Tuesday, October 12, 2010

My Unrequited French Love: Petit Verdot


When I was living in Paris in my early 20s I always knew that I would marry a French woman. I imagined she would be petite like so many mignon gals from France I knew at the time but I never foresaw her surnom would be Verdot. At last, I have found her, the most fragrant of the fair. Maligned in Bordeaux where she is used only sparingly in blends, she has blossomed in San Diego County in your vineyard. I can't think of anyone who doesn't like la mademoiselle who has tasted le vin we have made from the Petit Verdot grapes of your estate. Ma maitresse que je l'aime!

As for the 2010 vintage, she presents certain issues. As Coyote Karen would say, perhaps it's menopause. Namely, in your attempt to restructure your vineyard this year you have been more than parsimonious with water. You have been Robespierre and simply cut it off and the vines have had to make due. What you have achieved are berries that are small, indeed, we could say petit. And, if your aim was to stress the vines, that too has been achieved. In the three previous years we have picked these grapes on average in the middle of September. Now we are in the middle of October, and we will be fighting the bees and the yellow jackets for more than our fair share. Yet, despite the long hang time and the mini heat waves, the sugars just don't seem to mount with these grapes. Last year, they reached 23 brix. But, a week ago, you were still at 22 brix. The bees, causing damage now with each berry invaded another pimple on my lady's complexion, tell me it's time to harvest. Just to be sure, we walked the vineyard, taking a random sample of 60 berries, 10 each from the six rows. The refractometer indicates a shade over 22 brix. The pH meter says 3.53 and the acid TA measurement is .68 The pH and acid readings are good and although the brix are a little less than perfect, what woman is? I'll take her, and perhaps by grabbing those raisins from lack of water and throwing those into the mix she'll become a little more sweet, like giving your date a box of chocolates.

We have learned from experience it's a challenge for Lady Petit Verdot to stand on her own. But with just a slight touch of make-up she is airbrushed to absolute perfection achieving supermodel status. Our aim this year is to take that dry-farmed Cab of yours, which we just pressed the other night and is so full of promise, and blend some of mademoiselle Verdot with it and with some of the Malbec to achieve the finest "Merleatage" ever created by a dog (or at least by a Blue-Merle Australian Shepherd). And, if it turns out as well as I think it can, I'll commission our tres chere amie Kelly P. of Salud Scent Studio to capture its fragrance in a tantalizing perfume worthy of the First Lady of France.

We're sorry you won't by able to join us for the pick but do keep resting that gash in your head and if the doctors allow you to drink a glass of wine I hope you'll do that as we travail. Enjoy the view from the window as we battle against the bees and the yellow jackets and the rising heat to bring these grapes home to the barrel. If, as you did during the Cab harvest a month ago, you are able to bring us a container of your 2009 Meritage wine, or for that matter any year, it makes a fitting winemaker's lunch with a pleasing taste that lasts all afternoon. (Hey Google, when are you going to add scratch and sniff to Blogger?)

(Photos of the Petit Verdot vineyard, vines and berries.)

No comments: