While Ruben and La Cuadrilla worked carefully to keep all of our other varietals shaded from 2014’s intense sunshine, we took the opposite approach with Roussanne.
The green clusters rest against the fruit wire in a straight horizontal row all the way down the L’Avion block. The crew cut off and dropped any cluster not perfectly in line while also carefully pulling leaves away from the fruit. Now the grapes lie exposed, and they glow neon green in the late afternoon sun.
While most of our varietals look to be ripening faster than normal in the dry, hot conditions, we know from experience that Roussanne will ignore the weather and do its own thing. The green grapes will slowly turn “Rousse”, the namesake rust-color, on only the sun-exposed side of the cluster. As the stems begin to lignify and turn yellow in October, La Cuadrilla will meticulously hand rotate each cluster to allow the still-green, shaded side to suntan as well.
Like every other vintage, regardless of weather, we will harvest Roussanne into November.
P H E N O L I C D E V E L O P M E N T
Due to the drought conditions, we worry about the vines giving themselves enough time to develop complex flavors before going dormant. In the red-varietals, we hope that the skins will begin to soften, signaling tannin maturation.
Because our Roussanne seems to ignore the conditions, and the varietal ripens at a snails’ pace ambivalent to the drought, we aren’t worried about the grape achieving complexity.
T H E H A R V E S T P L A N
The first edition of varietal-bottled 2012 Estate Roussanne has come into its own wonderfully since bottling in February. Because we anticipate another evenly ripe crop in 2014, and the barreled 2013 is showing promise, we plan on continuing this bottling as our main Roussanne-based wine. L’Avion now is purely the “reserve” wine selected from only the oldest runway block. La Cuadrilla cherry-picks the grapes for L’Avion on the first harvest pass, only selecting the perfectly gold clusters.
Over a year later, Sashi then chooses the best barrels for L’Avion, careful to leave plenty of magic for the Estate Roussanne. In 2012, less than 25% of the Roussanne was bottled under the L’Avion label.