Page Archive for December, 2013

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Consider this my therapy.  The ability to write and reminisce about a finished wine whilst going through the rigours of harvesting and vinifying that same grape varietal is a welcome shift of thought.  It doesn’t get much rosier than the memories I have associated with our 2010 Pinot Noir.

Simply put, 2010 was an ideal vintage to grow grapes.  Heat when you needed it and just wet enough for excellent vine growth, but not excessive vigour.  The risk with Pinot Noir in these warm, dry conditions is overripening.  Pushing the grapes to a point where they almost become “un-Pinot like”.  For that reason we harvested our crop on September 4th – a full week earlier than we ever had before.  All ripening parameters were dialed in.  Sugars high, but not so high as to make the wine overly alcoholic (22 degrees brix)  and decent enough acid (TA 7.5) to keep the pH low and aid in ageability.  This would be a bold Pinot for sure, but not so bold that our Terroir couldn’t shine through.

We harvested 8 rows from our Old Block and 3 rows from our new Clone 777 block.  The fruit was sorted, chilled and processed into bins for traditional punch-downs during fermentation.  I chose to let the three bins cold soak for a few days and let the fermentations start via indigenous yeast.  Each bin was then inoculated with a different cultured yeast to add complexity to the overall blend.  The 777 bin was treated with a strain called BRL97, while the the old block was fermented with RC212 and W15.  The fermentations lasted about 10 days whereupon each bin was pressed to barrel (25% new oak, all French).  The wine was allowed to mature for 24 months in oak before bottling 143 cases on March 26th, 2013.

In the end this is a Pinot Noir that should age gracefully for at least another five years.  It’s the kind of wine that sneaks up on you and demands another sip, another glass…

Aromas:  cherry, leather, mushroom, wet stone, vanilla, red currant, meat jus, violets

Flavours: cherry, pomegranate

Monday, December 16th, 2013

As massive black clouds of starlings swirl ominously overhead, contrasting against the pure white snow, I retire to my cosy barn to reflect on the year 2013.  I fear these flocks no more because the barrels and tanks are full, finally put to bed after what seemed like an oddly long growing season.  The apparent quality of these young wines fills me with hope.

I won’t lie – there were certainly moments of doubt, well chronicled (if not over-dramatized) in previous entires of this blog.  It became increasingly frustrating as we waited and waited for the fields to dry out and for eventual flavour concentration in our late-ripening varietals (Riesling, Cab Sauv and Syrah). Thankfully, frustration can sometimes yield immense satisfaction.  This was reflected in the purple toothed grin I saw on my Dad’s face while tasting the freshly squeezed Cabernet Sauvignon directly from the press tray,  “You could bottle this and drink it right now!”, he exclaimed.  Easy now Pops.

Winter allows for the completion of some jobs that I treasure most as a Winemaker.  A recent day spent racking the 2013 whites filled the barn with the most splendid aromas – I was in Sauv Blanc heaven!  Equally excitng were the blending trials featuring the soon to be bottled 2011 reds.  As early blends begin to take shape, I’m becoming more convinced that the 2011 vintage has a chance to be one our strongest across the board.  It rivals 2010 in aromatic intensity and is perhaps more approachable even at this early stage.  Easy now Son.

As we enter the winter months and start to sharpen up the pruners, we’ve decided to close the barn for a couple of months to catch our breath.  This will allow me plenty of time to get the new wines ready to bottle in the spring.  I wish to thank all who have visited over the past year and contributed to our most successful summer to date.  It’s hard to believe our barn has been open for five years now and I look forward to more great visits and more new faces enjoying Five Rows wines in the year to come.

A couple of traditional events that we are planning for the winter are a Winemaker’s Dinner at Treadwell’s and Cuvée 2014.  Details for these events will follow in future posts.  Happy Holidays to all!