Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Just finished racking our two carboys of 06 Cabernet. Had a wee taste of the grape, and it is coming along very nicely, thank you. 2006 was an outstanding vintage in southern Oregon. We don't grow sissy Pinot's like our northern neighbors. The Rogue Valley is known for its Cabernet, Syrah, Merlot and lately, Tempranillo. Big reds.
We picked last Autumn from a near-by vineyard owned by Don and Traute Moore. The Moore's, known for their Griffin Creek label, sell more grapes to major vineyards than any other couple I can think of. They've got hundreds of acres in multiple locations. Our own small vineyard, about 20 certified Cabernet vines, should produce 100 pounds of grapes this year, enough to yield one carboy. That's 25 bottles of fine, red wine.
We picked late last season, and the grapes had a brix of 25 - or 25 percent sugar if you prefer. We acquired a new de-stemmer and press last year, so put them to good use.
During fermentation, the "champagne" yeast we add eats the sugar and converts it to alcohol. The "must," the fermenting combination of grape juice, grape skins and a few stems, produced a fine press - which we've now siphoned, or racked, to eliminate sediment (the "lees") on two occasions. After one more racking, we'll probably add a few oak shavings a let the batch sit for a year to age. Though corked during secondary fermentation and aging, a small amount of oxygen allows the red wine to undergo a slow, classic oxidation-reduction process while it ages. That process takes the acidic edge off the wine, leaving it smooth and deep. Yum. I can almost taste it. As my partner, the master winemaker, is fond of saying: A dinner without wine is like a day without sunshine. A fine accompanyment for almost any kind of music I might add.