UPDATE: VINTAGE TWO-TRIPLENAUGHT:
Back to the Future
I sat in my kitchen Friday morning the 18th, working on the Organolepticians (#5), and happily anticipating a peaceful weekend celebrating my birthday; the celebration would start with a 10:45 am massage appointment — only another 20 minutes or so to wait. I was nearly finished writing, and rose from my chair for a glass of water. As I straightened, the muscles in my low back clamped down HARD. GOTCHA!!!!!
Thank God I’d decided not to pick Syrah today.
I tried everything I could think of (which didn’t take long) to convince my body that I’d caught myself in time to prevent the spasm from being a REALLY SERIOUS one, but my body, it would seem, was having none of that. The massage had no apparent impact, so I went into the ice and ibuprofen regimen, and hoped for a miracle.
We stayed in a B&B in Point Reyes Station, a really comfortable, funky, delightful place that’s become a favorite, and Friday night we had a marvelous dinner at Manka’s Lodge, and drank a good deal of wine with the thought that the muscle-relaxing properties in it would be helpful.
When I awoke Saturday morning, the first thing I noticed was how really lousy I felt. The second thing that came to me was that it was my birthday.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I remember being maybe six or seven when I first had a thought about my birthday in the year 2000. I’d learned enough arithmetic to figure out how old I would be in any given year, and, of course, what year I would reach any given age. So when I thought about the year 2000, which seemed like thinking about something really strange, unfathomable, almost fictional, I quickly figured out I’d be 53. Then I had to wrestle with the notion of being 53, for which notion six and seven year olds are not so highly prepared, and after having a pretty clear sense that I would be “different” at 53, i.e., not even the same person, I decided, albeit not consciously, that I would think about it some more, later. So you could say that I had conferred upon my 53rd birthday a kind of significance that put it in the company of certain other miraculous days, the kind of days that leave us gasping with wonder and awe. So, of course, any time the year 2000 found its way into my field of contemplation after that, that importance was reinforced, and became magnified.
So the third thought I had Saturday morning was: “Oh, my God — THIS IS IT!!! this is the experience I’ve been waiting to have my whole life, waiting to know what it would be like…” And, well, I wasn’t “different.” I was the same person. I was just… old. Well, the weekend came and went. I had a pretty good time, under the circumstances, and by Monday I was preparing myself, mentally, for the arrival of the season’s first red grapes. A dear friend, who also happens to sell my wine, had offered to be available to help out if I felt incapacitated, and when he came he brought two of the company’s other sales people with him, both great guys. So we worked our way through the first four and one third tons of red grapes with great spirit and good humor, and I have to say these grapes look really quite good.
To reiterate, this is fruit from Paso Robles, the first Syrah grapes from the Rozet vineyard, on the west side. The clone is a new one for me, and as mysterious as it seemed to be in the vineyard, it looks great (and tastes very distinctive) in the fermenter.
The numbers: BRIX 25.6 TA .646 pH 3.40
In general, I think of these numbers as tools to help me understand the condition of the fruit, and the way it might be inclined to behave in the winemaking process. There’s an awful lot of other stuff that needs to be considered when figuring this stuff out, though, and the single most important criteria to me is, and always has been: if I walk through this field and taste grapes for a couple of hours, will it be my sense that the field is ripe — or not?
We received just under four and a half tons on Monday, and another ton and a third on Tuesday. It looks like the next fruit to come in, also from Paso Robles could be either Grenache or Roussanne, or both, perhaps next week.
In the meantime, the Viognier from last week has very nearly completed its barrel fermentation; it’s virtually dry, and the taste seems quite promising. Two thirds was fermented without the addition of yeast, the rest with. The vineyard is being farmed in a sustainable manner, and no sterile inhibitors are being used, so indigenous yeast fermentation is a viable option, and I’m interested in determining whether that will mean more expressive wine. (We’ve done very little experimenting in this realm, because our production is so small, and if we screw something up, even a small lot, it has a big impact.) Seven and a half tons down, fifty-five (or so) to go. Stay tuned. This is going to be one interesting crush.