Monday, January 17, 2011

The Reserve Line is born....

Bitterly cold temperatures conspired to keep me indoors on this Martin Luther King holiday so after a morning of errands and house/desk work, I turned to measuring the free SO2 levels in the 2010 Chilean Sauvignon Blanc. This wine has been slowly and quietly getting ready to bottle in the background. I haven't blogged too much about it amidst all the over posts this past year. The last post had to do with stabilizing and preventing further MLF. After the lysozyme addition, it's been sitting in carboys during the fall 2010 harvest. I did a bentonite fining in November for protein stabilization and I finally got around to filtering in December after a few good weeks of cold stabilization. I intended to filter all 3 carboys with a 0.5 micron filter to remove as many residual yeast & bacteria cells, but only managed to filter the free run carboy before the filter media gummed up. The last 2 carboys got a 1 micron filter with the intention of passing through a 0.5 micron filter while bottling.

Now that's all been done, I really need to bottle so I can enter it in the Winemaker Magazine competition in March. That's been the goal, but I've been waffling a bit about entering it because I haven't been too overwhelmed by the aroma of the wine, which has been pretty muted. The classic grassy & grapefruit aromas are there, just not real strong. And without that nose, it's been tasting kind of boring. OK tasting, just not much "WOW" factor.

So what does a winemaker do when they produce a wine that's not quite as desirable as they'd like and there isn't much they can add or adjust to affect the aroma? They blend!

What this wine really needs is more aroma, so I went looking for a blending wine that would add some aroma punch. I settled on some 2009 Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand because:

a) NZ sauv blancs are known for their powerful aromas of grapefruit & grass,
b) Oyster Bay helped defined the NZ sauv blanc reputation and aroma profile, and
c) it was on sale at my local liquor store.

I bought enough to treat the free run carboy only because I really didn't want to spend as much on the blending wine as on the grapes originally. After some bench trials, I settled on a roughly 10% addition that would give an improved aroma profile. I made the blend right after Christmas, so I was eager to see how it was doing.

A long story short on the SO2 testing, but free SO2 levels look perfectly fine for bottling. AND, the aromas of the free run carboy are simply amazing. Big grapefruit & grassy nose with a nice crisp & tingling finish. And with that, the Aaronap Cellars Reserve line is born--this carboy is simply so much nicer than the other 2 that I cannot in good conscience blend it with the others.

I'll bottle the Sauv blanc sometime this week and then start working on the labels. Methinks a Reserve label should have some gold in it somehow. We'll see how creative I can get. Anyone know the labeling percentage guidelines to still be able to call a Chilean wine a Chilean wine? CA requires 85% of the grapes to be sourced from a particular appellation to label the wine as originating in that appellation. If applicable to Chile, that would mean I could still call this a "Chile Curico Valley" wine. Otherwise, I'm stuck with a "Southern Hemisphere" Reserve.

Maybe this will just be the "South Side of The Globe" Sauvignon Blance Reserve 2010....