Just like 2017, the heat of the summer ended in mid-August. Going into the Harvest season, daytime temperatures remained in the 80-70’s and evenings in the 50’s, delivering critical flavor development. The rains are just beginning now (perfect for our MHT burial process). Luckily, we had no rain throughout harvest.
We began this year’s harvest activities on 9/8 with our very first Delmas Viognier pick!
Given 10 hours of skin contact (tasting every few hours to gauge phenolics), the Viognier processing pushed into the late evening (midnight) before finally pressing-off. We racked out of tank to new puncheons and neutral barriques two days later for fermentation. We can’t wait to share this barrel fermented wine with our allocation members! (2020 release).
Shortly thereafter, the Syrah came off on 9/10… 2.2 tons/acre (four days earlier than 2017). Smaller berries than in years prior… black fruit flavors dominate the profile due to more concentration. 50% whole cluster for our ferments (same as last year), with the co-ferment percent (Viognier) remaining at 8%.
Finally, the Grenache came off on 10/1.Rasa is playing with this fruit for one more harvest before we will commandeer it for Delmas, in its 14th leaf (2020). Very excited about the MHT vine structure in this block; it has worked wonders for maturing these larger clusters! In 2019, we will begin to trial potential blends to arrive at a distinctive style for Delmas Grenache.
Our biggest take-a-way from this summer’s Rhone Valley trip was the pervasiveness of, and comfort with, field blends. Hmmmm… perhaps the Mourvedre makes a comeback at SJR, and then there is the Cinsault (Château de Beaucastel clone); to be planted in 2019!