Each year, Wine Spectator editors survey the wines reviewed over the previous twelve months and select their top 100 based on quality, value, availability and excitement. The only California Merlot to make the list this year, our 2007 Napa/Sonoma Merlot garnered 94 points in the June 15, 2010 issue.
Sunday, November 14th was the perfect day for our harvest party. The weather was clear and crisp and although we still had ten tons of fruit to pick the following week, the vineyard and winery crew were in high spirits, well pleased with the quality of fruit brought in after a long and challenging growing season.
Here we are in early November with a beautiful 76-degree shirt-sleeve day and we are only a little more than half way through harvest! Still to come in is cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and petit verdot. Despite some rain two weekends ago and a light sprinkle on October 30, the fruit flavors are phenomenal; deep, dark and complex with no green whatsoever in any of the skins, seeds or stems. And we are getting this flavor intensity at relatively low brix for us (averaging roughly 26).
There’s an old saying that if you ask a winemaker what they think of the upcoming vintage, they will always tell you that it will be the vintage of the century. There may be a grain of truth to that, but up at the top of Spring Mountain, we think there is genuine reason to be truly excited about 2010. The flavors in the grapes this year are phenomenal.
We are pleased to report that our 2001 Pride Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon won a recent re-enactment of the famous Paris Wine Tasting of 1976 that compared chardonnay and cabernet from France and California. The Wine and Food Society of New York hosted the event at the University Club in New York City on September 21, 2010.
An update on how the 2010 vintage is looking so far: Throughout May and into early June, we experienced cooler and wetter conditions than normal, which led to a slow start for shoot growth. The vines were roughly two to three weeks behind their normal schedule when they finally bloomed in mid June. But the fruit set was nearly perfect with only a light shatter in the merlot and syrah (which is both usual and desired) and a full set throughout the other blocks.
The first vintage we produced a merlot was 1992. After having always thought that the St. Emillion and Pomerol reds were the most delicious from Bordeaux and having had some nice examples from Markham and Duckhorn in the Napa Valley in the late 1980s, it was easy to want to feature merlot as its own varietal and not just as a blending grape. In addition to loving merlot for its expansive pleasing mouthfeel and concentrated berry flavors, it seemed wise for a winery just starting up to have a wine that is accessible in its youth.
Our dedicated vineyard crew is hard at work with one of spring’s critical tasks – removing excess shoots to create the perfect growing environment for this year’s crop of grapes. Although we prune our vines to leave the appropriate number of buds per vine during the winter (1 – 2 buds per fruiting position, depending on the vigor of the vine), spring’s rain and sunshine inevitably leads to the growth of additional shoots, called “suckers,” from buds hidden deep below the bark.
One of the greatest things about producing wine is that you never get bored of doing “the same old thing”; there is an ever-changing agenda that evolves with the seasons and is never the same from one vintage to the next. The first leaves are all out on the vines now, the last droplets of rain have fallen this morning (so we hope), and what the 2010 growing season will be like is an absolute mystery at this point.
Calm, cloudy mornings provide the perfect opportunity to prune our terraced Cabernet Franc vines. Each winter, the previous year’s shoots are trimmed back to one or two buds per “spur” (the fingerlike projections along the horizontal arms of the vine). In the spring, these buds will begin to grow new shoots and will produce the fruit for the new vintage.
Steve and Laurence Pride were in New York City on January 27th for a gala black-tie event at Thomas Keller's much-heralded Per Se Restaurant. Ten of our wines complimented an ethereal seven-course dinner hosted by the International Wine and Food Society of New York.
Last year we adjusted our release calendar to allow our wines a bit more time in bottle before release. As we received very positive input on this decision from our mailing list members and were pleased with the difference this decision made in the way the wines were showing when they were shipped, it is safe to say that this is a schedule you can now come to expect. For those of you who would like to be able to anticipate the coming year's offerings, we present them here: