October 2014 has not been like most Octobers, and that’s not a bad thing! No wringing our hands about potential storms swooping in off the Pacific this year! All of our grapes came in early, with our last load arriving at the cellar door on the 6th. I can’t recall ever ending crush before Columbus Day – in fact, we have many times left the Clone 6 out until mid-November. But this year, our warm, dry Spring re-set the clock, affecting our entire growing season.
So far, the early results are tank juices showing beautifully deep, intense color across all the varietals. The other remarkable attribute all the young wines share is low acid levels. Anthony has been making wine here for 35 years and he’s never seen numbers like these, as much as half of normal levels. So far, there’s no wine community consensus as to WHY the year delivered such odd levels, and fortunately, we can adjust acid throughout the winemaking process.
And who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Anthony has been having some fun in the cellar with some new ways of doing things. We used a super cool optical sorter on our Clone 6 grapes this year and were astonished at the amount of cast off material that didn’t make the grade, stuff that normally would have gone into the tank. We also have several new barrels swaddled in plastic wrap, part of the process of whole-berry fermentation, and he’s been playing with some new items in the modern winemaker’s tool box. Depending on the outcome, you’ll hear more about this as the 2014 vintage evolves during its progress from crush-pad to bottle.
Finally, with Halloween just around the corner, may I remind you that only four short weeks divide Thanksgiving from Christmas? Should your holiday plans include BELLs of the clinking and drinking kind, not just the jingling kind, please visit our store to get your order together and shipped before seasonal mayhem consumes us all!
Happy FALL, from Anthony, Sandra and all of us at Bell Wine Cellars