So I haven’t posted in a while. I guess more than anything, it’s a statement about how busy 2012 has been. The vintage hit us hard and fast and there hasn’t been much time for anything other than work, work, more work and a small dash of sleep. I’ve been working with Donelan Family Wines, a producer of Rhone and Burgundian varietals in Sonoma County. I’m pretty enthused. The winery specializes in making wines with the style of the old world in mind, but being comfortable with the new-world elements that inevitably find their way into most if not all California wines.
For those of you that have a winemaker or two who’s close in your life, you may have been hearing a decent amount of moaning and groaning the past couple years. The last couple of years have felt like something akin to growing pineapples in Canada. (No offense Canadians, we love you and you’re cute Mountie outfits) The fruit hasn’t really come in the way we hoped and we’ve pretty much been in “just deal with it” mode.
Well, this year is different, 2010 and 2011 were cold, this year has been warm. It rained early those years, and this year, it seems like the weather gods have just decided to skip a year in the rain department, which is great for the fruit. (My rain dances must be working) Simply put, this has been the best vintage I’ve ever been a part of. The fruit is dense and concentrated, there is next to no botrytis (rot, it’s a fancy way to say rot) and the flavors in the juices, the ferments and the wines are consistently awesome.
Think batman in an F-16 delivering donuts to starving babies in Africa. That awesome.
The other exciting part is the winemakers here at Donelan. Tyler and Joe have a very clear idea of what they’re doing and they know how to execute making the wines they want to make. The wines are developing rich and full flavors with lots of cool and exciting aromatics. However, more than anything, Tyler and Joe are letting the wine make itself. They do some whole-cluster ferments, they add acid and nutrients and they’ll do an extended maceration when necessary, but after that, the wines pretty much are dumped in a tank and left to make themselves, which, -especially when you have fruit like this- makes some pretty killer juice.
It’s a good vintage. I’ll have to continue my rain-dances, the wine community can thank me later. If any community members would like to help out, here’s an instructional video.