One of the great intrigues of wine is experiencing how it develops with age. The generally held assumption is that wine requires time and "improves" with age. There is some truth to that notion, but the real truth is only that a wine changes with age and the perception of improvement is laid squarely on your own personal tastes and preferences. The great disadvantage that the general consumer has in observing this arc of change in a wine's life is that they almost never have access to taste a truly young wine. Only the winemaker eats the grapes the day they are picked. Then we get to taste daily as the fermentation process evolves the juice to wine. We make observations as the brand new wine comes off the press and determine what barrels and tanks to age it in. We pay attention over the coming months and years to decide when it is ready to bottle and deem it an acceptable time to show it off in the glass.
The reason we as winemakers age wine before allowing it to be tasted by others is that we are obsessed with balance. The ultimate goal is to show a wine whose features are all in harmony, each adding a piece to a greater whole. When wine is young, the freshness and fruit are overly dominant. The structural elements and more nuanced aromas and flavors feel out of place or are lost in that upfront burst of bright fruit. Thus the ageing process is used to tamp down the overt fruitiness and allow the proper shape of the wine to come into focus.
Even if focus and balance is our ultimate goal, I have always wanted to share what our wine tastes like when truly young. The immense acid and tannin structure of our reds make them especially difficult to enjoy when brand new as all the elements tend to over expose the palate and I even have trouble discerning exactly what their path will be. But with our Vin Gris program, the fruit and acidity of youth is a perfect entry into showing what is at the core of our wines. I decided in 2020 to start bottling a Harvest Rose early each November for just this reason. Like any farmer, you want others to taste straight off the tree or vine before any vitality in flavor is robbed by time. So this wine is meant entirely to be consumed immediately, aging is contrary to the point of showcasing our wines in youth. These wines also act as a physical answer to the question, "So how was this vintage?" The 2021 Harvest Rose, like most of this harvest, showcases fully ripe fruit with great freshness and edge. The mild conditions of late summer early fall did not create any raisins thus no pruney character is hinted at in any way. The bracing acidity demonstrates the backbone these wines contain hinting at age worthy wines, they won't necessarily improve greatly with time, but they will not fall apart either and should remain gracefull for many years. These are exciting wines, and yes, they need some time in my opinion to settle down. The tannin extraction on the reds was a bit over the top so it will be quite a while before I let anyone else have a taste. But with this bottling of Harvest Rose, I would like to peel back the curtain and give you a hint of what is to come!