Oak. It is one of the most influential materials used in the winemaking process. Think about some of your favorite wines -- many of those creamy, spicy, vanilla and toasty rich aromas and flavors are direct results of the combination of wine, wood and time.
I had the chance to travel through some of our French oak forests this winter, where I was able to inspect the sources of many of our barrels. Only the best wood from perfectly aged trees at least 200 years old is used to make wine barrels. But don’t worry -- no wood is ever wasted.
Material that is not suitable for barrel making is used for other craftsman projects such as furniture making. And although cutting down 200 year old trees may look like deforestation to our new world eyes, it is the epitome of sustainability from the French perspective. They’ve been managing these forests for well over 900 years. These government controlled forests, through the careful tending of trees over large areas of land, ensure that French oak is a resource that will continue indefinitely.
Once they’ve been harvested, trees are carefully split and cut to barrel stave size, then stacked on pallets and left to season in the outside elements for 24-36 months. Only then is the wood ready to be toasted and shaped into a barrel. Each cooperage toasts barrels to different specifications, much like different chefs will sear a steak in unique ways, so the relationship between the cooper and the winemaker is incredibly important to assure the impact of the wood on the wine is exactly what is desired. Variables like toasting temperature, time on the fire, the use of water or steam during toasting, the forests used to make the staves, seasoning time, grain tightness and many more factors have huge influence on the aroma, flavor and mouthfeel of the wine that ultimately comes out of that barrel.
Just as winemaking is a science and an art, so is barrel making. It is the successful joining of these two crafts that sets the stage for incredible wine.
Wines to Try
Check out how French oak influences these Adobe Road wines, in different ways.
2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Knights Valley, Bavaraian Lion Vineyard -- You can smell and taste the toasty oak.
2016 Pinot Noir, Sangiacomo, Roberts Road Vineyard -- In our Petaluma Gap Pinot Noir, it's all about how the oak influences the mouthfeel and creaminess of the wine.
What kind of coffee do you order? What kind of wine do you like? The answers to these questions might be more related than you think.
Everyone has different taste preferences, and your affinity for a certain coffee style can many times predict the wines you’ll love. This information can be extremely useful when purchasing wine for yourself or others. Through my years as a winemaker and by paying attention to the preferences of wine consumers, here is what I’ve noticed:
Black Coffee: If you order your coffee black, you likely prefer roasty/caramelized flavors, some tannins, and flavorful acidity. Our 2014 Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon will fit that preference wonderfully. Mid-level tannins frame a palette of beautiful dark fruit flavors mixed with warm spice notes.
Espresso: If you’re the type that orders straight up espresso, you probably like intensely flavored beverages and find enjoyment in the fine balance of roast/sweet/dry. Of course you’ll love our 2013 Beckstoffer Georges III vineyard F block Cabernet, but I’d also suggest you try our 2016 Pinot Noir from the Big Pig vineyard in the Russian River Valley. Why would I suggest a pinot noir (typically lighter) for someone who likes espresso (typically darker)? It’s all about the intensity of flavor and high-level balance between fruit, spice, and acid. Give it a try – you’ll be glad you did!
Coffee with cream and sugar: Do you like cream and sugar in your coffee? If you do, you it’s likely you prefer balance on the softer side (less tannins and acid), and enjoy big mouthfeel and palate richness. If you’re looking for a red wine you’ll love, go straight for the 2016 Redline blend. Complex, rich, and approachable -- it has all the right flavors in all the right places.
Your coffee choice can really say a lot about what wines you might enjoy. As always, explore the vast world of wine around you and let your palate be the guide.
Every industry has an event that brings together the best of the best: think Academy Awards, the Grammys, Golden Globes, the Presidential race (wait, scratch that last one!). The wine industry is no different: our Academy Awards are called the Wine Spectator New York Wine Experience.
With thousands of wineries worldwide to choose from, Wine Spectator picks only their top 250 producers and gives them the honor of being a Critic’s Choice award winner. The event is attended by participants from around the world with the highlight being Thursday and Friday evenings where all of the attendees are able to taste the wines from these top producers and meet the owners and winemakers. It is a spectacular event and a huge honor to be selected to participate.
No award event is complete without a ceremony. It just so happens that in the wine industry our “ceremonies” tend to be tastings, which are way more fun than acceptance speeches! Imagine 250 of the world’s top wineries pouring their best wines for thousands of fans. That is The Wine Spectator Critic’s Choice Experience! That was our week last week and we rocked it!
Kevin and Garrett poured tastings of the highly rated Adobe Road 2009 Cabernet Franc. With Times Square as a backdrop, the wines took center stage and our Cab Franc was a shining star with winery colleagues, critics, and fans alike.
On Monday 9–6 at 6:15 AM Adobe Road officially started Crush 2016! The Famighetti Viognier was harvested and gently pressed in the cool of the morning on a pleasantly warm early fall day. Sound ideal? Well, that's growing season 2016!
Earlier in the season, light rains brought some temporary relief to California's drought struggle. Favorable weather conditions through bloom facilitated typical fruit set, and the moderately warm summer evenly ripened Adobe Road grapes. What's left is to wait patiently for the rest of our vineyards to gain the nuance of perfect ripeness before harvesting.
In the barn:
Famighetti Viognier, Dry Creek
Sangiacomo Carneros Chardonnay, Sonoma
Petaluma Gap Pinot Noir
Famighetti Zinfandel, Dry Creek
Green Valley Pinot Noir, Russian River, Sonoma
See you soon in wine country! Cheers!