The rewards and frustrations of home winemaking

2011 Syrah Tasting Party #2

My 2011 Hands-on Harvest class met again last night to check out the progress on our 2011 Live Oak Vineyard Fallbrook syrahs. Details on fermentation and previous tasting notes are in prior blog posts.  Here are our tasting notes:

Batch #1 — No additional oak was added after the first racking. Peppery aromas and very peppery, spicy flavors with light fruit.
Batch #2, Free Run — Hungarian oak cubes were added after the first racking. Buttery, smooth, almost sweet aromas; smooth on the tongue initially, becoming sour, harsh, tannic and acidic on the finish. A little cherry in the finish.
Batch #2, Press Run — 50/50 French/American oak chips added after first racking. Butter, floral, tobacco aromas with light fruit. Big flavors of vanilla (hello American oak!), light spice, good fruit and good balance. Had a light effervescence.
Batch #3 — French oak chips added after racking. This was (almost) everyone’s favorite, this time and at the previous tasting. Dust, leather, and dark red fruit aromas. Hint of chocolate on finish, good fruit and perfect balance.
Batch #4 — American oak chips added after the first racking. The “love it or hate it” wine, this was our least favorite after the first tasting. A little butter and a little spice in the aromas, very mellow. Flavors were contentious. I tasted bug spray and thought it smelled better than it tasted, others thought it mellow but just kind of bland or dull. The wine did not taste bad, but compared to the other samples was the least exciting to most of us.

We did a little bit of blending with the different syrahs with some viognier I made from a wine kit, and we all agreed that #4 blended with 10% viognier was a good combination.   So, we will bottle half of #4 blended and half unblended.   All of the wines were deemed ready to bottle!

We also tasted my 2010 Live Oak Vineyard syrah, which had a very bad acetone problem at the last tasting. Since then I did a splash rack out of one barrel to another and dosed up the sulfite. It was a success — no more off odors or flavors! This wine has a more floral, characteristic violet aroma and flavor balanced with cherry and bright red fruits. Oak seems fine, though it is still a little acidic, but I think this will mellow in the bottle. This wine is probably also ready to bottle — I just need to find time!

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