Vintage ‘08 is upon us and to this point things have been…well…in a word …WET!! Enough rain already. I mean just when I thought we were in the clear we got doused by the remnants of a hurricane, and for the record: I don’t like Ike. Thankfully, the last couple of weeks have more than made up for the rain, with plenty of sunshine and perfect ripening conditions for the early varietals.
As per usual, the “Heartbreak Grape”, Pinot Noir, lived up to its moniker and provided lots of nervous moments and second guessing. In fact, one day in the vineyard while pondering a harvest timing decision, I found myself singing aloud to the Clash hit “Should I Stay or Should I Go”. The Pinot were clean but slightly underripe, with threatening weather on the horizon (“If I go there will be trouble / And if I stay it will be double”). Ultimately, we decided not to pick and wait out what suddenly became Hurricane Ike. All the water led to some berries actually splitting and roused us into action. Led by a Pinot-loving mother hell-bent on saving her crop, the three of us spent two mind-numbing days cutting out individually split berries and underripe clusters. On September 16th and 17th we finally hand-picked our first two tonnes of fruit. In the end, what came in was ripe, clean (thus receiving the Wilma stamp of approval) and fermented into some really intriguing stuff. I experimented with a new yeast strain this season called W15, which after pressing today, is the early favourite to put into our 2 new Sirugue barrels.
The whites, Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc, are happily fermenting in the cold room of our barn as I write this. I decided to add a single barrel ferment to the Pinot Gris regime this year, in an attempt to add a bit more complexity and refined mouthfeel to the final blend. The majority will still be fermented in stainless steel because it worked so well last season. From “the never do that again” file, we actually bottled our 2007 Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris between the days we picked the 2008 crops of each varietal. Any winery employee will profess that harvesting and bottling are not meant to intermingle, but sometimes you just have to make room for the new stuff. The ’07 whites will be a part of our initial release slated for the beginning of November.
The Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon are still hanging strong and starting to pick up sugar and enhanced flavours on a daily basis. I’ll keep you posted as the rest of Vintage ‘08 unfolds. Better yet, stop by for a chat and taste a few berries yourself!