Concerning the 2000 vintage: The Zinfandel bloom was long and set was uneven. Then, the growing season was oddly punctuated by extreme heat spells. While the Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay seemed to take it in stride, the Zinfandel vines had had pretty much enough of this by the end of harvest. The crop just seemed to evaporate with each passing day. In mid-August there was probably about 2 tons per acre of ripe Zin with about an equal amount of pink and green berries on the same cluster, a varietal tendency. To avoid the unripe berries sneaking into the fermenter, we waited to harvest several weeks when these sour, pinkish berries finally became dead ripe. But the rest were now raisins. Fortunately, most of these raisins are removed in our specially modified destemmer, so what we got in the tank was essentially generous, ripe fruit (what little there was left). I am pleased with the result, and the 15+% alcohol Zins are remarkably balanced, soft, and generous. Blending should be fun.
The 2000 Pinot Noirs should surpass the 1999’s in quality, but definitely not in quantity. The 2000 Chardonnays are doing well. While very early in their development, the 2000 Cabernet Sauvignons seem to be at least on par with 1997, if not much more successful. Generous alcohol levels and a cold winter have led to the slowest malolactic fermentations I have seen in over a decade with all varieties. Slowly evolving CO2 during this period helps protect the wine without SO2 additions, allowing fuller expression and integration of the wines’ components early in life. There will be more detailed discussion of the vintage with the summer futures offering of the 2000 Zinfandels.
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