|Tuesday March 13, 2007
Tonight I am tasting my 2003 Petite Sirah in screwcap. If any of you have a bottle try it, you will like it. This is the first time I have noticed so much spice, definitely cinnamon and allspice. I would have to look on the label, but I suspect there could be some Zinfandel added. The 2006 Petite Sirah is the first 100% petite I will bottle. As you know I prefer blending to make a more interesting wine, but I can assure you the 2006 Petite Sirah will be one of my favorite 2006s, it is that good, and can stand on it's own. Remember it is from 4 different lots and three different vineyards.
That brings me to the introduction of the 2007 Futures offer. For the first time I am offering a new wine with this offering. It is 2006 The Ultimate Cuvee. Yes it is not a 2007 Vintage wine. Some of you have already purchased this limited offering of only 100 cases. It consists of 2 Barrels of 2006 Block 4, one barrel each of 2006 Aca Modot, Estate Cuvee, and Terre Melange. As you notice, I am using 4 blends to make the Ultimate Cuvee. It will be great. Those of you who want to purchase it before the official offering must hurry!! I am offering it for $18 now (Vintage Circle, $16), but on March 28th, the official release date, the price will go to $24. I will have more information on the 2007 Vintage offering soon.
Tuesday March 20, 2007
This is the first day in Spring and it is a lovely day!
I have almost finished figuring out what we will offer for the 2007 Vintage on March 28th. This will be the first year in awhile that I will be purchasing very little fruit. Especially, in the last two years I have been purchasing as much as 50% from other vineyards. That has amounted to well over $100,000 in expenses. It has been OK since I have not made any money so we have not paid taxes toward this WAR. Don't worry because Cash Flow has been fine so I have been spending all the money I want, but saving none. I even installed a new 1080p projector in the winery and we were displaying music videos at the Barrel Tasting on both Hd DVD and Hd Blu-Ray machines. As our new plantings in the vineyard come on we will be making money again and thus paying taxes. Since within two years we will go back to all Estate bottlings, 2007 will be a transition year. I plan on purchasing from Gallo and Ponzo. With Gallo, I hope to get some Tannat, Petit Verdot and Carmine. These grapes will be used for Escuro and Aca Modot. I also hope to purchase some Central Coast Sauv Blanc from Gallo to be used to make a dry wine with some grassy character. It looks like I may be able to purchase it in bulk just after fermentation. I have a contract to purchase Petite Sirah from Ponzo, but most of that may be sold to Pendleton and Wine Guerrilla. Pendleton is now making his own wine, but it looks like we will be custom crushing as much as 2000 cases for the Wine Guerrilla. Bruce (Wine Guerrilla) has contracted for many lots of Zinfandel, including Ponzo and Price Family and he may blend in some Petite.
Since we will be custom crushing 2000 cases for Bruce, I plan on going down in production to 4000 cases this year. In the next two years we will be harvesting Estate grapes enough to produce 5000 cases. We are selling a little more than that a year so we should be able to sell out every year. Since we sell less than that in Futures I should have plenty of wine available for those who want to commit ahead of time to our Futures program.
Since I plan on producing less this year, I have no plans to produce a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Fresco. In 2005 and 2006 we produced 7000 cases total. I have produced enough Cab and Fresco to have 2006 bottles available for atleast to years. In 2008 I plan to produce our first Estate Cabernet and Fresco. Also this year I hope to produce a Late Harvest Sauv Blanc again along with our first Estate bottling of My Zin. I will have more details soon.
I am seeing GREEN!! Yes it is that time of year again: The vines are pushing out buds and most everything is in bud break. Usually I see a lot of vines showing a popcorn stage ( buds look just like popcorn kernels), but this year with all the heat lately things are happening fast. before our offering on March 28th I should have an idea about how the crop looks this year.
Thursday March 22, 2007
I was allerted by one of my customers that there was an article in Decanter magazine about wine closures so I have to pipe up in answer to it Eric Baugher, vice President of winemaking at Ridge Vineyards has this to say:
"I have had the opportunity to run several experiments with alternative closures and to blind taste over the past five years. Our initial trials included plastic artificial corks and were quickly disqualified as the wines exhibited immediate oxidation and off-flavors of plasticene. The Stelvin closures (both type-non breathable saranfilm and breathable Saranex) were put to trial with three unique single vineyard wines produced by Ridge. The control, to taste against, were sealed with natural 49mm cork from either Spain or Portugal. In these sorts of tastings, it requires experienced tasters who have no prior knowledge of what is being tasted, and thus a double blind tasting can be carried out successfully without prejudice. With five years of results we remain very much committed to continuing to use natural cork since the wines develop much greater complexity and drinking enjoyment compared to either form of screw cap. The wines we have included in these trials are very rich and structured wines that clearly improve with bottle age that the cork provides and the screw cap eliminates. In fact, the breathable Saranex screw cap causes a very quick decline of drinking enjoyment as the wine oxidizes and develops odd flavors of plastic-very similar to that of a plastic artificial cork. The non-breathable saranfilm simply shows no resolution of tannin structure but the fruit becomes oddly developed making the wine taste rather awkward."
As some of you know I have been using alternative closures since our 1996 vintage. I was very unhappy with both the artificial corks used until I switched to screwcap with the 2003 vintage. Since 2003 we have used a Stelvin screwcap with both Saranex and tin (saranfilm). I am extremely happy with both liners, but they do differ. After 18 months I can tell a big difference, but both wines are enjoyable. I find that the tin lined wine has more fruit, but unlike what Ridge has described I find that the tannins are softer and maybe covered up by the fruit. To my tastes the wine sealed with the Saranex liner is actually more tannic and that may be because of the slight oxidation and the loss of fruit. I think my 2004 Estate Zinfandel sealed with a Saranex liner is showing the best of any of my wines. It was bottled in July of 2005, 21 months ago. I should compare it to some of Ridge's Zinfandels. I found no plastic character in any of the wines sealed with either tin or Saranex, but I have never tasted plastic in anything sealed with a screwcap including fruit drinks and bottled water. AND has anyone ever tasted a plastic taste in water stored in a plastic tank? I believe those who say they taste plastic are picking up a taste from the wine that is exaggerated by the different exchange rates caused by these closures. That is only my opinion. I am no expert and I could be wrong, but I do know what I like.
I would never go back to natural cork somewhat because of TCA, but mostly because each cork could seal a wine differently. I believe there is less consistency with natural cork and frankly I don't want the taste of cork in my wine, even though it is traditional. I want someone who comes into my winery, tastes out of the barrel, and buys "Futures", to receive the bottled wine without any cork taste. Suck on a cork and see what I mean. I believe my wines will age longer with Screwcaps, but as some of you know I like young wines. I am enjoying 2003 Bordeauxs and rarely like any wine over 10 years so I am the exception.
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