If you read a lot of barrel reviews like I like to do, you hear the term 'hard to taste' often. Steve Tanzer in particular uses this phrase when talking about Burgundy.
Yesterday was a perfect example of 'hard to taste'. I was in the winery all afternoon. The wines needed topping off, the Chardonnay needed to be stirred and I had to take final sample to send to the lab of our last 07's still in barrel.
I wanted to taste all the barrels of 07's left. 13 barrels of Cabernet Sauvignon in all. I also wanted to check on select 2008's. Yesterday was a hard day to taste wine. It was cold in the cellar. The tanks read 48 degrees, which meant the wine in barrel was probably just a bit cooler. At that temperature the tannins will really stand out in a red wine and the nose will be muted and dominated by less volatile smells. Less volatile means less fruity in general.
It was hard slugging getting through the samples and getting through the cold induced limitations. I was happy with the 2007's. The 2007 Chaine d'Or vineyard has a good classic Cab nose, with black fruit and tobacco notes, with a peppery finish. The tannins are big, but round and the wine is very dark. Removing the press wine seems to really have helped tame the tannins in this wine. It will still be very long lasting, but this may be the most approachable young CdO I've had.
The 2007 Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Sauvignon is not as dark, but still full of color. There are deep cherry notes and notes of dusty plumb, mint and tobacco box. It's very fruity and the tannins coat the palate. This will be a good follow up to the 2006, with less of the minty notes on the nose.
I also sampled our 2008 Chardonnay and 2008 Pinot Noir. The Chardonnay is pretty amazing. It's sitting in 70@ new wood right now, but it's hardly showing any wood notes at all. There is deep ripe peach, figs and apple pie flavors. It's very full bodied and extremely rich.
The Pinot Noir is going through it's 'light' stage right now. The color is light, but I know it will darken some in barrel. The nose is all cream and strawberry right now. The wine really seems like it will have loads of fruit as it ages and this wine is showing a firmer structure than the 2006 at this point. It could be a Pinot Noir to hold for a few years, but we'll see how it develops. I think at this stage it's much better than the 2006 was at the same stage.
I headed home about 6PM, and never did get warm. It was one of those chilled to the bone days and nights. I'm glad to have the work done though as we're heading out on the road the next few weekends.