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Corley Family Napa Valley

Chris Corley
September 23, 2008 | Crush ! | Chris Corley

FERMENTATION CHECK : Knollwood Vineyard Merlot - Clone 181 - Godzilla Block

Posted By : Chris Corley

NOTE : We spend a lot of our time doing Fermentation Checks each day during harvest. As it relates to our blog, ‘FERMENTATION CHECK’ will be an opportunity for us to share our cellar activities with you in real time.


Yesterday we harvested our Knollwood Vineyard Merlot that will be the Merlot designated for our CORLEY Proprietary Red Wine. The falvors are rich and ripe, the seeds were a nice dark brown and the skins soft and velvety to the touch, with very little crunch when you pop a berry in your mouth. All of these are signals that we're ready to pick.

We carefully sorted through all of the fruit on the crush pad as it went over our conveyor. In the end we sorted out a little over 1.5% of the fruit brought in from the field. This may not sound like much, but even this level will impact the eventual quality of the wine. Keep in mind from an earlier post that we blend down to increments of 2%, so this is a level that we strive for all the way back to raw product in the field. The low percentage is also a tribute to clean farming (the less we pull out is a sign of a healthy growing season and a cleaner pick).

I like to let the must soak in the fermentation vessel overnight and then run analysis and taste the juice the following morning. When we tasted the juice this morning, I was struck by a very distinctive spice flavor which threaded its way through the fruit. It was almost cinnamon in characteristic, very unique and quite compelling.

2008 is shaping up to be a very good vintage, and I think this is a year that patience will be rewarded. We pitched the yeast into the Merlot this afternoon to get the ferment started, and I'm already getting excited about the Cabernet Franc lots - still hanging on the vine - which we'll be blending with this wine to make the eventual 2008 CORLEY Proprietary Red Wine.

Tomorrow, we're picking our first batch of Syrah for the season. I can't wait to get my hands on those grapes - they're tasting great ! I'll keep you posted ...


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