Vintage Musings IV: getting a picture

The blocks that generally require such tractor passes in order of frequency are the Syrah blocks followed by the young Chardonnay (representing 2 of 4)and then the young Merlot (representing 2 of 3).

After tasting all lots I continue to be convinced that indeed the blocks just mentioned improved the most that year.

So what of the other old vine blocks (Chard, Merlot, and Cab.)? Well, they are tremendous but that is par for the course. I think it is typical for the exact reason that 1) they already have low vigor and generally require 0 (sometimes

1) hedging pass to address excessive shoot growth in normal years. Of course there are other factors involved here that make the site wonderful, but what I have outlined above consistently produces wines of weight and concentration that is gained from methods other than extended ripening.

2) At least for white wine it is generally accepted that early water stress (or severe water stress in general for that matter) is less important for improving quality that it is in reds. Interestingly, the early stress not only impacted canopy vigor, but also clearly impacted fruit and cluster size. Most obviously in Chardonnay.

But as noted, even though cluster size was down 50% in Chardonnay, I would not say quality was up 50% or even close to that. Another indication that yield is not so simply linked with quality but how you get that yield probably is. And this year lower vigor and lower yield as a result of low water availability early has clearly positively impacted quality in the blocks where vigor is generally the greatest.

OK, so the whole post is a general simplifications but the main point is that quality across the board is up and the vintage devigorated blocks that need devigoration the most and this has resulted in serious quality gains in those blocks. The message is clear: buy your futures now.