I am spending more time back at the winery, rather than keeping in touch via the wonders of modern science. This allows for tracking progress through primary and malo-lactic fermentation and allows me know when to sulphur but doesn't necessarily help either manner of topping or adds. Because those decisions are made based on taste and appearance. What I mean by manner of topping is if the wine is clean (no surface film), I stir and then top it. If there is a surface film then I flush the film onto the ground, and repeat this at least one more time. Adds are also different for me I do all of them after bench trials, and by taste. “Bench trials” are done by pulling a sample of the wine and making additions in the same ratio that they would be in the whole lot of wine. Since I don’t like to alter the environment that the yeast or ML bacteria are working (living) in I almost always wait until the completion of all desired fermentations before making adds.
Okay enough about winemaking, you want to know how the wines are showing (tasting). All the wines are showing well for the stage they’re at in the aging process. For those that like the ’08 Sauvignon Blanc, the ’09 is looking to be very similar. The Pinots are developing nicely, with the components of the Sonoma Coast looking like the better vineyards and the vintage is going to lead to a “bigger” Pinot this year. The Chardonnay’s are a little hard to evaluate because they’re racing through ML and are mostly "buttered popcorn" right now, that will eventually change. The Zins are both doing fine and just need another 6 months to smooth out the rough edges.
Last but not least, we will be pouring at ZAP this weekend (Jan. 30/31), both ‘06s and a preview of the ’07 Alta (down to less than 10 cases of ’06). If you want to say hello to me personally, head to the table before 1:30 PM as I’ll be leaving early to host a winemaker dinner for Londer Estates, but Shea and Adrian will be there to answer your questions.
The holiday season is busy for all and we are no exception. The last three weeks of each year find us traveling to the East Coast. Ten days in Baltimore with family and visiting a few key accounts in Maryland, then onto visit with several friends in Pennsylvannia, New Jersey and the Finger Lakes Region of New York. We are particularly looking forward to the Finger Lakes portion of the trip as we'll have an opportunity to visit a few of the Finger Lakes wineries. The region is becoming well-known for Gewurztraminer and Riesling winegrowing and is a region of which I have not tasted since the late 1980's.
Year-end wine sales introduced a fun, new surprise in our first corporate gift order! This corporate gift order was even more interesting to us because the organization shares our name....Calstar Products. It makes perfect sense for us to work together to send out wine gifts to their customers with a similar name. Note to self: contact companies who share our name!
On the winemaking side, the 2009 Pinots finished up ML (malolactic fermentation) and were sulphured and reinoculations are moving along. Other reinoculations are for two lots of Chardonnay that I’m doing in barrel. It looks like they’ll make it on the first try though one is moving slower than the other. Interestingly enough, ML fermentations, which usually prefer warmer conditions, are taking off and finishing in the 55-60 degree F cellar. Go figure. Also, I have done fining on the 2009 Sauvignon Blanc and Gewürztraminers in preparation for bottling in the next couple of months. I like to bottle aromatic whites early to preserve their fruit character.
With that, we wish all of you a very happy and healthy New Year!
The last couple of weeks have been a little nutty, monitoring ferments, doing sales calls AND I’ve added two craft fairs in two weeks to the mix (have I mentioned that I’m a leatherworker in a previous life?). This meant that I was dealing with two stuck ferments, evaluating two sets of fining trials, evaluating two sets of bentonite trials (one of which made no sense), helping at two client tasting events all while traveling on back-to–back weekends. Who says harvest is the busiest time of year?
I helped Londer Estate, a winery for whom I consult, pour at the Faralon Pinot Fest, and found it reassuring regarding what I’m trying to do in making Pinot. If you like a fruit-driven style, the Londer wines were as good or better than the “competition”. The Londer release event at the Presidio Club in San Francisco went well with both a good reception for the wines and good sales. I found myself liking the 2007 Ferrington Pinot Noir more than I had in the past and thought the other wines were showing extremely well.
My other passion, craft fairs, have been good; with the exception of a four-hour power loss due to high winds in Nevada City, but are extremely tiring when coupled with winemaking/wine sales duties. While in Nevada City, I tasted two current accounts, New Moon Café and Carrington’s Fine Wines, on current releases and checked out several new possible accounts. More on these in January, after I go back up there for a sales trip. For those of you who get up to Nevada City, I heartily recommend New Moon Café for imaginative food and a truly interesting wine list.
This past weekend we were doing a show in Carmel Valley, which gave us the opportunity to eat at our favorite restaurant in Monterey, Passionfish, which as you might guess has a great seafood menu and a equally good wine list that is generally priced just above retail. Additionally, they are big supporters of sustainable fishing, and have no problematic seafood on the menu.
While crush ended in mid-October, harvest still goes on. And, of course, so does bottling preparation and wine marketing. By "harvest" I mean that all of the wines are not yet through primary and secondary fermentation and have not been sulphured. Therefore, I continue to monitor the progress on a daily basis and make decisions about the best ways in which to achieve our goals for each lot. So far, most of them have been "well behaved children" and I’m very excited by the overall quality of the vintage.
Given the slow-down post-harvest, I've had more time to sell wine, which after all is the point of making it! Sales have been going well, including the addition of a Colorado distributor and several local restaurants. Also having more time allows me to do leatherwork as I'm preparing for two Holiday Shows.
Winemaker & Artisan, Rick Davis, started Calstar Cellars in 2001 to marry art and science to his love of wine. Read Rick's thoughts on all things wine!