The rewards and frustrations of home winemaking

Barrel Tastings of Merlot and Petite Sirah

Josh and Dave came by to taste the progress of the 2009 merlot and petite sirah. Last time we tasted them, they seemed to really lack any oak flavor, so we thought we might need to add more cubes to the barrels. We tasted the merlot first, and it is surprisingly good — not overly oaky, but just enough oak to balance with the acid on the tongue. The petite sirah also seemed ready to bottle, again not too oaky, but enough to balance the big tannins in this wine. We also decided not to do any fining on the petite sirah.

While discussing the oak levels of the wines we talked a little about our first batch of 2008 merlot from the same vineyard. My last tasting I was quite disappointed with it, I really thought it tasted like sherry. Dave commented that his batch had the same flavor, and he thinks perhaps this wine is past its prime. I think Dave is trying to justify drinking his entire batch already, as a merlot such as this should be in the bottle for at least 2 years. The wine might be going through an “awkward phase”, where everything is just out of balance right now, but only time will tell.

In the meantime, we decided both wines are ready to be bottled. The problem is finding time to do it; things are busy at Curds and Wine in January, and Dave is expecting the birth of his first child the first week of February (congrats, Dave!). He is under the impression that he will have plenty of time a week after his kid is born — yah, we’ll see about that!

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