In France and Italy, the winemakers are known for—what’s the polite word?—exaggerating the quality and success of the winegrape harvest.
When every vintage is “the vintage of the century,” the “CLE” tends to kick in. For those not familiar with this highly technical wine term, “CLE” stands for “Chicken Little Effect.”
Here in the United States, vintners are known to be a bit more—what’s the polite word?—honest when it comes to assessing a given harvest season. Naturally, they tend to accentuate the positive, but seldom at the expense of the truth.
With that in mind, we bring you a press release from the Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley—Dry Creek being one of the sub-appellations of California’s Sonoma County. It includes comments from some of the most respected growers and winemakers in California—vintners who are known for making great wine and telling it like it is.
Dry Creek Valley grape growers and winemakers are breathing a cautious sigh of relief as harvest season hits full throttle. 2012 is proving to be a banner year for this Northern Sonoma County wine region, renowned for its Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc wines. After two challenging vintages that resulted in high quality grapes but low yields, Dry Creek Valley vintners are excited and grateful for what many are dubbing an ideal growing season.
“Thus far, this has been a textbook perfect harvest,” says vineyard manager Duff Bevill, who oversees many Dry Creek Valley vineyards. “We’ve had remarkable weather this growing season: less than average rainfall in the spring, so almost no mildew or bunch rot, then perfectly moderate day/night temperatures over the summer—and we’ve had no extreme weather or temperature fluctuations during this last critical ripening stage.”
Area winemakers agree, noting their excitement about the quality of fruit arriving on their crush pads. According to Tim Bell, winemaker at Dry Creek Vineyard, “The growing season has been great—no mold pressure in Zinfandel, no terrible heat spikes to shrivel fruit, and so far it’s been dry. I’m high on 2012 Bordeaux reds in Dry Creek Valley; they have shed green flavors early and just need riper tannins to be perfect. It’s looking like we may just get the antidote to nature’s curve balls last year.”
Winemaker Shelly Rafanelli of A. Rafanelli Winery is equally enthusiastic, saying, “We are seeing both great quality and very good tonnages. In fact, the Zinfandel vineyards picked out heavier than we thought despite the fruit thinning we did early on. With such a nice growing season and good hang time, it has the potential to be a stellar vintage. With the cold nights and warm days, I am seeing great fruit characteristics and good acidity. The juice that’s already pressed and dry in the tanks is tasting wonderful.”
Notes Clay Fritz of Fritz Underground Winery: “Our Sauvignon Blanc came in beautiful, Zinfandel is perfect… and I’m really excited about our Malbec, actually. We’ve had an incredibly consistent growing season. Fermentations have been easy, which is a big relief for us since we use all native yeasts.”