August 26, 2014
This morning I was greeted with a steady rain as I made my over to the cellar. It was one of about five instances of rain throughout the day (if only I could send some back to California!). The order of the day was barrel work. For those who have not performed barrel work, rest assured, it is hard labor. For those who have, this was at the next level. Whereas I thought at WFP we were doing pretty well using up to seven year old neutral oak barrels for production, I discovered with proper maintenance, barrels can make excellent wine for up to 18 years!
That’s not by good luck, but rather by careful attention and continuous repairs and maintenance. It helps to have a talented barrel worker in-house who can replace hoops using an extraordinary mechanical apparatus to close the new loops and a mallet and wedge to secure them on the barrel. I participated in the rolling, hand-trucking, sulfuring, scrubbing and hoop-painting of upwards of 50 barrels today. Between yesterday and today, my barrel handling skills have been augmented tremendously. Work hours are from 7:30-6:00 (and we aren’t even in harvest yet!) but I’ve been surprised both days when 6:00 p.m. rolled around.
After work I decided to try a tasting at a cellar across from my house: it was open, I was thirsty, enough said. When I mentioned I was working for the Lafarges, the gentleman seemed a bit embarrassed and confused stating that since I was at one of the great houses of Volnay, why would I want to taste his wines? In my quest for better understanding terroir, lieux-dits and climats I intend to taste all the Volnays I can over the next three months. Reluctantly the fine fellow led me down to the cellar for a degustation (tasting). A smile immediately spread across my face when I had my first taste of Volnay premier cru vineyard Clos des Chenes—exceptional balance, lovely fruit, and a pleasantly long finish. The Les Caillerets Volnay Premier Cru was equally pleasing with a bit more tannins incorporated into a harmonious and elegant wine. If these are the wines of a lesser house, I can only imagine what they will taste like from the masters. For 25 Euros per bottle, I felt like I had discovered gold. I left with a bottle of each. The Les Caillerets made it as far as my kitchen across the street and was immediately opened and enjoyed with my makeshift version of mango beef stir fry (minus sugar, black pepper, corn starch, sherry, oyster sauce and rice)—a bit of Chambolle-Musigny in the marinade made up for the other deficiencies.
Learning more each day