January 23, 2010

Winemaking update

I went down to the winery today to check in on the progress of my barrels of 2009 pinot noir. Things have been pretty hands off since harvest. Not a lot of looking in on the wines, just some attention to make sure nothing's going wrong. Smelling and tasting samples from each barrel today, nothing's going wrong at all. I'm excited about what we have in barrel.

The Domaine Coteau vineyard barrels, six in all, are a mix of brighter red fruit and darker black fruit wines. The two fermenters seem to provide the distinguishing mark here, with the first fermenter the brighter and lighter wine, the second the darker, meatier wine. It's interesting that this difference has been there since late in the fermentation back in October.

The third fermenter was from Zenith vineyard, and it's more red raspberry and nicely long in the mouth. This is the wine I intend to bottle separately as a single vineyard offering, one barrel or two. It's not as intense at this point as the Coteau lots, but it's more refined and longer flavored. Essentially, more pretty and pinot than the burly, masculine Coteau barrels.

All the wines show the warm 2009 vintage -- ripe, though not overly so, just full flavored and needing time to reveal more earthy complexity. I like the tannic structure of the wines. They aren't glossy and full of sheen, rather there's a savory note that I'm looking for. The wines aren't through malolactic fermentation, so any specifics really should be taken with some pause. The key now is that things are progressing well, the wines are healthy, and things are on track.

We're doing chromotagraphy to assess progress on the ML fermentation, to get a sense of where the wines are. Once they are complete, we'll sulfur them and probably rack them around June to begin the clarifying process, separating wine from sediment. The first bottling should be in late August or early September, with one or two barrels held over until next winter for a late bottling of the single vineyard wine. I came home full of renewed hope for the vintage. This period of elevage, where the wines essentially cure from raw wine into a finished product fit for your table, can be nerve wracking. Tonight, I'll sleep well knowing everything's on track and good. I can't wait for people to try these wines.

No comments: