Friday, September 28, 2012

California winemakers: Post your low red-wine pHs here

Hey California vintners, I just want to remind you to brag here about those great low pHs on the grapes you're bringing in.

This is just an update of the previous post announcing the concept. I don't want people to forget now that red grapes are coming in.

Stipulated: pH by itself does not mean the wine will be delicious, any more than brix does. If you feel the need to post this in the comments, suppress yourself. We get it.

I'd like to see vintners talk more about pH and not exclusively about brix, especially in a nice growing season like this one. Not only that, I want to show those East Coast Euro-snobs that they can't dismiss California wines as all the same. There's a movement towards balance out here but some won't believe it without numbers.

The prize for the lowest pHs recorded is a profile of you, your winery and your wine on The Gray Report. I'll wait 'til you're done with harvest and have a little free time. Some people might scoff at the value of such a prize, but I get dozens of emails from PR people every week begging for such coverage. So hey, PR people, prod those winemakers to enter. You too, Gallo and Constellation folks. You heard me. If you got it, flaunt it.

Currently I'll be profiling the Sauvignon Blanc from Grgich Hills and something from Adam Lee at Siduri, but there will be more.

By the way, if your comment is "held for approval," there's no need to resubmit. I'm going off the grid for a while but I'll see and post all your comments when I get back.

Happy harvesting!

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9 comments:

Amalie Robert Estate said...

Hi Blake,

Here is a little perspective from our 30 acre vineyard in the North Willamette Valley. As of September 15th, we had accumulated 1,718 degree days. These samples were taken on Saturday, September 29. It looks like we have a couple more weeks of hang time in front of us for the Pinot Noir.

Chard 76/95 19.7 @ 2.95

Pinot Meunier 21.6 @ 3.02

Pinot Noir 115 on Schwarzmann low elevation 21.3 @ 3.08

Pinot Noir Pommard on 5C center of the hill 20.8 @ 3.05

Pinot Noir young vine on 44-53 at the top of the hill 22.1 @ 3.08

Syrah (cool climate) 16.9 @ 2.89; Viognier 18.0 @ 2.97. Looks like a mid-November pick as usual.

We track the full vintage with a Julian calendar that you can find here: http://www.amalierobert.com/2012_julian_calendar.htm

Ernie Pink
Amalie Robert Estate
Dallas, OR USA

Kokomo Winery said...

We brought in Chardonnay (for sparkling) at 2.9 ph from Sonoma Coast.
We also brought in Pommard Clone Pinot Noir from Sonoma Coast at 2.38 ph
For the most part the ph's are higher than normal this year due to the big crop load. PH is only a small part of the equation when you are talking about acid in wine though! TA is more important!
Winemaker, Erik Miller from: KOKOMO WINERY

Jerry Murray said...

Blake,
I hate to be "that guy", but the pH of picked grapes, especially in reds and whites destined for Malolactic fermentation, has limited bearing on the pH of a finished wine and, therefore, a wine's balance.
It is quite possible, because of grape physiology, that a wine picked at a higher pH may finish at lower pH than one picked at a lower pH.
The change from Malic acid to lactic acid results in a shift in pH. Less "ripe" fruit may be picked at lower pH but may, again because of grape physiology, have more malic acid and as a result a larger pH shift through the Malolactic fermentation.
Sorry to foil everyones efforts to find something simple to grasp when second guessing a winemaker's picking decisions. The question of acidity and balance is complicated and should continue to be viewed that way.
However, I do thank you for drawing some attention to pH and away from brix. Hopefully it broadens the discussion about the elements of balance.

Two Shepherds said...

Its not a red as I haven't brought in any reds yet, but I am damn proud of the 2012 Russian River Viognier brought in at 3.21 pH, .8 TA, 21.5. Slightly more aggressive than the the wonderful bright 2011.

Have to agree with Erik, and some varieties like Syrah, also just prone to high pH. I am picking Syrah & Grenache at 22-23 brix, and pH is already 3.55 at 21.5 brix.

Mark McKenna said...

As true believers in proper acidity for structure and aging potential we watch pHs very closely in the field. The low balls for this year so far are:

White: Chenin Blanc, Herzog Vineyard, Clarksburg 3.19

Red:Andis Estate Zinfandel 3.28

But with Barbera coming in it could go lower!!

Mark McKenna, Winemaker
Andis Wines

Randy said...

Cool-climate RRV Zin pulled this AM. Brix = 22.4 at crush and 23.1 a mere 8 hrs later with another .5 brix for sure to continue to suga up... ph = 3.29. yes tart and delicious. cold soaked for 12 hrs at 55 then slow warm up to innoc. Can already smell the pepper and taste the juiciness.

2012 will be epic.

Randy Pitts

Kokomo Winery said...

...OOPS! I meant 3.28ph on our Pommard Clone Pinot Noir from Sonoma Coast. Getting a little dyslexic with all of the grapes coming in!

EVD said...

Grenache from Temecula Valley harvested on 9/15 was at 3.40 after a day on the skins, and at 3.32 after press a week later.

Eric Van Drunen
Winemaker
Vinavanti

EVD said...

Grenache from Temecula Valley harvested 9/15. Was at 3.40 pH after a day on the skins, and 3.32 after pressing a week later.

Eric Van Drunen
Winemaker
Vinavanti