Bottling the 2012 Pinots

We will bottle the 2012 pinots in about a month. It’s both exciting and anxiety provoking. Inevitably, there will be some contention regarding our foils/glass/corks/labels/labor or something we overlooked as too obvious to screw up. Our new Torrey Hill labels aren’t yet approved by the TTB, so that’s one more festering concern. But the wines themselves are thrilling. The 2012 vintage is already buoyed by sick hype about epic yields and pristine fruit quality. I try to push aside the paparazzi’s generalizations and focus on my Bruliam work. But I can’t help brag a little.

Our 2012 harvest includes two new vineyards, Sangiacomo Vineyard (Sonoma Coast) and our home ranch Torrey Hill (Russian River Valley). The Sangiacomo juice turned out to be my sleeper surprise. During this week’s blending session, my notes included “spice on the nose,” “a little brooding,” and “excellent mouth feel!” This wine is round and rich and supple. A few months ago, the aromatics seemed light, and I was sure I’d have to blend in a few percentage points from either Gaps or Soberanes to amplify and brighten the nose. But now the pure Sangiacomo composite is perfect. I shouldn’t have been that surprised, looking back at my barrel notes from May 28th. I’d scribbled “brooding blue fruit and deep berry,” “spice,” “sweet nose with phenolics behind it.” I am definitely looking forward to more Sangiacomo fruit this year. Fingers are crossed they’ll increase my allocation, too.

Our inaugural Torrey Hill vintage came together beautifully. Last month, I decided to bottle our home ranch as an appellation blend rather than a single vineyard designate, in order to freely explore my blending options. Our new label reads “Russian River Valley,” since an appellation designation allows for 25% wiggle room during blending. But surprisingly, I didn’t add anything. The Torrey Hill pinot is soft, lovely, and quite elegant. My notes include “core red fruit/raspberry/strawberry with softer but noticeable toast,” “clean on the palate,” and “bright.” For academic rigor, I did blind tastings with a variety of blends. We added various percentages of the Gaps Crown fruit just for fun. My notes for Blend B are “toast is enhanced in finish and the nose; not feminine enough; tastes hotter.” Blend C reads “retronasal char and angular finish. No!” In the blind trial, I picked Blend A. I was sure it was a blending twist so I scribed “already increased red fruit on the nose; bolder with a pop of cherry red candy and more structure.” As you probably can guess, Blend A was the control, the identical wine I’d tasted 45 minutes ago. It’s nice to uphold my title as “World’s Worst Blind Taster.”

To round out the 2012 vintage, crowd pleasers from Gaps Crown and Soberanes vineyards are back in their dynamic, delicious, fruity glory. We are slated to bottle the last two days of July. This is a full two weeks earlier than last year - a fun, logistical surprise that inspired an Ari Gold, epithetic heavy tirade. But after some frantic scrambling, our bottling components seem to be in order. Now we just wait for the bottling truck to arrive.