Happy New Vintage!
The 2016 harvest is being noted as the first “normal” vintage we’ve seen in quite a few years. So, what does that mean?
It is widely reported that with a mild early summer and consistent growing conditions, harvest volumes, and ripening time this vintage is considered “normal”. This is most interesting to me because at nearly every vintage we will hear reports that things are not normal in one way or another.
Here in our small vineyard we saw a fairly even growing season where temperatures and moisture are concerned along with a good bloom and set but then came a bit of uneven ripening which made cluster thinning a little trickier but that could be considered normal. As human beings chasing a “perfect” result, we would like to think that perfect growing conditions and absolute even ripening should be the normal. The truth is that those conditions never really happen so that should be considered ideal.
But again, what we humans sometimes perceive as ideal and what nature determines as the ideal and perfection can be in conflict. Nature always gets her way and I have learned that the sooner I’d come to terms with that the sooner I would learn to observe her and understand the real path to good winemaking.
I think of my winemaking in parallel with my lifespan. How many vintages will I enjoy the privilege of making wine? My love of the journey forces me to focus intensely with the objective of learning and understanding the influencing factors effecting the key to it all -- the vineyard and mother nature.
I remain committed to acquiesce to mother nature and let the vines guide me to the best wines I can make with each remaining vintage.
2016 Vintage in the Bottle
Our bottle with it’s beautiful shape is not the easiest for our mobile bottler to run on his line. (a lot of tipping) This year we bottled with a new set of tooling custom designed to fit the shape of our bottle and we are all very happy with the result. Many more bottles filled, corked and labeled in a lot less time.
More Mother Nature
2 years ago, Rodney vowed never to complain about rain again no matter how much we might get. He has stuck to his word and even when one of the trucks loaded with our newly bottled wines sunk in the parking lot, and he and our wonderful growers spent the day digging it AND the forklift out, there was no complaint about rain. All is well that ends well and thankfully the 2016 vintage is resting in bottles safe and snug in the warehouse.
All that’s left is to re-open the tasting room in March and share with you!
Favorite Food Pairings
This year our family holiday meal consisted of all pork belly Porchetta, cornbread, citrus salad and macaroni and cheese with gruyere.
Grenache Blanc was an extra nice complement with the cornbread, so if I could only taste one wine with this meal it would be Belle Blanc since the Grenache Blanc in the blend kisses the cornbread, the Roussanne is married to the pork and the Viognier with macaroni and cheese. Click images below for recipes!
This time of year brings warm and happy feelings for me in so many ways. Of course, joyful time spent with our 3 sons, daughter in-laws and 3 granddaughters are highlights and in addition, I am comforted by the fact that our wines are peacefully resting in the their stainless steel tanks awaiting bottling in the New Year.
Although the tasting room is closed due to having sold out of last year’s vintage, we have been busy racking and fining the wines, gathering materials for bottling and in the coming weeks we will take care of the final filtering before bottling day.
I am a bit more excited about bottling this year because as I am sure you’re aware, the shape of my bottle is unique and our mobile bottler has always been less than excited to run them through his bottling line. Lots of special set up on his part as well as additional hands to try and keep them form tipping over during the process. Not exactly the picture of efficiency but this year, he has come up with specially designed tooling and we agreed to invest so that we can experience the same smooth operation as the wineries with “normal bottles.” Stay tuned and we’ll post a video! Bottling begins the 20th of January.
Post bottling we will again begin preparing to open the tasting room and planning the spring release. I am really pleased with how this vintage is coming along across all varietals and expect them to age really well.
Many of us can’t exactly wait too long to enjoy these wines but for those of us who enjoy the changes that an aged wine can bring, I wanted to shed some light on our wines and aging. I often get questions about white wines and their ability to age well with many believing it is a practice reserved for red wines.
How a wine ages depends on many factors beginning in the vineyard and carrying through the winemaking approach considering structure, acidity, and residual sugar to name a few. My aim is to make wines that are enjoyable early on AND that will develop nice complexity over the next 5 years.
Some of you may have tasted different vintages of the same varietals in the tasting room this year and we made it a point to pay attention to your observations. While it seems a slight majority enjoy the older vintages, many preferred the brighter acidity with more pronounced fruit notes in the younger wines. I am very pleased as this is the aim of my winemaking approach.
Do I need a wine cooler or cellar to properly age Acquiesce wines?
Of course, ideal conditions or close to it, can be achieved with either a wine cooler or cellar but if you want to lay these wines down for a couple of years, a cool dark area of the house such as a hall closet will do the trick. In addition to cool and dark, consistent temperature is key. Large temperature swings are a negative so the location should be away from heat sources.
If you are aging some of my wines now or do so in the future I would most appreciate hearing about your experience.
With a strong crop, we have more finished wine than ever before and we will be opening the club to folks on the waiting list! I’m so happy to expand the family and getting to know you all. With the newly planted vineyard being ready for harvest this coming Fall, we will be able to open the club to more folks and maybe even stay open through the holidays!
While this blog is a bit shorter than most, I want all who enjoy the Acquiesce experience to know you are very much appreciated and I really look forward to seeing you again beginning in March with an all new vintage and hopefully a few aged wine comparisons as well.
Rodney and I are off to enjoy time with the family and we wish you all the very best for the holidays and for 2017!!
MUSHROOM, HERB & GRUYERE CHEESE MINI TURNOVERS
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
2 cups finely chopped Cremini mushrooms
1 onion, chopped finely
¾ tsp dried thyme
¾ tsp dried rosemary
salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
2 tbsp flour
½ cup heavy cream
3 tbsp Acquiesce Grenache Blanc
⅓ cup shredded Gruyere cheese
2 sheets of puff pastry, thawed (12x12 inches)
1 egg + 1 tbsp water whisked together
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a skillet, heat up the olive oil and butter. Add the chopped onion and saute for about 1 minute. Add the chopped mushrooms, thyme, rosemary and salt & pepper. Cook until the onions and mushrooms are tender and there is no moisture left from the mushrooms. Then stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the Grenache Blanc and cream. Remove from the heat, and stir in the Gruyere cheese. Set aside.
On your counter, lay out the puff pastry with the parchment paper it came with still attached. Using a pizza cutter cutter, cut the pastry into 16 pieces. Scoop about 1 tbsp of the mushroom mixture into the centre of the dough (do not overfill or they will leak). Then fold the dough in half and press the edges to seal them. Place the mini turnovers onto your prepared baking sheet, at least 1 inch apart. Brush the sealed edges and tops of the turnovers with the egg mixture. Repeat the above with the other puff pastry sheet and remaining mushroom mixture.
Bake each tray for about 15 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.
Following a winter and spring that brought some nice and needed rainfall, the vineyard is in really nice condition with all of the newly planted 7 acres well established. With harvest underway our focus has turned to the adult vineyard as we harvested and “luvsqueezed” (pressed) our viognier yesterday and I am really very excited about the flavor and balance of the juice.
Next up looks like Grenache Blanc which is at 20 brix right now and should be ready within the next 3 weeks. Stay tuned for status updates and you're welcome to stop by for peak at harvest and pressing activities with the AV team. Over the coming several weeks, all the wines will go through a long cool fermentation and finally their lives as wines in a sexy bottle begins in January.
This week we had the pleasure of hosting the Wine Bloggers 2016 Conference here in Lodi with many tours, excursions and discovery activities for the nearly 300 bloggers attending. At Acquiesce we were glad to host a pre-conference group on Wednesday with a vineyard and full tasting tour to kick off their activities as well as a really fun group that selected the "Pick a Peck of Picpoul" excursion that consisted of a vineyard and winery tour, tasting of freshly pressed Viognier juice, a full tasting experience followed by dinner at our home with 2 beautiful Can Can dancers . . . how French can you get?
A fabulous dinner prepared by Jennifer Kupka of the Lodi Airport Café paired very nicely with Grenache Blanc, Belle Blanc, Roussanne and Viognier. Pictures are nice but tasting is...
We are often asked about White Rhone varietals in Lodi and the long-standing misconception that Lodi is not suited for growing white wine grapes. Here a few facts that help explain the why and how of the differences and similarities of the Lodi region and the Southern Rhone region of France.
Let it be known that we adore wines from the Rhone region and drink them often. Of course we love our versions as well so what are the differences? French versions are a bit rounder in body and mouth feel and sometimes some oak can be detected. They are not very acidic but the finish can still be long and pleasing.
Acquiesce's Lodi versions are brighter with notes of fruit coming across on the aroma as well as the palate. They are higher in acid and have no issue staying with you through a nice long finish and can be paired well with an impressive array of foods. The pairing possibilities range from casual and informal snacks (Maui onion potato chips) to gourmet foods of fish, pork, poultry and beef of many variations.
Sidetracking for just a moment, there is another common misconception that white wine pairing options are limited to certain foods. How many times have you heard " if you're having a white wine order chicken or fish”? That’s just sad and very limiting so we are determined to open as many minds and mouths as possible to the truth about white wine versatility. Note: might be a book in our future
Okay, back to the main topic at hand. Historical weather information indicated in the charts below (we chose the years 2000 to 2015 show that Lodi is a few degrees warmer during the day AND a few degrees cooler during the night which, when coupled with the consistent delta breeze makes a key impact on the quality of the grapes. Another key factor is rainfall and time to ripen. Lodi doesn’t see any significant rainfall during the growing season which allows us to water to the exact amount we feel is best for flavor and extend the season for full mature ripe fruit.
These factors are only a portion of what is known as terroir and I'll have more on the total terroir coming soon.
The next time you relax and enjoy a crisp Acquiesce white wine, you might take a few minutes to contemplate the weather pattern here and maybe even do what I do, thank mother nature for the blessing.
Here's to the French Rhone and Lodi appellations!
And now our newest pairing recipe find.. From Serious Eats (our real go to food site) and Daniel Gritzer
Definitely a treat with our Roussanne (we enjoyed it along side a nice smash burger)
Cheers and looking forward to seeing you soon!
Rodney and I spent last weekend, both Saturday and Sunday in beautiful Monterey pouring at the Monterey Wine Festival.
The weather cooperated nicely with cool breezes and delightfully bright sunshine. We had a great time with the visitors as this was a knowledgeable and enthusiastic crowd.
Attending wineries from Lodi were all under the same tent and as a region we were very well received. Many folks commented that the Lodi wines were their favorites of the festival and that they would be planning a Lodi wine tour soon. It’s always gratifying to introduce enthusiasts to the Lodi wine region, our wines and the welcoming, knowledgeable people staffing the tasting rooms.
We enjoyed a lovely dinner at Montrio Bistro in downtown Montery and enjoyed a very interesting appetizer of popcorn and duck confit.
Service and vibe at this restaurant is excellent and if you’re ever in the area we recommend it. I recommend the popcorn appetizer with Roussane, Viognier or Belle Blanc for sure.
On Sunday morning we awoke to a really nice surprise in my inbox with a message from Sunset Magazine International wine competition letting me know my 2015 Grenache Blanc achieved the Best of Class Gold status! Needless to say I was energized for the day ahead.
More good news arrived yesterday - the California Commercial Wine Competition awarded us The Best Viognier in California - 98 pts Double Gold for our 2015 Viognier! Wow!
So the spring has been exciting and enjoyable highlighted by the time we got to spend with our club member family over the 3 weekend pickup open houses we started this year. We were definitely able to spend more quality time with folks which for us, is what the event is all about.
All new plantings are off to a really good start and I’m looking forward to seeing them through this summer and into next year when we will make some more interesting wines.
On a closing note, I want to share a great recipe from Serious Eats, (one of Rodney’s favorite food sites)
Frozen White Wine Yogurt
2 cups full-fat Greek yogurt, cold
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup dry white wine, cold
Lemon juice, to taste
Salt, to taste
In a large bowl, whisk yogurt and sugar together until sugar is dissolved. Stir in wine with lemon juice and salt to taste (start with 1/4 teaspoon of each).
Transfer to an ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer's instructions. Serve immediately for soft serve, or freeze 2 to 3 hours for a firmer consistency.
We used our 2015 Viognier and if you choose one of the others, please share with us here.
Thanks for reading and happy wine tasting !
Yes! After planning, plotting, waiting and ripping up our Zinfandel, we have just planted the last of our new whites. We've been waiting for these little Bourboulenc beauties for a few years, but they are now in the ground at Acquiesce. So our newly planted 6.5 acres includes the following varieties:
I am so looking forward to the Chateauneuf du Pape style blends that are in my future with these fun additions!
Doug, our English speaking tour guide picked us up from our hotel in CDP. We outlined the mission for him — we’d like to tour wineries in the area that craft beautiful white wines. This proved to be a challenge for Doug, since only 20% of the wines in CDP are white . . . but he came through for us!
My husband Rodney with our tour guide Doug
Doug, a retired Boeing engineer left Seattle 8 years ago for a vineyard and winery in CDP. Newly retired, Doug felt the lows of the recession of the past few years and had to sell his vineyard. He’s now a necogiant, a wine merchant who buys wine from winemakers and sells it under his label. And, he gives tours to the English and Americans looking for a true CDP experience.
Walter McKinlay and I at Domaine de Mourchon
Our first stop was Domaine de Mourchon and Walter McKinlay. Walter is from Scotland and is doing wonderful things with the grapes of the region. Every wine was delightful, white, rose and red . . .great Chateauneuf du Pape style. His expertly designed winery is based on the gravity fed system, with grapes going in at the top and bottles shipped out from the bottom floor.
After a tour with Walter, we visited several co-operative wineries, where growers and winemakers get together to create a branded wine. It was here that we saw locals filling up old milk jugs with wine . . .for only a couple euros per container and it was good wine!
Filler up at the Co-op
Lunch in a small cafe in the wine town of Gigondas was just amazing. The day would have been complete, but there were more wineries to see . . .
The day I tasted my first white Châteauneuf du Pape wine, my life changed. It was the best wine I had ever had. So I quickly drove back to the store for a couple more cases of this wonderful nectar, only to be told I was holding the last bottle in California! Okay, what’s the deal? After research, I realized that the CDP area of France is mostly known for their lovely Grenache, Syrah & Mouvedre blends and don’t produce many whites. The whites consist of blends with Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Viognier, Clairette and a few other varietals. I decided to give the Grenache Blanc a try and was pleased with the results in our vineyard . . .so I planted Roussanne, Viognier and Picpoul Blanc. These cuttings came by way of Tablas Creek Winery in Paso Robles, California. Tablas is partners with Chateau Beaucastel in Châteauneuf du Pape, where these varietals origninated.
Now I was in Châteauneuf du Pape and I wanted to return to the source, the Mothership, so to speak. I had an appointment with English speaking Richard Haug-Adrion who gave us a tour of the famous Chateau Beaucastel. As one of the most famous wineries in the world, I was surprised at the lack of cars in the drive, tasting room sign or even a welcome sign. I went up to the door and pushed a button. Richard was waiting for us and buzzed us in. I felt like I was entering someone’s elegant home . . .
We were warmly greeted and taken to the cellar filled with large, beautiful wooden fermentation vats where the proces s of winemaking begins. After fermentation, the wines are moved to large wooden barrels to age until the blending and bottling process begins.
After leaving the barrel room, we entered a cavern of bottles, rows and rows of unlabelled bottles. Since Beaucastel sells to so many different countries, they don’t label their wine until they have a firm order and then apply the correct label applicable to the country. The bottles are piled 10 plus deep and rest on a bed of sand to prevent breakage . . . do you think they’d miss one unlabelled bottle?
I learned that records show a Pierre de Beaucastel buying this property in 1549, but the first mention of vines on the property date to 1792. The Perrin family acquired the property in the early 1900′s and its been in their family since.
After the bottle room, on to some tasting . . . yes! We tried 2 beautiful whites, the first was the 2011 Coudoulet de Beaucastel, a lovely Famille Perrin wine that must be labeled Cotes-du-Rhone, since a new road cut their vineyard into two pieces and these grapes were no longer in CDP. The Coudoulet is a blend of Marsanne, Viognier, Bourboulenc and Clairette. The second white was the CDP Vielles Vignes which is 100% Roussanne from 75 year old vines and had lovely acacia flower and honey aromas with a very rich finish. We actually tried a 2009 Vielles Vignes with dinner the night before with an amazing foie gras and the finish just wouldn’t stop.
The red wines were just as amazing, showcasing their Mourvedre and Grenache, with additions of Syrah, Counoise and Cinsault. There were definite notes of berry, leather with spice and pepper on the palate.
Of course, even though it required the purchase of a suitcase, we had to bring some of these precious beauties home!
Overall, it was a dream come true and I’m still smiling! Thank you Chateau Beaucastel for the tour, the tasting, but most of all for making great wines.
Next, I’ll share our tours of other wineries in the CDP community and talk about the winemakers and our tour guide. . .
We arrived on Thursday afternoon after years of dreaming about this vacation. When I set about planting Rhone white grape varietals in the 4 acre vineyard behind our century old barn, I found the most exotic expressions of fruit came from the Châteauneuf du Pape region of France. Visiting this historic place was a dream come true . . .
We were warmly greeted by Andre at La Mere Germaine, which first opened in 1922 by Madame Germaine Vion, the chef at the Élysée Palace at the beginning of the 20th century. The hotel has lovely views, front and back, and our balcony overlooked the small downtown area. Andre was wonderful and the food at La Mere Germaine was the best we had while in France. The rooms were typical of a century old building, but we didn’t spend much time in the room. http://www.lameregermaine.fr/index.html
We walked to the top of the town which was built in 1094, to the New Pope’s Chateau, a former summer home of the Pope who resided in Avignon, France. The Chateau is now a ruin today. But the sights of the vineyards, the Rhone River and the town, made the walk up the steep hill worthwhile. The Pope lived here during the Avignon Papacy from the period 1309 to 1376. During these years, seven successive popes resided in Avignon, in modern-day France, rather than in Rome.
But the reason we were there was for the grapes and the wine . . .
In the meantime, read about why you should visit us at Acquiesce.
We love what we do and we think you will, too! Come taste our wines and visit the Acquiesce surrounded by 18 acres of wine grapes. Our century old barn houses our tasting room. Let us slide open the barn doors for you and pour you some of our white wines. As you sip a glass of our white outside surrounded by vines with a hundred acre view, consider taking a walk out to the vineyard and try the Grenache Blanc right on the vine.