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Wines still in barrel

Wines still in barrel- At the end of July, 2013, we are currently still aging the Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay from 2012. These wines are really becoming integrated and smooth with the barrel time. While we currently top these wines every 4-6 weeks, and rack them every 4-6 months depending on the varietal, we try and disturb them as little as possible. The vacuum created by the evaporation in our dry climate and not removing the bung is good protection from any microbe that needs oxygen to grow.

This year, we’ve decided to keep the Chardonnay on the lees (fermentation sediment) as long as possible to emulate the conditions for barrel aging from our favorite Chardonnay vintner, Dumol. The slow breakdown of the proteins and macromolecules in the lees give a silky, long, textural finish to the wines, while also absorbing some of the diacetyl (buttery component) created by the malolactic fermentation, giving the wines a lift and making the acids vibrant. So far, we are liking the results very much.

The Pinot has a wonderful texture all ready, and has been racked once after fermentation, but not yet again. Pinot really benefits from gentle handling and not much disturbance. If the wine can be moved by gravity and not pumping, all the better. It is a temperamental, delicate, ethereal creature, and it’s most desirable flavors are the ones hardest coaxed to the surface. We love the barrel program for this wine in 2012, it’s just enough to give a richness and great mouthfeel, but not overwhelm the wines. I think this is going to be a beauty.

And in a barrel tasting we hosted last weekend, I can tell you that the Zinfandel was a flat out winner. Just as I love this wine, it seems everyone else does as well. Still young and grippy with tannins and acids, you can already see the pedigree of this wine as it matures. I think we won’t have this wine for long. One of my favorite barrels used for this particular wine is a hybrid barrel from Radoux Cooperage. It is a hybrid barrel where every other stave is Appalachian and then French Oak. So we are getting the sweetness and richness from the American, but tempering it with the structure and personality of the French Oak. Really liking this particular barrel of Zin.

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