Sunday, March 9, 2014
I had to abandon pruning in the Cabernet vines because the Syrah vines simply cannot wait. I did, with Vinomaker's help in removing last year's growth from the trellising, get quite a bit pruned. It makes it very difficult to prune when the buds are so advanced, as even the simple act of pulling the old growth away from the trellis wires can easily knock off adjacent buds - never mind the fiddly process of wrapping and tying down the new canes.
I will get everything pruned eventually, even with my day-job paring into my pruning time, but I will have to accept the loss of some crop. At least the Orange Muscat and Pinot grigio pruning went smoothly this season.
Friday, March 7, 2014
The weather has cooled down a bit and more rain is forecast for this weekend, so I think I am on schedule to finish pruning all of Vinoland about the same time as last year (March 30th). I think I have plenty of time, at the rate I am going, to finish pruning before the Cabernet Sauvignon (CS) and Syrah vines become enthused. I am a little under half way through the CS vines (which still seem to be snoozing), but unfortunately I have to work at TWWIAGE today and won't be able to do anything in the vineyard. It's OK, I'm not panicking. I repeat, I am not panicking.
Thursday, March 6, 2014
My pruning wasn't nearly as productive as the vineyard crew from Far Niente, who pruned their entire Chardonnay vineyard in one go today. And not a moment too soon: each bud, especially in the eastern block of this vineyard, was pushing - right on cue with last year.
I was thinking that budbreak was a little earlier than last year, due to our warm and dry winter. But as I have said before, despite mankind's narcissism in believing that we control everything in the universe, the vines know what to do and when to do it.
Sunday, March 2, 2014
Whilst perusing the Real Estate section (I'm noticing that Napa County housing prices are definitely on the rise), I came across this week's 'Featured Property'. Now, it's not unusual that some of the higher end properties for sale come with acreage planted to vines, but, invariably, the usual grape-suspect is Cabernet Sauvignon. So I was surprised to see that this property included a planting of Ribolla Gialla, one of the indigenous grapes of Friuli in Northeast Italy. Ribolla Gialla seems an unusual choice for a Napa vineyard, in fact, I wouldn't be surprised if this was the only Ribolla Gialla planted in the entire county. I shall have to do some research.
A snip at $5,750,000 (I'll take two), I can't help but wonder how much real estate could be acquired in Friuli for that amount of money. Them there's some expensive grapes.
Saturday, March 1, 2014
March definitely came in like a lion in Napa. Extremely high winds overnight, that continued until about 11 a.m., have made a mess of Vinoland, with branches and twigs strewn all over the place. V2, who is morbidly afraid of wind, has been pinned to my side and has been loath to go outside - even for her morning ablutions. I generally don't like wind myself, it's very unsettling. One good thing, however, is that the wind has dried-up the ground a bit. It was very muddy working, tying down canes, in the Pinot grigio vines yesterday. I should have better luck today, at not getting stuck, when I start pruning the Cabernet Sauvignon vines.
So Happy St. David's Day to all - whether one is of Welsh extraction, or not.
Thursday, February 27, 2014
I finished pruning the Pinot grigio vines today, but I only have about 25% of the canes tied down (thanks to Vinomaker). It's forecast to rain tomorrow, but I can still tie-down in the rain. Then, on to the Cabernet Sauvignon vines.
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
The Smith-Madrone is not the oldest Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (CS) that I have enjoyed, that is a distinction reserved for a 1982 TWWIAGE. However, it had to be the most stunningly alive, wonderfully structured and still strikingly relevant Napa Valley CS that I have ever had the pleasure of drinking. Subtle echoes of black-fruitiness, wonderfully understated integration of oak, with firm, assertive tannins...blah, blah, blah...this wine had all the winning characteristics of a well made, aged and balanced CS from anywhere on the planet. To me it was very reminiscent of a Left Bank Bordeaux. Loved it. Vinomaker, on the other hand, was not nearly as enthused as I was about this wine; he thought it lacked fruit, I thought he was crazy.
Not everyone enjoys older wines. Some people, and Vinomaker is one of them, prefer more pronounced fruit characters in wine. I like fruity wines myself, but I also like the complexity of older wines. I drank a lot of older, French wines growing up, so I have a little bit of experience with how CS, for example, bottle ages - whereas the average Californian is used to drinking younger, fruit forward wines. That doesn't necessarily mean that I am cleverer than the aforementioned Californian wine consumer, but it does mean I have had a slightly more expansive older-wine education than most. In the case of the Smith-Madrone, I was able to balance the loss of some of the bold-fruit notes (a minimal loss, I might add), for the the complexity that the wine had attained through bottle-aging for 28 years. Curiously, Vinomaker finished this bottle of wine the next evening and loved it: for him the wine had opened up and was now displaying an acceptable level of fruitiness. In my estimation, this beautiful, middle-aged wine had many more years of age-worthiness ahead of it. And look at that price tag, I wish I could buy this wine at that price today.
Friday, February 21, 2014
1st Place: Celia Perez, V. Sattui
2nd Place: Maria Romero, Walsh Vineyard Management
3rd Place: Maria Dolores Torres, Promontory
4th Place: Maricruz Gutierrez, The Napa Valley Reserve
1st Place: Omar Perez, Joseph Phelps
2nd Place: Victor Silvestre, Renteria
3rd Place: Rolando Esquivel, Beckstoffer Vineyards
4th Place: Jesus Juarez, Moulds Family Vineyard
Now, I wouldn't normally be as specific as to name names, except for the fact that this year, for the first time, women were able to compete. And it's about time that women were included in this fun contest. Beginning at 8 a.m., at Beringer Vineyards Gamble Ranch, each contestant pruned six Chardonnay vines in the preliminary leg of the competition. Three judges reviewed the quality of the cuts which accounted for 40% of the total score, and the time it took to prune the vines which accounted for the remaining 60% of the score. The top six scoring women and top eight scoring men moved on to the finals, where four men and four women placed as winners.
Good job girls!
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Happy birthday Vinomaker!
Friday, February 14, 2014
Happy St. Valentine's Day to you all.
Thursday, February 13, 2014
Sunday, February 9, 2014
The photograph shows where the creek passes under the deer fence on the northern end of Vinoland. The water is only about 24-30 inches deep there, but it is moving quickly and a little further on has flooded a 10' wide flat area - another 7-8 feet and the creek will have reached the Pinot grigio vines. And to think I was going to start pruning the white grapes this weekend. The best made plans...
Friday, February 7, 2014
Now, I don't normally like labels to have too much information on them. I am more interested in the wine than somebody waffling on about their family history etc., but this label happens to be informative and fun. I was interested to learn that this Savignon blanc (SB) is made from two different clones of SB; Sauvignon Musque (from the Loire) and the Preston clone (from Graves). Am I familiar with these two clones? Can I taste each of these clone's unique characteristics? No, on both counts. But it does get me thinking about viticulture and all the other stuff I love about wine other than simply how the wine tastes. As it happens, this SB tasted great; nicely balanced acidity, a mouth-filling mid-palate, nice tropical fruit expression (with lashings of sweet candied-pineapple) and a satisfyingly long finish.
The fun stuff? I like the inclusion of the case production figure - I just find it an interesting little factoid. And I love the line, "...slowly made into wine by Gamble Family Vineyards" - because I agree with the old adage that says that 'wine is a journey, not a destination'. Though I'm not sure about the Gamble Family's being desirous of me to, "...enjoy this wine over several hours" - I think I'd need more than just one bottle to make this delightful tipple last that long.
Saturday, February 1, 2014
It also happens to be Chinese New Year (well, I'm a day late), so gung hey fat choi! Incidentally, it happens to be the year of the horse, so Tiggs is doing double duty. (Yea, so OK, pony, horse - let's not split hairs here.) Fittingly, I read in yesterday's paper that China is now the world's largest red wine consuming nation - ahead of France and Italy - according to a survey done by Vinexpo, the international wine and spirits exhibition organisation. The Chinese were responsible for downing 1.865 billion bottles of wine in 2013. Part of red wine's allure for the Chinese is said to be it's actual colour, as red has great symbolic importance within the Chinese culture. I'm thinking they may just like the way it tastes too.
It also happens to be St. Trifon's Day, so glad tidings to all grape-pruners out there...which reminds me that I need to get started pruning soon.
So happy, happy, happy day!
Friday, January 31, 2014
Californian life, I find myself saying goodbye to another house, but this time it is my childhood home. I knew the day would come when eventually this small, semi-detached house would no longer be a haven for me (albeit only mentally seeing as I live 6,000 miles away). I knew that day would come. I just didn't know how sad it would make me. I feel so far away.
Goodbye little red-brick house, you were my family's rock.
Goodbye little red-brick house, you were my family's rock.