Please see my newest episode and newsletter on the making of red wine in California (some of you might remember some of the details from a newsletter of about 2 years ago – see it as a refresher!).
BLANKbottle Newsletter: Since November 2004
With the Sauvignon blanc and Chardonnay winemaking process well on its way, the first Pinot Noir grapes started coming in- my cue to move over to the red wine cellar. The Pinot Noir vineyard was a new block at that time, situated high up on the cooler slopes on the western side of the Valley – perfect terroir for the production of Pinot Noir!
But instead of producing award-winning quality wine from that block, the owners were shocked to discover that the previous (and first) year’s vintage was absolutely HORRIFIC. It had had enough colour and a good tannin structure, but it had an overwhelming one-dimensional synthetic and unfavourable EUCALYPTUS flavour. They suspected that it had to do with the fact that the block was surrounded by lanes of Eucalyptus trees (most of it situated on the neighbouring farm), on 3 sides of the vineyard but had to do an experiment to prove their suspicions. As a precaution, our vineyard management team decided to remove the 2 lanes situated on our property. As they could not convince the neighbour to do the same, it left us with one lane of trees lining the vineyard on one side.
As an experiment, we set off on foot and tied a ribbon all along the line where we could find Eucalyptus leaves on the ground. Our goal was to separate the vines where the leaves were lying from the rest, in other words, splitting the block in 2 sections.
We then harvested the grapes in 2 separate lots and fermented the grapes in 2 separate tanks, next to each other. Even in the early stages of fermentation the tanks differed TREMENDOUSLY in flavour. The result: Not a hint of Eucalyptus was found in the second batch, whereas the first batch absolutely reeked of it!