Linden’s 2016 harvest started on September 5. We picked Boisseau Viognier, but only the vines on the top of the hill, as the lower vines were behind in ripening. Their skin phenols were still pretty drying and aggressive. This “precision picking” may be the mantra for this vintage as the hot, dry weather of August and early September is highly influencing ripening variability. Soil water retention seems to be a major factor. Low water holding capacity soils are stressing vines quickly, especially young vines. This may bode well for red fruited varieties, but it makes picking decisions for the whites challenging.
We also picked a small amount of Hardscrabble young vine Sauvignon blanc (east block) that required a tremendous amount of sorting both in the field and on the sorting table. This small block suffered a fair amount of animal damage, especially a resisdent young bear who has taken up spending his nights in the block. I found him sleeping between rows one pre-dawn morning. While the bird netting has slowed his progress of consuming clusters, he ended up doing a lot of damage which resulted in some sour rot developing, even though we have had virtually no wetting conditions that are usually associated with sour rot.
We pressed the Viognier and Sauvignon on September 6. The juice is balanced, perhaps a bit lower than usual in acidity. Flavors are good, but lack the verve of 2015 due to this year’s hot conditions. I was pleased that because of meticulous sorting, the Sauvignon was very clean and fresh tasting.
We are set today to drive into high gear with the “older” vines of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon at Hardscrabble. Picking should go quickly as the vies are very uniform and fruit zone leaves were pulled before the bird netting went up last month. There is now quite a line up of varieties and blocks that are ripe and need picking. Ideally we would like to pick only in the cool mornings, but realistically we may need to keep going into the afternoon. Sauvignon Blanc will always be picked first as it loses aromatics if the fruit gets too hot. Fortunately our cooler is designed to cool down a lot of warm grapes quickly.