After a good taste through the 2017 lots last weekend we were able to start to see glimpses of where the 2017 vintage is going to end up. All in all it seemed like a wonky year. Between an immense amount of rain through the winter and spring, frequent heat spikes into the 100+ degree range and the fires that rolled through, this year had its fair share of challenges. That being said the stage is set for some intensely flavored wines.
Frankly the word “intense” was the only thing on my mind after going through the 2017 lots. Even the rosé seemed like it smacked your taste buds around a bit. We are VERY early on in the wine making process but this is a great sign. The reason it is so great is that these wines will start to mellow and integrate as time goes on. The added intensity from the MTGA lots this year means that they are going to come out of the gate swinging come release time as well.
The rosé initially started darker in color and needed some work around the mid-palate. As the last couple months have gone by it has lightened up a quite a bit and that full flavor has started to come around. Keep in mind it is being tasted and cellar temperature (roughly 55 to 60° Fahrenheit) so once it is iced down for drinking it is going to change even more. What caught my attention last week was that the acidity was showing nicely without being overbearing. Combine that with how it has gained some richness and we are looking really good for a refreshing spring-time release.
As it stands at the end of this month the Pinot Noir is the most complete of all of the wines. I was thoroughly surprised how quickly it has come together over the last two months especially with how variable the different lots were. The two clones that were utilized, 115 and 667, came in on the same day however the chemistry on both was extremely different. The 667 was much riper and the acids had dropped quite a bit. The 115 on the other hand had much lower sugar levels and higher acids but no unsavory green characteristics. The five barrels that now make up the 2017 Pinot Noir are moving towards what is going to be the “classic” MTGA style. 2017 being the third harvest of Pinot that we have gone through, we are really getting a feel for the potential that the Black Knight vineyard in Bennett Valley has to offer.
Last, but certainly not least, was the 2017 Merlot. Out of all three wines the Merlot showed the most variability in between each lot. Some were lighter and more savory while others were denser and contained more structure. The good news is that this is exactly what I am looking for. Each of the eight barrels of Merlot are going to be components for that final blend (minus the one standout for the Single Barrel project). Seeing how different but harmonious they all were makes me look forward to July 2019 when we start to put together the final blend. There is always a bit of give and take to make sure these seven or eight components come together. But in the end we are always able to get what we need out of each.
Despite 2017’s challenges we are looking at another stellar Napa and Sonoma vintage.