Organolepticians #96: end of January 2019
As 2019 begins, Edmunds St John embarks on year number thirty-five, at a time when I feel we’ve just begun making, perhaps, some of the most enjoyable wines we’ve ever made. Of course, there are multiple ways to think about that, I suppose; it’s nice to think that I haven’t stopped learning how to do my job better. Lord knows, there’s always room for improvement, right?
On the other hand, the thought comes to mind: “jeez, what took you so long?” Yet, many people who’ve drunk our wines over the years have spoken of the consistency with which the wines have been enjoyable, and, sometimes, thrilling to drink. After a while, you’ve just gotta be careful not to take your eye off the ball!
After so many vintages, it becomes difficult to remember, reliably, the distinct nature of each of them, enough so that declaring one of them the best ever seems a bit suspect (and of course there are plenty of arguments suggesting that, to the vintner, the best vintage is the one that’s currently for sale!). Still, being human, vintners will, and do make those declarations; last year (2018) a lot of us said it was the best year we’d ever seen! Ever!
It turned on a dime; up through the first two and a half weeks of August, it could have gone either way. We’d had a cool, somewhat wet Spring. Flowering and set were late, but the crop looked good, and it was pretty large. June and July were quite warm to downright hot, and the first part of August much the same.
As ripeness approaches, a lot of heat sets the stage for some drama; the hotter it stays, the quicker things are likely to happen. The quicker they happen, the more unpredictable the outcome, the more challenging it becomes to respond effectively. Stress puts you on a rocket ship, destination unknown!
Then, sometime in the last third of August, the weather cooled down. Daytime highs in the Sierra foothills (where we get our grapes) dropped from the mid-to-upper 90s, down into the mid-to upper 80s. Nighttime lows moved from the low 70s into the mid-to-upper 50s. Everything slowed down dramatically, and never really sped up again until all the grapes had become beautifully ripe, and had been picked, in a calm, and orderly, almost leisurely fashion.
There was enough time to sleep until the sun came up in the morning! (Enough time to have coffee with Cornelia, most mornings!) Every pick was done on the day I chose to pick (whereas, many years, the day chosen was already booked to pick someone else’s fruit—there’s more than a little luck involved, here!).
Flavors were vibrant and focussed, pHs were low, structure was firm, balance was lovely. Fermentations proceeded smoothly, pressing was accomplished in a timely fashion. God was in her heaven, and all was right with the world!
Now we’re getting ready to bottle the first of the 2018 wines: the Heart Of Gold, and Bone-Jolly Rosé (and the Riesling!), and they’re tasting great! And, I’m not inclined to withdraw my declaration about the quality of the vintage, though I’ve begun to have some other thoughts about the subject.
In early 2018, on a visit to the winery to taste through the ‘17s prior to bottling, as I tasted Heart Of Gold, the thought emerged “this vintage has a little something extra the others haven’t had at this stage of development, a bit more texture and depth. It might just be the best one yet.” Four or five months later, one of my customers made a similar comment about the wine.
Then, of course, in early July last year, a story on American rosés appeared in the New York Times, in which our 2017 pink Bone Jolly was ranked #1 (America’s best rosé!!! I love saying that!). And we’d just bottled our 2017 El Jaléo, which I definitely feel is significantly more compelling than the (lovely) 2016 version. I know I’ve even told a number of people that I’m not sure I’ve ever made a better red wine.
But when I opened a bottle of our 2017 Bone-Jolly Gamay a couple weeks back, I wasn’t quite prepared for how much I liked it. I drank it with roast chicken (a few nights later I had it with mushroom pizza topped with a bit of prosciutto and arugula, and, after that, with beef tenderloin, and after that with salmon. They all worked!). I was struck by the wine’s aromatic depth, and nuance. The flavors, as always, were energetic, and focused. But, oh! The texture! And the tannins! The tannins were so gorgeous! I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed our Gamay as much as this before! Yikes!
2018? 2017? Which is better? Either? Neither? Both? Where’s The Lovin’ Spoonful when you need them?
|2017 Bone-Jolly Gamay Noir Rosé
(America’s Best! Special price!)
|2017 Bone-Jolly Gamay Noir||22.00/btl|
|2017 El Jaléo||29.00/btl|
|2017 El Jaléo (1.5L)||62.00/btl|
|2014 Barsotti Ranch Syrah||32.00/btl|
|2018 Heart Of Gold||23.00/btl|
|2018 Bone-Jolly Gamay Noir Rosé||23.00/btl|
(2018 wines available to ship after February 28, 2019)
Let us know your pleasure: