December 08, 2011

Harvest 2011 part 7: celebration

Harvest 2011 in Oregon's Willamette Valley is complete. The grapes picked, the new wines safely through fermentation and in barrel (unless you're Barnaby at Teutonic Wine Company, who told me last week that he was picking his last riesling on Saturday - December 3!).

All that remains is the harvest celebration. This year the Guild Winemakers bunch celebrated together, a low key gathering of partners to talk about the harvest and anything else that came to mind. Such get togethers never last long enough. Why can't meals with friends last for days instead of hours?

I thought it appropriate to mark the occasion with an older wine I recently found. So the 1987 Nozzole Chianti Classico Riserva, pale in candlelight, brilliantly translucent, more than alive, growing with airtime to show its Tuscan sangiovese roots and all the layers of time. Not a great wine, but certainly pleasurable, much more than just a novelty of the past, so beautiful.

This harvest, this whole year was incredible. Unusual. Something I don't want to go through again. But the results are incredibly exciting. The wines we have in barrel taste electric. Ripe with a burst of flavor and yet so full of energy, so lively. They need to settle down and complete the secondary malolactic fermentation, which softens the young wine. Then time in barrel and bottle. Time will be everything for these wines.

We won't really see what we have for ten years, though of course we will check in frequently along the way, in cask and bottle. Already barrels need topping up only a few weeks after being filled. Otherwise, there is little to do now that harvest is done. This time is the elevage, the education of the wine, requiring patience.

So we eat and drink and finish the year, glad to be through with harvest and ready now for everything else a year brings. Harvest will be back again soon enough. But let's drink a little more old Chianti before thinking about that.

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