It is time to empty the barrels in anticipation of 2018 harvest. Lucky for us we have several barrels currently filled with red wine, and that means we need to get them into bottle and soon enough out for your consumption. Since we've settled on blends and are moving things into the final stages, I want to let you know what is ready and headed into it's long term, glass bottle, home.
First up on the bottling line will be our 2017 Syrah from Steelhead Run Vineyard in Applegate Valley. We love this vineyard, and love this wine. The vineyard is towards the west end of this rather small AVA, and tucked right up in the flood plains of the Applegate River. Farmed by Ron and Laurie Burley, the vineyard is getting more and more attention for the lovely wines produced from several wineries throughout Oregon. In particular the viognier and syrah are continuing to impress, but I've also loved examples of the Merlot I have tasted out of this vineyard. It is a unique site in it's proximity to the river, and endless amounts of gravel that the vines struggle through to produce concentrated fruit. The vineyard is LIVE certified and Salmon Safe, so you can trust it is being raised in a healthful way for you and for the environment it sits in.
In 2017 there were several fires in this area that not infrequently filled the vineyard with a difficult, smoky, haze. I think you will find that smoke had some impact on many of the Southern Oregon wines in 2017, and I won't say that I don't detect a hint of smokiness in this wine. Thank the stars we're dealing with syrah here, and as it is not at all overwhelming or tipping the wine out of balance, I find it a pleasant aspect.
The grapes were picked on 10/12/17 and delivered up to us in a refrigerated truck. We had them throw in a couple hundred pounds of viognier, and if you care to track clones, we ended up with primarily 383 with some Hermitage and 470 to boot. The fruit was really clean and required minimal hand sorting, before we destemmed it completely into two fermentation bins - 1 with the viognier, and the other pure syrah. This wine took a minute to kick off, the weather had cooled down and it was content to sit in it's sugar saturated state for a few days. However when it did initiate it fermented in a very straight line, through what I would call it's tutti-fruiti stage and straight into dryness. The savory, peppery, smokey aspects were there from the start and continue to dominate this wine. After integrating in neutral oak for most of a year, I really think this wine brings interest and pleasure.
In the end everything went into the blend, the wine with no viognier needed a lift, and the wine with the viognier was too floral and light. Together they are just what we were aiming for. I hope you will find a syrah that is truly cool climate, restrained, refreshing, savory, a hint meaty, and really versatile. We'll send a note when it is ready to be released, but for now get your early Winter stews and braises planned, because this will fit perfectly.
Next post we'll talk Pinot!!