March 05, 2010

Last of the homemade wine

2008 saw the last year I made wine at home in the garage. As with the prior three years, I purchased a half ton of high quality pinot noir grapes from a local vineyard and, at home, refined the practices I was learning as I worked the harvest seasons in local wineries. In 2008, I was able to get Pommard clone fruit from 10 year old vines in the Zenith vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA here in Oregon. What a terrific site, long known as the O'Connor vineyard, and what an excellent growing season. The summer was long and cool, extending well into October. Where in 2007 the pinot harvest was wrapped up by mid-October, things were only getting going at that point in 2008.

The grapes were in excellent shape, requiring hardly any sorting before going through the destemmer. I fermented things in 3 Rubbermaid Brutes, without any yeast or yeast food. The wine was saturated in color and fairly tannic after only a few days of cold soaking, prior to fermentation. All together, the juice and skins were in contact for three weeks, longer than I had ever done primary fermenation before. Things were just so perfect. Great ripeness without too much sugar. For the geeks, brix was 23.1 and pH was 3.27. That extra time allowed the tannins to smooth out a bit and the new wine seemed to gain an earthy meatiness.

I let the new wine settle for two days and then put into a three year old French oak barrel purchased from a well regarded local winery. Malolactic fermentation took its time over the winter through the spring. At the end of June I racked and sulfured the wine, and have left it ever since in a cold closet out in the garage ever since. A recent measurement showed the wine at pH 3.55. Wine isn't made by numbers, but that's a pretty nice one.

Now, nearly 18 months after harvest, it's about time to bottle this last homemade wine. As readers may know, I launched a wine business with the 2009 harvest and have produced 9 barrels of Oregon pinot noir, among them a few from Pommard clone fruit from this same Zenith vineyard. I can't wait to get those wines in bottle and in the marketplace later this year. For now, I'm really excited by what I smell and taste in this 2008 wine. There's nice sappy raspberry fruit and emerging Pommard earthiness, brisk acidity, ripe tannic structure and nice juciness. This isn't heavy plodding pinot noir, yet it's ripe with good fruit. I'm happier about this wine than any I've made before it. I only wish I had more of it.

I'm thinking about doing one last garage tasting to let people try the wine and maybe some other surprises. Maybe that will happen in early May at this point. Meanwhile, my licensing paperwork to sell the 2009s and beyond is finally in motion, so my first offer for those wines will come early in the summer. I don't want to shill, but sometimes I feel a little shy -- contact me to get on the mailing list. Email is vincent[dot] I've been delighted by the steady stream of people who've joined already, but there's lots more room. Let me hear from you, and thanks.


Dudley said...

Vincent - I think another garage tasting is an excellent idea. Any chance it can happen before we evacuate Portland at the end of April?

Vincent Fritzsche said...

Might have to be last weekend in April then. Would that be a bad weekend, or perhaps a chance to take a break as you take the final steps in the move?

Bernard and Eva said...

Let us know if you have a garage tasting, we want to come! Good luck on your new venture.


Vincent Fritzsche said...

You bet, thanks for the interest.