September 8, 2011, by: Lisa Duff Khajavi
Perfect weather at Ink Grade September 8, 2011 photo by Hélène Mingot
We caught up with our winemaker Hélène Mingot on the run between her bustling vineyard and cellar work to hear how pre-harvest conditions are shaping up for our parcels in Napa and Sonoma so far.
The vintage pattern in 2011 for both Napa and Sonoma shares some general similarities with 2010, which have been showing a trend for almost a decade now of cool growing seasons with later harvest times. This year, we are seeing a longer season due to a cool spring and late rain, with bloom and fruit set that was behind two to three weeks. The summer was cooler and milder than usual, with foggy mornings followed by mild sunny afternoons—only a few days in the 90s so far! This kept the pattern similar to last year, pushing projected harvest dates two to three weeks later than the norm. View Full Post
December 6, 2010, by: Lisa Duff Khajavi
The dramatic grand finale of harvest in Napa and Sonoma culminated with Mother Nature delivering a few more curveballs before completing one of the most challenging and unique seasons in history. Here at Montesquieu Winery, we’re pleased to report that our parcels fared extremely well under the vigilant care of our team. Their focused coordination and execution – from canopy and irrigation management to the puzzle of when to harvest, and every variable in between – showed that when push comes to shove, care and experience in the vineyard make all the difference. Aided by the ideal locations of our parcels, we were able to bring in a pristine and healthy harvest – which we’re thankful for after such a roller coaster season.
Montesquieu Winemaker Hélène Mingot Tastes for Optimal Ripeness in October
One of the more difficult aspects of this growing season to manage was the unusually low and variable temperatures — and October was no exception. September closed as the first month during the entire growing season with above average temperatures, and the first half of October was dry and warm, with daily highs in the mid- 90’s. But the weather flipped the second half of the month, resulting in below-average temperatures for the month as a whole.
But October brought with it new dramatic challenges: rain during harvest! Heavy precipitation threatened to invade the vineyards near the end of October, causing many growers to panic and pick early. But Stéphane and Hélène exercised patience. Having experienced more than two decades of harvests in rain-prone Bordeaux, Stéphane knows how to navigate wet Octobers without sacrificing grape quality. View Full Post
December 1, 2010, by: Lisa Duff Khajavi
It’s no secret that for the past five vintages, Montesquieu Winery has been blessed with access to some of the greatest vineyards in Napa and Sonoma. We’re constantly scouring Napa and Sonoma for terroir to die for, adding a few blocks of vines to our portfolio each year. That ongoing search is led by winemaker-consultant Stéphane Derenoncourt, our winemaker Hélène Mingot, and our Founder/President Fonda Hopkins, who together possess over a half-century of experience in growing, making, tasting and selling wine. It’s a formidable team, and one that seeks always to evaluate vineyards by listening to the land with an ear tuned to the melody of great terroir.
What qualities characterize a site with the potential to breed the kind of singular, transcendent quality we try to craft in our Montesquieu wines? Let’s begin to answer that question by reviewing the line-up of vineyard blocks that we chose to work with in 2010.
Our Cabernet Sauvignon up high at Ink Grade Napa Valley
Ink Grade (Napa AVA)
Where Angwin, Howell Mountain and Pope Valley meet is a beautiful 1400-ft elevation parcel that produces some of the most distinctive Cabernet Sauvignon our team has found to date. This plot has some of the first vines planted in Napa after the phylloxera devastation of the early 1990’s. With vines now reaching 20 years of maturity, our fruit is gorgeous and well-developed. Iron rich red clay and volcanic ash soil lacks nutrients and has difficulty retaining water which stress the vines to produce small berries with deep structure. Struggling builds character!
Howell Mountain AVA
This unique parcel is planted at an unusually high vine density, similar to top vineyards in Bordeaux and rare in Napa Valley. View Full Post