Harvest Update: First Two Weeks
The 2014 harvest is now officially in full swing! With the warm dry winter we had this year, the vines started their annual life cycle ahead of schedule. Nearly all of the grapes are coming in early, making what would normally be a fairly mellow start to our crush incredibly hectic. Even though fruit is coming in earlier than we normally like to see, a premature bud break and veraison this spring and summer have given the grapes a long enough hang time to develop the ripe flavors we desire. In a stroke of good fortune brought on by a slightly cooler than normal August, most of the lots are coming in with higher acid levels than we might expect – good news for clean fermentations and ultimately more balanced wines.
Pinot Noir, Bacigalupi Vineyard – September 2nd
After a one-year hiatus, we are once again making Pinot Noir from the Bacigalupi Vineyard in Russian River Valley. A renowned site for Burgundian varietals, this vineyard routinely produces excellent fruit and 2014 is no exception. We receive grapes from two different blocks – one planted to Pommard clone and the other to the old Wente clone. The Wente clone provides bright floral notes to the wine, while the Pommard clone, widely planted in Russian River Valley, lends structure and the rich, ripe flavors for which the region is known.
Viognier, Kemp Vineyard – September 5th
In the third year of producing fruit, the new Viognier vines at Kemp Vineyard are really hitting their stride. In our continuing process of learning how to make the highest quality and most unique wine possible from this site, we’re making this wine a bit differently this year. The last two years we have fermented the wine on the skins to make an “orange wine,” but this year we decided to press the grapes immediately and make a more traditional white wine style – light and crisp, fresh and fruity. The aromas emanating from the Viognier tank have been captivating and we expect this to be a very special wine.
Zinfandel, Kemp Vineyard – September 6th
In 15-plus years of growing grapes, Alson Kemp reports that this is by far the earliest he has ever picked Zinfandel. When confronted with such extremes, our skill as winemakers is certainly tested. Our approach at Adobe Road is to not impose a particular style, but to let the vineyard tell us what style will make the best wine each year. With the higher acidity in this year’s Zinfandel, we felt that more whole berries in the must, a cool ferment and a gentle extraction would enhance the fresh fruit and brightness of the wine. We have so far been rewarded with a ripping fermentation wafting beautiful aromas throughout the winery! We can’t wait to see the ultimate results.
Chardonnay, Bacigalupi Vineyard – September 8th
IT’S BACK! Perhaps the most famous Chardonnay vineyard in the new world, we’re so excited to be working with Bacigalupi again after a few years off. Our 2009 vintage was rated 92 points by Wine Spectator, and we’re confident we can make a wine of that caliber again this year. The fruit looked absolutely perfect coming in from the vineyard – we pressed it, let it settle in tank, and then racked it into a mix of new French oak barrels and stainless steel to begin fermentation.
Syrah & Grenache, Kemp Vineyard – September 11th
We absolutely love the red Rhône varieties from this ranch! Beautifully balanced as always, we brought in both the Syrah and Grenache on the same day. The Grenache was low in sugar and high in acid, and will produce a bright wine with pretty floral and red fruit flavors, if not the fullest body. Most years we ferment the Syrah 100% whole-cluster, an old-school technique that really adds to the body and complexity of the wine. This year we didn’t feel all of the stems were perfectly suited to whole-cluster fermentation, so we de-stemmed about 40% of the fruit and are fermenting it separately. The remaining whole-cluster fruit received a few hundred pounds of Viognier (for enhanced aromas and color stabilization) and its traditional foot-stomping. Keeping these two lots separate will give us some more options in blending and hopefully result in a more complex wine.
Sauvignon Blanc & Semillon, Bavarian Lion Vineyard – September 12th
For the third year in a row we’re bringing in both of these white Bordeaux varieties from Bavarian Lion. In 2013 we bottled both a stand alone 100% Semillon and a blend of 80% Sauvignon Blanc and 20% Semillon that has been our most popular wine in the tasting room all summer. We considered doing a 50-50 blend and co-fermenting the grapes to push the envelope on this “Bordeaux blanc” style, but decided to ferment the lots separately and keep our options open. The Semillon is fermenting in neutral oak to enhance its richness and body, while the Sauvignon Blanc is fermenting in tank to retain its fresh liveliness.
More to come!!!
It is highly unusual and more than a little bit exhausting processing all of this fruit in such a short time frame, but we’re thrilled about the quality of this strange vintage thus far. All of our Cabernet lots are similarly ahead of schedule and should be rolling in over the next few weeks. More updates coming soon!