Crush 2011 – Part 2 – Shiraz and Norton

The harvest season is now half-way over. This year we harvested 250 lbs of Shiraz and 250 lbs of Norton from Salado. Due to the harsh summer with very little rain and extreme temperatures, I was at first afraid for the grape vines. They have been suffering for two months in heat and drought conditions. The grapes really need long hang times to develop full flavors and mature properly.. or so I thought. So far the harvest has turned out excellent. The grape vines have been struggling to keep the grapes from turning to raisins, and so the berries are smaller than normal and that has caused the flavors to be super concentrated. I was very pleasantly surprised.

Everybody always wants to know the “numbers” at each harvest to see just how well the grapes turned out. So here they are:

2011 Estate Shiraz (at harvest) – Brix 22.8, pH 3.8, TA .58.

2011 Salado Norton (at harvest) – Brix 23.2, pH 3.6, TA .88

The sugars were about 1 Brix less than last year, but this is mainly because of the early harvest times. Last year’s Shiraz turned out to have too much alcohol for the body of the wine, so this year should be better at an expected finished alcohol level of 12%. The 2010 Shiraz, upon your first sip, you thought, wow this has some alcohol in it, rather than wow this is a good wine. But by the second bottle, nobody really cares anymore. HA! What is really interesting, is that I try to give actual numbers for my wines with what I “think” the alcohol percentage actually is rather than what the community expects. For instance, The Australian Shiraz – Yellow Tail typically has 11.1 % alcohol, but its label states 13.5%. Similarly the Rosemont Shiraz typically has 10.9% and it labels 14%. So my 12% alcohol Shiraz may well be still WAY too high in alcohol to balance itself out.

But this is one of the reasons that I love making wine. Each batch of wine is a completely different experience in crafting the wine with the given supplies. Rather than just blindly do the same thing with every batch, I love experimenting using different yeasts, containers, Brix, acids, time on skins, and the list goes on and on.

Still to come is our Estate Norton harvest. We are expecting around 450 lbs of grapes here at the vineyard. These are quickly becoming my favorite grape, as the soil and climate conditions here favors these grapes. They are allowed a long hang time, and they develop strong bold flavors with usually an amazing color in the finished wine. I will try to take more pictures for the Norton harvest.

Here are a few pictures from the recent harvest/crush.



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