Saturday, November 1, 2014

Harvest 2015

   We harvested this year on September 14th. After the hottest July on record, the weather cooled off somewhat in August. The first two weeks of September were cool and we had some rain. For the second year in a row, we had enough rain in June, August and September that I didn't have to irrigate at all. The vines set a huge primary and secondary crop. I went through the vineyards and dropped at least 1500 pounds of second crop on the ground. I was concerned that, if the cool weather continued, we would have trouble ripening the primary crop. Also, in the past, I had trouble getting the pickers to leave the second crop.
   Most of the grape pickers here work for farmers rather than winemakers so, if it looks like a grape, it goes in the trailer. This year was different. The Tost family brought some pickers who understood the concept. They left whatever second crop I missed. The result was that the grape chemistry was right on the money (as follows):
Alcohol 13.9%
pH 3.65
t.a. .7g/100ml
   I couldn't be happier! As you can see, the fruit was beautiful. The harvest went smoothly and we were finished by 2:00 pm. I am embarrassed to say I only picked about three hours. Since most of the fruit hangs less than eighteen inches from the ground, I'm a little too tall for this kind of work. We were assisted by four very nice Moroccan gentlemen and the Tosts (Rosa Maria, Josep and Marc) matched them cluster for cluster. In my 33 years of grape harvesting, I've never seen anything like it.
   We ended up with 6875 kilos (7.5 American tons) which was 50% more than last year. Ramon Bargalló, from whom I bought the vineyards, said he never got more than 6000 kilos so it was an all-time record. It was more fruit than would fit in my 5000 liter tank. Renè Barbier generously allowed me to use three of his one ton fermenters so we were able to get everything in the barn.
   The fermentations went well (quick and clean) and the vintage is now put to bed. I would like to thank the Tost Family for making this harvest so bountiful and pleasant. I would also like to thank "Los Tres Amigos de La Figuera":
And, of course, thanks to all of you!!!
¡Gracias de Nuevo y tu amigo!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Celler D. Russell Smith-Harvest 2014

Celler D. Russell Smith-Harvest 2014

We harvested our estate grapes on September 6 and everything went as planned. I think we were the first to pick carinyena in Montsant. Because of the old vines and the orientation of the vineyard, we are a couple of weeks ahead of everyone else. I didn't irrigate this year since the vines never appeared to be water stressed. Carinyena tends to ripen a little unevenly so it's always a challenge to determine ripeness, especially when dealing with an old vineyard where there is a lot of variability from vine to vine. 
In addition to looking at the numbers, I watch for the ripeness of the seeds. This year I noticed the seeds were generally brown and we were getting some dehydration in about 10% of the berries. The last sample I took on Sept. 4 showed 25 Brix. We ended up with 24 Brix in the tank and good pH. 
The yield this year was 4750 kilos or 5.22 American tons off the five acres. This is the best we've done so far and I'm very pleased with the quality. We took the fruit to La Figuera and it's now fermenting in two 3000 liter tanks. I'm pumping over once a day and the color is fabulous!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Celler D. Russell Smith, Vintage 2012

                                    Welcome to the first vintage of Celler D. Russell Smith!
I fulfilled a life-long dream last year and bought two small vineyards in the Montsant region of Spain. They are located next to the village of El Molar in the province of Catalunya. One (Finca Alta) was planted in 1975 and the other (Finca Vieja) was planted somewhere around 1952. Both vineyards are planted to Carignan although we are required by the D.O. Montsant to call the grapes Samsó on the label.
The vineyards are near the top of a mountain and enjoy full sunlight all day. The soils are calcareous with some decomposed slate. There are numerous pebbles of quartz and the occasional galet present. The soil ranges from pale yellow to pale pink and reflects the abundant sunlight well. This allows the soil to cool down after sunset which contributes to maintaining good acidity in the fruit.
We are only twenty miles from the Mediterranean and get a steady breeze almost all the time. There is a cool wind from the sea most of the day while a warmer, drier wind from the north prevails at night. The combination of soil, elevation and climate make this area an agricultural paradise. It's perfect for wine grapes.
The vintage of 2012 was the warmest and driest in thirty years. We irrigated twice to keep the vines healthy. The five acres of vines only yielded about four tons of grapes. This is to be expected from old vines. The berries are very small and the clusters are loose. These factors contribute to making the best wine. We employ sustainable agricultural practices in the vineyards.
I also have a long-term agreement with a Grenache vineyard near the village of Marça. This vineyard is organically farmed and the fruit is superb. My goal is to make wine from traditional varieties and showcase the unique character of Montsant.
In 2012, we harvested the Grenache on September 3 and the Carignan on September 19. The weather was spectacular both days and we had no trouble hand-picking the grapes. The Grenache and Carignan were fermented separately and blended in March of 2013. Thirty percent of the wine was aged in new French and American barrels.
Color-Deep garnet
On the nose-Plum jam, vanilla, mace, slightly toasty
On the palate-Full bodied. Flavors of plum, white chocolate and mace with a medium-long toasty
                       oak finish.
Alchohol- 14.50%
pH- 3.68
T.A.- .71 g/100 ml
Thank you for visiting our website and we welcome you to leave a comment.