'08 Concord These grapes come from Burt's daughter and son-in-law's property (somewhere around Vacaville, I think..?) This is the third vintage I've tried. He's never been able to extract much color, so they are rose in appearance. They've never been the least bit foxy (a strange wet fur characteristic you get from most American grapes). The '06 was dry and rustic - a dead ringer for a southern French rose. With the '07, he decided to add a little sugar at bottling. It's rich in fruit, round mouthfeel and quite good. This one is quite different again. (I took some notes at press time you can look for.) Still a bit cloudy, light orangish pink. Nose - strawberry guava. Tasting also shows some lime juice and lemon zest. Nice.
'08 Apricot This is from the Hesterman property in Los Altos Hills. The '07 was very fresh and complex. Spectacular and Burt's best wine, so far. Nose - warmer, darker apricot aroma, very rich carmelized character. Dry, rich, dried apricot, plus a touch of orange marmalade.
'08 Plum "Barton Orchard" This is our third vintage. Again, it's mostly these black fruited plums from my back yard, with a range of ripeness levels (red to black), plus about 5% cherry plum from my front yard, which have a thick, tart, rustic skin, and contribute a lot to the blend. Nose - ethereal, sweetish red plum, raspberry, peach, mango. Much more complex than previous versions. Quite tart. To the above, add lemon, orange, grapefruit.
'08 Merlot "Late Picked" (Saratoga) Nose - rich blackberry, ethanol, soft, round. Bright acid, dark tannin, a bit green. Fruit is in the background - very soft plum, raspberry, slightest hint of persimmon on the finish.
Our '08 Cab comes from the GarLind Vyd. in San Martin. I tasted each carboy/container separately. You'll see why.
Free Run I & II Nose I- SO2. Sulfury, gun powder and egg shell dominating soft blackberry-raspberry. Nose II - much less intense SO2 (but still a lot) Tart, with soft complex fruit - raspberry, pineapple guava, etc.
Press I (5 gal carboy - earliest) Nose - no sulfur. Subtle, delicate, soft. Boysenberry, orange zest, grapefruit.
Press II (these were smaller containers) Nose - richer, mellow. More pert, less zest.
Press III Nose - softer, delicate, more pineapple guava, raspberry. A bit savory.
Press IV Nose - mellow, restrained. Pineapple guava, boysenberry-raspberry, smooth, minimal zest, just a hint of savoriness, and a hint of black Sevillano olive.
I'm starting to get a sense of a San Martin Cab signature. A delicate complexity of pineapple guava, raspberry and fresh blueberry. I've noticed this in others, most recently the Creekview, which they ruined with harsh oak treatment. '08 is the first vintage of the Stefania Crimson Clover Vyd. Their elegant oak regimen should marry well with that wine.
Anyway, we added oak chips to the Merlot and free run Cab. The press is so much more complex and interesting, we decided to leave it alone. That might make it a younger drinker, but I think that's the best we can do with it.
As to the SO2, our theory is it relates to oxygen exposure at press time. The free run got very little and the press got enough.