Todays Topic? The DNA of a Vintage

What’s in a vintage? Glad you asked. Although California is not as susceptible to vintage variation as say Oregon, France, or Italy, it certainly does not mean we don’t have differences. There are so many things that go into a great vintage vs. a bad vintage, it would take volumes of writing to cover it all. There are however, some constant reminders that we all know well. The weather, of course, is the number one influence on any crop…Too hot, too cold, rain, frost, wind, and more. The change of temperature at night from the day, the amount of moisture in the air, let’s stop, you get the point. So, what else? Some people would be surprised to know that a grapevine is self pollinating. No bees need apply! They might also not know that the vine has gotten what I call a head start on the next vintage right after the current one is over. It already knows what the sets will be for the next vintage. If there’s great sets, and if the weather cooperates, well that’s good news. Throw in a little wind or a little rain during flowering then – oops, the best laid plans.

Recently we experienced a great Pinot Noir vintage, the likes never seen before. Why such a bold statement with so many prior vintages? The vintage of 2007 started out like so many others with high hopes in the Central Coast of California. Not only were the sets great, smaller cluster weights made for more concentration. The flowering was great; there were no heat storms or spikes. The growing season was long and hang times gave us great flavor development, especially for lower alcohol producers such as us. But beyond that was the first such vintage in what I call the modern era. This is the first time we have had this kind of vintage on the root stocks and with the Dijon clones planted ten to fifteen years prior. Yes, there have been other great vintages but we either did not have the raw material, or the raw material was not mature enough. Now we are positioned as a community to take advantage of every great vintage we are dealt in the future. This was the type of vintage that was hard not to make a good wine. Even your bulk producers made better wine than usual. The smaller producers like us, who are all hands on in the vineyard, drop a bunch of fruit and sort religiously, made the greatest wines we ever have.

The wines from Ambullneo are the “Most Complex, and Structured Wines I have tasted”. They are held back for extended aging before release. They’re well worth the wait and will hold for years to come if properly stored. The only down side is there is 30% less wine than in the past. And in our case 30% less of our small production is a lot. For those of you that have purchased these wines, you’re in for a great surprise. For those who have not, time is running short.

All the best from your humble, want-to-be writer,


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