Toccata - A Little Bit of Dust from the Dirtman
The harvest and harvest party are over. I guess it’s time to be looking forward to my 45th year of growing grapes in Santa Barbara County. It seems like just yesterday that this adventure began. I can’t let this past harvest go unnoticed, for it’s now three years in a row that we’ve had ideal growing conditions. The goal in the vineyard is to grow plenty of really good grapes and to harvest them at their optimum. That has been the case for the past three years. I don’t recall such a long run of good weather during harvest time. Maybe we could thank the drought but it’s probably more likely due to the fact that Santa Barbara County is such a good place to grow grapes. This year the Muscat, Barbera, Pinot Grigio, and Sangiovese are exceptional.
Our one acre of Freisa produced about 4 1/2 tons of perfect grapes. To my knowledge, there are only about 4 acres of Freisa in the United States. It is a very versatile variety and can be produced to make different wines, even sweet and sparkling. This leads us to the wines in your current shipment.
2011 Rosso Dolce Freisa: Translated: Sweet Red Wine. A few years ago, I was researching this variety and discovered its versatility. It was said to make a very good sweet red wine. In the meantime, there has been growing interest in the US marketplace for sweet red wine. Today it’s not unusual and many red wines now have some residual sugar. To make a sweet red wine, you’re looking at residual sugar from 3-5%. This one is 4.2%. There was little interest in our marketing department for a wine of this type. So we went ahead anyway thinking it would be good for the Toccata Tasting Room, or at least give us a chance to see whether there was any consumer interest. It has become one of the most popular wines and usually makes the top 5 best seller list each month. Freisa is a variety known for bold tannins, so ripeness in this grape is very necessary. We have been able to achieve that ripeness but what is really interesting is that, because of those tannins, this wine does not taste sweet but rich with the velvety raspberry character of the Freisa grape. This wine should be a new experience for you. Give the experience a chance!
2009 Freisa: We just discussed the big tannins of this variety. Here we have a 2009 and it’s been given enough time for those tannins to be softened and mature. It has the raspberry character up front but, to me, it has a dried berry finish. I am surprised that this variety could make such a big wine. It seems that you can do just about anything you want to with this grape. We have always blended a few gallons into our Toccata Classico and Riserva. If I were going to make a red sparkling wine, it would be one of the varieties to consider. With one acre, it may be a Wine Club project! This one might give the cranberry sauce some competition this Christmas.
Everyone says how fast the years go by, so it must be true! In our business, it’s time to start all over again. The day is done and yesterday’s worries are over...but there’s still tomorrow! That’s a Dirtman quote from a poem I did in college! Many thanks for your continued support and friendship. We look forward to sharing a new year filled with hope and kindness.