Bye for Now, Syrah
It happens every year, and yet it always catches me by surprise. Every spring another vintage of wine comes to an end. It is a sad moment for us all. Over the past year, tasting and talking about these wines every day, they have become almost like friends. We have an intimate view of how they have developed, changed, and evolved in front of us. Taking a look back at my tasting notes from April 2011, the 2009 red wines seem to have developed so much character and interest since my first encounter with them. What started out as a new taste sensation, constantly surprising and challenging me with every taste, has become a familiar friend. Yet as close as we have become, there is always an end to every wine. The first of these to disappear is a wine with whom I am especially well acquainted with, the 2009 Syrah. It helped me to acclimate to my new house in Paso Robles as the perfect pairing to the countless BBQs I used to break in my new backyard.
As I look at a bare hole on the tasting room wall with a touch of lament, excitement stirs in me. It is like the first day of school all over again. Who am I going to meet, what interesting things I would learn from them, and how they would help me learn more about myself? The same is true for new wines. These new ‘friends’ offer a whole world of new flavors, aromas, and textures. They give us a chance to taste a new expression of Paso Robles unique growing conditions and see how our winemaking team interpreted this expression.
The 2010 Syrah was bottled about a week ago with the help of a mobile bottling truck. Once our winemakers decide a wine is ready for bottling, it is gently mixed in a tank to combine the flavors from the various types of oak we used for aging, eliminating bottle variation. The wine is then fed into the truck that pulls up to our warehouse through a hose. Empty bottles are put on one end of the conveyer system, cleaned, and move along to the filler. The filler gently pumps wine into the bottle, filling it to the prescribed level before moving it along to the corker. After the cork is firmly placed a team puts the foil (capsule) on the bottle by hand. After the foil is secured with a spinner the bottles are labeled. The now full bottles are conveyed to the front of the truck where they are placed by hand back into a case box. This whole process is done very efficiently, bottling upwards of 90 bottles per minute.
The wine will be stored in our warehouse until its debut in the spring Wine Society shipment, in late April. We will see it in the Tasting Room and online in June. I could not be more excited to taste the final product that our winemakers have been working on since October 4 th, 2010. For them bottling must be the end of a long relationship, similar to what I experience when we sell out of a wine. For you and me though, it is a chance to make a new friend. I hope you are as excited as I am to welcome a new wine to the JUSTIN line up.