After just a couple of sleep deprived weeks, the 2013 harvest is wrapping up for MTGA Wines…. a whole two weeks ahead of last year. Which means I am going to get more sleep sooner rather than later (woohoo!).
Sleep depravation aside it was a stellar growing season that made this years harvest what it is. A warm winter followed by a warm/hot summer really kicked things along. We had one solid heat spike in late June through early July, that gave us a small taste of what it is like to live in Arizona during the summer, but beyond that it was a very consistent low to mid-90s.
The Merlot looked, and tasted, awesome out in the vineyard. To be honest I was a little worried that the fruit would need to hang on the vine a bit longer for flavor development, which in turn would let the sugar level rise to a level that I don’t necessarily want, but that didn’t seem to be the case. As the grapes reached 24.50 brix it was time to call in the picking crew. On September 7th the 2013 Merlot was officially delivered to the winery.
On September 8th fermentation ops began. Two lots were created by utilizing two different types of yeast; one to help bring out a little more structure and the other to help keep the fruit characteristics intact. Punch downs were done about every twelve hours to make sure the fermentations continued evenly and that I was getting all of the extraction that I wanted. With the help of my better half, the fearless assistant winemaker/unpaid intern Brittany, the fermentation ops were relatively easy. It was just a matter of staying on top of all the details and making sure that each bin was tasting and smelling good.
After almost two weeks the primary fermentation was starting to wrap up. With that it was time to press off the two lots. Nearly four barrels of free-run juice was siphoned off before each bin was dumped into the press to extract as much wine as possible without making it too astringent. As seen in the next photo, with my good friend and other unpaid intern Brady, some wine didn’t make the cut. Even with a light pressing cycle there comes a time where you aren’t getting much, in terms of complexity and flavor, from the grapes any longer. As a result some wine has got to go! With the pressing cycle complete, seven barrels were full and ready to head to the cellar.
Similar to the prior vintages, each lot was placed into once and twice used French oak barrels to finish out the fermentations and begin the aging process with a nice subtle oak influence. From here on out the 2013 Merlot will be evaluated on a regular basis to make sure that each lot, and barrel, is heading in the right direction.
All in all the 2013 vintage is tasting great for what it is at this time, which is basically really awesome grape juice. There is still a long road ahead but I am pure excited to continue molding and shaping this Merlot into its final bottled form over the next 20ish months.