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It is widely accepted that 2011 was one of the most challenging growing seasons of the last two decades. The cooling trend of the last three years continued and manifested itself as our most European vintage to date. It was a very unpredictable year with extremely low yields, yet it turned out to produce pure and controlled wines with bright acidity, just the way we like it!
It was a very exciting season at Presquile Winery considering that Anna Murphy (the youngest of the Murphy-three) joined us to deal with this very unique vintage. We also harvested some of our new blocks for the first time. Even at a very young age these vineyards (Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah) are showing true varietal character and great balance with a distinctive identity, a very promising sign for years to come.
In general, the berries were very small with concentrated flavors due to the smaller ratio of skin:pulp. The acidity found itself in balance at a much lower level of sugar (ending with lower alcohol) than in previous years. This type of season, even though not typical for California, really assisted our preferred style of lower alcohol balanced wines.
Due to the low tonnage it was actually a fairly slow vintage, the grapes trickled in without any rush or need to process quickly. This gives us the opportunity to ensure every load of grapes receives as much attention as possible. The Pinot Noir started on 9.6.11 and lasted till 9.24.11. The Chardonnay started on 9.28.11 and went till 10.8.11. The Sauvignon Blanc arrived on 9.20.11 and finished on 10.8.11. The only lot of Syrah grapes arrived typically late in the season on 11.5.11.
Unfamiliar weather patterns and young blocks made for an educational yet necessary vintage. With climate changing across the planet, I am sure we will see another vintage like this, probably more often than not, and those who paid attention this year will have some experience to work with. It might not be what the Santa Maria Valley is used to, but there will be top quality wines from the SMV in 2011, there just won’t be much of it…….
Keep drinking Balance,