Working with great winemakers is delightful. Just as the days when I was in rock radio, there were stars that I constantly rubbed shoulders with, now the stars are winemakers. When moving to California, I turned my attention to some quieter stars, who are all as equally as talented, but in a different science. Just as music has to be well balanced to be enjoyed, so does wine. They both affect our senses.
Eric Eide (pronounce as ID) is a total talent
Eric has a great winemaker journal, which we’re accomplishing once-a-month. It’s really excellent info, coming from Willamette Valley in Oregon. Eric is a creative wordsmith, coming up with such expressive thoughts. I had just finished hours of editing for Eric Eide of Aberrant Cellars, when I thought… This stuff is so great, I need to ask Eric if I can also share on this blog.
Eric Eide, Aberrant Cellars, Willamette Valley Oregon ~ Enjoy
July 2017 Winemaker Journal
2017 Growing Season ~ Vintage Assessment
Bloom occurred mid-June in Willamette Valley, which is traditionally when we reach this milestone. The past two years were hotter than average. As a result, everything happened earlier than it typically does. So far, the fruit looks very good and there hasn’t been any frost or rain issues. Let’s hope that Mother Nature allows this trend to continue. Based on the progress I’ve seen so far on the vines, I anticipate this year’s yield will be average, or perhaps a little above average.
Ideal summer temperatures, for wine grape growing, are mid-to-high 80s during the day; and we like to see a 20 to 30 degree downward shift in temps overnight. This allows the vines to rest and recharge. Overnight lows depend on where in The Valley the vineyard is located and elevated at a particular site.
In Willamette Valley, we usually get ten or so days in the 90s, and occasionally it pokes above 100 degrees. Photosynthesis shuts down in the vines, once temperatures exceed 88 degrees. Prolonged heat spikes can be very detrimental, as the grape skins take a beating. This is caused by the vine being unable to protect the clusters. If skin development gets ahead of the ripening process, unbalanced wines can be the result.
Present and Future Winemaking Activities
Just recently, I bottled the 2015 Chehalem Mountain Vineyard Pinot Noir and the 2015 Carpe Noctem– both of which I’m very excited about, because they’re potentially the two best wines we’ve made to this point. I’ve included some images here in order to help demonstrate, or de-construct, the process visually. Even after years of making wine, I find it fascinating to see how everything comes together.
Both of these wines are aged in barrels from 17 to 19 months old. Then it goes in tanks for another three to four months. Additionally, they’ll both continue to age in bottles for many months, before they’re released for sale and consumption. Old Vines will be released in November of 2017; Noctem in March of 2018.
I prefer to treat the upbringing of Carpe Noctem in a manner similar to a Reserva style wine, either from Spain and/or a Brunello from Italy, since it is a big, beefy Pinot Noir. I feel it warrants the extra time it takes for the wine to be ready for enjoyment, when it’s released; though, it will certainly reward many years in the cellar, if one chooses to do so. The “Old Vines” process is a little different, in that it was not aged in barrels for quite as long, and I used less new wood in the aging process. These practices are still my overall philosophy for drinkability and ageability.
I’m happy to announce that the Sidecar G-Force wine has been released and is now available. [You may recall from last month’s Winemaker Journal:] G-Force is a blend of Gamay, Cabernet Franc, and Pinot Noir. The Gamay is sourced from a really beautiful vineyard called Havlin Vineyard, in Willamette Valley. I started by using their Gamay in this blend; but, I intend to also bottle the Gamay varietally, at some point in the future. So far, the response to the spin that we put on these varieties has been very positive.
- The Gamay is a chameleon of sorts – it can be bold or soft
- The Cabernet Franc is powerful
- The Pinot Noir gives a silky elegance to the mouth feel
This project is about introducing people to different styles and varieties aside from Pinot Noir. And, I’m very optimistic from all the positive feedback we’ve received, about G Force thus far.
Our next, immediate project will be to assemble the blend for the 2016 Confero Pinot Noir. This is the wine we consider to be our “workhorse,” and it’s a blend of a number of vineyards and clones. I expect to bottle it at the end of August. We also plan to conduct blending trials for additional upcoming Sidecar projects. For example, I’m exploring the idea of an old-school styled Bordeaux blend. This includes Carménère, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, and small portion of Cabernet Sauvignon. The trials will involve seeing what percentages of these varieties play together best, and ultimately sing in harmony. I expect that this blending trial will be my focus for the next couple of months, prior to the start of the 2017 harvest.