Second task for today was to test the Chardonnay at Chaine d' Or and see if we are ready to pick on Sunday. Jerry ran down and got about a gallon worth of samples and Stef ran lab tests on the. Brix 25.1, pH 3.4, TA was still a little high at .94, but we think we are good to go and the TA usually tests higher from the field than it turns out in the bin.
The real test though is to go down and taste the grapes. So, as soon as the samples were in the lab I went down the hill to walk rows and taste grapes. First thing to access is the color of the grapes and the stems. They should be golden, not green and the stems should be turning brown.
Then you pick and eat. The first thing to test for is taste. Are they sweet, they should be much, much sweeter than table grapes. You should also be able to taste some of the flavors of the final wine like peach, fig and pear. You want to make sure there is not too much lime taste or unripe Chardonnay will also taste like asparagus.
Next the skins should break up on your back teeth. They should break apart pretty easy. If the skin comes off the pulp in one mass and is hard to chew, the skins are not ripe yet. This picture is a little gross, but it's exactly what you want to see; skins torn apart easily by your teeth.
Final test is the seeds or pips. They should be brown, dark brown, with no or very little green. The pulp should also separate easily from the seed and not cling to it.
The grapes passed all the taste tests today, they are ready. I'll worry about the TA right up until we get the juice in the tank and Stefania runs another lab test, but it looks like we are good to go. Picking will start Sunday morning. We start a little later at Chaine d' Or than other sites. We have to make sure the heavy fog has lifted from the vineyard. We don't want to add the extra moisture to the bins and tank as we pick. We'll be on site about 8 AM and start picking about 8:15.
This is kind of a bonus picture of the vineyard. Up until about 20 years ago vineyards and nurseries were a little haphazard about clones and vines. Old vineyards always have some mystery grapes in them. At Chaine d' Or we have these pink mystery grapes. Our best guess is that it's Pinot Gris. There are about 8 plants total. Anne and Jerry always put it in with the Chardonnay, but we put it into the Haut Tubee.