And I'd like to say that I used this time to reflect on the wines I was about to bottle as I drove. But that wouldn't be true. The truth would be that I blasted Silversun Pickups and heavily caffeinated and zoned out on cruise control the whole 75 minute trip. So the time for reflection, if any, would have to be now.
The 2009 Dark Garden, as you might have read below, is a big, robust and full Cabernet with 6% petit verdot for balance. Its eighteen months in 81% new oak (seven out of nine barrels) is apparent from the first sniff of fresh jam, cassis and vanilla. It is almost everything I wanted from it: concentrated and forward with lingering sweet fine tannin. Bottled unfined and unfiltered it retains an earthy complexity that would have otherwise been lost. If I could have brought this wine in at slightly lower alcohol I would have, but one must play the hand one is dealt, so rather than risk losing some complexity or terroir by filtering out the alcohol I let the wine age unadulterated. Now, I am looking forward to seeing it finally labelled, as we are still waiting for TTB approval of the labels at this point.
The 2010 Serotonin... well there is so much to say about the Serotonin that I don't know where to begin. This wine, from Wilson Ranch north of St Helena on the valley floor, was harvested technically perfect. By perfect I guess I mean that I got exactly what I wanted: 22.8 brix, 8 g/L TA, 3.2 pH. The wine fermented cleanly on it's lees in 8 three year old barrels and 2 new Dargaux and Jaegle. We let the wine reduce a little before we started stirring. Malolactic fermentation was halted early and we maintained fresh malic notes in the wines. Over concerns about sulfides we performed tests to detect the presence of flaws.
We found none. And so the wine remained in barrel on it's lees with occasional stirring, topping and sulfuring for a full eight months, slightly longer than usual. The new barrels were tasted regularly alone, and compared to the full lot, to determine whether we could make a better wine by reducing or increasing the percentage of new oak in the final wine.
At no point did the new barrels stand out as overly oaky, we could have bottled them separately, but we enjoyed the 20% new oak blend best. The final wine came in at 13.2% alcohol, quite low by Napa standards, with tart citrus, mellow mellon and noticeable vanilla. We then sterile filtered the wine after a cold and heat stabilization in tank prior to bottling.
It is, all bullshit aside, tasting pretty awesome right now. And pretty much I feel like doing cartwheels when I drink it. It truly is my little darling wine and I just cant wait to share it with everyone.
Bottling day, despite being 14 hours long, went smoothly and successfully, and I'd like to take this chance to thank everyone who made it possible - if you're reading this, you know who you are.