Cycle of planning continues

With my first harvest in Burgundy behind me, I’m currently looking ahead to 2010. As well as things went in 2009, there are many areas for improvement, mistakes to learn from, and shifts which are in the development stage.

Starting in January 2010, the facility in Nuits Saint George will be ready for holding my 2009 barrels. I’ll begin preparation of the cuverie area for harvest 2010 in January as well.

As for barrels, I’m planning on using a bit less new oak. For 2009, around 30% of my oak was new. I will be dropping my target number to 15% (possibly 0%) moving forward, while allowing for small changes based upon production numbers and vintage profiles. Obviously, a 2.5 barrel production wine such as Le Chambertin will be impossible to fit in this box.

The plan is to purchase a small amount of new barrels each year, and placing other old barrels which were purchased used out of commission when possible. Eventually, all of the used barrels in use would have been purchased new by Maison Ilan at some point. This is a big deal when used barrels are purchased without knowing 100% the full history of the barrel.

Also, I will be moving toward using all open top wooden fermenters. The stainless steel tanks will be phased out. My thoughts are based on the goal of having uniform fermentation vessels. The possible benefits (aromatics, longer fermentation times, less heat retention) to using this more traditional vessel outweigh the ease of use benefits of stainless steel, for my intended uses.

I’ve been thinking about winery choices quite a bit lately. With such a terroir based region, I have been trying to furthering the intention of treating each lot the same. The goal is to have the difference of the terroir be highlighted, instead of differences in oak selection such as oak age, cooperage, toast levels, pigeage regime, maceration targets, etc. With the differences in production numbers, having percentage of new oak used is (and has been) the difficult issue. The only ways to match the numbers is to go 100% or 0% (the latter is a strong option) new oak on everything across the board. I can’t see either as feasible at present.

In January, I plan to do make a choice on who to use as my sole Cooper (producer of barrels). I am leaning towards François Freres at the moment, however I am considering staying with Chassin.

My sorting table will again consist of a huge piece of laminate-topped wood. I am also on the hunt for an old wooden vertical press similar to the model I used for 2009.

More updates to follow.

Thanks again for viewing.


3 thoughts on “Cycle of planning continues

  1. Very interesting and informative to see how your ideas for vinification and elevage are progressing. I’ve got a question about the strategy of trying to keep the treatment for all the lots the same though. In theory, I appreciate the commitment to keeping all variables constant so the terroir can show through. In practice, however, is it possible you would want to be flexible depending on the characteristics of the fruit that came in? If a certain lot has tannins that are perhaps a little less ripe, for instance, might you not want to shoot for a little less extraction in order to maintain balance? Wouldn’t that still qualify as terroir appearing in the end result by dictating winemaking practices for that specific lot?

  2. Hey Jamie,
    great question again. Thanks. I have allowed for some hypothetical adjustments. Though, I wonder at times if choices that are made actually something that hurts your end result, even if well intentioned and well thought out. The truth is, much of what is shown when these wines are simply grapes hint at a lot of directions that the eventual wine will point towards. My impression on grapes during one small window of time can result in a poor judgement call. And, I’d rather have variables in vintage show, rather than build up towards are consistent median profile that doesn’t reflect a vintage (that is, if given a choice).

    There is an issue with being on either side of this fence. Overall consistent quality, or hands off laissez faire. It’s easy to just say that you are going to make the very best of what is given each year. However, effort in manipulation or winemaking actions (or lack thereof) have a direct result on the wine. And, if choices exist, so do poor choices. Whose to say which will be best? So, I’m choosing to have all of the grapes on the same page, and see what comes of it.

    As for balance. I work with the idea that the grapes are self balanced if the viticulture is sound. The variables with tannins, berry size, etc that come vintage to vintage should, in my opinion remain intact.

    Is this the right choice? I have no idea. I’ll take a run at it and keep a close eye on the results.

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