Toccata - A Little Bit of Dust from the Dirtman
What a year. This is the year that everything happened. The new Toccata Tasting Room is offering wine tasting in the street and is doing well thanks to all of you! We finished harvest by October 15th, about three weeks earlier than average. As you know, we pick all of our grapes by hand. Our biggest concern was whether or not our crew would make it through the season safe from the virus. Most of our vineyard employees have been with us for 20 years. We were thankful to have made it through without any issues.
The crop was smaller than normal, which we expected, but what we did not expect was two days of record heat with temperatures of 116°-118°F. Prior to that, we had a few years of 106°F. Overall, we lost 4-6% of the crop to the heat. If we had faced two more days of these severe temperatures, we would have lost the entire crop. Our Italian varieties, Nebbiolo and Barbera, suffered the largest loss of any of the varieties that we grow. We also had the threat of smoke coming from the fires up north.
I have tasted the new wines and they are very good. The red grapes have great color and a little less alcohol, which I like. The winery completed all the fermentation and the wines have been put to tank or barrel. We are getting ready to start pruning the vines in about ten days, so we start all over again.
2016 Sparkling Rosato: Megan and I had the idea to make something Italian in our Sparkling Wine. The use of Pinot Grigio as the main ingredient really worked with a splash of Dolcetto for color and a splash of Malvasia Bianca for a floral hint. This one has been well received and we are approaching the end of vintage. There is something I should warn you about. Occasionally there is a cork that is difficult to remove from the bottle. It takes a first cousin to Superman to remove it so be careful and you may have to look for somebody strong!
2016 Rosso Dolce: This rare old Italian variety, nearly non-existent in the United States with very few acres, was one of the most popular grapes in Italy 150 years ago. It has been made as a sweet red in Italy for generations We have only a little over one acre of these grapes. I kept them to make a sweet red wine and because Freisa is so scarce. The grape has big tannins and, as a result, the amount of residual sugar does not taste as sweet as you would expect it to. The wine is big and has outstanding color and will surprise you. Have some fun with it. Put it in a red wine tasting and don’t tell anyone that they are trying a sweet red wine.
2018 Nebbiolo Barbera: Sometimes when you blend two varieties together, you make magic. This is one of those times. While we were experimenting with this blend several years ago, the Italians were doing the same. There are three principle grapes in Piemonte: Nebbiolo, Barbera, and Dolcetto. Blending Barbera with Nebbiolo changes the color to a deeper, more purple red. Barbera is dominant in color and Nebbiolo is receptive because its tannins are higher than Barbera and its color is more of a deep brick orange/terracotta red. They complement each other. This wine is a blend of 80% Nebbiolo and 20% Barbera. This one will catch your interest and impress at your Christmas dinner - try it with turkey, prime rib, or pork roast.
This is the season of giving. How about giving yourself a break? This is one year that we probably want to put behind us. It is also one to remember because, in some cases, it forces all to be a little closer and protective of our dear ones. With that, we wish you all the merriest of Christmases and all of God’s blessings.