“Some of the red grapes already have color!”…….This was the voicemail I received on July 5th from our Viticulturalist about a few of the blocks in our Estate Vineyard. Needless to say the warm spring and a couple of early heat spikes have truly hastened the pace of ripening here in Amador County making us approximately 2 weeks ahead of a normal or average year. We have been very busy over the past few months introducing some new viticultural techniques in our vineyards with the intention of pushing the proverbial quality bar even higher. We are never satisfied and are constantly seeking ways to improve our grape and wine quality so that we can offer the most delicious wines possible. I, as well as many others, are expecting another banner year for grape quality. While the crops loads may be down slightly less than the previous two vintages, we are very excited for what the coming months have to offer.
In the Cellar, we’ve bottled all of our 2012 wines and they are patiently (unlike me) waiting for their release in the next 3-5 months. As for the new 2013 wines, they are just over half way through the aging process and they are beginning to show a balance of power and finesse that is as intriguing as it is rare. Shortly after Thanksgiving, Moises, my Assistant Winemaker, and I will begin putting the 2013 blends together. After the blends are assembled, we will then put them back in barrel to further integrate until April when we then begin bottling. It goes without saying, grape growing and winemaking is a cyclical process!
The decadent wines made from this grape are usually deeply colored and typically loaded with intense aromas and flavors of blueberries, plums and blackberries. New world winemakers are finding success employing the use of new French oak barrels that lend levels of complexity and viscosity, helping to balance the grapes high natural acidity. The key to a successful harvest of this variety is closely monitoring the fruits acidity in relation to brix levels. It is always as if we are playing an anxious waiting game with Mother Nature where patience is greatly rewarded. This high acid, low tannin composition makes Barbera a wonderfully food friendly wine. Barbera stands up to, and dances with, almost any meal you can conjure.
The success of Barbera grown in Amador County can mostly be attributed to the similar climate we share with the grapes origin in Piedmont, Italy. Both locales have a Mediterranean Climate, meaning, the average high and low temperatures throughout the growing season only vary by a few degrees ºF. Both Piedmont and Amador County have four fairly distinct seasons. Each having, long, hot summers with occasional storms, a warm and pleasant fall, a short winter with occasionalfrost and snow, and a spring that starts in February or early March. Combine this fact with the well-draining soils of Amador, and Barbera is perfectly at home here and rival any of those produced in Italy.
Barbera has a long history in Amador County and an even longer, brighter future. With so much upside potential, Amador County Barbera is poised to continue is rapid ascension as one of the flagship wines from the region. The vintages soon to come will put Amador County Barbera on the international radar. Zinfandel may be King, but Barbera is unsubtly making a run at the crown.