Over the holidays I had a chance to get cozy with my 2006 juice. Touring has kept me at a distance from it all this year. For 2004 and 2005, I was around enough to know the stuff inside and out. So on this last break, rather than turning my brain off to the sounds of 24 on a DVD box set while recovering from the road, I crawled around my barrels for a few days. I was like a spider monkey on a mission. Wow. What a huge difference a couple months can make.
Allow me to back up a bit and loosely restate my overall mission for those who are unfamiliar. I broke ground and planted vines in Arizona on a whim. No master plan in mind. It just felt like a good idea. Eric Glomski, who had been working with John Marcos at Echo Canyon and was well on his way with his own operation, saw me diving in headfirst and offered to give me "swimming lessons," lest I drown. He suggested that I purchase a couple tons of grapes from California and learn a few tricks before my vines matured.
A couple tons turned into a few tons the first year. And in '05 it turned into 20 tons. "Go big or go home" is the phrase that comes to mind. "Big," of course, being relative. The goal was to come up with some broad-stroke templates for the sort of wines I'd like to make. A sort of shotgun approach seemed best. A blast to the right, to the left, straight up and straight ahead.
This is my third year of juice in barrel. Now the panic sets in. The first two years of blends were fairly close in style. Now I have to step up and make the third year match. Much more difficult than I had anticipated. Especially when these aren't my grapes, and grape contracts vary from year to year. This is when the sigh of relief came over me. Oh. Right. This part is just the experiment. When I get my Arizona grapes, then I can worry about consistency. (I hope you enjoyed that stream-of-consciousness/roller-coaster thought process drama.)
So here I am, base jumping across my '06 barrels, having the time of my life, and it dawns on me: I'm not so sure I have a strong enough California Cabernet for my '06 Sensei. So what do I do? That's my premium blend. Do I source juice on the open market? Or do I do what a top-notch vintner like Torbreck does when they don't have the right kind of fruit to make the RunRig (as happened in 2000), and just skip the Sensei for '06? Or do I stick to my shotgun-blast manifesto and just ballpark a similar palate?
The Sensei is what I consider my "masculine" blend. Big, long-aging, robust, meaty steak-with-a-side-of-meat blend. So does it have to be Cabernet? Can it be Cab Franc and Syrah? Or a meaty Merlot? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?
Jeffrey Riley — Harrisburg, PA — January 31, 2007 12:59pm ET
Kirk R Grant — Ellsworth, ME — January 31, 2007 1:34pm ET
Wine Warehouse — January 31, 2007 3:05pm ET
Mark Francone — CA — January 31, 2007 4:41pm ET
David Artis — San Francisco, CA — January 31, 2007 4:42pm ET
Trevor Morris — Laguna Hills, CA — January 31, 2007 5:24pm ET
Alvin Miller — Dallas, TX — January 31, 2007 6:15pm ET
Andrew J Walter — Sacramento,CA — January 31, 2007 8:00pm ET
Brian Loring — Lompoc, CA — January 31, 2007 8:10pm ET
Aaron Schaefer — Pasadena — January 31, 2007 8:36pm ET
Troy Peterson — Burbank, CA — February 5, 2007 7:41pm ET
Paula Woolsey — Jerome, Arizona — February 14, 2007 11:40am ET
Mr Richard Korzenko — February 23, 2007 9:49pm ET
Mr Richard Korzenko — February 23, 2007 9:52pm ET
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