With the 2010 Harvest put to bed, our attention shifts to the vineyards and to preparation for 2011. Vines must be pruned, jute and straw laid down to protect our vulnerable hillsides from erosion from the winter’s rains, and we prepare to replant two of our lesser-known vineyard blocks with newly grafted vines.
Our Figtree block, located adjacent to our gate, has been planted to Merlot Clones 181 and 3, but the block is a bit too shaded and cool for Merlot. In its place, we will be putting in a Wente Clone selection of Chardonnay to use in our Vintner Select Chardonnay, a small bottling that is released only to our most active mailing list customers. “The block is situated in a low-lying pocket of the vineyard that is perfect for accumulating cool air as it rolls off the mountain overnight, and with surrounding trees to provide protection in the form of dappled sunlight during the heat of the day, it should be an ideal spot to grow Chardonnay grapes with heady aromatics and crisp acidity,” says winemaker Sally Johnson.
The smallest blocks in our vineyard are two blocks consisting of two rows each of Sangiovese vines. One of them, LMT, consistently produces an intense wine with excellent concentration and structure, but the other, Callie’s, tends to set an excessive crop that requires considerable fruit thinning to produce a good wine. We have decided to remove the Callie’s Sangiovese and replant with more exciting clonal material.
Numerous clones exist within the family of Sangiovese, often divided into two main types, grosso and piccolo. Steve Pride: “Although it is generally true that the grosso has bigger berries than the piccolo, the most intense, dark and concentrated Sangioveses in the world, Brunellos, come from around the Montalcino village and they are made almost exclusively from grosso clones. There are numerous grosso clones, and some are more intense than others. We have a great grosso clone in our LMT block that we are keeping.”
Our Callie’s block, on the other hand, will be replanted with three rows of three different Sangiovese clones. One row will be planted with cuttings taken from our own LMT Sangiovese, one to VCR Clone 23, a piccolo selection from Romagnolo that seems to be doing well in California featuring spicy phenolics and dark cherry flavors, and one to VCR Clone 102, a grosso clone from Prugnolo that is relatively new to California with deep color and intensely fruity aromatics. It will be exciting to get to know these newest members of our vineyard family.