Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Progress of Progression

Knowing how a wine is going to age is a straightforward question with no easy answer. Experience with a specific wine from a particular site over many vintages gets you closer to a general answer, but with all the variables attached to a season's weather, and that wine's winemaking, barrel regime, the quality of the cork, the way the wine was stored, etc. a definitive response is very hard to come by.

One way to judge ageability is to see how a wine reacts to oxygen over a period of several days. On August 27th, I opened the 2007 Lineage alongside a barrel sample of 2008 Lineage and evaluated them over a period of a week to gauge how they would progress in your cellar.

The thing that struck me immediately was how well-structured the wines were. In the past, Livermore's lack of tannin (compared to wines from further North) has caused the wines to be taken less seriously by the press and they should have been. With this lineup of wines, there is no problem. The 2007 Lineage was "rich," with a "tannic mid-palate," and "great length." The 2008 Lineage had "nice tannins" but was "tight." The second day, the wine had opened up aromatically and structurally to reveal licorice and black cherry and wonderfully focused tannins. On August 28th, 2007 Lineage had begun to open up a bit...still emphasizing black fruit and massive tannins, but now tobacco and roasted herbs and black cherry liqueur were showing themselves.

Earlier today, on the 31st, the wines were at their most impressive. Left just with a cork in a half-filled bottle, the oxygen that would have thoroughly decimated many of those high pH trophy wines from Napa, was showing, instead, how beautiful the first two vintages of Lineage are.

The fruit in 2008 Lineage evolved from dark cherry to black cherry and cassis, the mid-palate maintained its viscosity and some of the tannin had rounded out. The wine had great length and persistence. The 2007 was simply glorious. Aromatic notes of forest floor, black fruit, loam, dark plum unfurled in a very open, inviting nose; in the mouth, the wine showed its world-class pedigree in its round viscosity, gorgeously persistent mid-palate tannins with great length.

There wasn't a hint of oxidation in the wines...there was obvious "age" and transformation, but there was no sense that the fruit for the wine had been harvested too ripe...structurally the wines have really held together well. Try this exercise at home, next time you have wine that is supposed to be ageable. If the wine isn't more complex and delicious the second and third day than the first, the wines were not made with balance in mind.

The first vintage of Lineage is nearly sold out. If you'd like to get in on the ground floor of this exciting project, click the link to order. The 2007 Lineage will be released on October 17, 2010.  

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

First Vintage of Lineage Nearing Release

I want to thank all of you who have inquired about and committed to the inaugural vintage of Lineage.

The 2007 vintage is sleeping peacefully, waiting patiently to be transferred to your enthusiastic hands on October 17, 2010.

Those of you who have actually become Lineage Collectors have already guaranteed your six-bottle allocation. You will have received an email from us early today indicating your status.

For those who have signed up on our Interest List but have not filled out and returned an Order Form, your allocation is NOT yet guaranteed. Click the link here to download an Order Form. We have many more people on our Interest List than we have wine available; in fact, the first vintage is nearly gone. To guarantee your allocation, we need to receive your Order Form by September 15, 2010.

Thank you again. We greatly appreciate your support and look forward to sharing the first of many great wines with you.

--Steven Mirassou

Friday, August 13, 2010

Fine Tuning for Better Wine

Once you have a great vineyard site that has reached a certain level of maturity and begins to produce fruit of world-class quality, subsequent farming and winemaking become exercises in fine tuning.

We have identified several blocks from Ghielmetti Vineyard that provide the highest quality of fruit from the site. Block 5B is the home to Cabernet Sauvignon, Clone 30. This is the best block on the site, and this year we will be looking to build even more intensity of fruit here by dropping yields down to the 2.5 tons/acre level. We'll do this by dropping fruit twice at veraison, lopping off about 15% each time we make a pass so that the remaining cluster (1.5 per shoot) will be that much more consistent and complex.

In the winery, we have narrowed our cooperage choices down significantly. Three French barrels and two American will provide all the wood for Lineage. Each variety, and each clone gets its own mix of barrels to bring out the specific components we want for the wine.

As of mid-August, the Lineage blocks are just now getting a little bit of color. We are, like everyone else in California, a bit behind. There is every reason to believe, though, that by the end of October, the next vintage of Lineage will be safely fermenting away.