28 April 2010

Spring Fever?

I think I have a case of spring fever.  I have not been at all motivated to sit in front of my computer and type or for that matter even read.  I am behind in all my blogs that I like to follow.  Though checking today I think there is a general dearth of entries so I may not be the only one with spring fever.

The weather has been typical spring, gloriously sunny and then bone chillingly cold.  Saturday Mary spent the night getting up every hour to check the temperature and finally around 3 am went out into the vineyard and fired up the fans and lit the burn piles to save the little vines from freezing.  The joys of being a farmer.  Then Sunday it was short weather and finally Monday night it rained so hard I couldn't sleep!  We got about 1.25 inches in the course of a few hours.  Guess watering is taken care of for a little while longer.  The vines are starting to show their leaves so it was particularly important that they didn't get frost damage.

Last week I did something interesting.  There was a tasting sponsored by a barrel manufacturer where about 40 winemakers had the opportunity to taste the same wine aged in different toast barrels so that we could start to get a feel for what toast we might like.  It was interesting to see the divided opinions on who liked which wines as well as to hear what different people tasted in the wines.  I think depending on the sensitivities of your palate the barrel helped or hindered various components in the wine.  There was a chardonnay and two pinot noirs, one from France and one from Oregon.  The Oregon wine showed the differences better though so of that might be attributed to the fact that is did not need to get shipped part way around the world.

Last week was also the annual LIVE meeting.  LIVE stands for Low Input Viticulture and Enology and started out as a group of like minded individuals who were interested in trying to create a sustainable way of maintaining a vineyard.  The program is now about 15 years old and has grown to include over 200 vineyards as well as certifying 24 wineries and the wines that they produce.  If you are interested in more information here is the link to LIVE.

Finally, yesterday Mary, Barry and I sat down and tasted 8 Pinot gris wines blind.  This means I put them all in bags, taped the neck, pulled the cork and then Mary and Barry poured them so no one had an idea of which wine was where.  It is a good way to evaluate wines without being biased by price or producer and is another way of looking at our own wines without having preconceptions.  Well that wouldn't be quite honest but hopefully I don't know which preconception to link with which wine.  I have to admit that I wasn't sure which two wines were mine but on a positive note I liked both of them even if they both weren't my stand out choices.  As I said, always educational.  One of the things I got from the tasting is that there are two winemakers I will be calling to talk to them about their pinot gris style and how they make it.  While I may not change what I am doing if I can learn a better way I might adopt a new practice.   Interestingly as a group we were pretty much in agreement on what we liked and why which doesn't normally happen with us.  The surprise wine of the tasting was the 2008 Eola Hills.  The wine had a more distinctive fruit driven nose than the other which led me to believe it might be sweet but rather it was crisp and dry with nice complexity of flavors and good fruit core.  I'll be calling Steve to ask him which yeast he is using and maybe I'll run an experiment next year to see if I like the yeast, provided that is the distinguishing factor, and to see how it works with our fruit.

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