2007 Vintage Musings II: the numbers game

So on the one hand there seemed to be a general consensus of flavors appearing earlier, but on the other hand there seemed no change in the picking habits/timing of certain winemakers who pick by flavors. How to reconcile?

1) I am wrong, flavors were not any earlier thus destroying the whole premise of the post.

– I find this one difficult since we were able to pick earlier and it looks to be one of the best vintages to date since I have been here. Certainly the wines are not under ripe. But in the event that #1 is true, my apologies. At least I was able to work this through in my head. I am after all just a young lackey winemaker.

2) Flavors did arrive earlier, as many suspected; but as with all of us and with many things (especially things involving risks) it is difficult to depart from what we are used to (e.g. I always get the Mini Super Pollo Verde burrito at Villa Corona, its so good I’m afraid of being disappointed by something else). If you are accustomed to picking your Pinot noir at 29 Brix devoid of any acid, when flavors arrive at 24.5 with traces of acid you might feel uncomfortable picking. With our ability to add acid in this country, and with the conventionally accepted practice of adding water, erring with over ripeness is certainly safer not to mention generally more popular with critics. Fair enough.

If #2 is true I have begun to wonder if some people do not mistake a little tartness for greenness (and let’s not get started on this term). I’ve walked similar blocks with people where I could have sworn the block was delicious and ready but the winemaker still thought it was green. Huh? We need acid for the wine, no? And maybe this year producers can get it without calling American Tartaric? The longer I work at HdV, the more I am convinced of this. We are always the first to pick after the sparkling producers and I don’t believe (nor have I heard the criticism) that our wines are green or under ripe.

Evening, great mood, you play online casino and in your hand a glass of wine… A wonderful picture isn’t it? Many colleagues would argue it’s simply a matter of style. Fair enough.

I’m not disparaging picking later rather than earlier, I’m simply asking the question that if #2 is correct then are we really picking by flavor, or simply by what we are comfortable with? And if we are picking by the numbers, great! But can’t we just say that? I like to pick my Pinot noir at 28.5 Brix, 4.1 pH, and no acid. How about you?

But T-licious, you might say, it’s not delicious until 28.5. Please don’t tell me this is all semantics? Maybe not semantics, but marketing. It certainly is a better story to say you pick only by flavor, when in fact a number of factors – including the numbers – go into the decision.