(55% Vermentino, 45% Grenache Blanc)
It must be official, by now; 2019 is, for all we know, the last normal year. I suppose that makes our 2019 Heart Of Gold the last normal bottling of that wine, though I’m not really sure it’s likely to turn out that way.
When we first made Heart Of Gold, in 2007, pressing and fermenting Vermentino and Grenache Blanc together (in fact, even picking them at the same time) was not something we planned in advance. The first planting of Vermentino, undertaken on behalf of Edmunds St John, at a vineyard at the Western edge of Placerville, became a co-planting with Grenache Blanc at the last minute, almost as an afterthought. As it turned out, there wasn’t a lot of either variety that first season, and it’s necessary to have a certain minimum volume of grapes in a winepress to achieve what amounts to critical mass, in order to generate sufficient pressure so that the grapes get a good squeeze, and the yield is worth the trouble.
Fortunately, as it turns out, when the Vermentino is ripe, so is the Grenache Blanc! And after 13 successive vintages of Heart of Gold, each of which has given us different proportions of the two varieties, it’s been fascinating, thrilling even, to discover that regardless of the differences from year to year, Heart Of Gold tastes like Heart Of Gold every time. It’s just… normal, I guess.
The winter of 2018-2019 featured a very cold January and much of February, and the Spring was quite cool and wet, contributing to all-time record precipitation in Northern California (including two-plus weeks of rain in May!). The vines awoke later than normal, and the weather in May put the season between two and three weeks behind what we had come to think of as normal.
Flowering and fruit-set were thus also behind. But higher-than-normal overnight low temperatures from early June onward drove the season forward a little faster, and by the time picking started, things were just a few days behind 2018. (There had also been some moderate crop loss due to frost at a couple of points during the Spring—the Vermentino and Grenache Blanc at Fenaughty Vineyard both had somewhat reduced yields as a result, so Heart of Gold production in 2019 was down a bit.)
On the 6th of September we harvested roughly 2.4 tons of Vermentino, and just a shade under two tons of Grenache Blanc from the vines at Fenaughty; pressed together, the juice resulting showed 19.5 Brix, 6.8 g/l total acidity, and 3.46 pH.
As always, from the press the juice was moved into stainless, fermented at just under 60 degrees Fahrenheit, until dryness, at which point 23 ppm SO2 was added, and the temperature was lowered to 48 degrees, to discourage malolactic. The wine remained on primary lees until December. It was racked in December, and again in early March, filtered, and bottled on March 11, 2020.
Winemaker’s Tasting Notes:
As ever, the color is a pale yellow, with moderate green highlights. Nose is typically blossomy, and very fresh, with undertones of ginger, and a firm mineral streak. There are lovely suggestions, as well, of apple and Anjou pear.
On the palate the wine is quite energetic, and fresh, light and distinct; the Grenache Blanc adds a bit of fat to flesh out the Vermentino’s muscle and bone. Beautiful fruit-tones, gingery spice, and a long, mouth-watering finish, drive the hard-to-resist impulse for another mouthful. Textbook Heart Of Gold!
Total Production: 277 cases
Suggested retail price: $23.00/bottle