Thursday, August 30, 2012

Yes, Verdejo is a wine variety

     Not the first, but likely the second, third or fourth vineyard in California to plant the Spanish variety Verdejo yielded a ton and a half from one acre outside Paso Robles.  Nobody seems to have taken the time and trouble to petition the TTB (the Feds) to 'approve' it as a name yet, so it'll be a specially designated Chateau d'Abalone that I will bottle as soon as appropriate (ahem).  Exciting!
     I'm sure you've all seen vineyard and cellar pictures before, but some of these aren't the usual winery PR.

Coyote Moon vineyard with the Estrella River at the end of the rows.  Yes, there is some sunburn on the clusters - it was the second year of a graftover of decade-old Sauvignon Blanc so there wasn't all that much of a canopy.  Sugar was just want I wanted (22.7) but the acid numbers would have been appropriate for New Mexico.
Dumping whole clusters into press, note humanoids on right - forklift is twenty feet below.
Two hours to press 253 gallons from 1.6 tons, note juice color.  Okay, but have you seen this before?
Top right, juice full of solids from the bottom of the tank (trash); top left, juice with less solids (to be settled, improvisation required because of flat-bottomed tank); bottom, solid CO2, to displace oxygen from the tank until fermentation begins.
This should be obvious, shouldn't it?  Colorful captions invited.  The smaller the amount of wine made, the more fiddling and fussing required (well, if it's any good).  There's a law of diminishing returns dictated by chemistry and physics, which goes a long way to explain why home winemaking has imperfect results.

2011 Colossus of Rhones Syrah

Well, here it is, though it's going to be a little bottle shocked for a few weeks.  I've mentioned the yield-lowering spring frost we had last year a few times before, and the blocks of Syrah 877 at Gill Vineyard were no exception - from two tons per acre (roughly, two bottles per vine) in 2010 we dropped to one ton/acre aka bottle/vine.  This is extraordinarily low for healthy vines, even on mountain soils - and the global average yield for Syrah/Shiraz is probably ten times that, if you didn't already guess why Yellow Tail is so cheap.

Alcohol is down a little, at 16.5%, but there were rains approaching so we picked roughly a week earlier.  Unlike the 2010, which was rather dumb and closed from the end of fermentation until the following spring, this wine has been a dense raspberry bomb with full mouthfeel and a very long finish from the very beginning.  The reassurance of a couple of young hotshots I won't name pushed me to follow my instincts and bottle early.  One new French barrel, one once-used French barrel, and a keg - that's all I got.  $60 retail, but while it lasts, I can probably make a deal for friends, family, fans and stalkers; you know how to find me.

Band practice

Band practice