It is early February 2010 and Napa Valley is already picture perfect with mustard cover crops creeping up between the vines. In the vineyards we are pre-pruning and in the winery we are taking stock of our inventory. This past year we touched three vintages at Larkmead. We bottled the highly anticipated 2007 vintage; we blended the 2008 wines and harvested the 2009 vintage.
In about two weeks time we will “officially” release the 2007 red wine vintage for Larkmead. A great many good things have been said about the 2007 vintage coming out of California. To echo the sentiments, 2007 is the vintage of opulence. It seems I shouldn’t be talking about hedonism during times like these, but it is hard to hold your tongue around these wines. Juicy. Lush. Mouth-watering. Rich. Savory. Tender. Flat out exquisite wines. It is going to be hard to match the extravagance of this vintage. We are all in for a grand treat in the weeks and months to come when these wines arrive on retail shelves, restaurant wine lists or in our wine cellars. I am not going to be afraid of opening these wines upon release. I speak for the Larkmead wines, they will be approachable. Go for it.
Just a few short weeks ago, Andy and I tasted through the 2008 and 2009 wines.
Since January 2009 we have not been more pleased with the overall development of the red wines from the 2008 harvest. It was an interesting vintage in the cellar that perplexed us at times and we truly didn’t know where the wines would go post-fermentation. When we tasted the wines in January 2009 we were quite pleased at how they began to pull together and cloak themselves in characteristic Larkmead cassis and fruit purity. A year later, dark red, black and blue fruit nuances began to add depth to the wines and the tannins and acid held a firm structure on the finish. The 2008 wines are stunning, classic wines and we plan to bottle the Firebelle and Cabernet in mid-May and the Salon and Solari in early July. Look out.
I have written before about the 2009 harvest, its intensity and concentration - mostly in the workload (see the prior posts below), but now is time to talk about the early development of the wines. Well, it is hard not to lead without the same descriptors – intensity and concentration. However, unlike the luxurious concentration of the 2007 wines, the young 2009 vintage is showing much more depth which I’d attribute to a focused intensity. The wines are superbly balanced with an elegant front of the palate fruit purity followed by a rich and clean mid-palate and some of the finest tannins I’ve tasted in a Larkmead wine. Since the early stages of fermentations I have talked repeatedly about the mouth-watering, flavorful tannins of the 2009 wines. In my opinion the 2009 vintage will be a candidate for the finest set of wines produced at Larkmead. I’ll check back in a couple of weeks when we rack and produce the preliminary 2009 blends. Until then, cheers.