Ginny joined Burt and I to bottle the Mandarin (Rangpur Lime) wine. The problem with citrus wines is the acidity is so high. With the right flavor concentration it won't ferment. The fermentation with this wine stuck very early on and Burt had to add water to get it going again. This diluted the flavor a bit. Even so, it stuck again at 3 brix. Not a problem since it needed to be sweetened again anyway. We're guessing it's about 11.5% alcohol.
Tasting at its dryish state is was quite tart, with good mandarin flavor with a bit of a chemically note - an effect of the concentration and acidity. Gradually adding sugar the tartness was countered first. It took 2 cups of sugar per 5 gallon batch to be rid of that off note. The result is a refreshing one note spiked mandarinade. A nice summer sipper.
After bottling, we check in on our barrel of serious wine. After deals to secure Cabernet and Pinot Noir, both from Santa Cruz Mountains fruit, both fell through I secured a deal to get some Santa Cruz Mountains Syrah. The vineyard is off Skyline in Los Gatos and seemed like a good site. Barrel samples of the wines they've made were good. The only issue was with such a light crop year is was difficult to guess if the 2 rows of Syrah would be enough for a barrel or not. (I've since heard the nearby Rhys vineyards were down 60-70%.) As it turned out: Not. This was really the end of the season, so other option were pretty much gone. My contingency was to round it out with some of their Sangiovese fruit. Not my favorite variety, but seemed like it would blend well.
So, our 2011 wine is 64% Syrah and 36% Sangiovese. The nose is classic cool climate Syrah - stony, peppery, intense. In the mouth its a different story. The Sangio tames it, making it more accessible, as well as adding notes that pay well, broadening the complexity. I was surprised at how good it is. The only thing missing, something for our group to think about in a few months time, is a little oak spice. (Did *I* just say that???)
We also checked in a bottle of Burt's (sweeter) version of the '09 Elderberry wine. Seems to be at its peak, showing softness and evolved complexity. Burt thinks it could be sweeter, I'd prefer it fully dry. I'll have to visit one of my bottles soon.
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