This video was on our Home Page for a while but never published to the Vintner’s Journal blog.

Such a “repeat” seems like the perfect post for today when folks may be just a bit distracted. (Go Giants!)

Winemaker Cary Gott goes into the vineyard to read the review of our 2007 Butterdragon Hill. You can read the review yourself in this months issue of Wine Spectator magazine.  The 2007 Butterdragon Hill Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as our newest release, the 07 Baconbrook Cabernet, can be ordered by downloading this form.

My first taste of 2010 Baconbrook Cabernet Sauvignon.  It has finished fermentation and has been inoculated to start malolactic fermentation.

Cary and I agree.  This is quite possibly the greatest wine we have ever made.

I got a voicemail from winemaker Cary Gott on Wednesday morning:

I just left Bin to Bottle [custom crush winery] where I tasted the Baconbrook.  Wow.  I mean it’s going to be quite a nice wine.  It’s fermenting.  It’s up at 81° [temperature].  It’s at 15° [Brix] sugar.  It’s really cookin’ along.  Smells good.  Tastes good.  Of course, it’s sweet, black, red wine right now.

What is it like to ride around with a winemaker? After racking our 2009 wines, Cary Gott recorded the following comments on his iPhone.

On Wednesday of last week we racked all of the barrels of the 2009 Match Butterdragon Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. This was the pre-harvest racking. It would be the third time the wine has been racked since we fermented the 2009 last September and October.

The reason we rack just before harvest is to basically harmonize all of the different barrel flavors that we’ve derived over the last few months. [W]e buy a multiple collection of barrels from different coopers so that we have some particular barrels, flavors, and styles that blend well with other ones when they are all homogeneously put back together in a blend. [We used] six different barrel manufacturers.

We bull-dogged racked the wine which means that we used a device in each barrel that basically pressurizes the barrel with nitrogen gas thereby forcing the wine out through hoses to a tank that had been gassed also with nitrogen. That would just really eliminate basically all of the potential oxygen pickup. A little bit of oxygen pickup at this time is not bad but we don’t want very much.

Once in the tank, we checked the free SO2 and added a small amount of SO2 to bring the free SO2 back up to around 35 PPM. The wine was pumped back to barrel and topped and back in the stacks on their racks… a good, successful racking.

We also racked the Baconbrook Cabernet Sauvignon, basically utilizing the same techniques we used for the Butterdragon. [We] bull-dog racked using nitrogen gas to a tank. The barrels were cleaned and then allowed to drain. The free SO2 was checked. A little bit of free SO2 was added to the wine and then the wine was pumped back to barrels.

Both wines show a very nice set of flavors that really are the style of the vineyards. The hilltop Baconbrook vineyard has a little bit more Cabernet style to it. It’s a little bit more aggressive and because of its extra tannin that it has, it will age for an extra 5 or 6 months in barrel before we bottle it as compared to the Butterdragon which is a softer, more luscious style of Cabernet, a little bit darker in color, but not quite as dramatic and forceful as Baconbrook.

Is there anything specific you’d like Cary to discuss? Let us know.

Tomorrow Cary Gott and I will taste through all the 2009 barrels. Afterwards the wines will be racked. For those unfamiliar with the term, “racking” means the wine will be transferred out of the barrels in to steel tanks. The barrels will be cleaned thoroughly and then the wine returned to barrel. We do this 2-3 times through the course of the barrel aging process.

On Wednesday (6/16/10) we bottled 314 cases of our 2008 Butterdragon Hill Cabernet Sauvignon.  We used the mobile bottling line at Bin to Bottle in Napa.  The wine is tasting great and will be released next Spring.

A few details:

  • 600 x six packs of 750ml
  • 6 x six packs of 1.5L mags
  • 7.5 x twelve packs of 375ml
  • ABV 14.6°
  • EK-250 filtration

Sorry for the poor photo quality. My Blackberry had trouble with the rapidly moving bottles.

This is the first of what I hope will be many updates straight from our winemaker Cary Gott. We’re trying something new: since Cary is a busy guy who rarely spends time writing at a desk, he recorded a voice memo on his iPhone, emailed it to me, and I have transcribed it. If you’d like to “hear” more from Cary, please take a moment to click on “Like” or comment. And please let us know if there are topics you’d like Cary to talk about in the future.
From Cary:
I’m going to be racking the ’09 Cabernets next week. So what we’re doing right now is I’ve got them [Bin to Bottle -- where we custom crush our wine] set up to have the barrels down on Tuesday afternoon and we’re going to rack it on Wednesday. I’ll taste every barrel and make sure everything is fine. Once the wine’s in tank, we’ll take a big sample of it and send it off [to ETS laboratories] for full analysis plus Scorpion [test for wine spoilage microbes] and adjust the SO2 and then go back to barrel. So it’s a very gentle process. This will be the first racking for the ’09s.

Yesterday we racked both of our 2008 Cabernet Sauvignons: Butterdragon Hill and Baconbrook. The wines are loooooking gooooood. (Try to picture Freddie Prinz — no, his father, you young whipper snappers — from Chico and the Man saying that.)
Now back to your regularly scheduled social networking.

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3060 White Sulphur Springs Rd
St Helena, CA 94574
t: (707) 200-3510
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