Monday I was back at the winery and it proved to be a cathartic day. Things are back on track.
I suppose it didn't hurt that Monday actually started on Sunday night, when I showed up for a nice harvest dinner with the extended winery crew. A former employee cooked a fabulous meal centered around two tremendous ducks stuffed with chantrells, leeks, and various meat. And of course we sampled a bevy of terrific wines.
Among the whites were the 1995 Evesham Wood Chardonnay Mahonia Vineyard from the south Salem Hills, young and aromatic. The 2001 Dauvissat Chablis Grand Cru Le Clos took a little time to open, but showed beautiful stony terroir and a lightly honeyed note. The 1999 Domaine Rollin Pere & Fils Pernand Vergelesses Blanc 1er Cru Sous Fretille had a similar stony quality, also very young and fragrant. A 2002 Domaine Serene Etoile Chardonnay from the Dundee Hills was more rich than the others with a yeasty quality, but still showed nice restraint and balance. Apparently no new oak on this one.
The top red for me was the 1999 Pavelot Le Corton Grand Cru had the perfume of the night, just tremendous but also young. Not so full on the palate as the others, but so subtle and complex already. Very fine wine. The 2000 Vincent Girardin Corton Bressands Grand Cru on the other hand was more dense and rich, but not oaky and quite attractive. I brought the 2001 Jean Foillard Morgon Cote du Py from the Beaujolais, and it was quite nice with a beautiful fragrance. It was lighter on the palate as it should be, but showed perfect maturity and really showed well. In the mix was another good Domaine Serene wine, this the 2000 Mark Bradford Pinot Noir that was a bit gaudy but otherwise tasted nice.
For dessert we had the powerful 2003 Durban Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise, sweet with an eau de vie fragrance. The 2003 Baumard Quarts du Chaume was a little controversial, some saying it was a little corked. Perhaps muted, but fresh to me and a little fat. I preferred the 2002 Belle Pente Riesling Vendange Tardive from Oregon, sweet but so nicely balanced with great length. Terrific with Tarte Tatin.
Then off to sleep in the crew's quarters before another long day of winery work. All of the red grapes and most of the whites are in, so duties in the winery shift from processing fruit to managing the cold soaks, kicking off fermentation in the bins that have finished soaking, punching down the active fermentations, and of course pressing the earliest lots that have already finished fermentation. And don’t forget preping barrels, and cleaning and loading the press, and cleaning again.
The weather has been terrific lately, and it helps to mix up the busy day with the occasional gaze upon the gorgeous scenery. I especially like the end of the day, when the long shadows and fading light reveal new details in the broad landscape. The hay fields have a hint of green again, and though the days are still warm, it’s only for a brief time each day as the nights grow long and cold.
Back at home, at this very moment I’m warming up my cold soaks to try and get fermentation started. I haven’t actively cooled them for days but they remain in the high 50s, which won’t help fermentation to kick off. So I’m heating the room and using an aquarium heater to boost things to the mid-60s or so and see if I can get the yeasts to start making some heat of their own.
Time to stir and then back to the winery tomorrow.