November was a month of transformation at Jordan, both inside and out. In the vineyards, carbohydrates continue the slow journey down into the roots in preparation for dormancy. Unwilling to give up their fight to continue providing through photosynthesis, a few leaves held onto their green pigments like proud soldiers hoping to be the first ever to survive the winter months. With temperatures dropping and their time in the sun decreasing, however, grape leaves have since accepted their fate and surrendered their pride in exchange for a yellowish-brown uniform. Those with less enthusiasm gave up early, convinced the petioles to join them, and opted for a spot on the ground–be wary of the vines in which the petioles did not fall with the leaves. (It’s a telltale sign the grapevine has Pierce’s Disease.) Sunny skies have been replaced with swollen rain clouds, vests have been replaced by raincoats and pumpkin patches by Christmas tree lots.
Indoors, the waterfall-like rumbles of the pumpovers that echoed throughout the fermentation room earlier this month have been silenced–the void of which is replaced only by the distant buzz of the morning leaf blower rounding up the yellow and orange casualties of the estate’s Boston Ivy. The last lots of Cabernet and Petit Verdot have long since finished primary fermentation, been drained, pressed and are nearly through the stabilizing malolactic fermentation in the Oak Tank Room. While the work load has become less hectic, there is still plenty to do in the cellar. Work orders are stacked with the verbs transfer, top, rack, stir, and sterilize, and on top of all that, perhaps the biggest of the transformations is the preparation of the space where the new bottling line will soon live.
The winemaking team has been busy blind tasting. Stepping away from the analytical side of the winemaking process, the crew sat down to explore the individual lots of the 2012 harvest in a manner that strips everything away but the most important question; is it good enough to be in the final blend of Jordan and how does it fit in? In addition to identifying which components will move forward, a blind tasting was also performed with the mission of prescribing exactly which barrels these chosen 2012 components would be blended into for the final “Barrel Blend.” This tasting consisted of nine different glasses of the 2011 Jordan Cabernet that had each been aged in a different barrel, as chosen from a similar tasting in 2010. Much like the component tasting, the goal is simply to identify which barrels truly showcase the qualities of the blend and best express the combination of elegance, balance and finesse that we strive for. Only after discussing as a group which qualities were appreciated or not favored about each of the wines, the barrels were revealed and it was decided which will be used for the 2012 Barrel Blend; hence the more than 800 brand new barrels rolling in through the backdoors, quickly diminishing real estate in the warehouse.