Waaaaaay better that that mambo song or whatever.
That’s right! This was MTGA’s sixth harvest. It has been a wild ride thus far and if my plans for 2016 are any indication it is only going to get wilder.
This harvest brought its fair share of stress, success, and lack of sleep. With everything pressed off and in barrel I figure now is a good a time as any to dig into some of the details.
First off it started off on a low note. Unfortunately no Riesling was brought in this year for MTGA. To make a long story short it came down to one of the more treacherous pitfalls of being a small producer. However that was quickly remedied by putting Pinot Noir onto the docket. As my previous post eluded to I have some very fond memories of this finicky grape and I was looking for a new challenge. The Pinot Noir I sourced hails from the Sonoma side of things, about 10 minutes outside of Santa Rosa along the Rodgers Creek fault line. I was able to snag two clones this season: 115 and 667. At this time the 667 is shaping up to be the easiest going of the three barrels that came out of the two harvest dates. The 667 is tasting like it is going to be a really solid backbone at this point. I have yet to experience the ugly head that Pinot often rears toward winemakers but there is still plenty of time for that to happen.
The Merlot continues to come from the same vineyard source as the previous vintages and is tasting well thus far. This year’s lots seemed to stay much more similar than usual but now that barrels have been separated out it will be interesting to see how things shake down. All in all seven barrels were produced from the 2015 harvest. With the Single Barrel project now in full swing, the MTGA oak program is starting to take shape. The former new barrels that get bottled up will end up in the “general population” of Merlot as time goes on to add a bit more pizzaz to certain lots. After the first racking comes around (post-ML fermentation for you wine nerds out there) a single barrel will be sent on assignment to a new French oak barrel for the next 20-22 months or so.
Last but not least there is a half ton of Cabernet Sauvignon that is hanging about that needs to be addressed. This is as much of an R&D project as the Pinot this year however it is literally 1/3 of the volume. This lot of Cab has quite a bit of history to it but just like that Single Barrel project I am going to be fairly tight-lipped about it initially. What I can tell you is that it is exciting to be working with Napa Cab Sauv for the first time and now that I am three weeks into making it I can say I haven’t messed it up yet (hooray!).
All in all this vintage is shaping up to be a good one. Like the last couple of years it has been hot and dry which has lead to some pretty early harvest dates in the area. The biggest challenge for me has been letting flavor develop while trying to make sure that sugar levels in the grapes didn’t spike up too high prior to harvest. It has been a constant chess match out in the vineyard to make sure that fruit was coming in when it was supposed to. Frankly that isn’t much different from every year but this time around I seemed to feel the effects of it more by spreading out pick dates much more than usual.
The first lot of Pinot Noir and all of the Merlot came in on September 4th; a little earlier than last year but not by much. The second lot of Pinot Noir came in the next week on the 11th which was followed up by the Cab on September 21st. As usual the grapes were all harvested and placed in half-ton bins once crushed to go through fermentation. There were a couple “rocket ships” that finished up sooner than the others but for the most part the sugar was eaten up and converted to alcohol at a steady pace.
Now that everything is resting peacefully in barrel I am waiting for the secondary fermentation to finish up before I rack the wines for the first time to remove most of the heavy sediment that is left over from pressing. At that time I will be making a couple of slight adjustments to the oak program if needed before the rest of the aging process begins.
That is a pretty quick and dirty run down of this 2015 harvest season but that covers it all in a nutshell. I haven’t even hit 1000 words in this blog post yet so I even have some space to kill…
How about them Packers!! Ok, I’m done now.