September 29, 2009

Harvest, the latest from here

I admit it. I was freaked out about the approaching cold front yesterday. The satellite loop looked more like December than late September, with a juicy looking swirl and lots of potential rain with the front and behind it with lots of unstable air. The only problem? The good forecasters said the front wasn't really much, though the instability in its wake might lead to heavy downpours more common to spring than fall here in the Willamette Valley. Well, it didn't rain much overnight and even this afternoon was a let down to the weather geeks who pine for heavy rain, snow, frost, or whatever.

Where does that leave us grape freaks? In a pretty decent spot, actually. The rest of this week should give on and off showers without much accumulation. The biggest thing to my mind are the cool temperatures in the forecast, which should help keep most rot at bay. In 2007 we saw lots of harvest rain, but it was cold rain and rot wasn't a big deal. Right now we're looking at just a bit of rain and cool temps, then...then a nice drying period with temps warming back into the low 70s. Just perfect for ripening grapes. Dehydration is an issue out there, meaning sugars might end up on the higher side of normal around here. But at this point, I want hang time to help flavors develop. Acidities look pretty strong, so I'm not worried about losing too much there. All in all, things should be shaping up pretty nicely.

The plan at this point is to pick one site early/mid next week, then my other site later that week or who knows when. I was thinking the first fruit was coming in this Thursday, but now the rest of the week looks pretty open. So...

Tonight, with pizza and salad and some neighbor friends, the 2005 Produttori di Barbaresco Langhe Nebbiolo. I've been critical of this bottling in the past, but this 2005 is gorgeous. Light and fragrant as always, but with better tannin than usual. Pretty cherry and licorice flavors, juicy acidity and just the right amount of fine tannin. This is terrific little nebbiolo.

For something totally different, a neighbor friend last night brought over a NV Vitis Ridge Late Harvest Syrah from Washington's Wahluke Slope that I presume is fortified. It's 18.5% and sweet, and delicious. Smells like blueberry or boysenberry pie, with some meaty syrah notes. Tastes sweet and round, with a bit too much prominent oak but otherwise really nicely made and tasty dessert wine from a low profile local producer. Thanks Virginia.

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