Tuesday, June 9, 2009

2008 VELLUM Blending Session

On Saturday evening Karl and I sampled the 2008 vintage and experimented with blends of our different wine lots.

Vellum's fruit is sourced from 3 world-class vineyards in Napa County, mostly from the part of Napa Valley called Coombsville.

We started the evening with a sample of what we call BDX. This is a blend that we created shortly after fermentation completed - from Petit Verdot and Merlot - our two most aromatic wine components. In glass, the BDX was an intense ruby color with a slight purple hue. The first thing I noticed about the wine was its beautiful strawberry and rhubarb aroma, brimming with freshness. Before even bringing the glass to my nose I could smell the fresh fruit flavors mixed with a strong note of sweet briar. In the mouth the wine reflected the nose, but added a strong dark cherry element. The acid (pH 3.67) was well-structured and created a great framework for the deep fruit. Sweet oak was present but subtle. And with an alcohol level of 13.9% it was well balanced and lingered in the finish.

Next we tasted Cabernet Sauvignon from our producer in the Chiles Valley AVA, a highly underrated area of Napa County. This Cabernet was deeply colored and full-bodied. In the glass it had a deep inky purple and red saturation. It carried Vellum's characteristic "espresso grounds" note very strongly, mixed with dark berries. The wine tasted phenomenal - reminding me of cherries, blackberries, cooking spices and even raspberry compote. The tannins were of a very fine grain, falling mid-palate. The acid and alcohol on this lot was very similar to our 2007 vintage - pH 3.56 and alcohol 13.91.

Finally we poured the Coombsville Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine makes up the majority of our production and is unique in its long hang time on the vine. This Cabernet Sauvignon fruit is typically harvested last in the season...sometimes into November. And yet we are able to bring it in with sugar levels far below the industry average - A GOOD THING! The wine was deep red with hints of purple...smelling of cherries, dark berries and fennel. Karl and I both noticed how remarkably "wild" the wine tasted. And I think the 2007 VELLUM reflects this as well. We have a wild character in the wine that is hard to describe...yet it is intriguing and attractive when poured out of bottle. Try it for yourself and you will know what we mean. There was also a really great yeasty note - funky and complex. In the mouth the wine had lots of weight. It was succulent and mouthwatering with fine powdery tannins. The palate matched the nose and carried a lingering black cherry flavor through to a very long finish.

Overall, the 2008 vintage is developing into a very elegant wine. We expect the final 2008 Vellum Cabernet Sauvignon to be very similar to the 2007s but with a bit less alcohol and oak influence. Balance and integration are paramount to us - and we will continue to shape the 2008 vintage in a way that reflects those ideals.

Now back out to the vineyards for the upcoming 2009s!

- Jeff Mathy

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