Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Rites of Spring

Jeff could not be more right about bud-break. I am excited too (Give it up for plants Jeff!)...The 2009 vintage hinges on what happens right now! This is when we watch the weather very carefully - as do our growers.

An early bud-break followed by a late frost could seriously damage our chances at a successful year. So far...we have had a lot of rain in March and fair to warm weather in April and now it is raining again - keeping any chances of frost at bay. Also, this late rain is important because it increases the water table; which in turn will help in more uniform berry-set after flowering.

For some extra security?...In solidarity with our growers this year I even went so far as to plant my vegetable garden three weeks early...and lo' and behold no frost! But, as it is with my garden, we have the good graces of nature this year with us, however it is not always that way.

Last year proved to have a particularly damaging early spring; which gave way to low yields during harvest across the region. As viticulturists and winemakers we made adjustments and as I maintained in previous writings, I think the 2008 vintage is our finest to date (...and I want to thank our recent visitor from Bordeaux for receiving it so well too!).

So these are the fortunes of winemaking right now. They can rise and fall with the weather but it is up to us to pay attention to the details of the fruit in the meantime and address its needs early - to make great wine.

Finally,speaking of details, I have been thinking lately about the words which we say and the words which we adopt for ourselves. Last September, Didier Dagueneau, a star winemaker of the Loire's Pouilly-Fume passed away. Many say that he had a strong personality and lived by what he said - both of which translated into his legendary Sauvignon Blancs. In his wake of an enduring legacy of wines, he left these words:

"There are no recipes. It's all the details of viticulture and all the details of winemaking, the assemblage of little things, which makes for the minute differences between a good wine and a great one." - Didier Dagueneau

I like to think that this wisdom came to me at the right time in my life and I believe now that we are going to have a very good year indeed.

Enjoy Spring!

~ Karl Lehmann

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