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March 30, 2009

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Silver Springs Reds under the Don Giovanni Wine tm label 07's ...ours are still in barrel...min 18 months and over 2 years for our grand reserve...I will after I bottle them be challenging any wine over 90 points with my Bordeaux Blend...as for the rest the single varietals , again I will throw down the challenge...could be the best wines I ever made...but I will not let the babies out until they grow up...look for them in 2011 min...

Don / John,

How much new oak are you using? What effects are you hoping to impart with longer aging? I ask because most Finger Lakes producers don't let their wines spend as much time in barrel as you do.

A fun and interesting read Evan! Thank you! As a woman, I especially love the analogy used to set the tone : ) A question for you: what does it mean when you wrote "but they will never approach 15.5 ABV." What is 15.5 ABV referring to?

15.5 percent alcohol by volume, i.e. very high, like many California reds.

Peter - Just as an aside, I've even seen some 16.5 Cabs, some 15.8 Pinot, and some 17+ Zin. That does not, I would assume, fit the Peter Bell definition of refreshing!

As a kind of experiment I'm tempted to grab a handful of 2007 Finger Lakes reds and a handful of 2007 16.5 Cabs. Lay them down side-by-side, open them in 10 or 12 years. Which wines will show better? I have to wonder if the oppressive alcohol and the disappearance of natural acidity will hurt the California wines' potential for aging.

Evan,
While we can't be as patient as Silver Springs with our 07 oaked reds, we will hold on to them as long as our inventories will allow. We choose the optimum time to take them out of oak to showcase the fruit, and age them in the bottle instead.

On the other hand, our 2007 T23 "unoaked" Cab F has been out for a year now, and is still improving. This wine is "nothin' but the fruit". If you are a fan of the varietal, this is a must try wine. I won't even make you slave away on our bottling line.

I have a strong feeling that 10-year-old high alcohol bombs would be undrinkable, unless you were suffering from a psychological need to find them stunningly delicious, 'cause you paid so much for them.

Josh,

Cab Franc is my sweet spot. I would move to Chinon if I could. I will be picking up a bottle of T23 shortly, and I love the concept. Thanks for trusting the fruit; I also hope you occasionally allow some of those delicious green flavors to hang around! (I know, most people don't dig them).

Peter,

There's nothing quite like confirmation bias, is there?

Evan: You were clearly meant to write for LENNDEVOURS...slightly green cab franc very well could be named "The Official Wine of LENNDEVOURS"

One thing to keep in mind with relation to John's Silver Springs reds -- they aren't 100% Finger Lakes fruit. He uses a large proportion of North Fork fruit that can probably stand up to the oak a bit longer. Here on Long Island, some people leave their reds in oak for up to two years before bottling.

It's as much about the mindset as it is about the fruit itself though, I think.

And Evan, why on earth would you waste your money on those boozy Cali reds? ;)

Ah, Lenn, having seen them doesn't mean having bought them! And it's worth saying that while we talk in general terms about California wines, I know we've all had some wonderful west coast bottles. I certainly have.

Oops - this was Evan, not Morgan. See, I'm logged in at her computer! Forthwith, any posts with her name on it will be indeed written by Morgan!

Evan,
Maybe you should be writing about your mistress in a green dress. Just how grassy/vegetal are we talking about?

For us, there is the classic pepper edge that makes Cab Franc what it is. And then there is unripe fruit. There is no excuse for unripe fruit/over-cropping, even in the coolest of years. It's a slippery slope, when you start down that path. It contributes to the old stereotypes of dry reds in the FL. Early light exposure on the fruit achieved from well-balanced vines, a vertically split trellis system, and aggressive cluster thinning at veraison all contribute to great food-friendly, "varietally correct" reds in the FL.

Josh,

You raise an excellent point. I am not interested in over-cropped, thin, underripe wines. Those Cab Francs tend to be dominated by green, underripe characters -- with little to no classic fruit. I love a Cab Franc that shows some black pepper and a touch of green bell pepper or asparagus as well, in addition to the rich currant and black and red fruits. In short, I like a balanced Cab Franc, richly concentrated but not over-extracted. And I prefer any oak influence to be minimal, because while the grape holds many esters, I'm not certain that caramel and vanilla are among them.

For these reasons, I'm excited about T23. But I wonder: Do you find that wine missing any mouthfeel? Do you add tannins?

We do not add any tannins, which allows for the full expression of the grape. Some natural sassafras and nutmeg from the grapes, but none of the over-the-top oak to mask what might or might not be present in the fruit. For me the mouthfeel is just right for the weight of this light to medium bodied wine. It will not overpower pork or chicken, will hold it's own with lamb, and pairs perfectly with a lean cut of venison.

This Loire Valley style red would probably severely disappoint the followers of the afore-mentioned "boozy" reds, but Cab Franc, and specifically the T23, is what we do best.

Josh - That's it; I'm making an appointment. You've got me extremely curious and, to be honest, rather disappointed with myself for not having tried T23 already.

Now, two questions:

1) How does the 2007 compare to what would have been the 2006 T23, or the 2008 T23?

2) You imply that tannin additions can inhibit a grape's full expression. What makes you say this? I'm not denying it or agreeing with it, just curious.

Evan,
1) I will pull a bottle of the 2006 T23 from our library. The 2008 T23 is sitting pretty in the tank. So you will just have to taste the vertical for yourself.

2) I should clarify by stating that tannin additions "to wine", that are intended to supplement mouthfeel, add components to the wine that weren't present in the vineyard. Our philosophy is that this type of addition will place the wine out of balance at some point in its lifetime, thus inhibiting its true potential and distorting the wine's ability to accurately represent our estate vineyards.

Tannin additions "during fermentation", that are intended to bind color compounds, are more subtle (and less understood, at least by us) in their downstream effects on the mouthfeel of the resulting wine. I could see where these additions could be useful to some in certain situations (to correct mistakes made in the vineyard or in the decision to purchase from a yield-driven grower).

Now I'm going to have to go down into my cellar and pull out that bottle of 2007 T23 that you sent me, Wig. Descriptions like "express the vineyard" are what get thirsty.

Now answer me this...where ELSE would this kind of discussion be going on about NY wines?

Here on Long Island, cabernet franc is all over the map. Some producers manipulate it way too much, trying to make it something that it's not. Too much oak, too much extraction.

Then there are some delicious wines that are made more in the Bordeaux-style of cabernet franc. Some of these are very good, some are just okay.

What I wish we'd see more of would be the low-touch versions, in the Loire style. A few producers do make them and they are very good in the warmer vintages, but more inconsistent in the cooler ones.

The joys of cool-climate wine regions, right?

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