Roussanne Opulence in 2014

R E D  R E C A P
No doubt the 2014 red vintage will go down as a supple, voluptuous one. Sashi and the team started picking Syrah early to retain acid and ensure alcohols didn’t get out of control. By the time we finished Syrah, the fruit tasted very ripe, and the cuvees now finished with primary fermentation smack of rich fruit.

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Cuadrilla focused on Syrah, picking as much as the winery could handle every night until all 92 acres were finished. Then we turned our attention briefly to Sangiovese, where ripe tannins will allow earlier drinking than most vintages. Because one, we fell in love with Carbonic Sangiovese, and two, Ruben predicted we would have a mountain of fruit ripe at the same time, we picked more Sangiovese for carbonic fermentation this year, getting those harvest nights over prior to Syrah.
Estate Sangiovese picks lasted barely two nights, and then we pivoted to Grenache. It was still September, but the long Grenache clusters hung ripe, grapes skins soft and dimpled. A total departure from the fresh, vibrant red 2012 style, the 2014 will be dark and hedonistically mouth-filling. Rather than fight the warm, dry vintage to attempt another light-on-its-feet Grenache, we let the vintage roll, and ended up picking even riper than normal. For fans of the frost-concentrated 2008 Grenache, watch out, the 2014 Grenache (pictured happily fermenting below) will be deep and juicy!

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R O U S S A N N E
Perhaps Roussanne (pictured above) excelled further than any other varietal in the 2014 growing conditions. Yes, the lazy vines still trailed behind the rest of the vineyard through bud-break, bloom, and set; but even the Roussanne, usually ambivalent to seasonal conditions, reacted to the even heat of September.
When the grapes turned the signature Rousse rust color, while the sugars were still well under 20 brix, we knew we had a great vintage.
On a typical year we feel the need to baby the clusters to ripeness, gently hand-rotating them around to expose the shaded grapes to the sun for an even tan. After pulling leaves away from the fruit in the beginning of September, the intense sun penetrated through the bare shoots and turned the green grapes brown.

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L ’ A V I O N
Per usual, we started with the perfectly Rousse bunches, la Cuadrilla carefully selecting which grapes to snip and which to leave hanging. Most of these cherry-picked grapes will make the cut for L’Avion. The sugar level of the pressed juice turned out to be a couple brix higher than our field samples, so we returned the very next morning to pick some unevenly colored clusters. Sashi plans to employ a small percentage of these slightly less ripe second-pass clusters (pictured below) to bring down L’Avion’s alcohol level a couple notches. The combination will yield perhaps the richest L’Avion in the wine’s 13 year history. Thanks to the quick adaptation in accelerating the second pass, the wine should still show its trademark restraint and balance.

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E S T A T E   R O U S S A N N E
We finished the last Roussanne harvest the morning of Wednesday October 15th, three weeks earlier than average. We will boost the vibrancy of the last picks with either a touch of early picked Chardonnay, as we did in 2012, or early picked Viognier; whichever the Roussanne Magician Sashi Moorman prefers at blending trials fifteen months from now.

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