Where 'Substance meets Delicacy'
I look at wine balance in a general way, as having an equal presence of ‘angles vs. rounds.’ Structure from tannins and acids [angles] lessen as the fruit ripens and the counter-balancing glycerol [round] is produced [in lock-step with alcohol/initial sugar level] which ameliorates and balances these two opposing forces creating a ‘sweet spot’. In other words ‘unripe grapes start out super angular and become way too round when they become over ripe.’ Each grape variety has its own ‘sweet spot’ due to its natural ‘angular load’ of acid or tannin-based. For example, Riesling and Cabernet Sauvignon are vastly different varieties, each with a different ‘sweet spot’ of intrinsic balance evident by their different uses at our tables. The wines produced by each of them cannot be judged by the others’ composition. Their destinies and their ideal conditions are different and that is exactly what is exciting about the diversity of wine. Sadly, of late the popular trend seems to focus on something easy to measure like alcohol, applying it to all varieties and regions. Context is important for everything: substance and delicacy are not mutually exclusive in a binary sense. They have their own roles in ‘the achievement of balance.’
So let’s look at this concept from the perspective of recent weather. Having consecutive low rainfall years, I see the great value my father has always placed on having deeply rooted plants: they can moderate their vigor according to the ‘bank account’ of soil moisture available to them achieving a balance between resources and productivity. He grew up without irrigation as an easy option for the family’s perennial crops. It was clear that a good fit with the environment was necessary to success and feeding the family every day. Little water meant a high value was placed on efficient rootstocks for ones’ trees and vines. That, combined with planting in well-drained soil that is able to retain enough available water from natural rainfall, meant you could support and ripen a moderate crop without significant irrigation. Our current industry technology has allowed us to push the limits of the site’s potential beyond nature’s design.
Last year, I said ‘bring it on’ regarding the potential quality from a drier than typical vintage. From our own personal perspective, we are quite happy with the results. But I have also been pretty picky about the sites and people I will work with, so in the end, it all works out. Together, we try to make wines that are appropriate for the variety and that are appropriate to the place they come from. Some varieties, like Grenache, celebrate substance while often embracing delicacy, while others like Pinot Noir, celebrate delicacy, while often embracing substance.
Recent Releases and More
- 2014 Dry Rose'
- 2013 Old & Mature Vines Zinfandel
- 2013 'Shale Terrace' Zinfandel
- 2012 Sonoma County Grenache
- 2011 Platt Vineyard Pinot Noir
- 2011 Scherrer Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon