Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Haut Tubee Finds a Home (Part 2)

Just two months after throwing out the 2005 Haut Tubee (It still didn't have a name, that came later) I spent a long day working the Chardonnay harvest at Chaine d'Or. At the end of the day I sat with Jerry Anderson on the stone wall at Chaine d'Or and chatted about our 2006 winemaking plans.

We had moved out of the facility we used in 2005 and were on to a new place in 2006. It was closer for us and we'd be one of only four wineries using the equipment. Jerry knew the winemaker and operation there and offered some advice on how to deal with the quirks we'd find over time. I told him we were excited though and planned on making three wines and crushing about six tons total.

I told him our only disappointment was that this place also had a one ton minimum and we would not be able to process the grapes from our small vineyards. He asked about the small vineyards, and how much wine it was. I told him we were expecting to make a single barrel, maybe up to a barrel and a half.

He said; "Why don't you make it here. I have an old half barrel you can try to bring back to life and there's some space in the corner."

We'd found a home for the Haut Tubee! The 1/2 barrel was old, it had 1992 written on the bands. With lots of hot water though it swelled back up and was sound enough to work. We had another old barrel we'd lined up and looked ready to go. We processed all the grapes as we had done the year before. Each lot was fermented on its own and pressed with the little wooden basket press. Then the juice was blended together with the other lots in the stainless steel tanks.

We had an extra addition in 2006. We pulled aside about 300 pounds of Cabernet Sauvignon from the Uvas Creek Vineyard for our annual grape stomp and harvest party. On a cool Saturday night our friends stomped the grapes into must. The next Sunday morning a few friends came over and we picked out all the stems, then ran a bucket brigade from the bin we had used for the stomp into a fermentation bin. The 'Stomp Wine' would be added to the final blend.

In what would become the standard for the Haut Tubee, as soon as the stainless steel tank reached capacity, we transferred the wine to barrel. In the end we had one full barrel and one half barrel of wine. We tucked it into a little corner in the cellar at Chaine d' Or and learned to use the equipment there for racking and sulfuring the wine. There it would stay cool through the summer of 2007.

In August of 2007 we would take over operations at Chaine d'Or and move the other 14 barrels we had made in 2006 from the facility we were in to the cellar at Chaine d'Or. We now had all our wine together. We kept tasting the Haut Tubee, and we didn't know what to think. Our expectation were pretty low but the wine tasted really good. I think we kept waiting for it to suck, but month after month it held its own against the other wines we had in barrel.

Through the busy harvest of 2007 we didn't give those two barrels much thought. We kept them topped up and safe and worried about all the other things we had to get done. It wouldn't be until the Spring of 2008 that we'd start thinking about those barrels again.

Early Haut Tubee experiments in our home kitchen:

-Next up , Part 3, "Is This Crap any Good?"

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