I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news. The story of our 2015 Sauvignon Blanc is filled with both. The bad news starts with the amount of damage sustained by the vines after a second consecutive harsh winter. Very few of the suckers that were brought up to become new trunks in 2014 actually made it into the 2015 growing season. There were those that looked like they were going to bud out, only to agonizingly collapse a couple of weeks later. The sheer number of dead buds made for disproportionate growth and vine vigour issues – meaning lots of extra work. The far north end of the block looked more like the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse than a vineyard, replete with half-dead, split trunks oozing crown gall tumours…
The good news is that we had any Sauvignon Blanc fruit at all! In fact, 2015 was an amazing growing season for whites, with moderate heat and cool nights during peak ripening time. The lighter crop ripened very quickly, ultimately leading to intense concentration of flavours and aromatics. I stuck with my tried and true formula in the winery, with 75% of the juice fermented and aged in my trusty old French oak barrels and 25% done in tank. The finished wine was blended, filtered and then bottled on April 6th, 2016.
Aromas: “a nose for days”; candied pear, lemon/lime, melon, grilled pineapple
Palate: rounder, riper, more weighty mouthfeel; pineapple, hint of lime; enjoyed best at cellar temperature (60-65°F)
Production: 210 cases
2015 Pinot Gris
Our Pinot Gris sustained similar winter damage to it’s neighbouring Sauvignon Blanc, which was surprising because it is considered a much more winter-hardy varietal. Another sobering reminder of just how much sustained extreme cold the vines experienced in the winter of 2014.
The very light crop (about 40% of a normal year) made the vineyard work easier to stay on top of, ultimately producing some of the cleanest fruit we’ve ever seen in that block. Pinot Gris is my favourite varietal to walk through in the fall because of the cool look of the tight, metallic-pink coloured clusters and the intense aromas in the air. Tasting each berry is a treat, as flavours explode in your mouth. You can almost anticipate the texture of the wine they will soon create.
We harvested our ripe Pinot Gris on September 18, 2015. Believe it or not, one of the challenges I face crafting my whites is finding good, used white wine barrels. It seems that more and more winemakers are holding onto their prized neutral wood – and I can’t blame them! I was fortunate this past vintage to pick up some great older white barrels from J.L. Groux at Stratus, and about 66% of my 2015 Pinot Gris juice was the direct beneficiary. All juice was fermented with R2 yeast and likely went through a partial, wild malolactic fermentation.
Appearance: golden pink colour
Aromas: honey, peach, vanilla, Honeycrisp apple, cream soda
Palate: velvety texture, good balance with ample acidity; important not to drink too cold – 60°F is good
Production: 110 cases
2015 “Jean’s Block” Riesling
Many experts feel that it takes about ten years for a planting of grapes to really come into its own. I feel like the wine from “Jean’s Block” is getting more complex with each vintage and it bodes well for this relatively young, 9-year old Riesling block.
What I like most about Riesling is their reliability from a growing perspective. They crop well, ripen without issue and always seem to have enough acidity to make a nice wine, whether your preferred style is dry or off-dry.
We harvested the 2015 crop on October 8th and the fruit came in at 18.3 degrees Brix. Previous vintages have taught me that “two yeasts are better than one” in terms of wine complexity, so I split the juice into two tanks: 900L fermented with W15 and 375L with R2. What resulted was one of the longest fermentations I’ve ever experienced – the ferments started on October 16th and didn’t reach a “balance” point (Specific Gravity 1.003) until December 1st! This was not done by choice, but the results were a pleasant surprise. Sometimes yeast just become a little sluggish in high-acid/low pH must. There were times when I thought the fermentation was stuck, but I chose not to re-inoculate and patience paid off in the end.
I love the nose produced by Clone 49 Riesling – it’s just so fresh and intense! We bottled this wine on April 6th, 2016.
Aromas: apricot, peach, lemon, green apple
Palate: both sweet and sour notes perceptible; resolves into crisp, dry balance
Production: 130 cases