Wine Chronicle

Our 2007 Vintage

The 2007 vintage started a bit slow in the spring, with bud break about two weeks behind a typical year. The crop enjoyed a smooth, progressive warming through late spring and summer allowing the grapes to mature without excessive stress. There were no heat waves, or dramatically high temperatures over summer, and growing conditions remained near ideal into fall. Some cooler weather delayed harvest on both our Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon, with those coming fully ripe in early October. Our only real challenge in this vintage’s crush was back-to-back days of driving and evenings of crushing the Franc and Sauvignon. We always defer harvesting on chemistry (i.e., Brix, total acidity (TA), and pH of the grape’s juice) to harvesting on taste. With this practice, when the grapes taste just right, we have our good friends at Sagemoor pick them as early as possible the next morning. This means we have to scramble like crazy to arrange drivers, riders, and a crush team to process the grapes when they arrive in Sammamish. It’s a long day, but we believe strongly this method produces more flavorful wines.

Detail on each varietal

Merlot

Harvest date: September 9, 2007
Production Quantity: 3,240 pounds
Source: Sagemoor Farms, Bacchus Vineyard, Block 4
Chemistry at crush:
Brix:27
TA:.40
pH:3.79

Syrah

Harvest date: September 27, 2007
Production Quantity: 2,924 pounds
Source: Sagemoor Farms, Sagemoor Vineyard, Block 412
Chemistry at crush:
Brix: 27
TA:.63
pH:3.67

Cabernet Franc

Harvest date: October 12, 2007
Production Quantity: 3,566 pounds
Source: Sagemoor Farms, Bacchus Vineyard, Block 2
Chemistry at crush:
Brix:26.5
TA:.62
pH:3.68

Cabernet Sauvignon

Harvest date: September 13, 2007
Production Quantity: 3,508 pounds
Source: Sagemoor Farms, Dionysus Vineyard, Block 18
Chemistry at crush:
Brix:26.5
TA:.67
pH:3.60

After a 10 day extended cold soak the wine was pressed off the skins on December 1, 2007, held in a tank overnight then racked into used oak barrels for stabilization before malolactic fermentation was started.

Near the end of January 2008 malolactic fermentation had completed on all our varietals. At that point each wine was racked first into a tank to settle out residual yeast sediment, then into a mixture of 50% new French oak, and 50% used oak barrels. All of the 2007 varietals were racked once in the summer of 2008.

In January of 2008 we had our annual blending party, where all the winery partners meet with Cheryl Jones, our Wine Consultant to determine if blending varying amounts of other varietal with a primary varietal result in a better wine.

After determining blends and percentages, then translating these percentages into gallons, we “racked into our blends” in mid-February. In this process we move predetermined amounts of specific varietals into a tank to be blended. After blending, this new wine is racked back into barrels for the final aging period leading up to bottling. Depending on how much (if any) additional oak each blend would benefit from determines whether this last aging is in new or used oak, or what percentage the mix will be.

The wines listed below were bottled on May 9, 2009. This production was orchestrated by Bill Hamlin of Custom Bottling in Benton City, WA who was assisted by the Rock Meadow crew and some friends.

Merlot

91% Merlot
5% Cabernet Sauvignon
3% Cabernet Franc
1% Petit Verdot
Chemistry at bottling:
Alcohol:15.2%
pH: 3.64
TA: .53
Total Production:85 cases

Syrah

94% Syrah
4% Cabernet Sauvignon
2% Petit Verdot
Chemistry at bottling:
Alcohol: 13.6%
pH: 3.73
TA: .56
Total Production:76 cases

Cabernet Franc

95% Cabernet Franc
5% Cabernet Sauvignon
Chemistry at bottling:
Alcohol:14.3%
pH:3.79
TA:.53
Total Production:92 cases

Cabernet Sauvignon

95% Cabernet Sauvignon
4% Cabernet Franc
1% Petit Verdot
Chemistry at bottling:
Alcohol:14.3%
pH: 3.82
TA: .55
Total Production: 71 cases

Rockin’ Red

30% Cabernet Sauvignon
30% Syrah
26% Merlot
10% Cabernet Franc
4% Petit Verdot
Chemisty at bottling:
Alcohol: 14.1%
pH:3.73
TA:.54
Total Production:48 cases

Tasting Notes

First, a note about our wines. All of our red wine is released "young." This means that while they are all enjoyable now, they will get better with six to twelve months of additional aging. To best enjoy our red wines over the next year please decant the wine about an hour or so before pouring. If decanting isn’t possible, open the wine an hour or so before pouring.

Enjoy!

2008 Chardonnay – Columbia Valley

Refreshing notes of pear, citrus, and butterscotch prevail in this beautifully balanced Chardonnay. It delivers a generous mouthful of fruit with hints of oak on the finish. This is a wonderful example of outstanding Columbia Valley chardonnay from this vintage and is drinking well now. 97% Chardonnay and 3% Riesling

2007 Rockin’ Red – Columbia Valley

Our signature wine exhibits a complex, layered bouquet and reflects an outstanding balance of competing ripe fruit, chocolate, and leather notes. Considerably more complex than previous efforts this wine literally unfolds flavor dimensions in your mouth. Refined and regal, this wine typically sells out first! 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Syrah, 26% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 4% Petit Verdot.

2007 Cabernet Franc – Columbia Valley

Smooth, well balanced hints of earth, cherry and leather are well-integrated in this powerful yet balanced offering. This wine will help you understand why the popularity of this grape is growing so rapidly. 95% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon

2007 Cabernet Sauvignon – Columbia Valley

A large mouthful of balanced fruit awaits you here, with notes of ripe cherry and chocolate balancing the fine tannins, leading to a lengthy finish tinged with vanilla and oak. This wine showcases the terroir of Washington’s Columbia Valley appellation. 95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Merlot, and 1% Petit Verdot

2007 Merlot – Columbia Valley

Seamless combinations of currant, raspberry and cherry are featured in this appealing Merlot. Smoke and leather are also detectable, with a smooth finish of toasty oak. No rough edges here. 91% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Petit Verdot

2007 Syrah – Columbia Valley

This medium to full-bodied wine is an elegant example of the high-quality Syrah being produced in the Columbia Valley recently. Exhibiting nuances of cherry, dried fruit, and earth, the finish is seamless and smooth 94% Syrah, 4% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2% Petit Verdot

2008 Vintage

The 2008 vintage started right on time with bud break happening within a normal, or typical, year. The rest of spring remained constant, but summer was cooler than most. About the time all the wineries start planning crush activities, the vines were about two to four weeks behind. It was looking like crush would not begin until late September, and proceed through October. With all the planning done relating to this expectation, Mother Nature turned up the heat dial, and delivered a warm last two weeks of August and September. The fruit ripened very fast during this time, and only by very close monitoring of sugar levels were we successful in harvesting at the near perfect intersection of taste and chemistry. The faster ripening had us really scrambling trying to coordinate drivers, crush teams, etc. In fact, we got the call that both the Merlot and Syrah needed to be harvested the same day. No problem for the folks at Sagemoor Farms, big challenge for us as we don’t have trucks and trailers for this. So, we rented a large box truck, picked up 7,500 pounds of grapes, delivered them back to the winery around 6PM, and worked until almost midnight to get the crush done – a long, memorable day for all of us.

Below is detail by varietal of our 2008 wines.

Chardonnay

Harvest date: September 18, 2008
Production Quantity: 2,642 pounds
Source: Sagemoor Farms, Bacchus Vineyard, Block 1
Chemistry at crush:
Brix: 23.6 TA: .51 pH: 3.53

The wine was pressed off the skins on September 20 and put in used American oak barrels for fermentation. After fermentation the wine was racked to tank, the barrels cleaned, and moved back in for malolactic fermentation. Once complete, the series of clarification and racking began, with the wines aging in used American oak.

Merlot

Harvest date: September 20, 2008
Production Quantity: 3,672 pounds
Source: Sagemoor Farms, Bacchus Vineyard, Block 4
Chemistry at crush:
Brix: 24.5
TA: .32
pH: 4.0

The wine was pressed off the skins on October 25, 2008, held in a tank overnight then racked into used oak barrels for stabilization before malolactic fermentation was started.

Syrah

Harvest date: September 20, 2007
Production Quantity: 3,782 pounds
Source: Sagemoor Farms, Sagemoor Vineyard, Block 412
Chemistry at crush:
Brix: 25.2
TA: .38
pH: 3.85

The wine was pressed off the skins on October 23, 2008, held in a tank overnight then racked into used oak barrels for stabilization before malolactic fermentation was started.

Cabernet Franc

Harvest date: October 13, 2008
Production Quantity: 3,806 pounds
Source: Sagemoor Farms, Bacchus Vineyard, Block 2
Chemistry at crush:
Brix:26.5
TA:.36
pH: 3.93

The wine was pressed off the skins on November 1, 2008, held in a tank overnight then racked into used oak barrels for stabilization before malolactic fermentation was started.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Harvest date: October 16, 2008
Production Quantity: 3,710 pounds
Source: Sagemoor Farms, Dionysus Vineyard, Block 18
Chemistry at crush:
Brix: 26.3
TA: .59
pH: 3.65

The wine was pressed off the skins on November 9, 2008, held in a tank overnight then racked into used oak barrels for stabilization before malolactic fermentation was started.

Rose

Yes! We made a small batch of rose wine this year – a combination of 66% Cabernet Franc and 34% Merlot. Juice for our first Rose was taken off the must after three days of cold soaking and placed into three 15 gallon demijohns for fermentation. It was then racked to remove solids, and returned to the demijohns for aging.

Maturation

Near the end of January 2009 malolactic fermentation had completed on all our red varietals. At that point each wine was racked first into a tank to settle out residual yeast sediment, then into a mixture of new and used barrels. Marking a first for Rock Meadow, we selected barrels whose origin seems best matched to the wine varietal – a fairly common practice. For Rock Meadow, this meant our Syrah went into two new Eastern European oak and two used barrels, our Merlot and Cabernet Franc into four new French oak and four used barrels, and our Cabernet Sauvignon went into two new American oak, and two used barrels. We are looking forward to seeing how the different oak contributes to these wines!

In July, we racked all of our wines. This involves moving all of a varietal out of barrel and into a tank, then moving back into barrel. This process allows the wine to “mingle” with similar wine that has been stored in a different barrel. For example, we use a combination of new American oak and used barrels for our Cabernet Sauvignon. Racking essentially blends all of our wine and the characteristics imparted on it by different barrels, then sends the wine back for more. We were very encouraged by how our wines tasted at this early stage of their development.

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Contact us to purchase: rockinreds@rockmeadowcellars.com