This past weekend, the Livermore Valley Wine Growers Association sponsored the first annual Barrel Tasting event in which 22 wineries rolled out wines still in barrel for wine lovers to taste.
The practice of tasting wine from barrel is something wine makers get to do everyday...you can't meaningfully gauge how far along your wine is, how much wood influence is being imparted to the wine if you are not tasting them from barrels on a consistent basis. An earlier post talks more about this.
Implicit in this practice is the concept of "process." Wine is a living thing; it is born in ferment, goes through adolescence and puberty in barrel (a whole lotta change happening here!); matures and eventually dies in bottle. Any sip of wine is only a single frame in a much longer movie, and while tasting from barrel - especially for the non-winemaker out there - is a lot of fun (you know, it's a whole lot of fun for the winemaker too!), it only tells a very small part of the story.
Over 1600 visitors bought tickets for this first Barrel Tasting event. We poured the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon - Ghielmetti Vineyard, Clone 191, and I thought the wine was showing exactly why this particular block of Cabernet is one of the finest in the Valley. Thanks to all those who tasted the wine and bought Futures. The wine will be released in May 2010. Only 40-45 cases will be produced.
We hope to be able to do more events like this. Opening up the wine making process makes it more understandable, and in revealing some of the mysteries of wine, makes them even more wonderful.