As mentioned before, I'd like to make entirely different wines each year, working with different growers across the Lodi appellation. We brought in three two-ton winegrape lots in 2015, and here's the status of them.
Going with a Rhone theme in 2015, we took Grenache grown by Gregg Lewis in the Clements sub-appellation on Highway 88 just north of the Mokelumne River on a hillside. These were grown on quadrilateral cordon. We also took Syrah grown by Mettler (Arbor Vineyards) due south of there around Kettleman Lane and Jack Tone Road on a verticle shoot position trellis. Also grown by Mettler was Mourvedre on their estate vineyard on Harney Lane that Gregg and I planted about 15 years ago. I'm very familiar with that vineyard as I sourced all the clonal material - the Mourvedre came from Tablas Creek which have their proprietary Chateauneuf-du-Pape clones and we head trained them.
These all fermented very hot in macro bins and I was concerned with the yeast overheating and dying before fermentation finished. There isn't much that can be done to control fermentation temperature when fermenting in macro bins - we tried dropping dry ice in them but that didn't do anything. I read an article in Wine Business Monthly about the timing of yeast nutrient additions and they recommend adding half at the start of fermentation and the other half at around 12 Brix. I added it all at the start and that may have caused fermentation to start off too vigorously. In any event they did all go dry with Syrah going a bit sluggish at the end.
I ended up using all the Syrah in blending. Both the Grenache and Mourvedre have 25% Syrah. That Syrah hasn't dominated the lighter-bodied Rhones, rather it's given them some nice tannic structure. I blended them just a few days after pressing so already the Syrah has integrated into the other two. Then we have a proper GSM blend with 41.7% Syrah, 41.7% Mourvedre, and 16.6% Grenache. That'll be our 2015 reserve. We aren't sure yet if we'll call it Maribor again, but given the great response we've received from the Slovenian city, it's a possibility.
On October 22, during topping and just before SO2ing I evaluated them and am very excited about what's to come. It'll be a while before they are ready for bottling, and we need to order another batch of our branded foils from France which takes quite a bit of lead time. I'd estimate about 4 months before they are ready but it may take a little longer to get the foils, corks, and labels delivered.
Here are my impressions of these 2015 Rhone reds:
2015 Lodi Grenache - starts with red fruit, spice, smoke then aeration adds layers including perfume. The palate is pretty young and needs integration from further barrel aging.
2015 Lodi Mourvedre - nose of red meat, incense, and sandalwood. Palate is silky.
2015 Lodi GSM - cinnamon, black cherry liqueur, anise, and lots of aromatics that need air and barrel time to resolve. Dark colored and tannic, backwards right now.
I haven't had to adjust the acid since blending and all are soft. They are all around 15% alcohol. These wines are finished in terms of winemaking; they just need more time in barrel.