Yesterday as we worked in the winery we tasted sample of each wine before sulfuring it. After adding sulfur it will take a few weeks for the wines to recover so this was our best chance to try the 2008's for the next few weeks. This was the first time we've tried samples since they came out of the press after harvest.
First up was the Chaine d'Or Chardonnay. This wine was sulfured around Christmas so it was time to check on it. This is by far our highest alcohol wine this year at 15.3%. pH is 3.62 and the wine shows a nice crisp feeling. It's very rich with soft peach and fig notes. This is really unlike anything from the Estate vineyard in the past. Much richer and fuller with more stone fruit notes. Stef and I both really like this wine.
Then on to the reds.
Estate Cabernet Sauvignon; 13.2% alcohol and a record high pH for the estate of 3.80. The wine is dark purple and has huge super ripe tannins. It's not picking up any oak yet, just a black hole of dark fruit. This will be fun to watch in barrel.
Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Sauvignon; 14.1 alcohol and a 3.76 pH. The only 2008 in the cellar over 14% alcohol this year. This is showing lots of ripe fruit and some of the minty spice notes we usually get. Tannins are very ripe on this wine. I'm expecting this to just have tons of fruit as it ages.
Elandrich Merlot (65%) / Cabernet Sauvignon (35%); 12.5% alcohol, yes, really 12.5% and a 3.64 pH. Ripe cherry notes right away from this wine. It's starting to show some oak notes also. Very fruity. The tannins here are not as big as on the Cabernets. We always keep this vineyard separate for at least a few months before blending. This will likely go 50% in to the Haut Tubee and 50% into the Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Sauvignon. If we do that it will lower the alcohol in that blend to about 13.8%.
Pinot Noir; 13.7% alcohol and 3.59 pH. Darker than the 07 at this stage. Shows the effort we made in the vineyard to increase concentration. Fruit is just starting to come out with lots of red fruit under the ripe tannins. I expect this wine will get darker and really explosive in the coming months.
Haut Tubee ; 13.8% alcohol and a 3.72 pH. Wow. Wow. Super ripe fruit is showing already. Plush in the mouth with perfect tannins. Right now this wine is the sexiest red in the cellar. Stef says: "you need to charge $75 for this, not $20." We did just a little blending trial with the Elandrich and the combo was excellent. This will be another popular Haut Tubee.
The Crimson Clover Cabernet Sauvignon and Eaglepoint Ranch Syrah are at Big Basin, so no notes on those.
2008 looks like it will be good. The wines seem to have the ripe fruit of the 2007's with the colors of the 2006's. The low alcohols are cool. We had a little rain about three weeks before harvest and that seems to have kept the sugars lower and refreshed the vines. These wines might end up being the longest lived we've made so far.