Diamond Ridge Vineyards Aspects Red Blend 3-Pack
$54.99 $122.00 55% off List Price
2008 Diamond Ridge Vineyards Aspects
CT link above
This is one of the most terroir-driven wines you will ever encounter, truly a wine that speaks of its place of origin.
In 2007, I was approached by Jake Stephens, owner of a high end Lake County vineyard called Diamond Ridge Vineyards which was home to the largest commercial Cabernet Sauvignon collection in California and had been selling its fruit to Napa and Sonoma wineries since 2002. Jake also showed me examples of his Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petite Sirah, and I knew right away he was on to something very special.
Diamond Ridge is a unique site which combines the advantages of a mountain vineyard (high UV which promotes flavor development and suppresses rot and vegetal flavors, and rocky volcanic soil which imparts mineral energy and longevity) with proximity to Clear Lake, whose cooling breezes prevent raisining and promote retention of fruit aromas.
Jake wanted me to start a brand for him that would showcase all these features. I selected three Cabernet Sauvignon clones in equal quantities which together comprised 44% of the blend. Clone 4 is the most feminine and shows a sweet core of strawberry fruit. Clone 8 possesses a refined mid-palate weight and black cherry flavors. Clone 337 has the most tannic structure and adds cassis and plum
characteristic of Pauillac.
To these, I blended in 22% of Jake’s remarkable Pomerol-like Merlot, a highly structured wine full of grenadine, and 20% of his intensely minerally Cabernet Franc, which also imparts cinnamon spice and white cherry fruit. Finally, I included 14% of a deep Petite Sirah full of blueberries and lavender.
I chose these blend amounts to balance the aromatic influences so the nose would deliver a symphony of red and blue fruit notes. Then I gave it three years in twenty-year-old, highly neutral French oak barrels.
The result is a highly complex, elegant statement with restrained alcohol (13.9%) and a lively minerally finish. The wine shimmers on the palate like a fine diamond, its complex elements intertwining in a dynamic balance that captivates the senses with its grace and sheer elegance. Serve it with veal, wild mushrooms or exotic cheeses, and don’t forget to light the candles!
Hopefully there will be rodents for this,
but sooo many questions to ask, only to hope I somewhat understand the answers.
Rather high initial pH of 3.79 at bottling in the spec sheet on the Diamond Ridge site.
We don’t generally think of wines with this high a pH as being those that will gracefully age, but with you this may be an exception that immediately sent me to reread chapter 9 in your book and ponder.
A rather extended MOx and no comment in the spec sheet on filtration.
What if any, other than to de alch, were used?
Untoasted chips. From other discussions you seem to prefer older neutral barrels so why untoasted, when barrels are generally medium? The chips remain for all 36 months? And did this really spend a couple years in barrel at around 15~18C, and not closer to 12~13C?
From what I read, it seems like this will experience a decrease in pH and an increase in TA as it bottle ages. How do you think this will evolve, and when do you think it will really be ready? Anything like your Faux Chablis?
You pick my pocket all too easily…
In my Fundamentals of Modern Wine Chemistry class, I teach what I learned in Bordeaux: that red wines should be made at pH 3.70 to 3.85 depending on the tannin intensity.
This permits these wines to be made at lower titratable acidity, which causes less salivation and minimizes the amount of salivary protein in the mouth to react with the tannin, causing coarse astringency. Elevated pH also accelerates the aging process, but at the same time increases the phenolics’ appetite for oxygen, enhancing the wine’s natural immune system. For you chemistry geeks, this is because the deprotonated phenolate form is the species that actually reacts with oxygen, and because its pKa is high (around 9), the reaction rate is higher at elevated pH.
These pHs are higher than recommended in most enology courses, but they are commonplace in the industry itself. I should stress that I do NOT recommend pHs above 4.0. This is like the difference between driving on the freeway at 70 MPH vs 100 MPH.
For a lengthier discussion, see Winemaking at High pH.
2008 3-pack, with mention of 2010 four pack buried in the description…
We do seem to have a copy editor error…
Just a standard MOx phase 1 (prior to ML). Three weeks isn’t very long. The rate was about 50 mls/L/month. (1 ml/L/month is about what a barrel gives). This sounds like a lot, but wines are incredibly hungry for oxygen at this stage, and we are able to use the oxygen to create a rich, light structure, a sort of tannin soufflé. Even a Pinot Noir will take 20 ml/L/mo at this point
For comparison, Crucible, my big Napa Cabernet, needs 100 mls for six weeks.
Paradoxically, this does not oxidize the wine nor does it move the release date forward. The effect is just the opposite. Challenging the wine with oxygen when it is very young actually increases its reductive strength and longevity, a sort of homeopathic effect. The chemistry is well understood, and is the subject of Chapter 6 in my book, Postmodern Winemaking.
As for filtration, we did use RO to lower the alcohol to a sweet spot we found at 13.9% alcohol from an initial 14.8%. This isn’t really a filtration, because the wine does not pass through the filter, just the alcohol and water.
Apart from a coarse diatomaceous earth clarification, I generally avoid any other filtration on red wines because I find it disrupts the structure I have worked to create, the source of aromatic integration, refined texture, soulfulness, and graceful longevity. I particularly dislike crossflow clarification on reds.
That sounds like a leftover from the Petite Sirah four-pack we ran last month. Please ignore.
Thanks for detecting the mix-up in today’s write up.
I’ll forward to Woot Staff and have it fixed!
Good questions. Basically, I think using barrels made from 200-year-old trees to flavor wine is outlandishly expensive, difficult to control, and reprehensible from a sustainability point of view.
My approach is to keep my barrels as long as I can – hopefully fifty years or more. Wine benefits from aging in barrels because they off-gas undesirable aromas such as ML krautiness and sulfides as well as promote complex flavor chemistry. They mix the products of reductive reactions occurring at the bottom, especially if there are lees, with slow oxygenation development up at the surface.
Until they are ten years old, the uncured, untoasted wood deep in barrel staves is extracted into the wine at precisely the wrong time – after it has been in barrel for a couple of years and is just getting ready to bottle. It’s a pain in the tush.
Flavor extractives are best obtained from chips produced from the 75% of perfectly good wood which cannot be fashioned into a watertight container. It is essential that this wood is air-cured for at least two years just like a barrel stave. Then it can be broken into chips and precision toasted far more accurately than the haphazard firing a barrel receives while it is being assembled.
Well cured, untoasted oak has a variety of desirable properties when added to the fermenter. It has no taste or aroma of its own except for a subliminal coconut (whisky lactone). Its main purpose is copigmentation. Varieties like Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc and Sangiovese do not extract their anthocyanins well. These red color compounds are only sparingly soluble and can only be extracted into colloids. However, they will not aggregate by themselves because they are positively charged and repel each other. They need to be mixed with uncharged phenols which will fit between them. The gallic acid in wood ellagitannins is an excellent source of cofactor.
Gallic acid is also an effective anti-oxidant which contributes to longevity. Finally, untoasted oak contains polysaccharides which contribute to rich mouthfeel.
I don’t like the effect of fermentation on toasted wood. Yeasts amplify the char aroma so the wine comes off tasting like Worcestershire sauce.
As for cellar temperature, because I do not sterile filter, I believe in allowing the wine to come into microbial equilibrium at the winery so there are no surprises in the customer’s cellar. Like the Bordelaises, I like to age at 15 to 18C (59-65F) at least during the summer. The structure created through a combination of the strategies I have described has the effect of integrating aromas so they come off as complexity rather than spoilage.
Red wine at elevated pH slowly oxidizes sulfur dioxide to sulfuric acid, a strong acid that lowers pH and slightly raises TA. This process ceases when the wine is bottle. As far as I know, pH and TA in bottle do not change in sound wine.
The wine is drinking quite well right now. Its minerality and excellent structure lead me to believe that it will easily reward an additional decade in the cellar and perhaps considerably more. It is not an austere wine like the Faux Chablis, but it is minerally as hell. The point of aging would be added complexity and richness, but its complex fruitiness right now make a persuasive case for enthusiastic current consumption.
Anybody want to consolidate shipping with me?
Need more wine like a hole in the head, but a Bdx blend from Clark is right up my alley.
Since you can’t actually taste Aspects before you buy, I have another way to give you an idea of its style.
As many of you know, I am a big fan of pairing wine and music. Wines carry emotional modalities just like music does, and matching the wine to music of kindred motif will make it taste smoother and deeper.
Here’s the playlist for Aspects:
Down On Main Sreet - Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet
It Ain’t Me Babe - Bob Dylan
Oh! Sweet Nuthin’ - The Velvet Underground
Fire - Arthur Brown & SAS Band
Jesus, Etc.- Yankee Hotel Foxtrot Wilco
Rhiannon - Fleetwood Mac Fleetwood Mac
Nantes - The Flying Club Cup Beirut
So Long, Marianne - Leonard Cohen
Cello Song - Nick Drake
Yum!, I’m in for 2.
Clark, this looks great (and thanks for the preview email you sent around yesterday).
Can you talk a bit about the inclusion of PS compared to one of the other “noble” grapes for this Bordeaux style blend?
Ahhh, so, reading yet again…
A desirable consequence of sulfite oxidation to sulfuric acid, which instantly ionizes to sulfate, is the liberation of a titratable proton, with the effect that high pH wines over time tend to experience slightly increased TA and substantially decreased pH. The rate of this reaction is proportional to the sulfite (SO32-) concentration, which though tiny, is ten times higher at pH 4.0 than at pH 3.0. This reaction goes so slowly below pH 3.6 that it can be ignored, but at pH 3.9, during extended barrel age, can result in an increase of as much as 0.5 g/L in TA, accompanied by agreeable sulfate flavor effects and a reduction of 0.1 or more in pH.
…happens in barrel, not in bottle.
Time for me to re-up in a critical reading class.
Welcome back, Clark! Auto-buy, Ohio is on the map. Let’s do it again tomorrow.
I may have a couple of extra bottles…
I haven’t tried this offering from Diamond Ridge but I liked their Cab Franc so much that I purchased their Petite Syrah a few weeks ago (still awaiting delivery) and I’m snagging a three-pack (maaaaaybe two) of these as well. Kudos to WineSmith for making these and thanks for offering them to us wooters.