Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Vilafonte 'Harvest Reflections' - day 29

Reflection on the vineyard and the 2006 vintage
I have included a photo of the Vilafonte vineyard, taken from across the valley, with the Cape's big mountains behind it. From here it looks like a few big blocks of grapes. However each big section is subdivided, and great variations in wine personality come from each of the sub-blocks, which are about 1 ha (2 ½ acres) each. A word about the 2006 vintage. Our harvest was 1 month long; we started Feb. 9 and finished Mar. 10. This will seem short to winemakers who either (1) work with more different varieties; (2) make a large volume of wine; (3) work with grapes from quite different climates.Those 3 conditions can "spread out" harvest. Our work is focused on (1) 1 vineyard site; (2) only red grapes; (3) only 4 Bordeaux varieties: Cabernet, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Malbec. Thus the timeline is quite tight. The grapes, and wines look to be excellent…" a fine vintage". For us specifically, the wines are more concentrated this year; we have good ripeness; and for each variety the smallest berries (grapes) we have had in 4 years.
What I hear in general - winemakers are pleased with the harvest quality; the reds look excellent (I haven't heard so much about the whites); water toward the end of harvest has been useful to keep the vines going after the heat, and lack ofwater at this time has forced harvests in some places. I have also heard that winemakers are getting ripeness at lower sugars this year. Vilafonte block personalities - the building blocks of Series C and Series M
Block Z Merlot complex, deep, rich, dark, firm
Block AB Merlot aromatic red/black fruit aromas; good concentration & long
Block VW Malbec deep red black color, herbs & black fruit flavors, very soft Cabernet Franc violet aromas, medium intensity color; very firm tannins
Block D Cabernet very deep and complex, red black color, long with firm tannin
Block C Cabernet intense fruit with slightly chunkier tannins than D
Block B Cabernet clear fruit expression, softer tannins, medium long
Block A Cabernet Good color, black fruits, very soft tannins
Block N Cabernet Aromatic, red fruits expression, tighter structure, and long
Zelma Long
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