Degree days for the season worked out to just a little more than historic averages. The really good news is that July and August’s steady heat backed off in September, with large diurnal swings; just in time to bring on SJR Vineyard’s signature flavor development.
We left 41 Viognier plants to fold into our Syrah; providing 8.5% co-ferment by volume. Interestingly, this year’s climate conditions, regardless of variety, made for a heavier crop load. The clusters are just larger. As a result, we thinned the fruit to balance the vines, leaving only eight clusters per plant.
Given the flavor development of both the Syrah and Viognier, we determined to ferment 50% whole cluster, with the balance of fruit de-stemmed and layered (like a cake) on top of the whole clusters of Syrah…first the Viognier…topped off with more Syrah “icing”. We will gain additional benefit in mouth-feel complexity by virtue of the first fruiting year of our #470 clone of Syrah.
We discerned an interesting development at harvest between the #470 and Phelps clones at SJR; a brighter acid profile in the #470. Only a couple rows were available to us this year and the yield was relatively light given its first year on the fruiting wire. It will be fascinating to follow the maturation of this clone within ‘The Rocks District’ and, specifically, at SJR. We believe we are the only vineyard in ‘The Rocks District’ (at this time) who has harvested the #470 Syrah clone!
Speaking of THE ROCKS DISTRICT, we expect the TTB will be approving this distinctive, new AVA by the end of this year!