Winedavid39 wrote:Ken, can you go into detail about your wine making experience? Thanks for jumping on.
It's a short resume, as I've spent big chunks of time with 2 wineries. I started with David Bruce Winery in 1987, sneaking in the back door to work harvest knowing pretty much nothing about making wine. I was motivated to learn how the attributes of different sites translated into the wines... before the word Terroir was commonplace in California. Around 1990, we began to shift the focus of the winery from Chardonnay to Pinot Noir, and explore regions from all over the state, eventually creating about 12 unique Pinots, and another 10-15 other wines per year. I developed a fondness for small open topped fermenters, allowing us to isolate small vineyard blocks, as well as vary treatments during fermentation to create a bigger "spice cabinet" of flavors in the cellar. When I left David Bruce in 2002, I came to Carneros Creek Winery in Napa, which Francis Mahoney started in the early 1970's. I was tempted by the diversity of clones, rootstocks and soils within the Estate vineyards, which can create a remarkable range of flavors considering that it's all in Carneros. In a typical harvest we produce 25-30 different lots of Carneros Pinot Noir, and then blend to create distinct styles for the Mahoney and Fleur brands. (The Carneros Creek label was sold in 2004, but Francis kept the Vineyards.) It's been a great opportunity to focus in depth on that relationship between site and wine. Additionally, Francis has a number of entertaining experimental blocks, which is where the Syrah comes in... along with Sangiovese, Vermentino, Nebbiolo, Tempranillo, Montepulciano, Albarino, and so on. Based in Carneros, we also grow Chardonnay for the Mahoney label, and bottle 3-4 Pinot Noirs as well. All that gives plenty of opportunity for the small fermenter program, even if it makes the cellar a bit crazy at harvest.
If I were to generalize, I would say my goal for the Mahoney wines is to try to let the vineyards do the talking, as opposed to the winemaking. We don't use much new oak as a rule, (and never in the Syrah), and work to keep fruit foremost in the wines. I do, however, like longish barrel aging, to get past the simpler, grapey flavor profiles. These Syrahs spent about 22 months in Neutral French oak, and it's not unusual for our Pinots to get 18-20 months in barrel as well. As a rule, we go to barrel soon after fermentation, and let the wine stay on the lees until just prior to bottling. We are believers in filtration as a means of preserving fruit...but rely only on Crossflow filtration at bottling. Feel free to ask questions if you have them!