Like many wineries our size, we employ a mobile bottling line – a veritable factory disguised as a 30’ truck – instead of building our own and letting it sit dormant for 362 days per year. Each of our wines has its own timeline, but most of them fit into a winter, spring, or late-summer bottling schedule and that’s when the truck comes. However, the Dessert Wines, featured this month, are an exception. For whatever reason (blindly-followed tradition is likely the best explanation) we set up a hand-bottling station out back, and proceed to fill, cork, label, wax and stack the bottles ourselves. It’s horribly inefficient, potentially very messy, and no matter which station you wind up with it’ll give you a sore back. On the other hand, it’s a great time for everyone to be together without the buzz of loud equipment, talk about the year ahead, be goofy, be silent, listen to each other’s music, and get to know each other more deeply. As I’m writing, Kara, Rod, Dylan and Jessa are labeling and waxing bottles to the Allman Brothers, and once I’m done I’ll take Kara’s spot so she can get this printed. So here are some thoughts on your February wines, the first two of which just went to bottle last week:
2013 Red Dessert Wine
A Port-style wine made exclusively from Touriga Nacional grapes. Ports are “made” during a crucial moment shortly after harvest: when the wine is fermenting, an addition of Brandy (fortification) must be timed perfectly to neutralize the yeast and preserve the remaining sugar. In 2013, this “perfect timing” happened to be at about 2 am! So while you’re enjoying a glass of this rich, luscious and not-too-sweet wine, think of a dedicated cellar crew sporting headlamps dumping a big bucket of booze into a fermenting tank.
What a long, strange trip it’s been for this 100% Viognier. Harvested at 30% sugar in October 2013, it fermented all the way through to 17.5% alcohol before finishing off-dry. So much for the original plan, which was a “late-harvest” style nectar like something from Alsace or Germany. Mari and I kept a watchful nose on the tank, though, and started to really like what emerged: bursting aromas of dried apricots, candied ginger, and a nutty, almond cake quality that developed over time. I added a bit more alcohol recently, making the category-defying wine most closely related to a White Port. Whatever you want to call it, we think it’s delicious!
2011 Rive D’Or
A great Winter wine, it shows precision and focus from the cool 2011 vintage, but not at the expense of ample fruit and spice. Sophisticated aromas of black licorice, dried purple sage, and red-hot cinnamon provide a backdrop for brambly raspberry and currants. These fruits open up in a darker direction in the glass, complemented by notes of vanilla.