Yesterday, Thursday, September 15th, the 2011 harvest finally began for Cosentino Winery, almost three weeks later than usual. The fruit coming in was Sauvignon Blanc from Pope Valley ultimately destined for The Novelist, the White Meritage that I have been making since 1982. Of course, that was many years before the term Meritage even existed! Inspired by the great white wines from Bordeaux, it has become a mainstay in our line up and a wine known more for its name than what it is, a unique white blend in the Bordeaux style.
The Novelist is perhaps the most versatile white wine you may experience. It also has a history of aging for many years like a red wine, which makes it
fairly unique in that perspective. For example, last week at a winemaker dinner in Greenwich, Connecticut I poured the 2000 vintage and it was extremely well received by dinner guests and was still well-structured and vibrant. While this wine is quite ageable, it is very drinkable at an earlier age as well, including our current 2008 vintage. We often hear from those who are mainly red wine drinkers who have thoroughly been surprised and enjoyed The Novelist.
However, Sauvignon Blanc is only one part of this wine. The main thing that separates this wine from 100% Sauvignon Blancs is another grape called Semillon. Semillon is a wonderful and somewhat overlooked grape. It is essential in great Sauternes from Bordeaux and quite magical with Sauvignon Blanc in white wines. It gives the wine broadness, depth and complexity. Semillon also adds to the longevity of these blends even when it is the smaller portion of the blend. White Meritage wines sometimes get lumped into the Sauvignon Blanc category but are really different animals in much the same way that Gewürztraminer is not Riesling.
So far this long and moderate 2011 growing season, blamed on a cool summer and late rains, is looking great for white wine quality but not so good for yields. The crop size this year is quite small, but fewer berries per plant will mean increased intensity of flavors. The Semillon probably won’t be ready for harvest for another 10-14 days.
For those Zinfandel drinkers, harvest will most likely start next week for some of the old vine zins in Lodi. I noticed excellent flavors developing when I was there yesterday checking out the vineyards.
- Mitch (out kicking the dirt around the vineyards)