Thursday, October 4, 2012

Bray Vineyards Newsletter - October 2012

October 2012
In the Vineyard: As farmers, grape growers are by nature optimists and that optimism was rewarded this year with a normal crop. Now normal might not be a word to get you excited, but after two very abnormal growing seasons, normal is a great place to be in the Shenandoah Valley. Last winter provided adequate amounts of rainfall and this spring there were no unusual weather events during bud break and pollination. The summer was typical of a Mediterranean climate. As a result, the grapes ripened evenly and harvest times are coming in just about where one would expect them to occur. The grapes look and taste good at this point, but until picked, crushed, fermented, and aged in the barrel, it would be premature to call this a great year. However, an optimist might say that you can’t make great wines without great grapes, and this year we’re off to a good start. 
Around the Winery: The fall crush is slowly gathering momentum. The Verdehlo and Viognier have already been picked, fermented and are safely ensconced in stainless steel for aging. Both of those grapes came in at slightly higher than normal volumes, but compared to last year, that amounted to a significant difference. In 2011, Bray Vineyards harvested a scant 2 tons of Verdehlo but picked almost 9 tons in 2012. This increase in volume makes those of us who love the wines of that luscious Portuguese grape very happy. The white varietals are typically the first to come in but there were two reds that joined the early ripening parade. One of those is our Sangioveto clone of Sangiovese. Intended for blending with the Zinfandel in our Brayzin Hussy Red, it needs to be picked with just the right amount of mouth watering acidity to match up with the rich fruit of the Zinfandel. The other grape that we picked early is Syrah. Unlike other reds that can be partially manipulated at harvest, once Syrah reaches it’s peak ripeness and the clusters begin to raisin, the process is irreversible and they must be picked.
Upcoming Events: Don’t forget the Amador Vintners’ Association Big Crush celebration on October 6th & 7th. You can visit the Amador Vintners Website for all the specific event details. At Bray Vineyards we’re planning a special barrel tasting with a side-by-side comparison of the just-fermented 2012 Syrah with the not-yet-bottled 2010 Syrah. Don’t miss this opportunity to see how the sensory profile of this big red changes with oak aging. Also on the menu is live music with Steve Waranietz on accordion and keyboard, and Eric Burns will be preparing his famous “three-way chili”. We are looking forward to your visit!

Trivia: In the last couple of trivia sections we’ve discussed how the different structural components of wine are changed by the aging process. This month we’ll finish our series on aging by discussing aroma, which for most tasters is the dominant characteristic of wine. However, before we tackle aging let’s consider a few general concepts associated with the sense of smell.
Wine tasting is, at its most fundamental, wine smelling. After all, there are only 4 sensations of tastes detectable by the tongue: sweet, sour, bitter and salty (5 if you include the unami which is sometimes defined as savory-like). Of course no one brags about a salty wine, so that leaves only three. On the aromatic side however, the experts tell us there are over 10,000 distinct smells detectable by the human olfactory senses. Our epithelial tissues located at the top of our nasal passage have receptor cells that convert chemical signals to electrical messages which are sent to the olfactory bulb in the frontal brain lobe that acts as a filter for the pyriform cortex which in conjunction with our memory determines what it is that we are smelling. Simple enough! The most interesting factoid related to the biology of olfactory perception is that the interaction between the olfactory bulb and pyriform cortex limits our detection of smells to a maximum of 5. In a nutshell, a single individual describing more than 5 distinct aromas in a single wine is most likely engaged in a gross terminological inexactitude.
We all perceive odors differently (Click here to continue reading the Trivia Section)
Our next newsletter will delve into the topic of bottle closures and how they affect the aging process. Remember, if you have a question that is looking for an answer, then E-mail it todick@brayvineyards.com.
Website: Brayvineyards.com is the place to go for additional information on the winery, upcoming events, and past issues of this newsletter. It is also the online store for our current inventory of direct shipment wines, the available library wines, Bray logo clothing, and other winery paraphernalia. If you can’t visit us in beautiful Amador County, then perusing the website is the next best thing.
Tasting Room: Our tasting room is open every day except Tuesdays from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. In October and November, we will be pouring the ’11 Brayzin Hussy Blonde, ’09 Brayzin Hussy Red, ’08 Tres Vinas, ’09 Barbera, ’09 Zinfandel, ’08 Cabernet Sauvignon, and the ’07 Petite Sirah/Zinfandel Port. We also have a new addition, a red table wine, available in a refillable one-liter bottle emblazoned with Bray’s tractor logo. The fall with the grape leaves changing color is a great time for a visit, and we look forward to seeing you soon!

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