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Vacation? Nope. Evaluation!

02.16.12

Now that all of the grapes have been harvested, fermentations completed and the wines are in barrel, what exactly does a Pinot Noir winemaker do during the winter? Go on vacation! Just kidding. In all honesty, this may actually be the most stressful time in the entire winemaking cycle: The evaluation of our performance from the just completed vintage. We go into each vintage knowing exactly what wine we want to make. Of course, we hope for a perfect growing season, and sometimes come close, but Mother Nature usually manages to throw us a curveball. So, we make decisions on the fly and adjust accordingly. So how did we do in the 2011 vintage? I could present lots of numbers, charts and graphs that would make a strong argument for “great,” but in the end, wine isn’t really about numbers, and so we boil the question down to its essence: “How does it taste?” And that’s just what we do…we taste. Dirk, our director of winemaking, and I gather barrel samples from all of the just-finished wines and conduct a formal tasting. We assess color, aroma, mouthfeel, intensity, finish and our expectations of how each lot may impact the final “Les Pommiers” blend. If we feel that adjustments should be made, then this is the time to do it. At our tasting last week, the wines were showing intense aromatics of Bing cherry, pomegranate, and plum with undercurrents of mineral and earth. On the palate, youthful tannins coat the mouth and with a little more barrel age, they will become the silky, melting tannins that EnRoute has come to be known for. All in all, I think 2011 has great finesse and layers, even in this early stage of barrel aging. I cannot wait to watch – and taste - as it evolves over the next few months.

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