October Wine Club Releases
2016 Harvest update Central Coast sites
By Director of Winemaking Bill Brosseau
Chardonnay perspective – Incredible physiological ripeness at low sugars, leading to deceptive readiness preharvest. Many winemakers jumped the gun and left a lot of flavor potential still on the vine. We used a combination of tasting grapes, assessing visual indicators of skin tension, pulp color, and seed browning percentage, as well as sugar and acidity levels in determining pick date. Due to the steady weather of not too warm nor cool, we saw a steady increase in sugars and flavors, while achieving the same acidity levels as those whom jumped the gun on picking solely on taste and acids. With many wineries picking at levels near 21 brix, there will be some disappointment when their wines draw near to bottling. We are fortunate that our patience paid off with some incredible concentration and chemistry, allowing for some classic wines from our fields, when we waited to hit 23 to 24 brix (or 14% alcohol). Yields on many ranches were below average, thus offering high concentration naturally. Fermentations are going very smooth and looks to be another stellar year for Chardonnay.
Pinot Noir perspective – We saw somewhat of an atypical ripening curve at some of our vineyards, leading to some interesting circumstances for timing of harvest. This certainly kept us on our toes and assured that we needed to visit every site on every trip, in some cases 3 times per week. The constancy of vineyard visitations really paid off as some cases sugars, acids, and seeds were all in harmony, yet skins were still somewhat tough. The more one tastes grapes ripen on the vine, the easier it becomes to predict the optimum point in time where every critical characteristic is in harmony.
Overall, the weather was steady and predictable, with no threat of rain. We had some good shots of fog in the Salinas valley which did increase some botrytis pressure but with careful culling at the vineyard and the sorting table, we averted any negative consequences. Due to good concentration of flavors, the need to remove juice prior to fermentation was diminished. Early on color extraction was about average but upon a few week after draining wine from skins, color grew quickly with intensity.
All in all, we are very excited for the general quality for the average yields we experienced as were the growers.
Bordeaux varietal perspective – Strong yields on most Bordeaux varietals except Cabernet Sauvignon, which had some shatter. Weather wise, very cool vintage for us in Los Gatos, which gave concern mid summer about accumulating enough heat units to get solid ripeness. The warm spell we had in late September helped pushed ripeness into a perfect zone, which some shrivel in some of the lower yielding Cabernet Sauvignon blocks. Due to the near perfect weather for the season, we saw good vine nutrition, great concentration, and great acidity, which is quite difficult to achieve in Bordeaux varietals. This will lead to a classic vintage, not having seen in a long time. These wines should also age gracefully and be enjoyed for many years to come.