to the wine. The Cabernet Sauvignon has added a nice element in the entry and the finish. The wine is currently being cold stabilized in the cold room and should be bottled in the next couple of weeks.
Rose: I have been doing blending / fining work on my 08 Rose (Syrah / Sangiovese) getting it ready for bottling soon. I had to adjust the sweetness level a bit with the addition of some sucrose solution to give it a hint of sweetness. Also, the rose has a slight bit of bitterness and a deep violet color (due to bleeding 24 hours after crushing instead of 6 to 12 as should have been done). So, I am fining the rose with a combination of PVPP and Bentonite. PVPP will strip out the bitterness and lighten up the wine. The Bentonite is added to clarify the wine and compress the PVPP mixture that settles out of the wine (less wasted wine). The process is to dissolve the PVPP in 1 liter of wine, mix the PVPP mixture into the wine, soak the Bentonite in a 1 liter of water for 3 to 4 hours, mix the rehydrated bentonite into the wine, move the wine into the cold room and leave the wine in the cold room for 4 to 6 days depending on the temperature of the cold room. The clean rose will then be racked off the PVPP and Bentonite mixture on the bottom of the tank. The clean rose will then be sulphur adjusted for bottling and bottled.
Syrah: The Syrah is a work in progress — a few adjustments at a time to get a good/great final product. The wine is being blended with some Eaglepoint Vineyard Grenache to add complexity and aromatic lift (warm spice, black pepper and strawberry) along with some Catie’s Corner Vineyard viognier to further enhance the aromatics. After the results of the blending have had time to stablize, I will be looking at possibly making further adjustments but the wine needs time to stablize.
Note: I am still working on typing up the South America trip. Hopefully, I will have that available in a week or so.