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-5-Pruning in the vineyards February 2019Allomi VineyardMalbec in the Mount Veeder VineyardHess Collection Napa Valley Chardonnay 2016Origin: Napa Valley, CaliforniaVarietal: Chardonnay 100% Alc. 14.2%RRP: ¥4,500Made from fruit from estate vineyards at Su’skol in southern Napa. Characteristic tropical fruit aromas of the Musque clone, with notes of jasmine and honeysuckle. 30% of the blend was fermented in oak and allowed to undergo secondary fermentation, and 70% fermented in stainless steel to retain fresh avors of pear and nectarines, and preserve the natural acidity.Hess Collection Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon 2013Origin: Napa Valley, CaliforniaVarietals: Cabernet Sauvignon 82%, Malbec 18%Alc. 14.8% RRP: ¥10,500The 2013 growing season was early, even, and excellent, with a long hang time providing abundant fruit of excellent quality. With Malbec ripening beautifully at an altitude of 300m in the vineyards on Mount Veeder, its proportion in the blend was increased. Wild raspberries and Bing cherries blend with Malbec’s blueberry fruit, framed by vanilla and oak spices. CODE10487CODE10647Since I’ve been at Hess we have redone almost the entire winery, starting with the crush equipment we took things back to basics. The winery was set up for gravity flow, but they weren’t using it. We changed that, and brought in better equipment for destemming. Then in 2006 we replaced some old large tanks left over from the Christian Brothers days (when they made 1 million cases a year) with 25 small fermentation tanks. They all have individual dedicated pumps and are able to pump over based on a computer program. We experimented with this and had really good success. Unfortunately, we had a second cellar that was hit pretty hard in the 2014 earthquake, the oldest part of the winery was destroyed and we had many old tanks in there. We just reopened that cellar for the 2018 vintage, and we put in 20 small red fermentation tanks that have dedicated pumps. So it has been a slow evolution of bringing in the right technology.We pay a lot of attention to extraction through the fermentation to get the tannin and richness that you need for the body, but not too much tannin, or a drying tannin. When you sample our Collection wines you’ll notice there is tannin in there, but for a relatively young wine they are pretty smooth and elegant with good structure but not distracting tannin. Q. So how do you control the tannins?Smaller tanks, temperature is a big deal, at different points in the fermentation you want different temperatures, sometimes warm, sometimes not, how much you pump over a day, and when you press the wine is important. Compared to 20 years ago our finesse and control is much better. In our laboratory we are able to check it and get real time answers. We use it for quality control throughout the whole process to check alcohol, acidity, PH, and sulphur levels. We’ve always had a lab on-site, but we’re always upgrading, and now we’re able to do tannin assays and evaluate extractions as they go through fermentation. So not only can we taste but we can also see how extractions are progressing on a daily basis, which we didn’t have even 10 years ago.Q. How has the Chardonnay evolved?At Su’skol in southern Napa we have 150 acres, a combination of Dijon clone, some Musque clone selections, Clone 8 or 9 and some cuttings from a neighbouring vineyard. The vines were planted in 1998-99, and when I arrived it was all barrel fermented in lots of new oak. Once we understood what the vineyard wanted to give us as it grew up we changed the style, cutting back on the MLF and using less oak so it is not a typical oaky, buttery Chardonnay. With Su’skol we keep the oak down to 18-20%, and we do a combination of stainless steel and barrel fermentation that gives us floral aromatics, white flowers, apricot and tangerine. I like the style because it is just a little bit different than the next Napa or Sonoma Chardonnay.Q. And the Allomi vineyards?The Allomi project was very rewarding for me because I came on when it was about halfway planted, and so I was able to choose a few clones for some of the last planting. The Allomi area is very challenging, because it is very cold in the winter and very hot in the summer. It has a serpentine soil, with the magnesium a little bit on the high side, and there are a lot of areas in the valley that are unplantable because of that. As the vineyard became fully established we didn’t pick the quantities we were expecting ‒ the cluster weights were much lighter than normal, because the berry size was so small. Around 2006-07 we changed to cane pruning, which has more points of growth. It is a more skilled pruning technique, but it got us to the two to three-ton count, a rate at which the vineyard became economical and the wines actually got better because the vines were more in balance. We changed varietals in a few areas, and once we did all that the wine became very consistent. It is one of the easiest we make, because the blocks all make the blend, which is not usually the case. Q. So you are chief viticulturalist as well as chief winemaker?When you are growing grapes you have to understand that you’re really growing bottles of wine ‒ every decision in the vineyard is made with the quality of the wine in mind. So we merged the two because we understand the importance of not bringing any grapes through the door that aren’t capable of making world-class wines. Our changes in the vineyard are primarily on raising the quality of the fruit. We began working with the Hess Collection around the time David Guffy joined them, the start of a long career at the same winery which is unusual for a winemaker in California. During his visit to Japan, we came to the realization it was because David is completely in sync with the single-minded aims of founder Donald Hess and the next generation of the Hess family to create world-leading wines through a constant drive to improve quality. Dave emphasized the importance of the vineyard work and he also commented that the Mexican work force is a must to keep the quality of the vineyard. It seems that Mexican labor is a power behind the Californian and US wine industry.《A note from Village Cellars》

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