|Tuesday July 8, 2008
It is bottling time!! Today we bottled our 2007 My Zin. I have tasted this wine several times out of the barrel. I was unimpressed early. I have to confess I was prejudiced against it because we had a lot of trouble with Ponzo when the grapes were harvested last year. Even though the Ponzo was only 15% of the blend of 2007 My Zin I thought it may be detrimental to the wine. I was wrong. Last night I opened my 2005, 2006 and 2007 My Zin. I tried the three wines blind several times and every time I picked out the 2007 as my favorite. I thought it was the 2006 the first two times. After being opened for over two hours it did show a little roughness on the finish but that is to be expected in a just bottled wine. Just think we pumped the barrels into a tank at the rate of over 20 gallons a minute. That is tough on a wine but the 2007 still showed well.
Today we are bottling our 2007 Escuro and our 2007 Petite Sirah. I can't wait to try 6 wines tonight. Yes, I will open the 2005, 2006 and 2007 of the Escuro and Petite Sirah. I will report on what I thought.
Wednesday July 9, 2008
We have seen some berries turning red out in our vineyard. This is right on time. Most every year I have seen color in the second week in July. That means we will probably be harvesting Zinfandel in the first week of September. I'll have more reports as the summer progresses.
Last night I opened the 2005, 2006 and 2007 Escuro and Petite Sirah and tasted them blind. This time I was able to tell them apart. I thought the 2005 Escuro is the most interesting because it has this mocha finish. I preferred the style of the 2006 Escuro right now but I can see that the 2007 may be to my liking later this year. As some of you know I am a big fan of Petite Sirah. Last night was the first time I have tried the 2005 and 2006 blind and found I preferred the 2006. It was real close. The 2007 seemed very young but it was the heaviest. I'll try them again tonight.
Today we bottled the 2007 Aca Modot and the 2007 Carignan. I'll report back tomorrow.
We have been having problems with the fill level in our wine bottles again this year. It seems like I am the only one who cares about where the level should be, about two inches down from the top. We were delivered two batches of glass. One was produced last March and one was produced in February of this year. Last year I received glass from the same manufacturer and the fill level was right, but I assume, that glass was made from a different mold. As I have reported in the past, as the mold gets worn out, the bottles mode will fill to a lower level when putting exactly 750 ml. The 2007 batch filled to a level that was 4 ml less than I would like. If I had filled these bottles to the level I normally do we would bottle 17 cases less. Today I received glass from the right batch so we are fine now. What I did to remedy the low fill level for the first few days of bottling was simple. We lowered our fill level by 2 ml so overall the first 2000 cases will average 750 ml, because half the glass filled too low and half the glass filled to high. By lowering the fill level, the bottles that took more to fill to the right level got 752 ml and the other bottles got 748 ml. Tomorrow we will adjust back up 2 ml to adjust for the last batch of bottles. The quality of the wine should not be affected.
Friday July 11, 2008
Yesterday was another trying day. Matt has changed our schedule to his liking. It worked out for me because now I have the Block 4 stored in a better place. I should have been smart enough to remember that he wants to get out of here as soon as possible. His girl friend is heading off to go camping today and he wants to follow as soon as possible. Since we now have bottled the Block 4, it now puts us into Tuesday to finish so you would have to ask him why he wanted to change. Sure he has a reason but it did not make sense to me and it required me to spend many more hours rearranging the storage building.....long story.
In the last two nights I have tasted the 2005, 2006 and 2007 Carignan. Aca Modot and Block 4. They are all good. Here is the order of what I liked. 2005 Block 4, 2007 Block 4, 2006 Block 4, 2007 Aca Modot, 2006 Aca Modot, 2005 Aca Modot, 2007 Carignan, 2005 Carignan and 2006 Carignan. Most of the differences are subtle and I have a preference for Block 4 and Aca Modot. I am sure most of you would have a different order. Over all I think the 2007s will be very successful because they have loads of fruit and a great deal of complexity already. I hope many of you will be here for our party on August 23rd when we will have all the 2007s open for tasting.
Today we are bottling the 2007 Estate Zinfandel and our 2007 Cabernet.
I have to report that this is an incredible year for Zinfandel. On Monday night I thought the 2007 My Zin was great. I have just tasted our 2005, 2006 and 2007 Estate Zinfandel tonight. The 2007 won easily. It is so spicy it rivals some of our best Block 4s from the past. I had thought the 2007 My Zin was special because it had some 15% Ponzo zin blended in and that the 17% bottom Cabernet blended into the Estate Zin helped out that wine, but now I wish I had 100% Zinfandel from our vineyard to compare each of these wines to. I will have another chance this year....I can't wait. Sunday I will compare the 2007 Zins to my 2004 Zin and My Zin, the wines I thought were my spiciest zins from the past.
BTW The 2007 Cabernet compared closely to the 2006 Dry Creek tonight.
Wednesday July 16, 2008
Let's say you had one of those days that did not go well (I'll explain more latter) and you had a bottle of Cherry Ginger Brew, a soft drink made by Reed's, sitting out in your Frig for a special time.....pick it up, gulp it and enjoy. I had one Monday night. It picked me up. Of course I had some Tequila and wine beforehand.
Monday was a real tough day. Everything was going well for the first two hours until suddenly the bottling line stopped working. We all waited around for 45 minutes while Steve tried all sorts of things to get the bottling line working again. He tried everything and I asked every question. He said all three machines (bottle feeder, wine filler and labeler) all shut down at ounce. I tried to convince him that was impossible after I found out our pumps and other equipment were working just fine. Finally we called PG&E to find out if there was some kind of electrical spike or our 3 phase legs were switched......long story, hard to explain. A nice PG&E trouble shooter was here within the hour (We had wine in the tank and needed to get it out of there to preserve the wine), they take care of wineries. He said there were no problems. Then we called our electrician and after many minutes he agreed there was nothing wrong with the power. Then we called the company who sold us the machines. They sent two techs out. They arrived over one hour later. By this time it was after 2:00 pm. After troubleshooting for awhile the techs said a transformer in the filler had been damaged beyond repair. What was strange is that the switch on the bottle feeder had got stuck so that is why it was not working AND the labeler was just fine, it tripped a safety switch. The problem was that we had too much power coming into the winery. Instead of having 220 volts to 240 volts coming in, we have 246. PG&E said that was great because I have more than I need...in other words they can do nothing about it. Now I have to buy a transformer to regulate the power down to 230 to 235.
By the time we had a new part installed, it was after 4:00 pm. I sent Catarino and Salvador home at 2:00 pm and pumped the Terre Melange back in barrels. By 5:00 pm we had the last of the Estate Cuvee bottled, but we had an accident. Pat had to come out and help for the last bottling of the Estate Cuvee. She tripped over a hose and cracked her tooth and split her lip. It was scary at first but she is fine now, but her tooth is cracked and has to be repaired.
Yesterday we finished bottling until we do the ZP2C on August 11th. Last night I tasted many Barberas, Estate Cuvees and Terre Melanges. Again I like the potential of the 2007s and I really liked the 2007 Barbera, probably because it has 25% Petite Sirah in it. I also was surprised that I liked all the Terre Melanges. All the Estate Cuvees were balanced and complex as usual. In the next several weeks I will decide which of the newly bottled 2007s that I like the best. I can assure you that the 2007 Zinfandel will be one of my favorites.
As I have said I am having a great deal of trouble finding a space on our property to store all our wine now that I have several vintages bottled. If I am selling a wine on a regular basis, I have to have at least one pallet (consisting of 45 to 60 cases) flat on the ground without anything on top of it. I had to move around many pallets today to get to our 2005 My Zin way in the back of one of our three storage sections. I can stack as many as 180 cases high but I can't get to any of the wine unless I unstack them. Already we have over 35 wines that we have to have access to. That takes up a lot of room. I don't want to store my wine off premises so I have decided to sell all our 2005 wines at a discount in order to reduce inventory. Today we modified our order form to price the 2005 Sangiovese (Only 15 cases left), the 2005 Escuro ( only 30 cases left) and the 2005 Fresco (Only 10 cases left), at the discount of $15 ($12 to Vintage Circle members). After August 31 we will no longer sell 2005 wines. Some of what is left will be blended into our 2008 wines.
Don't tell Pat..since she rarely looks at my diary I can give you a little something she may not approve of. This is a message she sent to one of her relatives:
"Yesterday was a bad day at the winery. The bottling machine broke down because of some electrical problem and it was out of commission for over 4 hours, so they were only able to bottle one of the wines they had planned, and today they have to make up time and bottle two wines, hopefully finishing up. The other sad thing that happened was that I was trying to help them finish up bottling late yesterday afternoon because Catarino and his helpers had already left for the day, and while I was out there, I tripped over a big hose and fell flat on my face. I chipped my front tooth and cut my lip. Now I have to go to the dentist to see if he can repair my tooth. I hope just a little filing but Dave seems to think it might need to be capped. I hope not. It doesn't look too bad, just is irritating because it's all jagged. I guess I'd better not go out to help in the winery anymore....gee, that's too bad!"
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