Journal | Follow the 2019 Harvest | September 17, 2019
Back at it
This glorious dry weather brings us an extra benefit: down time. No rush to beat a rain. A four-day pause from harvest is rare and special as we are afforded an opportunity to get caught up with cellar work and attend to some vineyard fine-tuning.
Jonathan has been barreling Chardonnay. Fermentation is started in larger stainless steel tanks, and then once the fermentation is strong, the juice is racked (winemaking jargon for transferred) into individual barrels.
Over the past few years we have been using larger format cooperage for our white wines in order to reduce oak flavor impact. Barrel fermentation and aging gives wines more texture and integration, but if the barrels are new, the oak flavor can be very assertive. As our young chardonnay plantings come into production, we need additional barrels. But at the same time we are trying to avoid too much “oakiness” that comes from new barrels. One way to accomplish this is to use 350 liter or 500 liter barrels instead of the standard 228 liter size. The surface to volume ratio is decreased, thereby reducing the impact of oak flavors. We do use primarily older barrels, some almost twenty years old. These are referred to as “neutral” as there is still some benefit of the texture and integration without any oak flavor being imparted.
Today we harvest the last blocks of Chardonnay here at Hardscrabble. These are the original plantings from the 1980s. Old vines take longer to ripen their grapes. The reward is greater concentration and terroir expression. This vintage we have the luxury of harvesting, pressing and fermenting every block separately. Each will have its own personality, which will be very instructive to taste in a few months.
Next up to bat: Merlot starts on Thursday.
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