2006 Blends

Today at the winery (Laird) we are bringing together the Selene 2006 blends.  The Merlot, Cabernet and Chesler blends have been decided.  So we are putting them together and putting them back down to barrels to rest through harvest. 

I was there early in the morning making sure the barrels I picked are the ones that are getting in the blends both in terms of what’s in them, Merlot, Franc or Cabernet and what style of barrel it is (used or new and what type of new barrel it is to get just the blend we want) and watching the beginning of racking to make sure we are leaving all the lees in the barrel and just taking clean wine.  The last thing is to make sure we get the barrels clean and that we don’t need to use any extra washing procedures.

As it turns out we did bring out a special spray nozzle that works with a high pressure washer, called an aqua blaster, to get the barrels as clean as I wanted.  You have all clean wine in the tank and you want the barrels as clean as possible so you can get the clarity you want and hopefully there won’t be a need for filtration when these wines are bottled next year.

While I was over in the Napa area and considering we are running a little bit early for this harvest, I decided to get out and do a little bit of grape sampling for just the stuff that I know is going to be first off. 

I started off at Frediani Vineyard in Calistoga.  I actually did both the Cabernet Franc and the Merlot.  Some years the 181 Merlot comes in a little earlier.  Sometimes they come in on the same day or close to the same day and sometimes there is a little separation.  From what I’ve seen out there this season the Franc is a little behind.  That’s kind of what you would expect, but it doesn’t happen every year.  You may remember for verasion (color change) the Franc was about 10% to 15% behind the 181 Merlot. 

181 Merlot Sampling

It looks like for this first sampling the sugars are about the same (running a little bit behind).  The 181 Merlot was 23 bricks even and all nicely colored up and tasting pretty good.  The Franc was just 21 even, so a full 2 bricks behind, so about a week behind the Merlot at this point. 

181 Merlot  

The Merlot is coming along.  There is a small chance that before the end of August we might go after that one depending on what the weather is like.  I think we are going to get into September but you want to know that for sure.  That’s part of the reason I got out to sample today.  I’ll go out again late next week after I return from a trade tasting in New York, just to see where it’s at and to see if we need to pull the trigger the last week in August or if they will make it all the way to September.

I also went down to the Bressler Merlot, which has kind of tracked the Merlot from Frediani, if anything the same day or a day or two behind. 

Bressler Merlot 

Sure enough it looks really good, it’s starting to taste good and it’s at 23 bricks as well. It’s tracking the Selene lot up at Frediani quite well.  The Franc, the Petite Verdot and the Cabernet there are a little bit behind and not even worth sampling right now.  The Bressler Merlot will be on the heels of the Selene Merlot.

Lastly I went down to Hyde Vineyards to test the Sauvignon Blanc, what we are calling the creek piece.  It’s tasting really good, and the vines look great.

SB Creek Piece

Nice small little clusters and they look beautiful.  They are just starting to get a golden color. 

Sauv Blanc Turning Gold

It’s only at 21 bricks also.  That one doesn’t need to get as sweet as the Merlot.  So it’s tracking right with the merlot, which is usual.  They go back and forth each year as to which one comes in first, either the Frediani merlot or the Hyde Sauvignon Blanc.  They are usually within a week of the starting of picking. I think this one will make it to September as well.  We will have to see what the weather does and how well they come on.

Sauv Blanc Sampling
I didn’t look at any acids for the Sauvignon Blanc which is an important thing.  You can kind of get fooled with the musque selection into picking a little early because it tastes so yummy, but the PH can be a little low and the acids can be a little high, so you end up with something a little brighter than what you want.  A little unusual for Napa Sauvignon Blanc but down in the Carneros and with this particular selection you need to make sure that the acids are where you want it too, not just the sugar and the flavor.

Looks like we will make it to September, but the truth is in the pudding.  The pudding tells the story and we will find out the end of next week (August 24th) whether we need to get serious about pulling the trigger before that.

We had a really nice bit of weather the last bit of July and the first half of August have all been very nice, moderate, lots of days with fog.  Very rarely getting to 90 degrees, so nice and warm but not super hot.  Looks like the last half of August we might be a little warmer, pushing into the 90’s.  We don’t have any real heat spells predicted at this point, but they can be difficult to predict.  The warmer weather should help things along.

We have our 2006 blends together, the Merlot, the Dead Fred Cabernet and the Chesler.  We have our first sampling done.  So we are off to New York City for the trade tasting with Michael Skurnik Wines.  We have a couple of nice dinners planned.  As soon as we return I’m sure we are going to be getting busy with Harvest!