Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Cerro Prieto Harvest....WOW!.

What can you say when the early harvest Pinot Noir and Sauv Blanc go like clockwork and the grapes were dead center in sweet, perfectly ripened, and harvested on flavor. One of our buyers held back picking some of the Sauv Blanc, instead returning when the Brix (sugar content) was way over 30.  Asuncion Ridge B&B and winery, is making a desert wine out of half of his portion of our Sauv Blanc. Wanted to do it myself but he beat me to it. Pinot, meantime, had about twice as many clusters of fruit on each vine, half of which we dropped, leaving wonderful flavors of dark cherry, lite cherry, some spicey fruit from our Pomard 4/5 clones, and so on. A lot of wild sage, wild lavender, and a whole host of other flowering shrubs surrounding the pinot, left their impression in the grapes from adjacent vines. Pinot Noir, hot as it was for 6 days, is still going to be spectacular...maybe as good as our 2009 Pinot which won the SF Chronicle Gold medal this April.  Part of this, however, is that the Pinot is in our mountain valley vineyard, is 20 degrees cooler than the mountain varietals, Cab, Merlot and Syrah. So during the 117 degrees for six days, the mountain valley vineyard was 99 daytime, and then 60 at nite. Typically, thruout the 8 month growing season, the mountain valley vineyard drops into the 30s, even on days in the 110 degree range.

I am continually amazed at the  climate terroir we have, which matches our solid limestone plantings, making the soil terroir perfect also. That's right. All Cab, Syrah, and Merlot were planted into solid limestone, which means we  painstakingly dug out 2 gallons of rock and replaced it with 2 gallons of dirt. THEN we planted. Sure, there is some minimal amount of topsoil in our Merlot, but 2 inches max. Then limestone. Planting my favorite bloc, Cerro Teresa, was a mammoth is a 45 degree incline in parts, steeper in others....and all solid rock. Like I said, it has world class terroir for both climate and soil, plus we have a southern exposure, the third and final part of terroir. Facing south is the easy part. The other two....well, Cerro Prieto has the two items that create world class terroir....incredibly great soil(solid limestone) and monstrous 70-80 degree temp swings, day/nite. Both soil and climate put huge stresses on our mountain vineyard Cab, Merlot and Syrah, creating the fascinating flavors and bouquets we get from all three.

Back to harvest, the Syrah came off next and was awesome to say the least. Yummy plummy raspberry, some dark cherry and blackberry...all those flavors in the fruit.  Naturally we harvested on flavor,  based on daily samplings of fruit. Additionally, the Syrah came off at a high Brix, 28.9, which will translate into a higher alcohol wine, with tons of flavors and aromas accompanying it. Once crushed, the sugar content went to 29.8  Brix, so we had to add some reverse osmosis water to dilute what we had. With a Brix of 29.8(pretty close to Port range), the alcohol level is so high that it will kill most yeasts(18 % alcohol and change). Hence you add water to bring the brix back down, and therefore the alcohol level drops back down  into the 17.8 to 17.4% range. Most yeasts work well in the 16% and below alcohol range, but D-254 (just one of many hundreds of yeasts out there) will ferment anything under 18%, altho that is not what the label says. I believe we have used D-254 on almost all our Cab/Syrah/Merlot fermentations.
 La Terraza, the terraced limestone Syrah bloc

As for the almost catastrophic heat spell, it seems the only thing it did to our Cab, Merlot, and Syrah, was to cause some canes to get to only 12-18 inches in height, which usually isn't enough to ripen a cluster. 12" won't , 18" may. In any event, we dropped fruit on the short canes, leaving only fruit on canes of 30-36" or more. There are guidelines all over but for our vineyard, it requires 18" inches to ripen one cluster/cane , or 36" to ripen two clusters. Generally our vineyard, year in and year out, produces 1/3 of shoots with 2 clusters, and 2/3 of the shoots with 1 cluster. If we do any dropping of fruit, it almost always comes from the 2 cluster/shoot.  Just for clarification, each spur is pruned to two shoots/cain and each spur  is approximately 5-6" from the next spur. Usually in the big reds, this gives us approximately 2.5 tons/acre. If pruned to higher density, then the yield/acre goes up. We shoot for 2-2.5 tons/acre. This yr our Merlot was pruned to 1.7 tons/acre, and the harvested fruit was alive with cherry, strawberry, touch of blackberry and a bit of cassis(currents....usually when some fruit starts to desiccate). The yield was down due to the hard hit during the late June hot spell.

That is about it for now, but a quick reminder. We plan to ship our wine club shipment on Nov 4th, so if you have a credit card that has changed or expired(as mine just did), please contact me by phone with your new cc #. My phone is 805 226 8448, and call anytime. If not home leave a brief message and I will return your call. Fantastic harvest folks and the 3 wines you are getting are a really massive blackberry Cab, plus the two best wines I have made to date(and that is saying something), 2010 Syrah El Bordo(with 7% 2009 Cab in it) and 2010 Syrah Reserve( La Terraza bloc). Both came from our half amphitheatre of solid rock, terraced into a stair-step fashion by a narrow gauge Kamatsu tractor with a 10 foot blade. It is an amazing sight and I hope you all get to see it during your next trip to Paso.

Oh, yes. By request, every yr we do a special valu pak for wine club members, and this yr  with the three wines noted above, you can order a 2nd or 3rd pak for half price each. The regular shipment will be $120, and each valu pak will be $60. If you have liked our wines in the past, these will not disappoint. $60 for a valu pak puts each bottle at $20, which is just a dollar more than our cost of production. Please, no more than 2 valu paks/family, even tho I get bombarded for more requests. That is our max. Incidentally, shipping 3 bottles to LA area(for example) costs $17. Shipping 3 more bottles is just $3 more. And shipping 6 bottles is just another $3 more. So the valu pak lives up to its name.

Time to go finish harvest.

No comments:

Post a Comment