It’s not really a deep freeze, of course – it’s simply been a wet and (very) mild Summer in Northern California. Just about anything with leaves that produces fruit was weeks behind schedule in terms of ripening. If you scan the ‘global interwebs’ on the topic, it might strike you that the sky is about to fall with a thud on the entire wine business in Napa and Sonoma.
But most of the Napa and Sonoma vintners to whom I’ve spoken in the last few weeks don’t seem all that worried. Which is a good thing, since the rest of the wine world was worried enough for all of them put together.
Certainly grape growers, already under pressure from the economic downturn, are feeling the heat (so-to-speak) about the late ripening, even if most of California’s residents aren’t.
Here on the Right Coast, we were baking as if in an oven for the better part of the Summer of 2010, and I enjoyed the cool breezes that came in recently on the heels of some long-overdue rainstorms; and with them, a breath of fresh air about the whole N. CA 2010 vintage doomsday prophesies, courtesy of Ed Thralls over at WineTonite.com.
In a (fairly) recent post, Ed did a little bit of comparative analysis on the 2010 vintage thus far, and came up with an interesting conclusion…
The emphasis is mine, by the way:
“I noticed that for Napa, 2010 is looking very similar to 1998 in terms of the degree days accumulation to-date. In 1998, Napa had weather and disease pressure including late rains in May and June and unusually cool weather due to El Nino. This caused delays in budbreak, early vine development and bloom. However, the vintage ‘recovered’ due to a warm and dry “Indian Summer” in October allowing the fruit to completely ripen with excellent flavor development.”
Ed, my man, I think – and hope! – that you might be onto something.
Is it so bad, after all, that Napa and Sonoma might have to pick their big red wine grapes a little less, well, big? Will lower brix spell doom for the vintage of 2010? Unlikely.
I’m pretty sure that Napa and Sonoma 2010 wines will have plenty of detractors and possibly lower-than-normal scores in the press, primarily due to the negative buzz around the concerning Summer weather (marketing will, no doubt, explain to us that optimal ripeness was achieved anyway). BUT…
Has anyone out there tried the 1998s from Napa and Sonoma in the last year or so? Some of them are drinking beautifully right now, and the majority of them that I’ve had the fortune of sampling were far, far from being duds. In hindsight, they were bargains since their lower scores drove discounted prices.
Might we be heading for a similar situation in 2010? Ed seems to think so.
And for the sake of my wallet, I sure hope that he’s right!