Blending & Bottling Season at Laetitia

In winemaking, as in life, the cycle is seasonal: there’s bud break in spring; harvest in late summer through fall; dormancy and rest in winter.

The winery also has its annual cycle: we’re now deep into the blending and bottling season.

There’s a practical reason for this timing: we need cellar space for the next vintage. By clearing out the barrels and assembling the recent lots, our 2016 Pinot Noir is ready to start its journey into bottle after 10 months aging in the barrel.

Blending Pinot Noir is one of our most satisfying experiences each year for we can see the subtle expression of the vineyard in each vintage.

We bottle 18 different Pinot Noirs. Seven are blends from 51 different lots throughout the vineyard; 11 are stand-alone lots from single vineyards sites within our large and varied estate. The single vineyard model is much closer to Burgundy– where a domaine might have a wine created from just a few rows within a specific vineyard.

Our Estate Pinot Noir is an expression of the Laetitia Estate as a whole. It offers up the greatest diversity, using lots that include our 10 different clones planted in our large vineyard. It’s our most “inclusive” wine, with approachable flavors that show our commitment to the grape.

Our Pinot Noir Reserve and our Whole Cluster Pinot Noir are also blends. For these wines, Eric Hickey chooses the juice from richer and darker fruit. After years of doing this, he has identified the ideal lots to blend together that best express the earthier flavors we’re seeking.

Eric and his team have been working assiduously over the past few weeks to blend and bottle our 2016 Pinot Noir. He already bottled our Laetitia Chardonnay, which will soon be released in the tasting room. The 2016 NADIA Sauvignon Blanc was bottled a few months ago, and has just been released.

Pulling and blending all the lots takes our winemaking team about two weeks. They taste each individual lot carefully before creating the final blend. Once they have decided on it, the juice is poured back into our large stainless steel tanks to settle before bottling. The bottling process then takes about three weeks.

Once this cycle is complete, we clean the oak barrels we’ll be using again. Then we get ready for harvest — and the next vintage.

And so the cycle continues.

Eric, thoughts on the 2016 vintage? “Early on,” he noted, “many of the pinots were fairly tannic. But they have softened significantly with barrel age. This could be drought related — but can’t say for sure. I think, overall, the vintage is a good one. But the lots tend to vary in character much more than say 2015 or 2014 — where the flavors were more consistent from lot to lot.”

After my own tastes a few weeks ago, I’d agree with Eric. I’m now curious to see where we’re going on this. For one thing, I can’t wait because we’re running short on our 2015 Estate Pinot Noir.

Getting our latest vintage out to you is a priority. Yet we won’t rush it. Expect the 2016 Laetitia Estate Pinot Noir in the stores in time for Christmas.

Yes, there’s a season for everything — and we’re just about three-quarters of the way done with this year’s cycle.

À votre santé


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