2009 Growing Season and Vintage Notes
by Rollin Soles, Argyle Winemaker
Significant rain at Labor Day Weekend was almost a disaster. The effect was that berries absorbed water and pushed off pedicel in some portions of the cluster. That can lead to mold if berries ripen enough. Luckily, the fruit was not ripe enough to cause significant problems in the vineyard.
Then we had two all-day wets spaced a number of days apart that led to some botrytis infections in fruit clusters covered by vine canopy leaves.
Then a hot spell mid-September brought drying wind and 90° weather. The good news was that this removed any risk to further botrytis due to drying of grape clusters. On the less-good side, turgid berries from Labor Day's rain which pushed free of the pedicel raisined so no more ripening of flavor components was possible. Fortunately, only a small percentage of berries in a cluster were pushed off, losing their connection to the vine.
Picking was unusually "segmented" this year. Argyle picked high and low elevation fruit at the same time! We picked all the sparkling fruit, then rested for a couple of days, then all the Chardonnay for still wine. We rested another few days then all the red came in - high and low elevation winegrapes on the same days. Usually we can say that every 200' rise in elevation can mean 10 days difference in ripening and picking (yield for yield).
This was a vineyard management year. Argyle's farming culture got the crop level right on. We stripped leaves after the burning sun of August and in time for the Labor Day rains. We also believed the drying east-wind forecast and put a security of water onto the vines to help them ride out the drying, late season heat with a minimum of raisining and maximum of ripening.
The resulting wines are gorgeous, perky, and sexy. I don't know that I've seen a more sensuous expression of flavor and aromas in my 23 years of Willamette Valley winemaking.
- Rollin Soles