We just finished bottling our 2007 Haut Tubee a few weeks ago. I've talked before about how it's made and the process we go through at fermentation; doing small lots, treating each one as unique and then doing the first round of blending after press.
As the wine ages we also make additions to the blend from the other lots we have. In 2007 we started out with our base wine. We had 1 1/2 barrels of wine from the harvest at our home and the Ottigurr Vineyard. Mostly Syrah, with some Grenache, Zinfandel and Mourvedre in the blend. Enough to make about 35 cases again.
Our first addition was late last Spring. We had 9 barrels of Chaine d'Or Cabernet Sauvignon, one barrel of Elandrich Cabernet Sauvignon, and 4 barrels of Harvest Moon Cabernet Sauvignon. I knew what I wanted to do was blend the Elandrich and Harvest Moon together for our Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Sauvignon. I also wanted to make sure we'd have enough topping wine to get us through until bottling, and I wanted to increase the percentage of new oak a bit on the Chaine d'Or.
So we pulled samples from all nine barrels of Chaine d'Or. It's not a simple process though of going, "this is best", we're looking for something called 'typicity'. Typicity means the wine taste typical, like it should. So we were looking for two things. First which one barrel tasted most typical of the Santa Cruz Mountains, but did not have distinct Chaine d'Or typicity. Second, what was the best barrel, that had the least typicity of either Chaine d' Or or the Santa Cruz Mountains. It was hard but we identified two barrels.
The first barrel was blended in with the Harvest Moon and Elandrich to become Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet. The other barrel was split. Half went into the Haut Tubee blend, half became topping wine.
Our next blending choice was a few weeks before bottling. We wanted to sample all 9 barrels of Eaglepoint Ranch Syrah we had. Again we were looking for typicity first; what barrels tasted most like Eaglepoint, and very important for us, what tasted like our Eaglepoint, since we think our version of the vineyard is more floral and less brooding that other peoples. It was difficult to do, and we did a lot of blending of samples as well, but we finally picked out a barrel we didn't think was typical.
It turned out the barrel was a special experiment I had done in 2007. It was a new Hermitage barrel, specially designed for Syrah and given extended air aging. The wine was actually spectacular. It had dark fruit with rich mocha and toasted peppery notes. I thought it was very simliar to wines from Betz in Washington or the 'scorched earth' notes of La Mission Haut Brion. A great barrel of Syrah. But, it wasn't typical for us. It did not taste like our Eaglepoint Ranch, and when we blended it in with other samples, it brought a smokiness to the wine that we haven't had in 05 or 06.
So we decided that that barrel would go into the Haut Tubee. The end result was pretty amazing and it gave us much more Haut Tubee than we had in 2006 when we had to limit people to 3 bottles each. We'll release the wine in the Fall this time, not the Spring. With the dose of Chaine d'Or Cabernet it will need some extra time in bottle, and it's a more serious wine than the 06 version. More suited to cold winter nights than hot summer days. Still appropriate for the hot tub though, and it will still be $20.