David Coffaro Vineyard and Winery Winemaker's Diary

Weeks 16 -17
April 18, 2004 to May 1, 2004 

Tuesday April 20, 2004
I have had computer problems with Dell, so I have decided to buy an HP, long story. BUT tonight I want to up load a short message from my Dell, because my HP is not programed yet. 

We have had trouble with the weather uploads, because of our transition to the HP. We are still working on it and should have everything back to normal next week. The uploads are done through the new HP and this diary for now is still done from our Dell. 

Passport is here this weekend and we are getting ready for a surprise.  In addition to what we already planned, we have found a whole lamb and we will be serving it freshly roasted and sliced off a spit. It has been a lot of trouble to arrange, but if our guests don't eat it all, we will have some left over for the evening. 

I have bought a new $32,000 machine to applicate screwcaps. I have decided to bottle 50% of our 2003 wines with screwcap closures. The big problem is to decide who will take possession of these wines. 

Wednesday April 21, 2004

I have people all the time suggest that I raise prices. Recently a customer suggested I should raise the price of my new 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon which is still in the barrel. It seems that maybe I could attract the RIGHT people, because they would think I had better wine if I sold the wine at $35 to $50. As most of you know, I feel if someone is so impressed with the price of a bottle, then maybe they aren't the right people. On average (From the start of pre-harvest Futures and after bottling until sold out), I will not sell wine for more than 50% above my cost. That cabernet costs me no more than $10 even if I consider all my audio video and new screw cap equipment. If I sold wine for more, what would I do with my profits? Buy better clothes? Buy a new jet plane?  I will leave higher prices to other wineries. 

Thursday April 22, 2004

Brad has found a great article on screw caps which I will discuss today. Here is a link to the whole story.  Hopefully the link will be available for a while. 

The article addresses the three obvious questions that are asked by customers when they are presented with a premium wine sealed with a screw cap: 

  1. Isn't the cork needed for the wine to develop and age properly? 
  2. Don't great wines need corks to age? 
  3. Isn't wine a living thing, and it needs to breathe through the cork? 
Wine does not breath through a cork, but cork closures, including synthetics all exhibit some degree of gas permeability in both directions. That creates oxidation and premature aging. Champagne ages and it surely does not breath. After bottling, wine is aging in a confined space and thus the aging is a reductive process which is explained in the article. 

The Advantages of using Screwcaps to seal wine bottles is summarized as follows: 

  1. There is no taint 
  2. There is a superior retention of wine quality characteristics, both analytical and sensory. 
  3. The ability to allow longer bottle maturation, because the seal is perfect and still allows for reductive development in the absence of oxygen. 
  4. Screwcaps are very convenient in regard to both removal and re-sealing. I will have more to say soon. 
Here is a link to the New Zealand Screwcap Wine Seal Initiative

[Ed. Join the discussion on screwcaps in our public forum!] 

Friday April 30, 2004

Monday I had a bottle of my 1999 Zinfandel. That wine was bottled as a blend, as usual in those years, but not as usual it was not all Estate fruit. I did not make an Estate Zinfandel in 1999. In 2001, after only a year in the bottle, I felt this 1999 Zin was my favorite wine. I decide if I like a wine if after having it one evening, the next night I want to have it again. Until the last few months that wine has been my favorite, but recently I have found there is something in it that does not appeal to me. It is subtle but there. I have decided it may be the Lane zinfandel that was a good percentage of the wine. Going back on the diary, (I know we should have a search engine, Brad?) you may find my concerns of the Lane fruit and we stopped buying the grapes in 2001. To me I found the wine made from the Lane Vineyard to be too ripe or Port like. Many of you have liked the 2000 Neighbors' Zinfandel which was at least 75% from that vineyard. I never cared for the wine. Remember that this is just a style thing with me and most of you will still like the 1999 Zinfandel and I still like it very much. 

After tasting the 1999 Zinfandel and questioning some qualities of it, I started thinking about closures again. That wine was bottled with a Neocork which we have used almost exclusively since the 1999 vintage. I got little sleep that night. At first I got concerned that the Neocork could be contributing to some of the flavors of the 1999 Zin, maybe through oxidation. Tuesday night I decided to open a bottle of my 1999 Carignan and was pleasantly surprised at how fresh it tasted with none of the possible oxidized characteristics that the 99 zin showed. Then to my surprise I noticed that the cork used for the Carignan was not a Neocork. I then remembered that we had bottled the 1999 Carignan with three different plastic corks. Wednesday evening I opened the three Carignans and a 1999 Estate Cuvee. What fun!! I tried them all blind as did Pat. We decided that all wines were very fresh and not oxidized. There were slight differences in the three carignans, but we could not detect any last night after leaving them 3/4 full with just the corks in them overnight. The Estate Cuvee was great (Bottled with Neocork) as were the three Carignans which had a Neocork, an Ecork (no longer available) and a Numocork (sp) which we decided against because it was hard to extract. I now feel very comfortable with our Neocorks and of course I wish I had bottled some of my 1999 wines in screwcaps. 

` Dave 

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