Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The past two weeks or so have gone by too fast. The urgency of the work has subsided, thankfully, but the amount is still up there. The Cabernet Franc, picked and referred to last blog, has been destemmed, fermented, and pressed-off. It currently sits in a settling tank and will be put into barrels today. I'm really happy with the wine so far. Of note, it came in with botrytis. Botrytis is a fungal pathogen, disease, often referred to as "noble rot." Readers may recall that the Chardonnay this year was rife with botrytis. In whites, the disease can increase flavor and sugar levels. It can also lead to secondary infections like sour rot and ripe rot (rots are never good). Reds face the same issues plus the botrytis can cause a large build-up of laccase. Laccase actually reverses color stability. When this happens in reality, the juice starts out with pretty good color only to, day by pitiful day, lose the color and start to resemble a color I can only think to call khaki. Not cool. Fortunately I took some preventive actions which all basically tie-up any laccase. The results worked. The Franc isn't inky, but the color is very good.

I have a small amount of Petit Verdot in this year. It is inky and wonderful. I have more P.V. coming into fruit each year in the vineyard and I'm excited about the potential. Eventually I'll probably make a varietal label Petit Verdot, but for now I'll use it for blending.

The Nouveau is almost ready to start preparing for bottle. The fruit in a nouveau goes through carbonic maceration (CM). Simply, red wine is made by destemming and crushing grapes and then fermenting the juice AND the fruit together. The color for red wine is in the skin and during fermentation, the color is released from the skin as the cell walls are broken down by alcohol. With CB, whole clusters are placed in a vat that is full of carbon dioxide. The CO2 diffuses into the individual cell walls, expanding the cell and bursting it open, thus releasing the color. After a while the CM fruit is pressed and then traditional alcohol fermentation is started to finish the wine. The resultant wine has low tannins and unique flavors. This is the method used to make Beaujolais nouveau in France. Our release date for the Nouveau is the same as the traditional date in France, the third Thursday of November. This year that is November 16. I need to get my butt in gear. I'm pretty sure the Beaujolites didn't have us in mind, but nouveau in my opinion is great with Thanksgiving turkey.

Today we start the end of harvest. The Cabernet Sauvignon will finally come off the vine. I really love this block of vines. They are well behaved, meaning they grow to the top of the trellis and stop. There isn't a lot of excess growth which leads to canopy management problems and vegetative issues in the wine. The berries are small and dark. Small berries are desirable because most of the flavor and all of the color are in the skin layer. The smaller the berry the larger the skin-to-juice ratio per berry. I have high hopes for this years vintage. Stay tuned.

Thanks to Jeff, Julie, Tammie, Deb, Dan, Lisa, Stuart, my cousin Nancy's daughter and her boyfriend, and mostly my sister Sarah for the great work at the Town Point festival in Norfolk over the weekend. It was chilly but a huge success. Thanks also to Michael, Laura, Val, Kim, and Roberto for the hard work in the tasting room while everyone else was gone. In addition harvest and festivals, fall is also the busiest time of year for the tasting room. The festivals are over for the year (well, excepting our own Oyster Fest 11/11 and 11/12) and harvest is winding down. Our workers have preformed fantastic!
Thanks to everyone for dropping by the winery.


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