Page 2020 Whites

2020 Sauvignon Blanc

When we look back at the 2020 vintage many years from now, it will simply be known as “The Ripe One”.

Each varietal on our farm exhibited unprecedented ripening parameters, but not in a way that made them one dimensional.  The Sauvignon Blanc was an interesting case study in this respect.  In most years, higher sugar in the berries (21.7 degrees Brix at harvest) would mean lower acid levels, but that was not true in 2020.  The TA at harvest on September 12th was a shade below 7 g/L, nearly ideal for the style we are after.

The amazing thing about the fruit from this vintage was just how clean it was given its ripeness.  I find that most tight-clustered varietals will start to show some level of breakdown around 19-20 degrees Brix, but we were spared that frustration in 2020.  It was probably the combination of higher TA, lower pH and lack of substantial precipitation that gave us some of the cleanest fruit I can remember.

We harvested 3566kg, yielding 2300L, which was cool fermented in a combination of neutral oak (80%) and tank (20%).  The excess sugar levels added length to the fermentation, resulting in typical SB aromatic intensity, more-rounded mouthfeel and slightly higher alcohol (13%) than most vintages.  The fermentation was stopped at an RS level of 7.6 g/L

Aromas:  “a visit to the tropics”, pineapple, vanilla, honeydew melon, lemon candy

Palate:  rich texture; can taste the ripe vintage, but it’s lifted by the familiar zip

 

2020 “Jean’s Block” Riesling

I’ve come regard Riesling as the one varietal that I can always count on.  It’s the humble, efficient workhorse that quietly goes about its business, vintage after vintage.  This vineyard was named in honour of my mother-in-law, Jean Tkaczyk, and perhaps its characteristics aren’t mere happenstance.

Convincing myself not to “overdo” the thinning and leaf removal in Riesling is usually the challenge.  The best wines from this block always seem to come from vines that look a little heavy and leafy to my discerning eye.  Exercising this restraint proves important in the development of aromatic and flavour compounds, as well as in preserving natural acidity.

However, leaving a denser canopy and a few extra clusters can add to disease pressure due to restricted air flow.  Thankfully, the 2020 vintage was less punishing in this respect and we were able to hang the Riesling longer, cleaner and riper.  The fruit tested 21.1 degrees Brix when it was harvested on September 23rd.

Fermentation was conducted as cool as possible with two separate yeast strains for added complexity – W15 and X5.  Those wonderful smelling fermentations were finally stopped on October 30th with an RS level of 14.8 g/L.

Aromas:  intense and complex, floral, apple, pear, white peach

Palate:  gorgeous citrus fruit component, more noticeable texture than previous vintages, very slightly off-dry with ample acidity to balance

 

2020 Pinot Gris

My quest for clean and ripe Pinot Gris starts early in the growing season.

I pay particular attention to how the vines are pruned and the spatial arrangement of the buds on each cane.  Many would consider this overkill, but they aren’t the ones who have to deal with the consequences of trying to tame overgrown Pinot Gris canopies!

We train the Pinot Gris in a system known as VSP or “Vertical Shoot Positioning”, where the canes are tied horizontally along the training wire.  Theoretically, this should lead to a neatly spaced array of vertically growing shoots, but the Gris always seems to have other ideas.  Cane overlap is my pet peeve with VSP, as it always leads to crowding and poor air flow where the two cane ends criss-cross.

The plan in 2020 was to get on the thinning and shoot positioning early, before the inevitable chaos.  I’d like to say it was my cunning plan that made all the difference in how nicely the clusters turned out in this particular vintage, but the favourable growing conditions probably deserve the bulk of the credit.

Fruit was harvested on September 12th, then pressed and transferred to barrel (66%) and tank (33%) for fermentation.  The barrels were fermented with X5 and the tank with R2, both at 10-11C for about a month.  The wine was stopped at an RS level of 4.6 g/L.

Aromas:  apricot, honey, apple, pear, sweet spice

Palate:  flavours of vanilla, cream soda, spice; comes across fairly dry and balanced

 

The 2020 whites retail for $40/bottle and can be ordered at fiverows.com starting May 14th at 9am.

 

 

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