Throughout California, low yields defined the 2015 vintage. Vines concentrated ripening energy on a few small clusters each. Intense wines will surely result. Tiny grapes translate to higher skin-to-juice ratio, more tannin.
In short, 2015 presents the opportunity to create blockbuster wines, but to do so, the juice must be handled delicately. With potential for such strength, the wines’ profile might be dominated by robust, simplistic primary fruit flavors. When young, many wines will pack boxy, rough finishes.
In order to adapt, we are trying a new technique in the winery to make sure the wines hit the potential the 2015 vintage presents.
This year, instead of immediately putting red wine into barrels, we allowed the wine to rest in unsealed concrete fermenters for two weeks after pressing. The pores of the concrete and the air exposure allow the wine to oxidize for this brief period.
These two weeks give the wine a chance to unfurl rather than show tightness. With a little bit of air, the naturally reductive Syrahs should be approachable upon release.
This added stage prior to barreling also grants the team a chance to rack the wine, leaving particles that settle to the bottom of the concrete tanks behind. Only finer lees will be left in the wine to settle out over the next 18 months until bottling.
I’m excited to see how our efforts to tame the 2015 monster will pay off in bottle.