Toccata - A Little Bit of Dust from the Dirtman
When it comes to growing a crop, the most influential factor for the grower is putting up with the weather. This has been a good year weather wise. The most important thing for us is to be able to adjust to what certain situations dictate. For the past 40+ mornings, we have had fog and near drizzle which put us on alert for potential development of mildew. The cure for mildew is prevention, not eradication after it shows up.
The grape crop looks to be medium in size and shows the influence of winter rains. I expect the grapes to ripen a little bit later but to come on fast due to the canopy and the size of the crop.
I have been well pleased with last year’s Italian wines - both the 2017 and 2018 vintages are outstanding.
2017 Ramato: This is our 6th year of making this wine. I blame my friend Jim Palmer of Malibu Vineyards for bringing me the information on the orange wine that he was exposed to in Italy. Today’s wine market has been inundated with rosé wines. They have been the big thing for the past five years and the market is still growing. We don’t consider this a rosé. Ramato, Italian for “auburn” or “copper colored” is the name given to Pinot Grigio with some skin contact. Pinot Grigio has become the #2 selling white wine in the country, but just a little skin contact makes it stand out. I get a little citrus and rose on the nose. It is delicious and refreshing.
2016 Dolcetto: This one is always my recommendation for a pizza wine. Dolcetto is the everyday drinking wine of Piemonte, the land of Barbera and Nebbiolo. It has less acid than most Italian varieties. It’s easy to drink and is soft on the palate with plenty of color and a low alcohol level. So why is this wine at 14.5% alcohol? Dolcetto grows in large bunches which are difficult to ripen. We go through and remove excess clusters and cut large clusters in half. In Italy, Dolcetto is considered a superiore wine when you can get it above 13.5% alcohol.
2016 Nebbiolo Barbera: Making a blend of these two wines has become a winemaking trend over the past few years. They come together naturally because these grapes both are grown primarily in Piemonte. Both grapes need to be really ripe. Both can be high in acid and need hang time. Barbera spoils if rained upon whereas Nebbiolo can handle adverse weather conditions. This wine is approximately 2/3 Nebbiolo and 1/3 Barbera. We have been doing this blend for over 12 years and it is only in the past few years that it has gained favor in the marketplace. Even the Italians are doing it. I think they may have been doing it all along but didn’t tell anybody! The jamminess of Barbera really helps soften the extreme tannins of Nebbiolo. The 2015 and 2016 are exceptional wines. This one is worth pursuing.
Hope you plan to attend the Harvest Blessing. Be prepared to join us on the Vineyard Tour during harvest when we will be able to taste the grapes. Hope your summer has been an enjoyable one.