With the quieter time of year upon us it was time to dive back into the cave for a wee bit of cellar work on the MTGA vintages that are currently in barrel.
It has been an interesting few months since everything was barreled down and then racked off of the heavy lees in mid-January. All in all I was incredibly happy with how everything was tasting but here is where everything stands:
The 2014 Merlot and Single Barrel are progressing at their usual rate. Each lot has really started to come together though it will still be a few months before it is prepped for bottling. Long story short the 2014 vintage is officially into the home stretch! For all intensive purposes the 2014 Merlot lots have been easy to work with. There haven’t been any outliers or any issues along the way. Each seems to have settled into a nice groove.
Despite only being in barrel for a few months at this point the 2015 Merlot has also settled right in. It is already showing some great promise as far as integration goes. It is very similar to the 2014 and 2013 before it. With a few similar drought years on the docket for upcoming releases the variation between vintages will probably diminish a bit. Consistency is never a bad thing though it can take some engineering and luck from Mother Nature as far as weather fronts go. With some lower yields almost across the board, when compared to the last two vintages, I ended up with 7 barrels of Merlot from 2015 which has been the average over that few vintages. One has already been set aside for the Single Barrel project as well.
2015 Pinot Noir
One of the two new kids on the block for MTGA! The Pinot Noir is tasting great thus far but it has definitely entered the standard/perpetual “terrible twos” phase. From here on out it will likely be fighting back along the way but with a little bit of new French oak from Boutes and some extended lees contact it is going to end up rounding out nicely. Since Pinot Noir is new and different, it is something I have continued to monitor closely in the months since it was barreled down. It was a tough year the Sonoma Pinot Noir as far as yields go. With some struggle out in the vineyards the fermentations followed suit a bit but nothing was out of hand. These particular lots are a combination of two clones: 115 and 667. The 667 has ended up in the new barrel to really become the backbone of them and the “umph!” that the wine needs. The 115 lots will remain on the lees for a bit longer with some regular stirring to help fill out the body of the wine.
2015 Cabernet Sauvignon
The story behind this Cabernet is somewhat haphazard. Prior to the 2015 harvest my dad had suggested that I try my hand at the Cabernet Sauvignon side of things. My reply was that I would like to someday but it would likely be a while since the price per ton for Cabernet isn’t exactly cheap. So harvest rolls around and a half ton of Cab grapes are to be sent my way from Conn Valley (which as you know is the old and more established family business). It caused some waves that I wasn’t happy about and frankly the last thing I wanted to be doing was taking away from the family biz or be “that kid” who decided he wants to get into the family business all of a sudden. I’ve always wanted MTGA, Conn Valley, Trespass, Ghost Horse etc. to be very VERY separate. This year that didn’t really pan out and it truth be told it wasn’t the first time the streams had crossed; it was just the biggest crossing of them to date.
I took on this half ton and sort of hated every second of it but slowly learned to be grateful for the opportunity. Now a few months down the road the one barrel of Cabernet Sauvignon that made it out alive from a bit of a rough and tumble fermentation is starting to show signs of settling out. Rarely, it seems, do winemakers or wineries talk about the struggles or challenges that can be presented when making a wine but that is something I’d like to change. The reality is there are things you can do between barrel aging, blending, filtering and so on to “fix” a winemaking problem. There are also a TON of “additions” you can make to adjust for gaps in the process but those are all things that I try to avoid at all costs and have thus far with all of the wines I have made.
So that is where I am with this Cab. The fermentation was messy and the pressing off process didn’t go much better. As a result it needs a bit of a facelift which some new oak and maybe some blending down the road should provide. At this time this barrel of Cabernet has an undetermined future. In the present though I will be doing all that I can to make sure that future is an awesome one.