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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Picked Chardonnay today.

Here is the deal folks. The wine industry is full of press-spinning liars. There, I said it. The wine merchandising henchmen proclaimed 2008 a "stellar vintage" a month ago, and I wished a plague of locusts, white flies or aphids on them because nature will always have the last laugh. Here we are, cruising along nicely, everything in tune and on time, and then BAM!, consecutive 105 degree days. We stopped at a vineyard in the Sacramento Valley and saw their Sangiovese already at 24 brix, about 2 weeks ahead. Wilted, dripping Sangiovese, like half-empty leather eggs. Lots of these guys are irrigating constantly, not the ideal solution. Stellar vintage? We will see.
On a brighter note, we picked our measly acre of Chardonnay and crushed a whole ton. Yes folks, a touch over a ton. Frost damage took some, gophers and eutypa took more. This will be an interesting one for sure. Our Chardonnay has a tendency to be rather Viognier-ish, and this year could be over the top. The rest still hangs in the balance. We will have a better picture in a few days.
The media machine wants you to believe that lower yield = higher quality, the frost takes some and we proclaim a grand year. Guess what, balance beats low yield any day, and time will prove it. Wine reviewers have generated this low-yield ideology with Pinot Noir (which truly is yield-dependent) "old-vine" Zin and vegetative Cabernet. Low yield does not necessarily equal quality. Never has, never will. What do you think when you find out that Screaming Eagle 1994 was second growth? That some of the Ridge stuff was over five tons per acre? It is a complicated picture, too complicated to forecast a month before harvest.
Weaving in and out of the subject matter, the not so pretty vine pictured above is a Chardonnay vine that we left the stronger suckers on, and we will trellis these suckers up and eliminate the older cordons that are tired and damaged, maintaining our 14-year old rootstock. Out with the old, in with the old - a nice old-fashioned Italian solution. We'll keep you posted.

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