|Sunday, November 15, 1998
This was the most trying day of the year!: I went to a Raiders' game.
Kate and I started at 9 am and arrived at the Oakland Coliseum at 10:50.
No traffic to speak of. The game was to start at 1:05 so I was happy that
we had plenty of time. We started into the parking lot to be greeted with
a jam up. It took 15 min to get into the gate. I should have realized that
something was wrong, but had faith that the ticket people would not let
anyone in if the lot was full. It was immediately apparent that there was
no parking places to be had. That does not mean that there were not places
empty, but those parking places were taken up by tables or barbecues. I
even asked one guy if he would move his empty table over a few feet and
he laughed at me. It was bizarre. It took us 45 min to just get out of
the lot. I was kindly told to try the other parking lot because they had
plenty of places. I was dumb enough to try it. Another 30 minutes were
wasted. By the time we found a parking pace in yet another parking lot,
the time showed 12:25 pm. THE RAIDERS DID WIN! but it took another hour
to get out of the parking lot and we arrived home at 7:15 pm. There is
much more--but let's just say I don't need to have a day off like that
again this year.
Monday, November 16, 1998
Ray showed up to start replacing the bladder inside the press and Brendan
labeled a few more cases of wine (we still have over 500 cases remaining
to be labeled). Pat and I entertained and were entertained by a couple
of good customers.
Wednesday, November 18, 1998
Today we have a guest post from Everett Bandman who visited on Monday
and tasted barrel samples of our 1998 wines. Here are his notes.
Teldeschi - light in color, herbal, wet hay notes
in the nose, elegant up front strawberry flavors, light finish
3rd Block Zins - tasted three different barrels (one labeled
north, one south, one simply 3rd block), all were similar in style and
fruit character but varied in color and aromatic intensity. The north
and south barrels were richer (the south barrel being the darkest) and
exhibited classic Coffaro Vineyard black and blueberry fruit even at this
The Wire Zin - Nice purple color and gook dry creek zin
character with little tannin. The brightest tasting fruit at this
stage. Given that these were budded over only 4 years ago, I think
there is a great future ahead for these vines. Similar in character
to the 3rd block, but combined with youthful exuberance though perhaps
not as complex. Has big shoes to fill as it has to replace the Davis
clone (which in my opinion was the core of the Blockbuster 97 Zin) that
was removed in the construction of Lake Coffaro.
Lane Zin - My least favorite (as it was last year) of
the zins in the winery. Hard to judge the color since it had only
been in barrel a short time and was still somewhat cloudy, but it seemed
more pink than purple at the edges. Simple grapey and plummy fruit
showing little "dry creek character". Last year this wine was awkward
to say the least and I had doubts that Dave could resurrect it, but as
the Neighbor's Cuvee shows, when combined with the Neighbors Cabs this
can produce an interesting counterpoint to the Estate Cuvee. I suspect
that many California wine consumers expect a degree of firmness and drying
tannins in the finish of their wines after drinking young California wines
for so many years. The Neighbor's cuvee satisfies those tastes and expectations.
It is a wine for "structure lovers" as opposed to "fruit lovers" like myself.
It wouldn't surprise me one bit to see the Neighbor's cuvee outlast Dave's
estate bottlings and to satisfy those wine drinkers who want to wait around
for the end of the race to compare the "mature" wines and not the ones
we are drinking now.
Dark purple, tree bark, herbal, pepper, hints of cherry, big mouth feel,
drying tannic finish. Will certainly add structure to any wine it
is blended into.
We also went over to Lambert Bridge, to sample a barrel of syrah that
Dave was thinking of purchasing. That sample was just as dark but
lower in tannins than the Syrah Dave had made from purchased grapes.
Bottom cab - purple, spicy anise, low tannin,
typical young coffaro cab. The essence of estate cuvee.
Aca Modot - richer than the bottom cab but not as open
at this point, also it is harder with more tannin. A little dull
on the palate and could use more acidity to highlight the fruit.
Cab Franc/Malbec blend - weedy, tobacco, herbal.
Similar to last years Cab franc but more restrained. This wine will clearly
add the "bordeaux-like" quality to Aca Modot.
The Carignane - very deep purple color, red fruits and
minerals dominate the wine in the mouth. Much more intense than previous
vintages. A little "stinky" from fermentation odors right now.
The 98 vintage has concentrated the Coffaro Carignane to the point where
I suspect there will be those who love it and those who think it is "over
the top" (in my opinion similar to comments on the 97 Zin!).
The Petite Sirah or Pbot - very dark purple, violets
and spices in the nose and in the mouth. A classic example of Coffaro
Petite Sirah (or whatever it is). Full bodied mild to medium tannins
that add structure without overpowering the fruit.
And now for some philosophizing <grin>
We already have had at least 100 people come in to taste our 1998 barrel
samples. Every one of them has preferred my estate Zinfandel over the Teldeschi
and Lane Zins. This has caused me to re-evaluate dropping my estate classification
on the Zinfandel. In the next few days, I will try to estimate which barrels
will go into each of our six or seven red wines. Hopefully, I will post
a note on Friday giving my decision.
The Zinfandel Decision -
What to do, what to do, what to do? A short crop of zin, carignane,
and petite sirah and burgeoning futures sales has left Dave with the least
flexibility he has ever had. In previous years Dave has blended in
small amounts of carignane, cabernet, and petite sirah to round out and
add complexity to the estate zin. Whether he can do that again is
not clear at this point. In my mind the carignane is a much better
choice than the syrah for fleshing out the zin. It would add the
missing components (color, minerals, red fruits). The syrah could
add the color, but at the cost of adding tannin to the zinfandel.
Would that significantly effect the mouthfeel and structure? Also
in Dave's mind, the Teldelshi and Lane zins would also add complexity to
the zinfandel and allow him to produce as much zin as had anticipated (>850
cases). But neither of those zins, have the "classic coffaro zin
qualities" I have grown to love over the years and will only dilute the
"essence" of Coffaro Zinfandel. Further complicating these decisions
is the fact that a significant portion of Dave's zinfandel grapes are sold
to Nalle and to Lambert Bridge at prices less than Dave has paid to purchase
(much lower quality) zinfandel!! Can Dave afford to continue
providing zinfandel to other producers? Will they "understand" if
he should decide that his growing customer base (many of whom purchase
the wine as futures before the grapes are "born") should be the rightful
recipients of Coffaro zinfandel? What to do? What to do? What
A proposal for 98 (and perhaps the future too).
In 97 Dave added the Neighbor's Cuvee. By all accounts it has
been a success and as discussed above a counterpoint to the estate cuvee.
I suggest that Dave introduce this year the Neighbor's Zinfandel.
A blend of purchased grapes (75% of which must be zinfandel) molded by
the Coffaro hand. A wine distinct from the Coffaro Estate Zin both
in fruit complexity and in structure. I suspect with Dave's
unique palate and ability to blend, this wine would contrast nicely with
the homegrown Zin and develop a following just like the Neighbor's Cuvee.
Dave has told me he doesn't want to make two zinfandels, but I think it
makes a lot of sense and I wouldn't be surprised that some would prefer
the added complexity that can be obtained from purchased grapes and the
magic of Dave Coffaro. This would give Dave and Pat a Zinfandel (in
addition to the Estate Cuvee and the Neighbor's Cuvee) to pour, taste,
and sell at barrel tasting and passport, and still preserve the unique
Coffaro Estate Zinfandel.
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