Saturday, July 25, 2009

Orchard update 7/25/09

Have about 110 lbs. of black plums harvested so far. But had poor fruit set on the cherry plum tree, so that'll be a negligible contribution this year. (Usually 3-5% and quite significant.) Anyway, looks like there's probably another 40 lbs. on the tree, which would be right in line with last year.

I'm harvesting blue elderberries with making wine in mind. They have a long season and ripen quickly, so I'm harvesting twice a week. Have about 3 gallons so far, but it's early.

Burt had some questions about the '08 plum and apricot wines, thinking maybe they should be sweetened. So, I went over there yesterday. Turns out the plum got about 30% less water added at crush time than previous years. I'd gotten a taste, in passing, a few weeks ago and noticed the intensity and weight it had put on.

After taking notes, I tried adding incremental amounts of sugar. It mellowed the wine out and made it seem simpler. Not better. Then, since it was more concentrated, we tried adding a little water. Water helped the sweetened version, making it more like previous vintages. Just then, Ruth came home and we had her try it. After a disclaimer about how she doesn't know much about wine, she nailed it: Diluted. Not as good as the original.

My conclusion is it's the best yet. If it's too intense for someone, it can take a small ice cube without tasting watery. The only issue is the acidity is a bit high. That comes from the red ripe fruit - something I work to minimize, but feel does contribute to the complexity. This year is, I think, the best yet at maximizing ripeness. As harvest winds down, the temptation to shake the tree to get the last fruit increases. That gets less ripe fruit to drop. I'll try to get some feedback tomorrow about the acidity.

Here's my notes:

'08 Plum Estate
Very dark.
Nose - intense chocolatey plum, bright, SweeTarts, hint of raspberry.
Dark, dusty, SweeTart, intense black plum, lime, grapefruit, dark chocolate, hints of blackberry and raspberry, orange bitters, marachino, cardamon.

'08 Apricot Hesterman Orchard (Los Altos Hills)
Golden hue.
Perfumed dried apricot, peach, hint of white wood resin.
Nutmeg/allspice/treacle/dried apricot, peach, smooth and moderately intense, some golden raisins, passion fruit, grapefruit, slight bitterness on the finish.

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