Thursday, July 31, 2014

BRAMBLES: Summers Zenith, Again

Zinfandel Veraison in July

It is just lazy. They are called 'dog days'. Orchard and vine fruits are growing slowly, a fine dust in the air. It is a warm, dry vapor that lifts our passive spirits as we play & work outside, measured by the dramatic change of fruit on our maturing vines. Veraison, the ripening physical change of the grape berries structure from acid producer to sugar producer has started early and with a flourish on our local vines. Each sunny late-July day away from the summers zenith we grow a little closer to the fruition that is our richly anticipated grape harvest.

As vegetative growth in the vine naturally slows, the grapevine puts more of its sun nourished resources into ripening fruit by producing sugars. White grape varieties change from tart green to more of a golden-lime, and red varieties go from an opaque green to softer garnet and violet. Soon their sugar levels will evolve high enough to balance their piquant acids for the regions many sparkling wine producers, and harvest begins.  For grape growers this is the short lazy just prior to the frantic annual culmination of their seasonal cycle.

Each year it is this weather that draws us outside, as we continue to explore venues and recipes for outdoor dining(alfresco).  Our wines typically are drawn from a chilled cooler or the refrigerator, some even get insulated to travel to remote locations offering pristine landscapes. It is the time to enjoy refreshing Albarino's from Spain or juicy-tart Sauvignon Blanc's from New Zealand or ever-popular dry Rose's from almost any warm growing wine region.  Additionally, a consistently good quality/value and wonderful food pairing wine is the Chenin Blanc-Viognier blend from Napa Valley's Pine Ridge Vineyards, with its ripe stone fruit and bright citrus notes.  There may not be a more uniform domestic wine value.
Galician vineyards of northwestern Spain

Colorful picnic items in all sorts of containers were pulled from the woven basket as we sat admiring the distant view.  Cheeses were sliced and bread was broken, yet that 'ahh' moment when came when the plastic glass of rich Chenin Blanc graced our lips. On another lazy occasion, we scattered around the ball court, purposely standing in the shade of the tall trees nearby.  Smoke from the nearby grill told us that roasted mixed vegetables and slow-roasted pork were close at hand. A glistening bottle of Senorio de Valei Rias Baixas Albarino from northern Spain was rescued from the cooler and offered refreshing lime and green apple liquid flavors across our thirsty palates.  We were outside, together, and celebrating being lazy in the sun.
Bordeaux ripens in September

Every spring optimism renews in the vineyard, and at the end of the summer zenith we hope to be rewarded, yet once again. Lucky dog!


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