|Wednesday April 5, 2000
First of all I must start with a personal statement: Every 7 years of my life has seen a major change in my lifestyle! In 1994 I started this winery and with the year 2000 completed I will go through another 7 year cycle. I have been concerned about this since these changes occur whether I want them or not. Don't get too concerned-----I am not thinking of selling the winery. I am more concerned about where I want the style of this winery to navigate to.
I love Cabernet as I have said in the past. Cabernet is aged in French oak in Bordeaux. Some producers prefer to use American oak in California. I want to talk today about French versus American oak on Zinfandel. Tonight Pat and I opened three wines. I had a couple of special customers ask me what I thought of Rafanelli wine. Thanks Dennis and Peg, that prompted me tonight to open our 1997 Zinfandel (90 pts) and Rafanelli's 1997 Zin (91). I screwed up initially and opened up our 97 carignan (89). After tasting and noticing the label, I went down to collect my 1997 Zin. That proved interesting later when I tasted the three wines blind. Before tasting them blind, Pat and I had different impressions of the wines. Just like most of you it is not surprising that Pat and I have a different impression of what is smooth. I thought my Carignan lacked fruit compared to our zin. I thought the Rafanelli was more austere and more friendly to food. Pat thought it was smooth. (Not a word I would use). Pat tried the wines blind first. (We both find blind tasting confusing. I usually pick out my favorite wines eventually. But we both feel that the first wine leaves a great impression and we tend to form a strong opinion and try to guess what wine it is.) Pat and I both got the Rafanelli mixed up with our carignan. I suppose since the carignan has less fruit than our zin it was more like Rafanelli's zin which is aged in French oak. I picked out my zin correctly, but I thought as Pat that it was one dimensional. Pat thought it had less finnish. I thought the fruit dominated the complexity. We enjoyed all three wines for different reasons, but last night I preferred the Rafanelli, more darker flavors. Is it the French oak? As some of you know, I am still trying to figure out what to do next with my zinfandel. Since my 7 year itch is upon me, this struggle is appropriate. Our 1999 Zin is a different style and we will see if it becomes a good transition vintage.
Next week Brendan and I plan to taste our 1999 Zin from many different new barrels. We do not have it in a new French oak barrel, but we do have it in a one year old Czech, and two different Hungarian producers. We also have the wine in several new American oak barrels. I will report on the results next week.
Thursday April 6, 2000
We had temperatures in the 90's for three days. Sunday was 96 degrees. I have been out in the vineyard a few times since last Saturday and I have been trying to get a better idea of the crop potential. The carignan and petite sirah look good. It still is too early to estimate the zinfandel. Right now I am predicting that our vineyard production looks to be normal. Next week I will have a much better idea.
Our pre-harvest 2000 futures offer will be posted to our web site on April 28th. We also will be sending an E-mail notification that day to all who have given us an E-mail address. And earlier that week, we will also be mailing the form to all who have purchased 1999 futures from us.
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