New wines for the spring of 2023

What’s in Jim’s Glass Tonight?

Greetings everyone! If you are new to our email’s welcome. We don’t send out many per year, and well we should, but we don’t. Since our last email, which was about Chocolate Lover’s Weekend, we have bottled 11 dry wines and 6 sweet wines! And one of those wines is in my glass right now, The Labyrinth. And I may get another glass in a minute, Original Capitol White. Ever make a mistake and then amplify the mistake? Yep, that’s the good ol’ Labyrinth. How appropriately named. I did go through a Labyrinth to get to this final wine. Here’s how we blend. I think these wines right here will go well together. Blend and taste, then change ratios and taste again. Set the percentage and then set the variance, as in how far off from a percentage standpoint can I be with this blend for the blend to still taste excellent and spot on? Pretty basic stuff. Until you get the most unlikely scenario ever. Every blend ratio tasted great!!! Syrah and St. Croix. No matter the percent, it rocked. Ready, fire, AIM!!! I took a barrel of syrah and emptied it into the tank. I then skimmed a couple barrels of St. Croix and voila, the wine. Stirred with carbon dioxide and taste. EW-Yuck! Can’t un-separate that! Dang it. Disaster. What went wrong? How do I fix this? A Frontenac/Grenache blend. Try, set the ratio, got it, Measured it perfectly. Blend. Swirl…and taste…hmmm…that’s worse. Why could I have not pruned today? Grrr….Will cabernet sauvignon fix this? Nope. Mourvedre? No again. Sangiovese? Ha ha, no. Montepulciano? Yeah right, wrong! Running out of options. Chambourcin? Not even chambourcin!!! Whoa. Deep trouble. Okay, Sangiovese. I really wanted to save this for another wine. Yikes! Not a chance. Where is that original sample? Why is that so good and what am I going to do with this disaster in the tank? Merlot? Can you save me? You’re it. My last trick. Or close to my last trick. Dang, that’s freakin’ awesome. Where’s the original sample? Gosh, this is better!!!! Variance percentage? None. Yeah, I’ve been down this road. There isn’t, this is perfect. Okay, tossed in a barrel of Merlot. CO2 stirred. Anxious moment. If this one flies the coop I am beyond screwed. Taste……ahem…how about that? Three plus hours later, I have one heck of a red. One heck. Of a red. The fruit is amazing. There’s some spice. The smoothness — boom! The finish — boom, boom! The complexity — whoosh!!!!

To demonstrate that we just don’t wing it…he…well….let me explain. Dominick, our grower out west, had the need to change our grape order last year, a couple times, okay, more than a couple times. At the end, I just wanted to hold onto our dear Mourvedre. But that’s how we ended up with the life-saving Merlot. Whoosh! Anyway, Dominick had a problem. My phone rings. I see it’s Dominick. Of course, I picked up. I DID NOT let it go to voice mail. “You had what happen? You’re kidding. Any recourse? Look, Dominick, I do not have tank space! How much are they hamstringing you for? Okay, what can you offer me? Okay, I think I can purchase a tank and get it here before they arrive. I’ll help you out.” You can probably connect the dots. I didn’t ask any other questions, all I know is Dominick had picked black muscat grapes for a winery, only for the winery to back out…after they had been picked. He gave me a deal on the grapes. Not an absurd deal that I could have pushed for because of my leverage in this situation. I didn’t want to burn him, so we paid a good amount for the black muscat grapes, but not full market. Always negotiate for a Win-Win, even though I had him in a position for Win-Lose. I never do that. Long term relationships. We received the grapes and immediately upon tasting them, oh man oh man if I had two tanks open. The grapes begged me to ferment on skins for 2 days, press, then ferment cold and leave behind residual sugar for a sweet wine. It would have been dynamite! Nope, had to go the full-in red wine route. And guess what? No one likes it. I have had a dozen customers try it, and the wine is terrible. David said these exact words, “Jim, this is awful.” Dwight is on his own island, saying he would drink a bottle. Sure…right!!! So does it have any endearing qualities? Yup. Full bodied. Check. Soft, yep! Spicy? Yep. Tannins? Yup. So far, so good, right? Fruity? HA HA, not a chance and that throws everything off. Three out of four ain’t bad, right? Right!!! Enjoying a little “Slow Crawl” right now. A fixer upper wine if there ever was one! Fermented together were Frontenac and St. Croix from our vineyard last year, and the overripe syrah from 2021 that would never go dry. Made a very good dry wine! Which we will bottle straight up! Sometime. Tried some, loved it. I wonder what it would taste like with some Black Muscat. Oh wow! That’s fun! Like really fun. Like nothing else fun. Like wow! Okay, I went “Valley Girl” with all of those “like.” But hey, it didn’t gag me with a spoon….like. Does this wine make one speak “Valley Girl”? For real!!! What a bonus, like so rad! Groovy on the max! Now, I’m twisting cultures of slang. Oh well. Anyway, ADD, go away for a second, please. Karma. I helped Dominick out of a bad situation. And I screwed up the wine. And then the wine went from an ugly duckling to a beautiful swan, if blended with the right wines. Having had so much fun with it with Slow Crawl, we did it again with Original Capitol Red by blending chambourcin, cabernet sauvignon and you guessed it, black muscat. Black Muscat may not be good on it’s own (yet) but wow, toss some into red wine blends and it works spectacularly well.

The other wine is Original Capitol White, a true zinger. Trying to make Rhapsody in White (vignoles, chardonnay and chardonel), I simply could not get the three to play in the sandbox together. Throwing a mini-temper-tantrum by saying “we are bottling something today (but maybe not — only bottle if the wines are great), we blended aromella with chardonnay and were so impressed, we set our sights on the the blend and looked for labels. Voila. This may be a new mainstay for the wine list. It just rocked. And we blended it so you can pick up both grapes, so the complexity is there.
Lastly, I will toss out some love to Debbie and Angie. To bottle chardonel takes some tinkering. It needs help, like vitamin C, and some light blending. Angie and Debbie teamed up to debate fiercely on what they wanted versus what I had already put together. They won. I capitulated which is rare air, especially for dry whites. But you know what, they did get it right, and this is a great, great version. Listen loudly to those who have passion for they could be directing you as to where you really need to go. It’s okay.

Lastly, on the sweet side, geez Louise, Escape My Mind, bottled on 4/11. Superb!!! We really nailed this one, a blend of diamond and steuben. On fire!

We’ll really focus on blends this year. It’s what the grapes seemingly want, so look for all sorts of new names. The key to our wines for 23 years has been to make very good wines, whatever it takes, and this year nearly everything benefits from blending. This idea goes to the heart of what I learned about wine at Miami University. It’s all about making consistently great wines and if they taste different from one year to the next, that is okay.

Cheers, Jim

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