It’s April in Napa Valley, Winter rains brought out a fresh field of cover crop earlier this year and the blue skies in the middle of March started bud break on the majority of Larkmead’s estate. Bud break is not yet complete and the vineyard crew is working around the clock protecting against frost as overnight temperatures have reached low-to-mid 30’s. However, in the cellar it has been a constant 58 degrees and we’ve undergone the process of evaluating the 2010 harvest. Here at Larkmead this process begins in January when the majority of the wines have finished maloactic (secondary) fermentation. Upon first blush we are very pleased with the vintage. The young wines show great promise – a soft core of fruit purity lifted by a fresh acidity and framed by refined tannins.
Flipping through my notes of our early tasting and blending trials, here’s a snippet for what is in store...
Merlot and early Firebelle trials: Floral aromatics atop plum and red fruit dominance; flavors in the mouth are presented tirelessly on the wine’s texture; the fresh acidity adds length to an elegant package; subtle balance dominates the wine and the vintage.
A-Block Cabernets and preliminary Estate Cabernet Blending trials: Broad, soft, red fruit – full and lip smacking; there is a purity to these wines that sings the elements of a long, cool growing season with just the right amount of sunshine right before harvest adding layers of forest floor, brambly fruit on the nose that are cleaned by a gravel-like minerality in the mouth; classic Napa Valley (Cabernet) fruit purity evolving towards Larkmead’s more darker, brooding side of tobacco and earthy structure; an overwhelming freshness dominants the wine almost begging you to take another sip.
Vineyard parcels slotted for Salon and Solari: Subtle but confident, reserved but powerful on the nose, in the mouth and through the finish; there is a maturity to these wines without skipping a grade; a darkness that is lifted by a consistent stream of texture born of red wines with both acid and tannin; exciting wines that will be a pleasure to watch develop in barrel for the next 20 months and bottle (if we can resist drinking them upon release).
After the first set of tastings and blending trials we began racking the wines and putting the pieces of the puzzle together. We chose to blend the Firebelle and Cabernet to allow for them to integrate and harmonize early in their elevage; as for the Salon and Solari we are letting the pieces evolve through the Springtime to show their full potential, we’ll sit down and re-taste those wines and make the final blends this summer. More on that as time goes by. Right now we need to pay attention to the 2009 wines that will be bottled mid-April and late June. An update on the 2009 vintage is coming soon, and be forewarned; these are some of our favorite wines produced since Larkmead starting bottling wines again in 1998. More soon and thanks for reading. Cheers.