Saturday, November 21, 2009

Dad, About That Wine I Sent You ....

Dear Mom & Dad,
You'll find a case of wine waiting for you when you arrive in Connecticut. I truly regret not being able to join you and the Old Gang from France yet again for the annual Thanksgiving feast. Well, someone has to stay home and take care of the dog (excuse me, the Cellar Master), who as you know receives better treatment than your grand-daughter. Besides, this is not the time to take time off from work to travel East, as I fear a storm is on the horizon and it's time to buckle down and be even more productive. For the first time in my life I felt this week I was living on the edge and I'm one person's whim away from becoming an unemployment statistic and then a foreclosure statistic and there I go but for the Grace of God. I do not like this feeling of vulnerability although I know that we could bounce back. We could just move to Oklahoma or Texas or to some shack in California and squat some land and plant a new vineyard and a new life. I suppose there were times you wondered how you would make things meet but being the good parents you were you found a way to provide and we never knew about your concerns. I'll spend Thanksgiving out in the vineyard shoveling the ton of compost that just arrived (just like I used to shovel tons of wood chips for you for $2/hour when I was a kid) and I'll give thanks for having a job and think about ways to gain financial independence. If I held a garage sale and sold all the wine in it at a fair market price I'd have enough cash to pay the mortgage for a year and that would feel like a pretty good cushion. Why don't you mention it to the rich retiree vinophiles from the Old Gang when you see them?
I remember attending Thanksgiving in Connecticut 9 years ago with the Old Gang and Mr. S served a case of Domaine Tempier wine from Bandol, France that he somehow carried home. I remind you that Domaine Tempier's wines are made 100% from the Mouvedre grape so please tell Mr. S that we bought a ton of Mouvedre from Paso Robles and are making a wine in the style of Domaine Tempier (which means barrel aged for 18 months) and we'll call it Lulu in honor of the matriach of that estate. We pressed the wine the other evening and Bluey licked it 5 times which means it's very good and I have to say it is the "sweetest" wine I have ever tasted. I used the hydrometer to test the sugar level which showed -2 brix which is to say it fermented to complete dryness so that sweet taste is not sugar but the amazing fruit of the vine. Since it won't be ready to drink for another 3 years I recommend that you, Mr. S and the rest of the Old Gang keep on trucking so that you may enjoy it your first Thanksgiving as Octogenarians.

About the wine I sent you....the first two bottles are 2006 Nebbiolo. The grapes came from Guadeloupe Valley, Mexico about two hours drive from here. This is the boldest, heartiest wine we have ever made and has been adored by CEOs and Bishops and is worthy of your Thanksgiving meal and we are pleased to share what's left of it with you.

The next three bottles of interest are the 2008 Petit-Petit, a 50-50% blend of Petit Verdot and Petit Sirah. This is better than the 2007 Petit-Petit, which, although delightful, we found lacked a strong finish which kept it from greatness. The 2008 improvements started in the vineyard where we begged the grower to keep the Petit-Verdot grapes on the vines a little longer giving them more sugar than last year (23 brix) and a little more strength. Then, we punched down the fermentation with my favorite golf club, the Jimmy Wood. Next, we blended back in more of the tannins. This is a new wine just bottled 10 weeks ago. It's beginning to show some bottle bouquet. Imagine this wine a year from now. I think you will enjoy it. Please share a bottle with the Old Gang with their appetizers and let them know there are only 23 cases available and we still have one more semester of the Princess' college tuition to pay.

There are two bottles of the 2007 Malbec, which we painstakingly crushed by hand and feet. This is a fun, light wine and may be enjoyed with your meals before Thanksgiving. We blended in 20% Petit Verdot to give it a bit more complexity... the Malbec grapes that year were low in sugar (21.5 brix) so think of this as a fun, delightful wine. It is a true expression of the grape and of the vineyard (there is not much oak).

The 2007 "Bluenello" is interesting and I'd like your opinion about it. Frankly speaking, we don't like this wine very much. Yet, it is an expression of the grape and of the San Diego vineyard it came from. Brunello is a clone of Italy's Sangiovese and the Brunello's from Italy are world-reknowned. I can't call ours Brunello otherwise I'll get an unpleasant visit from the Italian wine police. This wine tastes totally different from any other wine we have made and yet the techniques are the same so don't blame the winemakers. The reason I want your opinion about it it we purchased grapes from the same vineyard again this year and have 48 gallons of 2009 Bluenello. We were disappointed because we were told the grapes were ripe but after harvesting we found the brix to be only 22 (this equates to about 11% alcohol, hardly a bold, expressive wine). As it turned out, we have so many other wines with too high pH's this year so we can blend other wines with this one. I'm thinking of making a Super Tuscan (by blending in some Cabernet Sauvignon) or a Super Italian by blending in Montepuchiano, Nebbiolo and Aglianico (yes, we really did make a lot of wine this year). So let me know what you think and how it could be improved.

Last and least, I threw in a bottle of 2007 Merlot. Alas, this is also a wine we don't like. Not at all. But when you visited us last year and tasted it from the barrel, you said you liked it. (Maybe that was after the 2nd margarita?) Well, if you still like it there are about 50 bottles left and Christmas is coming.

All of the 2009 wines are coming along fine (except for one with strong hints of vegetative green pepper) and they taste fantastic so far and we feel like Spring Training is over and it's Opening Day in the baseball season when there's so much promise. When do you think you and mom will be able to come by for a barrel tasting?

Bluey, Queen & Craig
(P.S. The pictures top to bottom show: 2008 Petit-Verdot grapes hanging on the vine; crushing the 2008 Petit-Verdot; punching down the cap of the 2008 wines with my favorite golf club; hand-crushing the 2007 Malbec.)

1 comment:

Vinogirl said...

Montepuchiano...I love it :) The Vinodogs approve too.