Fire and Wine Part 3

From John, January 25th, 2021

At our last posting regarding the post-traumatic events of September fires in the Willamette Valley, it appeared that we were somehow spared from incendiary aromas that some other wineries have been experiencing.  At this point in late January 2021, we are thrilled to  report that not a single lot of wine, either red or white, has been affected with smoke taint.

The most interesting effect of the smoke and fires seems to be related to the fact that our vines completely shut down their metabolism for approximately 2 weeks during that smoky period. We know this because we had measured both Brix (sugar levels) and pH (acidity) in some of our fruit just prior to the fires. After the first rain rolled through and cleared the air and put out the fires, we ran some new measurements and Brix and pH were identical to those of 2 weeks prior!  Since we hold the Burgundian formula of 100 days from bloom as sacred for determining when the Pinot noir is likely to be ready to pick, we decided to tack on another 14 days and picked at 114 days.

Another side effect of the metabolic shutdown seems to be that less sugar moved through the vine after their apparent hibernation. The grapes, when we finally decided to harvest, had lower Brix’s than we have seen in many years in ripe fruit (as measured by acidity, flavors and color). Even fruit that we allowed to hang for what seemed like an excessive period of time, came in at lower than expected Brix.

The Pinot blanc (which makes up the majority of our Giovanni blend) is a case in point, as are the various Italian white varieties that make up the Giuliano. As we prepare to bottle both of those wines, we see alcohol levels at 12.8% and 12.4%, respectively.

The 2020 Pinot noirs, which will continue to sit in barrel for over a year from now, are similarly all under 13% alcohol. And as predicted in our last missive, the intensity of fruit esters seem to be quite high due to the smallness of the clusters that we processed.

So all in all, we are looking at some decent wines coming out of the 2020 vintage though in smaller quantities than is typical.

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