December 10, 2006

Sampling my new wines

As it’s two months past harvest, I thought I’d taste my new 2006 wines again to see how they’re doing.

In my garage barrel room, I have one barrel of free run Pinot Noir plus two carboys of mostly press wine, one six and the other three gallons. I also have a 3 gallon carboy and another 1 gallon jug of Pinot Noir Rosé.

The barrel room is a coverted water closet, with temps this time of year in the low to mid 40s. The barrel is up on a rack and the carboys are on the concrete floor. The reds all have solid bungs, the rosé airlocks.

The 1 gallon of rosé smells clean, as all the wines are at this point. But it has a dark color for rosé from too long a maceration, and a candy fruity black cherry aroma that is a bit much.. The 3 gallon carboy seems more mineral, but similarly fruity and a little heavy on flavor. These are perfectly good wines, just not quite my style. We’ll see how they change.

The 3 and 6 gallon carboys of red both show some stinky reductive notes, particularly the 6 gallon. I really don’t want to rack these things this early if I don’t have to, but I think it will have to happen. The reduction blows off in the glass, and they both show black cherry fruit aromas and a full, softly structured palate. The 6 gallon seems a little more meaty, maybe lightly syrah like. Again, not the style I’m going for, but not bad and not alcoholic.

The barrel is all free run wine, and interestingly seems a bit more tannic than the press wine. It’s not stinky like the press wine, but the aroma is muted. In the mouth, the wine is still tight but some fine tannins are welcome. This barrel is from 2001, so I don’t expect much wood tannin in the wine, but I’ll be curious to see how this wine changes compared to the wine in glass carboys.

Overall, things are looking good. At this point, the wines are what they are, I just want to keep them healthy. The reds will have to finish malolactic fermentation in the spring, and I’m hoping the malic acid levels are low. That way the finished wine will retain as much acid as possible. It’s already low enough, I don’t want it going any lower than it has to.

What’s next? Topping the barrel regularly with press wine and even some of last year’s wine, whatever’s handy. Last year’s wine is high acid and lighter in color, so I won’t mind using it here and there. This day I used about a full bottle to top the barrel, just 16 days since I last topped. At that rate, I’ll lose about 8% a year to evaporation, the angel’s share. I’ll look at getting a cheap humidifier to cut that down a little.

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