The month of June and the beginning of July have been very busy here at Johan Vineyards. Like everyone else in the valley, we fought our own battle with Mother Nature and the higher-than-normal temperatures in June. While it limited our ability to trim the vineyard canopies and remove leaves around the fruit, it gave us plenty of time to focus on the less rigorous and more enjoyable parts of winemaking. In all, we tasted over fifty barrels of wine from the 2014 vintage and selected the blends that will become our 2014 releases.
We typically start by going through and tasting every single barrel of Pinot Noir and giving it a simple letter grade. As in school an “A” is the best, and “B” second, however, we also recognize that the different bottlings of Pinot we make each have a unique character and flavor profile. Our goal is to keep with the philosophy of each of these bottlings and blend the appropriate barrels to meet these goals. The “A” barrels don’t automatically make it into the top-tier Pinots that are made, but usually become the backbone of our Estate Pinot Noir. For our Nils Pinot, we look for barrels that have more weight, extraction, and depth. Only eight barrels are chosen for this lot so tasting a variety of blends is essential to getting the profile just right – typically barrels with new oak are always finalists for the Nils bottling. The Three Barrel Pinot is our top-tier and here is where we look for the three most interesting Pinot Noirs in the cellar, and try to highlight those outliers and preserve their unique aromatics and fruit concentrations.
At the end of a long week of tasting, blending, and tasting again – we finally select and mark the barrels in preparation for racking. The final barrels are racked into holding containers until they can be filtered and bottled at a later date. In the meantime, we spend a good deal of time washing and cleaning the empty barrels to make sure they are ready to go for the 2015 harvest. It’s a lengthy process that takes all of our staff working together as a team to accomplish, but at the end of the day we are proud of the new wines that will be available from the 2014 harvest.
The final act in the show will be the bottling of all of these blended wines at the end of July. We’ll be sure to get some amazing photos and videos of our next bottling day coming up in a couple of weeks.