This year the gewürztraminer is especially abundant and the grapes that came in this week are really beautiful. Inspired by a recent trip to Alsace, Rudy came back with an idea on how to rework the gewürztraminer. We changed the trellising to a loop style trellis to encourage more clusters to grow. This was risky, but we are happy with the results, as the Gewürztraminer was some of the pretties fruit on property. We just picked the last of it yesterday and Stephen has begun his meticulous process and care for the grapes.
I begged the winemaking team to get a place on the harvest team this year to escape the office part time and to learn more about the every day they deal with in the vineyard and winery during harvest.
I spent the morning of my first day on the job getting a years worth of Vitamin D, sampling two of our single vinyard Pinot Noir blocks.
Despite the rain the past couple of weeks, I was surprised to see such great fruit quality and that the clusters have help up exceptionally well.
As much as I love what I do here on a daily basis; some manual labor and having an opportunity to help the winemakers make our wines was more meaningful than I had expected.
For those of you who know that I am from England, you will not be surprised to learn that August and September are important to me. For these months herald the start of the new football (aka soccer) season in the UK and across Europe, and I sit up to take a keen interest in how the all the changes made during the summer recess will pan out during the opening games.
Will the new manager at Manchester United be able to keep all his stars together and continue developing up and coming youth at the club?
Who will be the first manager to be sacked for not implementing all the changes he promised with forthright precision?
Will the band of overseas starlets be able to overcome language and cultural barriers and settle down to form an effective and cohesive bond with some more experienced pros from the mother country?
I like these scenarios because I relate them to our own ‘Start of the Season’ here in wine country and there are more similarities than you might imagine.
The summer has been full of planning, formulation of ideas and nurturing creativity regarding the grapes which are steadily ripening on the vine. Supplies are being thought over and ordered and equipment is being repaired and tested, made ready for the big start.
The harvest team is being assembled with each person being assigned specific duties. This year at Montinore, we will have a team with great diversity and skill.
Co-winemakers ( Team managers ) Ben Thomas and I will be the architects of the style, flow and results of the game that is about to be played.Assistant winemaker and viticulturalist, Kevin Green will be the ‘creative midfielder’ converting thoughts into reality and keeping the team in shape.
Our stalwart defence will consist of the vastly experienced trio of Sergio Reyes, Alfredo Santiago and Manual Cabrera who will help process all the fantastic raw material, which has been so carefully nurtured for the last 5 months, into the juice and must that will create the wines we make.
In attack, we will be blessed by the youthful duo of Paolo Bertani, from Italy, and Laura Greenwald, from California, joining us for the season, both of whom will provide the cutting, incisive edge and dynamic energy that all good teams require to be successful.
And watching it all, down near the pitch side, with a wry smile on his seasoned face will be the Owner, Rudy Marchesi, supporting and cajoling his team to produce the very finest result possible.
Finally, like all great football teams we have our most wonderful supporters, our customers, who individually and collectively drink the fruits of our labors and give over hard earned cash to enjoy the sweet taste of success. And without you, there would be little point in continuing.
So, as we slide towards fall, pay a thought into all the ‘hard graft’ that goes into creating a trophy lifting team and raise a glass, or two or even three, to Vintage 2013 at Montinore and all the stunning wines we will be trying our hardest to produce for you.
Our crush pad and winery are now showing the critical signs of a quick approaching harvest - the destemmer and press are out! We actually hit some majoy milestones this week - we brought in our first crop of fruit for the 2013 Verjus on Tuesday and pressed it on Wednesday.
If you go down into our cellar you will see many notes on each of the barrels, I wanted to share with you a decoder to understanding each of the notations you would see. The barrel I picked we started working with in 2006 and has quite the history behind it.
We were delighted to see our Müller-Thurgau featured in the latest issue of Wine Enthusiast as Assistant Editor, Joseph Hernandez's latest obsession - and it is about time that Müller gets its fair share of press. We are constantly impressed with what winemaker, Stephen Webber is able to produce from this grape, and believe that the 2012 is one of the best examples yet.
We built this Tasting Map to give you a visual idea of how the 2012 Müller is currently tasting.
A menacing visitor entered – stage left – soon after fruit set this year in the form of a nasty hail shower. The grape-sized hail pelted away at the vineyard for only a minute or two, but in our hearts it felt much longer. Hail always strikes terror in winemakers and vine growers, and after three short vintages in a row, we feared the worse. But upon inspection, we were relieved to see only a little bruising in blocks 32 and 33. Our luck was in sharp contrast to some fellow winemakers from Burgundy that I met last week at the International Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC) in McMinnville. They were hit hard, some losing 80% of their crop. I feel terrible for them, especially after having traveled through Burgundy this past spring and hearing so many tales of woes of recent years, including bad hail last year as well. Some chateaus may be forced to close simply for the fact of having no wine to sell. This wine growing business is not for the faint of heart when one’s crop could be lost to a few minutes of hail.
But the weather hasn’t only brought danger. A warm spring and early summer have given the vines a fantastic boost. We’ve even seen signs of veraison (the first coloring on the skins) in some of our Pinot before the end of July. This is extremely early. The benefit of this is that we’ll be able to pick the grapes at the peak of their ripeness, rather than be forced to pick early due to the onset of the fall rains that close our last days of October ripening like a stage curtain. What we hope for now is a cooler than average August so the grape sugars don’t rise too quickly and force us to pick early. Here’s to high 70s and low 80s through August!
The 2012 whites that we have out in the tasting room right now are really delicious. The Pinot Gris, while still crisp, boasts some lovely tropical aromas this year along with a pleasant grassiness reminiscent of a Sauv Blanc. I also think the 2012 Gewürztraminer is the best we’ve made since I’ve been here. But of all our wines this year, there’s one that I’m opening the most on these warm evenings: the 2012 Rosé. It is everything I want in a Rosé: strawberries, peaches and a savory note that I just can’t place. To corrupt one of my favorite lines of Shakespeare: a Rosé by any other name would not smell as sweet. I believe we have some left.
But what of the Pinots, you ask? Well, we are just preparing the blends now, and I am beyond excited. I’m seeing uncommon richness in color and palate, but still with our trademark complexity and “earthiness,” for lack of a better term. The 2012 “Red Cap” should be out at the start of October. I think it’s going to be our best one yet. And while we’re on the topic of the Pinots currently in barrel, hear me now and listen to me later (to quote Saturday Night Live’s Hans and Franz), the 2012 Parsons’ Ridge is going to be exceptional. Unfortunately, it won’t be out until 2015 because it’s pretty flamboyant and is going to need some time to mellow a bit.
But here I’m being the parent that dotes too much on the baby brother. The 2010 and 2011 Pinots are showing very nicely and just got some love from Stephen Tanzer, who is arguably the most respected wine critic out there right now. The 2011 Red Cap which came out a little tight is really opening up nicely as well.