Both of the wines we made in 2009 finished their fermentations and went into barrel back in mid/late October last year. So, they’ve both had about six months to figure out what they want to be when they grow up. Based on how they’re maturing and evolving right now, I’d guess we’re in the neighborhood of 5 months or less before we bottle them. At that point, we’ll hold onto them for a few months and release them some time in early 2011.
The first vineyard we harvested last year was Doctors’ down in the Santa Lucia Highlands. We ended up getting our fruit – 100% Swan clone – on September 30th. From that point, it took about 14 days to cold-soak and ferment before we put it barrel (33% new oak, 66% neutral). When we tasted it just recently, the floral qualities of the Swan clone were definitely in effect – roses, violets, hibiscus and raspberries was the best description I could come up with. It’s obviously still quite young and bright, but malolactic conversion is done so the acids have mellowed and the lack of huge amounts of new oak is keeping the tannins smooth and soft. The color was a brilliant ultra-violet but definitely has the light translucency that let’s you know it wasn’t over extracted. I’m really happy with how it’s turning out so far, and I can’t wait for it to calm down and see how it continues to evolve.
Our second and final harvest of 2009 was La Encantada in the Santa Rita Hills. This field blend of 115 and 777 clones was picked on October 9 and also spent 14 days macerating and fermenting before going to press. We ended up aging the La Encantada in a 1-year old barrel (0% new oak, folks!), and based on what I’ve tasted so far I am completely happy with that decision. It’s a beautiful garnet red and the nose totally blows my mind. Black cherries, black raspberries, dried mushrooms and fresh earth, “brown” spices (cinnamon, clove?) and some pepper. Absolutely stunning, despite being very young and racy. The acid was still quite bright, but the tannins were soft and chalky.
It’s a little early yet to make predictions, but as things stand right now I may have to go on record as saying that the La Encantada is probably the best wine I’ve made so far. I really do love everything else I’ve made so far. Each one has it’s own style and character, and has met and exceeded all my expectations. All of them share the common thread of being delicate, slightly reserved, but with an integrated complexity that shows off Pinot’s ability to be a chameleon. That said, the La Encantada really surprised me and put a grin on my face.
Of course, that could be because we finished off the entire bottle, but who’s to say? ;)