Thursday, December 18, 2008

Winter in the Cellar...




Today we blended wine from the 2007 vintage, in preparation for bottling next Spring.

This is a significant milestone for all winemakers - for the first time, the wine is combined to form one primary blend rather than multiple varietal lots.

We hand selected the barrels of wine that will comprise the 2007 Vellum Cabernet Sauvignon. One final sample from each of 32 barrels confirmed their inclusion in the final blend. And it's a tasty one!!

It is important for the wine to have enough time to integrate and mix thoroughly - this can only be accomplished by letting the wine sit in tank for a day or so.

So tomorrow we will barrel down the wine and let it continue to age in our French oak barrels.

Only a few months to go before bottling...

You can reserve your Vellum right now by clicking here.

Cheers,

Jeff Mathy

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Second Vintage of Vellum is Finished!

The 2008 vintage proved to be a challenging year for us. We got past many trials and successfully navigated more than the normal share of potential pitfalls.

This year, for the first time ever, it occurred to me that truly great wine is very difficult to make. As my father once told me, "The devil is in the details!".

I suppose its like that with anything one wants to accomplish in life, but with wine, any miscue shows itself boldly and it is almost impossible to undo what has been done.

However, as I try the 2008 lots and then go back to them again, I have no criticisms -this is also a first!

So it leaves me wondering how we got here. Our implemented details collectively have created a wine that exceeds all of my expectations in the face of a less than desirous year.

And... the 2008 vintage is done! The individual lots have completed their secondary fermentations. This is where the malic acid in the wine is metabolised by the beneficial bacteria Oenococcus Oeni and converted into the more stable lactic acid. It is here when we mark the wine's completion and beginning of its maturity.

So, the 2008 Vellum is ready for a long winter's slumber. I suspect it may prove to be my favorite of any wine I have created...My apologies to everyone who will have to wait to find out why!

As an addendum, I want to take this opportunity to thank those who have gone beyond every expectation to help us meet our winemaking goals...You know who are!

I also want to express my sincere wish as we approach the winter solstice and the holiday season that everyone can take time out to look back upon what went right for them this year.

At Vellum we are thankful for everything that fell into place and for this much needed time for rest and reflection.

Cheers to all!

~Karl Lehmann

TO ORDER WINE --> CLICK HERE

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving Cheer!

Everyone at Vellum Wine Craft would like to wish you and your family a happy Thanksgiving!!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Harvest Party 2008


A big thank you to everyone who celebrated with us at Vellum's 2008 Harvest Party!! Hosted by the famed Sonoma restaurant - A Taste of the Himalayas - we were thrilled to bring the 2008 harvest to a successful conclusion. Thank you to all of our growers and investors - and thank you to our friends and family who continue to support Vellum Wine Craft.

We wish everyone a happy and healthy holiday season!!

Cheers to you all,

Jeff and Karl

Vellum Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 is now on sale!


That's right - Vellum Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 is now on sale via our mail-in order form. Soon we will have full e-commerce functionality on the site, but for now the only way to reserve your wine is to print the PDF order form and mail or fax it to Vellum Wine Craft, PO Box 10800, Napa, CA 94581. FAX: 707.935.7916.

Only 800 cases were produced. Wine will be allotted on a first come, first served basis...so reserve your Vellum Cabernet Sauvignon today!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tuesday wine blending.


Another wonderful evening of wine blending trials has come and gone...and the 2007 Vellum Cabernet Sauvignon continues to impress wine experts and novices alike.

Karl and I had the pleasure of hosting two guests tonight, my cousins Melanie and Sonya from Vernon Hills, Illinois.

After tasting the bright and brilliant fruit of the 2008 samples, we moved on to the 2007s. We have nearly perfected our final 2007 Vellum blend. The adjustment was slight but noticeable - and we now have the following percentages of each grape varietal in our 2007 Vellum Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet Sauvignon 84%, Merlot 10% and Petit Verdot 6%.

In the photo above, you might also notice our prototype wine label - to be officially unveiled when the 2007 Vellum Cabernet Sauvignon goes on sale this Saturday, November 1st.

For the first time, Vellum will be available for purchase as "wine futures". We have promised our friends and family that they would be able to purchase the wine in this fashion - to reserve their bottles pre-release!

- Jeff Mathy

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Wine Hits the Barrel!

This week the first of this 2008 vintage was put into barrels! Two thirds of the wine has finished its primary fermentation and it has been pressed off and recombined with it's free run.

I was very pleased with the press wine! I decided to add it all back to the original free run to provide better structure and integration to the overall wine early on. It benefited greatly from this marriage with no trace of bitterness or overly extracted tannins and together it will pick up even more structure in its new oak.

Also, although the wine is still very unsettled as all new wine should be; I feel it displays the Vellum signature balance and it is approachable now.

Here too, I would like to make special mention for one lot in particular, our small blending lot of Merlot, which had undergone a very trying and exotic fermentation to become its resultant wine. The wine fermented perfectly to 100% dryness and I feel that in every regard it is the finest of my career. Everything in this wine is heightened but in a graceful manner. I expect it will mature beautifully and we will watch it closely as it becomes a very worthy addition to the 2008 Vellum vintage!

-Karl Lehmann

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pressing the grapes!




Yesterday Karl and I pressed two different tanks of wine - Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. The pressing process involves a few steps:

1. First we drain the "free run" wine into clean, fresh tanks.

2. Then we take the remaining wine-soaked skins and load them into a press. (Photo of the press is above.)

3. The press has an inner bladder that inflates with air to push the skins against the inside of the press cylinder. The wine from this pressing is collected for selective blending into the free run.

4. At the end of the process, we have a highly concentrated pressed wine. The leftover skins and seeds are then used for fertilizer in the vineyards.

In the photos above you can see the brilliant purple and magenta hues of the finished wine. It is opaque because there are billions of yeast cells still in suspension in the wine. Over the next few months, they will sink to the bottom of the barrel and will be removed periodically in a process called "racking". Racking of the barrels is a process where the winemaker removes the wine from the barrel, cleans the barrel, and then puts the wine back into the barrel.

Slowly, the wine begins to clarify and become polished.

During the next month, the wine will also undergo its secondary fermentation (aka ML fermentation) where malic acid is converted by beneficial bacteria into lactic acid.

More to come on this topic later...

Oh yeah, the wine tastes as good as it looks! Bright fruit flavors with lots of intensity. I can't wait to taste the 2008s after some time in barrel!

Jeff Mathy

Monday, October 20, 2008

No two vintages are the same.

One of the things that makes wine exciting is the degree of uncertainty from year to year. Sometimes it is met with joy and mixed with a little apprehension but it is always with great anticipation that we first drink the new vintage and bear witness to our triumphs from the vineyard.

Yesterday, the first two of four primary fermentations were completed - a Cabernet Sauvignon lot and our Petit Verdot. Both were as I expected - bright and balanced on the palate and most of all - lively.

The colors are very deep, almost black and serious despite their well structured acidity which usually displays a vibrant crimson hue. Here too the wine fully expresses the fruit flavor which I discovered while walking all those hours among the vines.

I think this is when Vellum wine is in its purest form. It has not been exposed to oak yet and is newly born on the must (grape skins) eagerly awaiting to be pressed. However, It is also at his point that the the fermentation also has to be recognized for its underlying contribution to the wine.

The lifespan of a yeast cell is generally short-lived. Their purpose to winemakers is deceptively simple: consume sugar to make alcohol. Although in most red wines it is ideal for stability as well as style that the yeast which began the fermentation consume all of the sugar before their population dwindles and eventually passes on.

So in reality, a complete fermentation takes great planning, control and mindfulness. It is very important too that all of this takes place in lower threshold but persistent temperatures. In this environment the yeast may still thrive and produce its own heat but the wine greatly benefits by having its fruit and varietal character preserved. Here a successful fermentation is quantified in very small fractions of a percent of residual sugar.

So, the wine in front of me now is "dry"; which means that the sugar level is so low that it can no longer be considered a viable food source for the yeast.

While I am on the subject, I remember that someone once asked me, "Does it matter what type of yeast is used and if so what do YOU use?" To that I responded, "undeniably yes and...its a SECRET!!!".

So yes, I consider a yeast's specific strain and kinetics to be a large part of my augmentation of the wine and a continuation of the previous vintage. It's like choosing the right sports team to have success year after year...as well as establishing a signature style of play.

On the nose and palate both the Cabernet and Petit Verdot have notes reminiscent of the yeasts which were chosen for their aromas and flavors. They are what I feel the fruit needs to make its transition gracefully, safely and with interest into wine.

Tomorrow these lots will be pressed and the wine will be added back to its pure free run at my discretion. The yeast have done their job in presenting wonderfully elegant wine and now its time to let machinery and the further extract of the grapes to subtly fill it in.

Karl Lehmann

Friday, October 17, 2008

Great news from Uncle Sam!

We just heard word from our good friends at the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.

Vellum's 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon label has been APPROVED and we can now go ahead with printing.

We are looking forward to unveiling the label very soon!

Also, watch for a new "ORDER WINE" section of the website starting on November 1st. You will be able to order wine online and it will be shipped after it is bottled in the New Year.

Karl will soon have a blog posting regarding the fermentation of the 2008 Vellum Cabernet Sauvignon. Stay tuned!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A happy harvest finale.






Yet another harvest for Vellum Wine Craft has concluded - and a new crop of Cabernet Sauvignon is sitting in its fermentation tank awaiting the wonderful transformation from grape juice to wine.

It has been a year of many celebrated successes, but we are not at the end of the road. Rather, we are beginning another leg of our journey.

Karl and I wish to extend our warmest thanks to all of you who have followed along with us from afar. And a very special thank you to the Linstad family who made Saturday's harvest such a wonderful experience for our visiting friends and family.

We are grateful to have so many positive people behind us.

Cheers to you all! And please keep coming back to the Vellum Harvest Notes blog as we continue to convey the stories from the vines and the cellar.

The 2007 Vellum Cabernet Sauvignon is poised for release. We hope to share our hard work with all of you!

Jeff Mathy

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Merlot is harvested!



Thank you to Sharon and Alex Ivanoff for a great day yesterday. The Merlot was harvested from their small but mighty vineyard in the western hills of Napa County. As usual, we started at sunrise and started filling bins.

This year was remarkably warmer than last year. I wore shorts and a light jacket - a stark contrast to last year's harvest (photos in our blog archive below).

The fun is not over yet!

The majority of our production, the Napa Valley Cabernet will be harvested on Saturday morning. It will conclude another stellar year for Vellum.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS - November 1st

VELLUM PRE-RELEASE SALE BEGINS!

Jeff Mathy

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Tomorrow is the big day!


Tomorrow morning we will harvest our prized Merlot vineyard. The berries are dark blue, almost black in some cases and the sugars are still relatively low - allowing us to maintain our desired lower alcohol levels. And the development of the seeds and skins is definitely there.

This vineyard was harvested in late September last vintage. This year's slower ripening will likely result in more concentration and depth - which we love!

Looks like it will be another beautiful harvest morning in Napa!

Jeff Mathy

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Cabernet at 23.8 brix




The Cabernet Sauvignon is right on target to be harvested next Saturday. Karl and I walked the vines again this evening and took samples for analysis.

The sugars and acid are excellent, as is the overall grape maturity. So it looks like we will bring in about 9 tons of fruit early Saturday morning.

We couldn't be happier with the way this vineyard performs. Development is always slow and steady, making for an easy-going harvest. No surprises!

On another note, I will be happy to have a few special guests joining us for the crush this weekend. Karl and I are looking forward to capping off the 2008 harvest with a little celebration - perhaps at our favorite Sonoma hang-out - "A Taste of the Himalayas" Restaurant.

If you happen to be in the neighborhood that evening, please stop by and join the fun!

Looking forward to the busy week ahead,

Jeff Mathy

Saturday, October 4, 2008

A rainy Friday brings good news for the vines.

Last night's rain came at just the right time for our two remaining vineyards. The Cabernet in particular will benefit greatly from the sprinkle by soaking up some water and temporarily allowing the sugars to drop in concentration. This swelling of the grapes works to our benefit by extending the ripening period.

By letting the grapes hang longer on the vine we encourage hyper-development of the skins and seeds.

Like last year, the ripening Cabernet is perfectly timed with Mother Nature's showers. And with any luck, we may be ready to harvest the fruit next Saturday.

Jeff Mathy

Friday, October 3, 2008

Cabernet harvested!







Wow! - what another beautiful day for the 2008 harvest. Our first 4 tons of Cabernet Sauvignon were harvested on Wednesday. The fruit came in at about 23.5 brix, perfect for making a well-balanced wine.

The berries were evenly set and had a great combination of flavor and acidity. We began at sunrise, picking and sorting the grapes as they were collected in half-ton bins.

We enjoyed a few hours in the bright morning sun...and then we were off to the winery. At the winery we weighed the bins and started the crush. The grapes were once-again sorted before entering the destemmer. From vine to tank, all of Vellum's grapes go through four (4) hand sortings. This ensures that only the highest quality clusters are used. The rest of the fruit gets turned into fertilizer. (And in some cases - grape jelly!)

All in all, the day was wonderful. Thank you to everyone that helped...and to our friends and family who are following along with the harvest from afar.

Now the Cabernet will go through 48 hours of cold-soak before we start the fermentation.

Keep on checking back with us...we have 12 more tons of grapes to harvest in the coming weeks.

Jeff Mathy

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Vellum's Petit Verdot Harvest









Yesterday we harvested the Gobbler Grove Petit Verdot. The day began with a beautiful bright morning and stayed moderate in temperature into the afternoon. Our crew picked 2.35 tons of grapes...and from the looks of the photos above...the color and flavor intensity will mirror the 2007 fruit.

More to come tomorrow...

I'm bushed from our day of work on the Cabernet. Pictures from today's harvest will be posted tomorrow.

Thanks again for everyone's hard work!

Jeff Mathy

Monday, September 29, 2008

Vellum Cabernet grapes looking great!





Yesterday Karl and I met with Jerry and Marsha Linstad, owners and viticulturists of Linstad Vineyards. It had only been a few days since our last visit, but we walked the vines and took another sample to check for sugar, pH, and total acidity.

The grapes look stunning - lots of good development in the skins and seeds. The clusters are evenly ripening and the flavor of the juice is incredibly delicious and sweet.

This vineyard is located in a very slow-ripening part of Napa Valley. In many ways, the micro-climate is similar to vineyards in Bordeaux France. The fog layer typically lingers in this part of the valley, providing cooler temperatures and in our case, long maturation periods. All of this is VERY good for cultivating Cabernet Sauvignon of the highest quality.

The sugars are starting to creep up to the brix (sugar) level we desire, around 24.5 degrees brix. But with a cold front coming later this week, the three of us felt that the vines would gain even more development and concentration if we let the grapes hang a while longer.

Thanks again to Jerry and his family for their work this harvest. We are really looking forward to starting the crush.

But first we have the Petit Verdot coming in tomorrow morning. Wish us luck - and check back for tomorrow's blog with photos from the festivities.

Cheers!

Jeff Mathy

Sunday, September 28, 2008

HARVEST 2008!!



Hello All -

Greetings from Napa Valley! It has been nearly six months since our last blog entry - and we have been hard at work - to make the 2008 harvest our best vintage yet.

Vellum will harvest our small production of Petit Verdot on Tuesday morning, the first of four vineyards used in Vellum Cabernet Sauvignon.

Known as the Gobbler Grove Vineyard, this hillside property sits high above the valley floor on the east side of Napa. The vineyard's micro-climate is perfectly suited for producing world-class Petit Verdot.

Vellum uses a small amount of Petit Verdot in our Cabernet to add just a hint of blueberry and spice to the aroma of our wine. Petit Verdot is also a very dense wine with extremely dark coloring. The 2007 vintage produced a Petit Verdot that was opaque, almost black in color, with aromas of blueberry pie and baking spices. It adds a beautiful "fullness" to Vellum, blending seamlessly with wine from our other vineyards.

In addition to the Petit Verdot, on Wednesday we will harvest one of our Cabernet vineyards in northeast Napa. Located at the base of an alluvial fan (a small hillside), this Cabernet vineyard is older and more mature than any of our other vines. It produces fruit with rich dark berry flavors, edged by hints of espresso and smoke. The 2007 vintage is deep purple, inky and full-bodied. With such good development of the skins and seeds, we are able to harvest these grapes at a moderate sugar level which aids in the wine's alcohol balance after vinification and barrel aging.

These two vineyards are looking perfect. Karl and I could not be happier with the quality of the fruit and the uniformity of development. What a great way to start harvest!

More to come as the 2008 season begins...

Jeff Mathy

Monday, April 14, 2008

Barrel samples looking good.


Hello all,

Last night Karl and I completed another round of blending trials - and the wines are coming along quite nicely.

The Merlot has once again proven to be pure and true in form, with fantastic red cherry, strawberry and raspberry on the nose and palate. It's got great acidity and the alcohol is well balanced with the overall mouthfeel and finish. Again, a hint of sandalwood peeked through and added to the complexity of this amazing Merlot.

Our two Cabernet Sauvignon lots showed great promise with lots of boysenberry and spice on the nose including nutmeg and cardamom. The overall structure of these wines continues to develop with the faint oak influences starting to take shape.

It's exciting to see how much these Vellum wines have matured since first entering the barrels.

It leaves us both very excited about how the wines will taste when we host Vellum's first-ever barrel tasting on April 26th.

We hope you love these wines as much as we do!

- Jeff

Monday, March 17, 2008

Karl goes off...on beauty.

At this point in my life I have come to the conclusion that all creativity is an emulation of nature and a display for others. With this in mind I feel that a Muse is a figure central to the inspiration and fixation of another. A person may create without the focus of a Muse but perhaps not to their potential. "Muse" as a word and concept with its mythological underpinnings is sacred to me. The daughters of Zeus and others from lesser known lineages were said to inspire and spawn creation in mortals with their beauty and purity. Not only did this bring humans closer to the gods but the iconoclastic ideal of the Muses alone would ensure their influence for generations.

I do not believe that this has changed even today, as I too am prone to these trappings. Art and invention is not created out of the mired pain of human existence
(as many would have us believe); rather out of the want for beauty in its corporeal form. A Muse. All creation is for that figure and is a display of devotion. So...we burn and we seek.

In 1838, Edgar Allan Poe wrote a short story called "Ligeia"... I always felt that this piece of literature best expressed how I perceive the world and how beauty plays the central role in my life. In the past I have made several attempts to push this story on to others but in the end I realized I should keep it to myself, close by and use it to shape my own life. If you care to read on... here is an excerpt from Ligeia:

"There is one dear topic, however, on which my memory falls me not. It is the person of Ligeia. In stature she was tall, somewhat slender, and, in her latter days, even emaciated. I would in vain attempt to portray the majesty, the quiet ease, of her demeanor, or the incomprehensible lightness and elasticity of her footfall. She came and departed as a shadow. I was never made aware of her entrance into my closed study save by the dear music of her low sweet voice, as she placed her marble hand upon my shoulder. In beauty of face no maiden ever equaled her. It was the radiance of an opium-dream -- an airy and spirit-lifting vision more wildly divine than the fantasies which hovered vision about the slumbering souls of the daughters of Delos. Yet her features were not of that regular mould which we have been falsely taught to worship in the classical labors of the heathen.

"There is no exquisite beauty," says Bacon, Lord Verulam, speaking truly of all the forms and genera of beauty, without some strangeness in the proportion. Yet, although I saw that the features of Ligeia were not of a classic regularity -- although I perceived that her loveliness was indeed "exquisite," and felt that there was much of "strangeness" pervading it, yet I have tried in vain to detect the irregularity and to trace home my own perception of "the strange." I examined the contour of the lofty and pale forehead -- it was faultless -- how cold indeed that word when applied to a majesty so divine! -- the skin rivaling the purest ivory, the commanding extent and repose, the gentle prominence of the regions above the temples; and then the raven-black, the glossy, the luxuriant and naturally-curling tresses, setting forth the full force of the Homeric epithet, "hyacinthine!" I looked at the delicate outlines of the nose -- and nowhere but in the graceful medallions of the Hebrews had I beheld a similar perfection.

"There were the same luxurious smoothness of surface, the same scarcely perceptible tendency to the aquiline, the same harmoniously curved nostrils speaking the free spirit. I regarded the sweet mouth. Here was indeed the triumph of all things heavenly -- the magnificent turn of the short upper lip -- the soft, voluptuous slumber of the under -- the dimples which sported, and the color which spoke -- the teeth glancing back, with a brilliancy almost startling, every ray of the holy light which fell upon them in her serene and placid, yet most exultingly radiant of all smiles. I scrutinized the formation of the chin -- and here, too, I found the gentleness of breadth, the softness and the majesty, the fullness and the spirituality, of the Greek -- the contour which the god Apollo revealed but in a dream, to Cleomenes, the son of the Athenian. And then I peered into the large eves of Ligeia.

"For eyes we have no models in the remotely antique. It might have been, too, that in these eves of my beloved lay the secret to which Lord Verulam alludes. They were, I must believe, far larger than the ordinary eyes of our own race. They were even fuller than the fullest of the gazelle eyes of the tribe of the valley of Nourjahad. Yet it was only at intervals -- in moments of intense excitement -- that this peculiarity became more than slightly noticeable in Ligeia. And at such moments was her beauty -- in my heated fancy thus it appeared perhaps -- the beauty of beings either above or apart from the earth -- the beauty of the fabulous Houri of the Turk. The hue of the orbs was the most brilliant of black, and, far over them, hung jetty lashes of great length. The brows, slightly irregular in outline, had the same tint. The "strangeness," however, which I found in the eyes, was of a nature distinct from the formation, or the color, or the brilliancy of the features, and must, after all, be referred to the expression.

"Ah, word of no meaning! behind whose vast latitude of mere sound we entrench our ignorance of so much of the spiritual. The expression of the eyes of Ligeia! How for long hours have I pondered upon it! How have I, through the whole of a midsummer night, struggled to fathom it! What was it -- that something more profound than the well of Democritus -- which lay far within the pupils of my beloved? What was it? I was possessed with a passion to discover. Those eyes! Those large, those shining, those divine orbs! They became to me twin stars of Leda, and I to them devoutest of astrologers.

"There is no point, among the many incomprehensible anomalies of the science of mind, more thrillingly exciting than the fact -- never, I believe, noticed in the schools -- that, in our endeavors to recall to memory something long forgotten, we often find ourselves upon the very verge of remembrance, without being able, in the end, to remember. And thus how frequently, in my intense scrutiny of Ligeia's eyes, have I felt approaching the full knowledge of their expression -- felt it approaching -- yet not quite be mine -- and so at length entirely depart! And (strange, oh strangest mystery of all!) I found, in the commonest objects of the universe, a circle of analogies to that expression.

"I mean to say that, subsequently to the period when Ligeia's beauty passed into my spirit, there dwelling as in a shrine, I derived, from many existences in the material world, a sentiment such as I felt always aroused within me by her large and luminous orbs. Yet not the more could I define that sentiment, or analyze, or even steadily view it. I recognized it, let me repeat, sometimes in the survey of a rapidly-growing vine -- in the contemplation of a moth, a butterfly, a chrysalis, a stream of running water. I have felt it in the ocean; in the falling of a meteor. I have felt it in the glances of unusually aged people. And there are one or two stars in heaven -- (one especially, a star of the sixth magnitude, double and changeable, to be found near the large star in Lyra) in a telescopic scrutiny of which I have been made aware of the feeling. I have been filled with it by certain sounds from stringed instruments, and not infrequently by passages from books. Among innumerable other instances, I well remember something in a volume of Joseph Glanvill, which (perhaps merely from its quaintness -- who shall say?) never failed to inspire me with the sentiment; -- "And the will therein lieth, which dieth not. Who knoweth the mysteries of the will, with its vigor? For God is but a great will pervading all things by nature of its intentness. Man doth not yield him to the angels, nor unto death utterly, save only through the weakness of his feeble will.""


- Karl

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Wine Update



Karl and I spent the weekend tasting through our four wine lots from the 2007 vintage. The wines have been racked (removed from their sediment) for the first time since being in barrel and now we can start to get a clearer idea of how the wines will taste when they go to bottle in about 15 months.

This is, of course, only a snap-shot of Vellum 2007. The wine has only been in oak for a month and there is much more structure and influence to be imparted by the barrels over the course of the following year.

You'll see from the photos that we did this in a very focused atmosphere - Karl even went so far as to wear his "smell catcher" hooded sweatshirt.

And I must admit, hoods and brimmed hats do make a difference when searching for very faint components in the wine's aroma.

So let's start with the most aromatic of our lots - the Petit Verdot. PV is typically a very deeply colored wine, used in blending to make a wine opaque and inky. Our PV is truly deep and rich in color, but it was the one lot out of the four that made us actually try to get our whole head inside our glasses. The nose on this wine is like a creation of Willy Wonka himself! (But we guarantee that no one will turn into a blueberry after trying it.) Imagine this - a freshly baked cheesecake with a thick graham cracker crust made with brown sugar and butter, covered with a blueberry compote. That's what our PV smells like! Wowee!!

We followed the PV with a sampling of the Merlot lot. In previous posts you may remember that we described the Merlot as dense, UNmerlot-like and concentrated. This lot continues to impress in so many ways! It is a tightly wound wine with dark fruit components and very fine velvety tannins. The nose has lots of spice with faint hints of sandalwood and incense. The Merlot and the PV will be blended in with our Cabernet lots to provide aromatic components that will tie everything together. The first thing you will notice when drinking Vellum 2007 will be the nose, largely influenced by the Merlot and PV.

But don't let our zeal fool you - Vellum is a Cabernet Sauvignon first and foremost! And our smaller of the two Cabernet lots, what I call Cab 8, is absolutely stunning. It is by definition a true Napa Cabernet. Rich, ripe, opulent. It brims with dark fruits on the nose and after sitting open for a few hours - it unveils a perfume of sweet floral characters. Karl and I remarked that we could bottle this lot on its own and have a fabulously successful wine. On its own, it is truly wonderful.

But we plan to combine it with our final lot of Cabernet Sauvignon in what we hope will be a magnificent example of Napa's diversity as a winegrowing region. This Cab lot tastes like a French Cab - superbly balanced, moderate alcohol level, tannins that caress and envelop the tongue (rather than grate against it) - and if there was one word that best described this wine it would be - SENSUAL. Yes, I can't believe I am actually typing the word. But it is sensual. It is seductive. It is elegant.

Needless to say - We love it.

Anyway, Karl and I are very pleased with the results and we will do our best to keep you posted along the way.

Cheers,

Jeff