David Coffaro Vineyard and Winery Winemaker's Diary

Weeks 9 - 10
February 27, 2005 to March 12, 2005 

  Friday March 4, 2005

This weekend starting today is our biggest event of the year. This is the Russian River Barrel Tasting which 100 wineries participate. Since it is primarily a barrel tasting where "Futures" are sold we have had well over 1000 people in the past several years. We have sold about 10% of our "Futures" just on this weekend. Our prices are the same as last year so I am hoping we have not been forgotten. Actually last year we did real well even on Friday, but more than half the people attend Saturday. The last several Barrel Tasting Saturdays, we have hosted over 1000 customers. This year we are serving barrel samples of 12 of our 2004 wines. Also tomorrow we will have available potato soup and sausages.

I will go into more detail next week, but I did want to inform all interested, that I will be doing some custom crushing for 3 groups this July. Most of what we bottle will be 600 cases of our 2004 wines under other labels (none with blends exactly like ours). Thus our total production for 2004 will only be 3700 cases compared to about 5000 cases for 2002 and 2003. This coming harvest in 2005 I plan to produce about 4200 cases. At this time next year I hope to be sold out of almost all of our 2003 wines. We do have over 200 cases of 2002 wines still available, but we will stop officially selling them on April 1 since we will have too many wines for sale after the start of our 2005 pre-harvest offer. Actually with the success of the movie Sideways, I plan to still sell the 45 cases of our 2002 Bennett Valley Pinot we have left. We will still have the other 2002 wines if customers request them. Otherwise we will sell them at a discount at events or find a distributor out of state OR even blend some into future wines.

Sunday March 6, 2005

8:30 PM
I am very tired and now I have had close to a bottle of wine. Our Russian River Barrel Tasting has ended. On Saturday we had atleast 1500 people and we made it easy for all to flow in and out of the winery. Some even bought wine!! Since this is a FREE event about one in Ten actually purchased something. The event cost us several hundred dollars, but it was worth the cost. On Friday and now today, Sunday, the crowds were far less, about 400 or so each. In all I feel that the public has not forgot me yet.

Tuesday March 8, 2005

Today we have started to plant our new varietals in our 5th block so Here's the latest vineyard map.

Wednesday March 9, 2005

I can't believe it!! I decided to do a blind tasting of our 2003 wines between the synthetic and screwcap closure. We bottled these wines last July. I jumped the gun back in November by trying some and I found no difference. BUT this time there was a substantial difference.

For those of you who are new to this diary, I must digress: We have bottled wine in synthetic cork since our 1996 vintage, mainly because I did not want any of my wines to be tainted with TCA. In our 2003 bottling I decided to bottle half of our production with screwcaps. I know I will lose customers because of this move, but what I have heard is that screwcaps are by far A BETTER CLOSURE. I have heard that synthetics are fine for short term aging while screwcaps are even better than real corks for long term aging. Now in March after 8 months I could easily tell the difference. 

Now, you ask, which wine did I prefer? By far I preferred the screwcap. Monday night I tried the 2003 My Zin in both closures and was mystified by how different they were. At first I blamed the glass, even though they were identical (Some times glasses can have a taste because they were cleaned differently or not well enough). I cleaned and switched the glasses and then after tasting again and finding even more difference, I surmised that the difference might have been because the synthetic was opened for 12 hours longer. 

Last night I decided to try two fresh bottles opened at the same time. One screwcaped 2003 Block 4 and one synthetic 2003 Block 4. I tried them blind 5 different times throughout the evening. I had no trouble deciding: . The screwcap was far better. It had more complexity and more structure. The synthetic had a sweeter bouquet, maybe rounder, but more simple. I am sure it is possible that some of you would prefer the synthetic, but I certainty didn't. As you can imagine this makes me happy since I have sold my cork bottling line and will receive my new screwcap machine soon and I plan to switch entirely to screwcaps. Tonight I am going to try both the 2003 Petite Sirah and 2003 Cabernet. My best friend is coming for dinner.

Now on to another subject. My philosophy on winemaking has changed. In the past I have purposely, heavily blended. I still think of balance, but by listening to customers and trying to please myself, I have decided to think of variety also. In the last two years I have now concentrated on making wines different from each other. I have a sense, that makes it too easy for me to blend. This past Barrel Tasting weekend, I tasted my 2004 wines a few times. At first I was disappointed, as in past years, that the wines are close, but not quite as good through a long run of plastic as they are straight out of the barrel (To serve 2000 people as we did this weekend, there are compromises. We must gravity flow wine from barrels as far away as 60 feet) . After realizing that I am too critical of my wines, I calmed down AND then I couldn't help myself: I would think of how I could improve a wine that we were serving by blending.  I can taste two wines unblended and KNOW that if I used a little of one wine in another, it would make a better wine. BUT the problem with that is that the wines would become more alike.

This year especially, back in November, I started with 100% of a varietal and tasted to see if it could stand on its own; if so I left it unblended. I had already checked acid and alcohol for balance. I then thought about the barrel I would use. Lately, I have been buying some of our barrels that are toasted less so I can pick up some structure. In the "My Zin" I want to accent the dark fruit while in the Estate Cuvee and Estate Zin I want to accent the spiciness, like clove, cinnamon or allspice. The French barrels I am buying will accent tannins and structure while some American and Eastern European will accent spice. In the past, I used a mix of the same barrels for all the wines. 

Saturday March 12, 2005

In the last few nights, I have tasted many of my 2003 wines in screwcap and synthetic closures. Most I have preferred in screwcap and a few I have preferred in synthetic. In general, the synthetic seems to be less intense and rounder while the screwcap has tended to be sharper and more intense. Most of the bouquets have been similar, with the screwcaps more closed. I must stress that in every tasting comparing the two closures, the wines showed a definite difference from each other. In all I would say the synthetic showed more maturity. BUT does that mean that the synthetic is oxidizing faster and thus age faster and develop not as well as the screwcap? In a side note, Catarino moved most of my wines with synthetics out of my cellar and replaced them with screwcaps (I had 50% of each). He asked me "Why are you doing this?" I told him I preferred the screwcap wines and he went into a passionate account of his experience. A few days ago Catarino, who has just gotten into wine in the past few years, opened two bottles of 2003 Block 4, one with screwcap and one with synthetic (How extravagant!). He was amazed that he preferred, by far, the screwcap. I told him that I agreed and the Block 4 was the comparison to me that was most obvious. 

Pat thinks we are all crazy. She feels wine should be consumed for pleasure and we shouldn't drive our self so crazy in these fine points. Pat mostly sips wine. She does not swirl around her teeth, so she does not pick up the tannins in the cab and petite sirah or the structure of the wines. She could tell no difference in the two closures. Some of you may not tell a difference either. If you want to be extravagant like Catarino, try the experiment for your self and report back to me.

Now I will get even crazier. What if the wine in each closure is aged at a different temperature from each other. I did have some wine that was stored in our storage building and some stored in the cellar, in my house which is warmer? Next time I will make sure both are from the same place. But what if one was stored for a short time in the storage building? Oh my, I better calm down.

Crazier!! What if the wine in each closure was different when it went in the bottle? Remember last July, we put all the wine in a tank, for instance the 2003 Block 4. Then we bottled half the wine in in synthetic and the last part of the tank in screwcap. On the 2003 Carignan, we bottled the first half with screwcap and the last half with synthetic. This past week I tasted these two wines. I preferred the Block 4 screwcap and the Carignan synthetic. Wow, could the bottom part of the tank after settling a few hours be better than the first part? I hope not. The Carignan screwcap definitely seemed more developed and the Block 4 screwcap was less developed, so that does not make sense; or does it? Could the top of the tank be aerated more because we roll the tank (pump aggressively after filling to mix the wine). Could there be more oxygen in the top of the tank and thus the first wine in bottle would age faster. Could the bottom part be more concentrated? You get it, I could go on and on. I did find one contradiction to this tank scenario: I preferred the 2003 Neighbors' Cuvee in synthetic and it came from the top of the tank. It was smoother though so did it show better with oxidation?

I have one other thing with screwcaps to consider. There are different liners available for screwcaps. For the 2003s we used a liner with, I believe, a layer of foil in between plastic. This year we will use just plastic. Will there be a difference in aging. I will see! I have some of the foil lined capsules left over from last year. I will bottle some of our 2004 wines in both types of screwcaps. But I better make sure the wine comes from the same part of the tank{:-)). Next year at this time I will try these two liners and decide which to use for 2006. What fun!! 


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