Journal | September 14, 2016
Shari conducted a massive lab session yesterday so we have good analytical information on both the juice already in the tanks and the grapes on the vines. The results serve mostly as a confirmation of what we are tasting, but with a few surprises. As suspected, with these warm temperatures (still above average), the acids have been falling quickly. For Linden’s style, acidity in white wines is the foundation for the structure on the palate. Two of our wines in the fermenters, Hardscrabble Sauvignon Blanc and Boisseau Viognier are lower than we would like.
Riesling is up to bat today. All hands are on deck as we need to pick as quickly as possible as today will be the hottest day of the week. We need to keep the fruit cool so as not to lose aromatics. I’m hoping to be done by noon. The acid is still high and I want to catch it while it still has freshness. We blend it with Vidal, but the Vidal this year is quickly losing acidity and is slow to develop flavor. The thought is to bring in bright and racy Riesling to blend with weighty, ripe Vidal. The Vidal needs at least a week or more before it expresses these characteristics.
Blending strategies in picking are becoming very important this year. We picked some younger vine Hardscrabble Chardonnay yesterday and will continue today. The grapes are very ripe with high sugar and lowish acidity. At least part of this lot will eventually be blended with old vine Chardonnay. Our oldest vines (32 years old) are very slow to ripen and usually have very high acidity. Blending the different lots can achieve the balance we need.
Still not sure if we will pick anything later this week. A break would be nice, but we still have an eye on rain predictions for Sunday and Monday. We may hedge bets and pick some old vine Chardonnay. Depends on how they taste (ripening is happening very quickly) and the forecast.
And then there are the red grapes. Avenius young vine Merlot is already “numerically” ripe (sugar, acid, pH) and the tannin ripeness and seed color is very good. Jonathan and I cleared the North cellar of “stuff” yesterday. The North cellar has become the catch all warehouse. Packaging material, newly arrived barrels, non critical equipment seem to gravitate to the North cellar. However it will soon serve as our red fermentation cellar. We will be dragging big fermentation bins down out of the barn attic tomorrow.
Red grape picking strategies rely more on taste and observation than whites. Skin condition, seed color, juice color, skin tannin quality are all critical. Only yesterday did I begin to focus on the Merlot, which is the first red to ripen. To be honest, because we are so busy with whites early in the season, reds aren’t on my radar until my friend and colleague Rutger de Vink at RdV starts his harvest. RdV does reds only and is a warmer site than ours, so they always start picking their Merlot at least a week before us. Its nice to have an early warning system in place. Thanks Rutger!