Bottling: Reflecting the Vineyard and Winemaker’s Vision
The guiding principle behind bottling wine is to capture the character and flavor at the very moment the winemaker has finished cellar aging. We want to capture the wine in that state without uncontrolled and undesirable effects on the wine during bottling (like oxidation). It is no simple task but we devote a great deal of attention and focus to this.
For most of our wines, we also want them to develop in the bottle. Once we have captured the wine’s character, the biggest effect we can have on the wine’s development is through closure choice.
For red wine, our preference is to use natural cork from Portugal's cork forests. Every one of our corks has been prescreened to ensure a high-quality appearance and the absence of trichloroanisole (TCA). TCA is a naturally occurring chemical compound in cork that results in 'cork taint', an undesirable aroma that detracts from the fruitiness and character of wines. 'Cork taint' can smell and taste like wet newspaper, cardboard, or chlorine. To avoid this, our corks are soaked in ultra-purified water, sealed in a jar, and then smelt by a trained sensory panelist. Yes, every single cork.
For most white wines, we are looking for a very limited and controlled amount of oxygen to be introduced into the wine during bottle aging. With this in mind, we select a closure with a low and consistent oxygen transmission rate (OTR) - enter the stelvin screw cap on the Long Meadow Ranch Sauvignon Blanc. For our Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir Blanc, and Rosé, we like the slightly higher OTR effect of cork.
Have you ever tried to attach a sticker to a moving object and get it straight? Now try that on a round bottle! The bottling lines will move between 60 and 120 bottles per minute, the pace depends on multiple bottle styles, corks, and capsules. Bottle packaging and bottling lines have a personality of their own and behave differently on different days, they need constant monitoring, adjustment, encouragement, and a little luck.
ARTISAN OF THE MONTH
Meet Stéphane Vivier, our April Artisan of the Month
Name: Stéphane Vivier
Title: Winemaker Anderson Valley
How long have you been w/ LMR?
What are you working on right now?
It’s spring, so that means I am finishing the last touch on the 2017 Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir Blanc. We are also getting ready for the second bottling of the sparkling wines from the Tanbark Mill Vineyard. It’s very exciting, but they have a long way to go before release. The bottles will stay en tirage for about three years. Lastly, in the spring I walk through the vineyards assessing each vine. Things are happening quickly now as the weather starts to warm up. It’s an exciting time!
What do you wish more people knew about LMR?
Full circle farming is a concept and philosophy more people should be aware of. At Long Meadow Ranch, it is our way of life.
What's been your biggest work-related success and one of your funniest fails?
Hopefully to have fun every day creating and learning.
Getting my car stuck in the vineyard mud when aperitif was waiting!
Who's been one of your most influential mentors?
Aubert de Villaine of the famed Domaine de la Romanée-Conti.
Any advice for someone looking to pursue a career in winemaking?
Work hard, be patient, seize the opportunity when you see it: also if you work hard enough that opportunity will always come.
If you could enjoy a meal with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
I would love to sit at a table with the early Burgundian monks and winemakers who started mastering Pinot Noir and Chardonnay a few centuries ago. Sharing techniques with them would be fun!
What has been your favorite project since working with LMR?
I see all the wines created as a whole: they are all part of the story we are creating with Tanbark Mill Vineyards in Anderson Valley. I love it all.
AT THE TABLE
Charred snap peas and radishes with honeycomb, Boont Corners cheese, and soft herbs paired with our 2017 Rosé of Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley
2 Tbs Napa Valley Select Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 pound snap peas
1 bunch radish, (easter egg, French breakfast, or black)
2 Tbs minced fresh soft herbs (mint, cilantro, dill, bronze fennel, tarragon, and/or parsley)
2 tsp lemon zest
1 Tbs lemon juice
Salt to taste
¼ cup Pennyroyal Boont Corners reserve cheese*
2-4 chunks of fresh honeycomb
1 bottle of Long Meadow Ranch, Rose of Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, 2017
Preheat oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. (You could also use a grill and perforated pan.)
Add snap peas and radish; sauté over high heat, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or until the peas are tender-crisp and slightly charred or blistering.
Remove vegetables from heat. Stir in herbs, lemon zest, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. Flavor to taste, adding more lemon juice as desired.
Top with chunks of honeycomb, crumbled cheese, and a drizzle of Napa Valley Select Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Serve warm.
*We love supporting locally sourced ingredients, like this cheese from our neighbors in Anderson Valley at Pennyroyal Farm.