"The joys of farming," my father said at dinner the other night, "are many". He continued, over the meatloaf: "However, some are less joyful than others." We have recently ripped out the block of Cabernet Sauvignon below the house and winery due to diseases like oak root fungus and eutypa, as well as to the variable drainage in that section. We designate this area the "Home Vineyard." These vines were planted in 1967 and now stand in a huge bulldozed stack in an otherwise open field. Yields in that block had dwindled in recent years in to almost nothing. Next year, a subterranean drainage system will be put in place; re-planting then will commence. Until that time, the view is a bit different. But even with the temporary loss, things will be fine: production will not drop off much, since the Home Vineyard didn't represent a large percentage of the total blend of the Cabernet Sauvignon.
We're now announcing our spring release. Which evokes for us among the more joyful of joys, because these wines are, in our opinion, excellent.
Indeed, our 2001 Chardonnay, now for sale, promises, we think, to be one of our best ever. Mineral, lemon, banana traces and wet stones in the nose; the intense fruit flavors on the palate are markedly citric, lemon and lime. There is precious little oak in evidence. The structure is taut and fresh with firm acidity, as the wine did not undergo malolactic fermentation, and it has excellent aging potential.
We are also re-releasing our 1998 Chardonnay from the library. It has developed an extremely pleasant and mature bouquet of honey, lemon, and caramel. On the palate, honeydew melon and cantaloupe flavors fulfill the promise of the nose, with plenty of acid leaving it well-balanced. This wine has fleshed out fully, and now is in its prime drinking years.
Our 2002 Sauvignon Blanc is, as always, made without recourse either to oak or to malolactic fermentation, leaving it with a completely fruit-driven nose of limes and apples with significant floral notes of apple blossoms. In the mouth fresh pear and lime flavors predominate.
The spring release brings out one red wine: the 1999 Merlot. This is a rich, deep, mountain Merlot, with a bouquet of raspberry, blackberry, smoke, and roses, with some Mayacamas dust in the background. In the mouth it develops deep, earthy blackberry and black cherry flavors; decanting is highly recommended to bring out its full richness.
And, with recanting and retelling and the air that comes with it, the full richness of Dad's stories are also known to improve and develop, and this is also recommended. The other night at dinner, as Dad was ruminating about the Home Vineyard and the many joys of farming, he mentioned a ski run he'd made at Mayacamas, which remains the only such attempt on record. One February, after a heavy blizzard (the likes of which are rare here) when both the Home Vineyard and I were only a few years old, he'd dug out the skis, and trudged out to the top of the descending rows of vines for a try at a slalom course. It was tough going, he said. The powder had been soft, and by the time he'd reached the bottom of the slope, he'd knocked three or four vine stakes awry. I don't have even the vaguest of memories of this, but Mom also swears it is true. I'm pretty sure Dad still has those old skis. It will be interesting to see, now that we have a clear field, what will happen next winter, if heavy snows come again.