Once our Syrah, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, or whatever wine reach the aging cellar, our hope is to do nothing to them except employ patience and blending. At times however, a good racking is in order if only to Marry various components together sooner rather than later. Racking is a process of removing wine from barrel (off any settled protienaceous material that has settled) into a tank, rinsing the barrels, then returning the wine to barrel.
Obsidian Vineyard Syrah is a very unique Syrah. Nestled in Knight’s Valley and growing in rocks, the vines produce wine of rustic – and classic – Syrah character. Rarely does one find Syrah vines planted on such rocky perches that dot Sonoma County (watch video describing vineyard). Recently we racked the 2011 Obsidian to make the final blend destined to be bottled in Fall of 2013. Before doing so we always taste every barrel just to double check.
Wow, this wine is incredible! Savory Syrah if there ever was one. Loaded with cherry tobacco, earth, and a certain something-something that is at once compelling and comforting. The palate is fresh but austere too, creating a bigness that doesn’t exhaust the palate. Still in need of much time, we just had to share this update of one of our more iconic – if not California’s more iconic – Syrah wines. It is fantastic as usual.
One increasingly common practice at harvest is the night pick. Night harvest are really a win win for vineyard and winery. That is of course if you exlude the fact that all parties involved lose sleep, but we lose so much sleep anyway during harvest than another few hours doesn’t seem to matter.
I think vineyard workers enjoy night harvest because they can pick more in a day and harvest at cooler temperatures. Vineyard managers enjoy this as well because cooler weather improves labor effeciency, but over and above that their clients are generally happier with night harvests. Why might that be?
We enjoy night harvest because the fruit arrives cold and early. Cold is important because controlling and predicting fermentation temperature is very important for native ferments, and extraction of all those components that lead to the wonder texture of Donelan Wines. Additionally, cold fruit doesn’t ferment readily decreasing the risk of volatile acidity development in juicy grapes. When the fruit is early it sets up our day much better and we are able to accomplish much more in a day with the chance, the chance, of seeing our families at night!
The 2012 Obsidian Vineyard Syrah harvest is here! As we recently articulated would you believe tasting verticals, the same wine over several vintages, helps you make better wine? At Donelan we believe the best wines are not made but discovered. We work with 14 different vineyards, make 4 single vineyard Syrahs (and maybe a Pinot soon!), and it is imperative to understand those vineyards.
So how do we do this? Many ways, but one is to occasionally revisit the wine’s history. Tasting verticals help a winemaker think about the “big picture” prior to harvest which can be applied to the vintage standing on our doorstep: 2012.
Below are notes for the Obsidian Vineyard Syrah, 2006 through 2010. Obsidian is a warm, rocky vineyard located in Knight’s Valley of Sonoma County. Read more here.
2006: A wine loaded with dark fruit character initially masked with notes of roast game and Continue reading
We enjoy the refined and elegant appearance of our wax-topped Donelan Syrah, Pinot Noir, or Grenache, but we don’t want you to be intimidated to open them. Wine Director Gianpaolo Paterlini of Acquerello Restaurant in SF makes a guest appearance to show how easy it is!
Obsidian Vineyard Syrah wine is produced from one of the most unique terroirs we cultivate. Learn a little more about the vineyard and the wine with this description from winemaker Tyler Thomas. Obsidian sells through fast so be sure to join our community to find out more.
We have noted previously how we identify great sites for making terrific wine. One important element in this land of sunshine and dry weather? Wind. For many decades it was difficult for vine researchers to distinguish the impact of sun vs. heat. You see, a dark grape receiving direct sunlight in the middle of the day can be as much as 30 degrees warmer than ambient air temperatures. So was it more sunlight, or warmer berries that increased your color?
Then in 2000 a study was published that used heated and cooled air flow to alter the temperature of grape berries without altering their sun exposure. The air passing over the grapes dampened high temperatures. Now, imagine yourself sleeveless on a sunny summer day, perhaps some perspiration on your arms but sipping some wonderful Syrah. Will you be cooler with a breeze, or without? It is breezes like in the video below occurring nearly every afternoon at Obsidian Vineyard that we believe allow us to make a floral, savory, cherry laden Syrah that tastes of something from a cooler climate than one would otherwise suspect from this vineyard. Obsidian is consistently one of our top rated Syrah; it is an old vine vineyard, rocky, burly, extremely low yielding, and breezy. And we know those breezes, even with full sun, will decrease the temperature experienced by those grapes – altering their physiology. It is another cog in the mystery of terroir. Join Donelan if you’d like to try some of the inimitable Obsidian Syrah.
How is it that we know that a vineyard will produce exceptional grapes and terrific wine? Our winemaker Tyler Thomas provides some principles that we utilize when scouring Sonoma County for the best new terroirs.
Here is a quick instruction from Donelan Winemaker Tyler Thomas on how we prune grapevines. Notice how beautiful the weather is! What a winter we have been having here in northern California! Learn more about Donelan Wines by joining our community