Journal | September 15, 2016
When to pick is by far the most important of all winemaking decisions. A large part of this process is about reading the vintage. Our goal is to make wines that express terroir and vintage. The human factor is to provide balance in the wine. Aroma, flavor, and concentration are all determined by the grapes, but expressing them harmoniously is our job.This harvest so far has been hot, dry and sunny. As expected, ripening is happening very quickly. Last night I found some time to pour over past data on some of my favorite Hardscrabble Chardonnay vintages along with recent lab results from the grapes harvested thus far. It became evident that we need to pick old vine Chardonnay tomorrow. What triggered this was a significant difference in the acidity of grape samples vs. what ended up in the tank after pressing. Acids where much lower after pressing. Perhaps this is due to the thickness of the skins this year. Juice closer to the skin has less acidity and more phenols (kind of like tannins).
Later today at lunch we will pull corks on several past vintages of Hardscrabble Chardonnay (2012, 2013, and 2014) to taste along with the Francois Carillon Puligny-Montrachet Champs-Gain 2010 that I had with dinner last night. Benchmark wines can play a significant influencing role when making important decisions.
Yesterday we harvested Riesling and some Hardscrabble Chardonnay from a three year old planting. Again, it was a short day as I didn’t want to bring in hot grapes as temperatures reached well into the 80’s F by afternoon. Wind is now out of the north, so we are in for a delightful crush today.
The cellar (and Jonathan) is very active. There is a distinct waft of H2S (hydrogen sulfide) coming from the fermenting Hardscrabble Sauvignon Blanc. Years ago this funky “rotten egg” aroma would have worried us and we may have intervened by adding yeast nutrients or injecting air into the fermenter. However, we have learned that most of the time this characteristic diminishes and eventually can add complexity and personality to the wine, especially Sauvignon Blanc. But in any case we will be watching (smelling) it carefully.
Full moon tonight. Not officially a harvest moon (that will be next cycle), but still very inspirational.