Tuesday, September 27, 2016

BRAMBLES: September Harvests

Industrial harvesting the norm in New Zealand

An historically early start to the 2016 premium wine grape harvest of the North Coast continues as we move into the shorter days of autumn.  Seasonally, our local bounty presents itself at local farmers markets and displays colorfully across the produce departments of our favorite markets.  Harvest annually gives each of us an attachment to our local landscape, to its rich, nurturing environment and the sustainable talents of its many dedicated local farmers. Here in Sonoma county, recent Harvest Fair Awards annually offer a marketing boost to many a small to medium sized winery; often presenting an all too brief, fleeting opportunity that can reward the tireless production efforts, the demanding work that occurred long ago in their respective local vineyards and cellars.

Effects from sustained drought and recent years of above average winegrape yields combine with ever increasing costs of farming to consistently challenge these local grape growers. Not only a surplus suppression of the spot market grape pricing, but also the vanguard of vineyard pests such as the european grapevine moth and the glassy-winged sharpshooter continue to keep growers ever vigilant, even as combative efforts continue in many research labs such as those of UC Davis & Fresno State.  Current mergers and real estate acquisitions now trend across much of the premium wine sector, spurred on by the rise of premium retail wine sales, allowing bigger wine companies to strengthen their positions as consumers 'trade-up'. Even as growers here increasingly move towards ecological vineyard sustainability under the sun of this unprecedented environment, our local grape farmers still continue produce some of the finest winegrapes in the world.  It is their collective efforts, this rich annual bounty that we celebrate!
Cap of red grape skins from CO2 production

With this year's early fruit set due to fair spring conditions, generally cooler nights across most regions, and a longer than average vineyard hang-time that allows the phenol and flavor developments that characterize a higher quality vintage, most growers will currently be satisfied with their results. "While crop loads are down, the vines are very focused on the remaining fruit. It should be another high quality year", according to Santa Lucia Highlands grower, Steve McIntyre.  "It's been a nice, relatively even season without extremes", noted Russian River Valley winemaker, David Ramey.
A new grape pomace hill in Carneros, Napa
As wine lovin' consumers we often pull a bottle to share, to enhance a meal or to celebrate an event.  That wine can fulfill or exceed thirst-driven expectations, it can impress our fellow tasters with its prominence or its rich complexity or its terrific value.  While it has long been simply said that great wine is made in the vineyard, in most of those bottles it is simply the rewarded efforts of September harvests.  Thank you California premium grape farmers!

Cheers & Prost!

Tasting Values:
Sherwood Estate; Sauvignon Blanc; Marlborough 2014 - a green straw hue introduces generous  aromas of green wet mop with jalapeno, then presents searing acid and lime pith extending to a long finish.

Ribeauville; Riesling Vendanges Manuelles Alsace 2015 - light golden tone offers confined aromas of under-ripe stone fruits, and then wham!; glorious body of focused acid carries stone fruits, citrus and mineral across a viscous body to a finish that I am still tasting.

No comments:

Post a Comment