“Sod the wine, I want to suck on the writing. This man White is an instinctive writer, bloody rare to find one who actually pulls it off, as in still gets a meaning across with concision. Sharp arbitrage of speed and risk, closest thing I can think of to Cicero’s ‘motus continuum animi.’

Probably takes a drink or two to connect like that: he literally paints his senses on the page.”

DBC Pierre (Vernon God Little, Ludmila’s Broken English, Lights Out In Wonderland ... Winner: Booker prize; Whitbread prize; Bollinger Wodehouse Everyman prize; James Joyce Award from the Literary & Historical Society of University College Dublin)





25 September 2016


Fresh in from Mount Mingus comes (1) news of a stinking good vintage at Jennifer and Maynard James Keenan's Merkin Vineyardz at Jerome, Arizona, and (2) said gentleman's announcement that his Puscifer will once again invade Australia during our vintage. 

Here we see preparatory exercises in froat preparation. A bloke can't simply walk out there and scream for his supper without preliminary exercise ...

"We dropped all blocks to 1 cluster per shoot," Maynard writes. "Roughly 8-12 clusters max per vine. Liking the uni-lateral as far as balance between numbers and actual tastes. A great year overall. 

"Our decision to drop fruit to 1 Cluster Per Shoot (1CPS) has yielded some wonderful results. We're not aware of anyone in the state that has taken this approach as extensively as we have. It means cutting your yields in half to most people. Most can't afford to do that. We would argue that as a new unproven region we can't afford not to.

"Part of developing what is known as Terroir is identifying the balance between your strengths and limitations. Our strengths are our fantastic soils and our elevations. Volcanic, ancient limestone deposits, caliche, rocky river deposits, and our diurnal swings due to our elevation.

"The hurdles are the late Spring frost, the hail, and most significantly, our monsoon season and all the humidity it brings. Our approach is to roll the dice with the frosts. Frost fans on sites that allow them, rocky terraces or rocks piled beneath the vines on others. And because we drop fruit to 1CPS in many cases the frost is just a nuisance rather than a devastation. We were gonna drop some of those shoots and flowers anyway. Many of our choices in varietal come out a little early. So provided the Spring frosts aren't devastatingly cold for extended or repeated periods of time, those vines are now slightly ahead of the growing game. Sometimes by as much as 4 weeks ahead.

"Because we shoot thin and drop fruit during what's known as Green Harvest, the vines aren't wasting any energy on a large crop. All energy is focused on canopy and the 1CPS training. Steady, even ripening during the day, and the cool nights provide rest for the vine. Historically with cropping 3 to 4 tons of fruit per acre, the vine struggles to ripen all those clusters. Once the monsoons show up, the pH's start to rise, the vines start to struggle, bunch rot is right around the corner. For most that means more sprays or loss of fruit to bunch rot. Many many more details on this. I'm just scratching the surface.

"Basically what we see with our approach is that the fruit comes in where it should but at lower ALC levels and with the acid intact. Medium to high TA (total acidity) Reasonable pH levels (3.30-3.60 pH) Brix (sugar levels) between 22.5-24.5 and brown phenolically ripe seeds and complex favors. With pristine fruit coming from the vineyards, we are free to experiment in the cellar since we aren't fighting with mediocre fruit that needs extra work. No rot, no high out of balance pH and unreasonably high TA, no high Brix that draws extra fruit flies and risk of stuck ferments.

"Basically it is a great vintage. Correction. It was a great vintage. We were wrapped at 90 tons on Sept 7th. Still some processing and pressing to do, and some 90 day extended macerations occurring. But time for a beer." 

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