Blog » Barrel Tasting » Winemaker Greg La Follette — fermentation and pressing Berger Vineyard – Sonoma Mountain Cabernet, Cab Franc, and Merlot

Winemaker Greg La Follette — fermentation and pressing Berger Vineyard – Sonoma Mountain Cabernet, Cab Franc, and Merlot

pressIMG_9938On Friday we pressed of the Cab France from the Berger Vineyard, and are barreling it down today.  Initially, the Cab Franc had a hard time in terms of fermentation.  It was very nuanced and subtle, but gained strength and built itself during fermentation, with a little guiding care and love. It pressed off very nicely on Friday.  We did an early press cut, and only collected about 90% of the free run and first press.  For the two Cabernets – the first and second pick – the first pick was also very slow and reticent at first, but has built over time.  Because it was moving along slowly, it’s actually being pressed today, along with the second pick, which came in a week later.  We’ll be keeping them separate in barrel.  The first pick, with the additional week of skin contact and couvasion has really helped to build that wine in terms of both character and strength.

The second pick of Cabernet is coming along very nicely and for that we’ve selected a number of different barrels and are doing some very interesting barrel trials that we’ll be able to look at this winter and into next year.  I’ve chosen to use barrels from many of the coopers we’re getting.  I really want to explore where our coopers are going to express best with the Cabernet.  I think there’s enough strength in this vintage, that we can really dial in exactly what coopers, forests, and  toasts levels work best with this vineyard.

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The drain-offs of the Cabernet are going very well today.  They are both very dark, but quite distinct.  It should be great for having two different profiles as we make the next generation of the different wines from this vineyard – the vineyard-designate Berger Cabernet, the Sappho, and the Tò Érgon.

IMG_1004The Merlot, which forms the base of the Sappho, is developing really nicely in barrel.  It appears to be starting its secondary, or malolactic fermentation, really softening and adding to the complexity of the wine.  We had, before the onset of malolactic, a real black olive – maybe even a kalamata olive – aroma and flavor.  That’s softening and complexing now.

This is a blessing, this vintage.  It’s really being generous with us — it’s allowing us to explore a few different techniques, a few different styles, wild fermentation versus different types of of yeast inoculation, different cap management techniques.  And I think this will hold us in really good stead for future vintages.  I’m really excited that this vintage is generously allowing us so much room for experimentation without a great deal of risk.


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