Journal | Follow the 2019 Harvest | October 9, 2019
The Last Critical Decision
Merlot fermentations are complete, with the Cabernets close behind. Fermenters are buttoned up with the new wine still soaking on the skins. Post fermentation maceration is the fancy technical term for this. Now the fun begins: two-day tastings.
During this period the wines continue to absorb tannins and flavors from the skins and seeds. The wines increasingly become more complex and structured. But at some point they can “dry out” and become overly astringent, bitter and stemmy. The French call this goût de marc, or taste of the pomace (spent skins).
Our job is to methodically taste each lot to catch it at its best, when the wine is most complex and rich, before going over the cliff. Every other day we draw two sample bottles of each wine. We taste one of the samples along side the sample of the same wine taken two days previously. This way we can taste progression. These tastings continue every two days. Once we feel the wine is at it’s peak, we drain the wine off of the skins into barrels.
Thus far we have erred on the side of caution with the Merlots and Cabernet Franc as harvest memory reminds us of not quite ripe seeds and barely ripe skins. One does not want to extract material that is not considered the highest quality. Cabernet Sauvignon is a different story. Tannins are rich and fine grained. Cabernet will be the foundation of the blends with the other varieties adding complexity, mid-palate juiciness and aromatics.
We’ll start our blending trials in January after the wines have finished malolactic fermentation and settled down. We didn’t make any red wines in 2018 due to the wet vintage, so we are especially looking forward to this vintage’s trials.
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