Thursday, August 31, 2017

Ah So!

Happy International Cabernet Sauvignon Day (ICSD).  I think.  It's hard to tell if all these so-called 'Wine Days' are international, or just national. With respect to ICSD, I just read that this specific varietal-feast day is supposed to be observed on the last Thursday before Labor Day. That's great, but it's not international, is it? Why?  Because Labor Day is only celebrated in the US of A.  Ah, so, in truth, probably none of these this, that, or the other days are officially recognised.  But that's alright with me, I'm more than happy to jump on the celebratory, ICSD Cab-wagon.
And speaking of Cabernet sauvignon (CS), I have been fortunate enough, of late, to have tried quite a few old bottles of CS: two were from 1988. Thankfully, I didn't have to pull the corks on any of the older bottles.
Old corks can be a pain in the bottom to get out of a bottle.  I've been told on many occasions that the two-pronged Ah So cork puller is the only thing to use to extract a vintage cork, specifically any wine that is 10 years old, or more.  I would generally agree, except that sometimes, when a cork is particularly compressed, the prongs of the Ah So will push the entire cork into the bottle.  In my humble experience, every older bottle of wine is different because the condition of the cork can vary dramatically.
On attempting to open a bottle of Altvs, 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley AVA), I could immediately tell that the cork was not going to cooperate.  I was right.  At only 10 years old, the cork was past its best and I had to use an Ah So to coax it out of the bottle.  The cork broke into three pieces.  Fortunately, the wine had not been compromised.  The two bottles of CS from 1988? They were opened with a traditional corkscrew.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Lolling about.

The Syrah vines are now fully through veraison and, yes, the grapes seem to be lolling about just waiting for harvest 2017 to begin.  This particular cluster, being rather on the large side, has decided to take the weight off its feet, or should I say peduncle, and is chilling out on an end post.
It looks like harvest is not too far away, despite the fact that August has been a rather cool month and has slowed things down a little.  I haven't started testing sugars yet, perhaps next weekend, but I wouldn't be surprised if the °Brix are a little more advanced than my tasting of the grapes would indicate.  We shall see.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Main Street Reunion 2017.

A pleasant afternoon was spent at one of my very favourite annual events, the Main Street Reunion car show (MSR).  I just love it.
This year, at the behest of the new, but not yet open, hoity-toity Archer Hotel the MSR event was moved to Third and Main Streets in downtown Napa.  The Archer did not want the temporary closure of First Street to impact their guests (again, the hotel is not yet open and won't be until November).  The event did not seem quite as intimate as those of years past.  Third Street is rather wide, so the crowd seemed more dispersed and, in some way, less festive.  No matter, it is the pageantry of classic American automotive history that I wanted to see, not the crowd. Of course, I always bump into someone I know.  There were some beautiful cars and trucks being exhibited and I would have happily driven away in any of about a dozen of them.
And today was my and Vinomaker's anniversary to boot (or should I say, to trunk?), so I was determined that I was going to have a good time on whichever pinhead-designated street.
Vroom, vroom!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Up a creek.

I don't normally purchase wine that I have read about in a review, but never say never.  Catching up with some wine industry reading at breakfast this morning, I came across an article on Sauvignon blanc (SB), and its many styles, by wine columnist Dan Berger.
I have rarely met a SB that I didn't like, so I was intrigued by Mr. Berger's description of the "herbal charms" of SB grown in cooler climes. The problem was that Mr. B was reviewing the 2016 Dry Creek Fumé blanc and I could only find the 2015 vintage when I went out wine-shopping.  Buying wine at a retail location can be frustrating when that retailer doesn't sell enough of a particular vintage, or producer, to facilitate cycling into the next vintage in a timely manner.
It's all good, I was having salmon for dinner and it actually did pair with the fish quite nicely. Yes, it was a little vegetal and it could have done with a tad more acid, but my only quibble is that I can purchase TWWIAGE's SB for quite a bit less than the $17.99 I paid for the Dry Creek.  And, quite frankly, the TWWIAGE SB is a more pleasing tipple. Sometimes it is alright to stick with the tried-and-true.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Water, water, everywhere...

...Nor any drop to drink.  Purple water, that is.
Yup, the maturing Cabernet sauvignon and Syrah vines aren't the only purple things in Vinoland of late.  There are pipes, tape, markers, valve boxes and signs and, yes, all of them are purple.  And not a very attractive shade of purple at that.
Due to the fact that there is not a lot of water in Coombsville, Vinomaker opted, a few years back, to receive recycled water from the Napa Sanitation District.  So, some two plus years on; after permit approval, the signing of a water-use agreement (the Recycled Water Users' Guide is 40+ pages of the usual governmental-twaddle), the handing over of a not inconsiderable amount of dough, having the physical connection to the main pipe installed and dealing with a mucky little dog who is inexplicably drawn to mounds of dirt (though it is possible that V2 thinks we have giant gophers), we are almost to the point where the recycled water can be connected to Vinoland's irrigation system.  But, hang on, it's not that straight forward. Regulated by Napa Sanitation District, the San Francisco Regional Water Quality Control Board and the California Department of Health Services the entire process has to be inspected and reinspected numerous times to make absolutely sure that not one drop of recycled water comes into contact with potable water: hose bibs are not to be installed on any part of the recycled water system. Really? Can't wait to hear what some pinhead bureaucrat thinks of me filling my water bottle up under an irrigation emitter.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

A trio of chicks.

Just wanted to report that Vinoland's California towhee chicks are doing really well.  All three eggs hatched, the chicks are feathering up nicely and I'm sure that they will fledge this week.  I took this photograph with a long lens, atop a very rickety old chair, whilst mama and papa towhee protested, one Syrah row over, perched beside each other on an irrigation line.  Not wanting to agitate the parent birds too much, I decided that any photo I had already managed to snap of the chicks would have to suffice.  I would feel horrible if the nest was abandoned because I was too nosy.  I carefully climbed down, very carefully, and went about my business in the Pinot grigio vines.  I hope to see these little chaps, or chapesses, eating seed on my deck rail very soon.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Net worth.

It may be my least favourite vineyard operation, but putting on the bird netting is worth the effort if I want any grapes to harvest at the end of the growing season.  I must say, the Pinot grigio crop looks beautiful; all that rain I suffered through last winter has, admittedly, had a beneficial effect on the grapevines.
Harvest 2017 has already begun.  Mumm Napa picked their first Pinot noir grapes, from Green Island Vineyards in the Carneros AVA, on Monday the 7th of August.  The Napa Valley sparkling wine producer is expecting a slightly larger than average crop.  I'm not surprised, the crop looks bountiful in Vinoland also.  I'm just hoping that Mother Nature behaves herself between now and harvest.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Toe of frog.

The American Bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) is an invasive species in California.  Native to the southern and eastern United States, Mr. B. Frog, although he may not belong here, appears to be quite happy in his adopted irrigation-runoff-drainage-pipe habitat.  In fact, he seems to have quite a secure foothold in his aqueous abode which overlooks the Far Niente Chardonnay vineyard.  My BF has been in residence since the winter and shows no intention of moving on to greener pastures: they'd be far too dry.  Perhaps someone should tell him that he is persona non grata in The Golden State.  Not me, I quite enjoy his presence.  I just hope my neighbour's irrigation system keeps this little guy in the liquid-lifestyle he has grown accustomed to.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Bringing up the rear.

I was kept busy all day today pulling leaves in the Pinot grigio vines in preparation for the installation of bird-netting.  About mid-afternoon, feeling a bit peckish, I took a break and wandered over to the bramble patch to have a quick snack of sun-warmed blackberries.  Lo and behold, I discovered that the Cabernet Sauvignon vines had started to go through veraison.  In fact, some of the clusters are far more purple and advanced than the one I photographed.  Go grapies!
And please ignore the cleistothecia in the photo, I am.  (Until next spring, that is.)

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Syrah show-off.

Seven days on, the Syrah grapes are progressing through veraison quite nicely.  A bit more advanced than the rest of the Syrah, this specific vine has always been a bit of an overachiever.
One of the original vines planted in Vinoland (circa 2000), the scion (Durell clone) was grafted onto 110 Richter (berlandieri x rupestris) rootstock.  Arguably the worst rootstock for the soil type in Vinoland, tuff and clay, the 110R-grafted vines eventually failed and the Syrah block had to be replanted.  The replant, though, was to 101-14 Millardet et de Grasset (riparia x rupestris), a much more suitable rootstock. There are approximately eight vines surviving from the first planting, my little poser vine being located in a particularly poor area of soil, I mean shockingly bad. Regardless, the vine seems to have tapped into something it likes below ground and it continues to thrive.  Crazy teenager.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

International Albariño Day, 2017.

Happy International Albariño Day.  I'm sitting here, with a cup of tea, amusing myself with the thought of  the many Albariños that are, perhaps, being quaffed at this very moment in the different time zones across the globe.
The Albariño that I picked to drink with dinner tonight is already chilling in the fridge.  I have shared a glass, or two, of this particular Albariño, on a few occasions, with a neighbour who claims that the La Caña Albariño is his favourite all time Spanish Albariño.  And he was born in Spain, so who am I to argue with him.
The 2015 La Caña (Rías Baixas, Galicia DO) is a beautifully crisp, white peachy rendition of the Albariño grape, a grape thought to have been brought to the Iberian Peninsula by Cluny monks in the 1300s.  Hmm, monks.  I'm planning on being decidedly un-monkish tonight by not denying myself a glass, or two, of La Caña.