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Cellar Report from Winemaker Joe Freeman

It’s a time of awakening and selection in the winery cellar.  Cold, dark days, although doing their best to hang around this year, have begun to give way to warmth and sunshine.  It seems that the wines in the cellar can sense the onset of Spring, and have woken up from their Winter sleep.  I always enjoy tasting from the barrels at this time, picking up flavors and aromas not experienced since the wines were in fermenter!  I can finally begin to determine which wines have decided to star from the 2009 vintage.

We will continue to monitor the wines’ maturation, a process termed “elevage” by the French.  The expectation is that the wine will become more refined and integrated during its time in barrels.  Most Russian River Valley Pinot Noirs will spend between ten and sixteen months in barrels before bottling.

There is always a risk of spoilage, but with careful monitoring, any potential problems can be addressed.  Monthly analysis for acetic acid (vinegar) will provide early evidence of the conversion of alcohol by Acetobacter bacteria, while careful topping of the barrels, and use of sulfur dioxide, will protect the wine.

The Siebert Ranch Pinot Noir from 2009 is showing great promise.  Deep purple color for a Pinot, with all the expected depth of flavor and richness that suggests.  Still showing forward tannins, the additional time in barrel will allow great integration with the powerful fruit.  We should all look forward to tasting the finished version of this wine!

Joe Freeman
Winemaker, Ancient Oak Cellars


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