Our 2010 Matchbook Tempranillo received a rating of 90 Points from Robert Parker in the August 29 issue of Wine Advocate:
“The 2010 Tempranillo ranks alongside some of Spain’s great values made from this grape, not an easy achievement when this varietal is grown in California. A blend of 83% Tempranillo, 10% Tannat and 7% Gracianio that was aged 22 months in a combination of American, French and Hungarian oak, it exhibits copious notes of spice box, cedarwood, black and red fruits, licorice and a hint of graphite. With a voluptuous texture, medium body and a layered mouthfeel, it should be enjoyed over the next 2-3 years.” 90 POINTS
The Hungarian Hanging Curtain. That sounds like the title of a mystery novel or something trending on Pinterest. It is actually the name of a trellising technique we are experimenting with in some of our new Dunnigan Hills vineyards.
Let’s first define the Giguiere meaning of “experiment”. We are not talking about two rows or a half-acre sample plot. We have 110 acres devoted to a cutting edge technique that promises to raise quality and reduce the cost of farming our vineyards.
All grape trellising techniques are designed to achieve the same goal: to keep the vine in balance by controlling vigor, sunlight and temperature. Over the past 30 years, we have tried just about every trellis system invented and some we invented on our own. After much trial and error, we settled on two methods that have proven to work very well in our vineyards. What we use depends mostly on the varietal and to a lesser extent on the soil type. Chardonnay, tempranillo, malbec and graciano are on vertical shoot positioning (VSP). This is the most widely used trellising technique; one that can be seen on vineyard tours of California, Bordeaux and New Zealand. The vine canes are trained straight up and held in place by catch wires strung between the vine posts. For all of our syrah and the chardonnay in the Giguiere family’s JK Vineyard, we use a more modern system called Smart-Dyson. Two thirds of the canes are trained straight up and one third is curled down and held by catch wires close to the ground. The grape bunches on both the VSP and Smart-Dyson hang in a narrow, horizontal fruiting zone along the cordon. We manipulate the canopy by hand during the growing season to shade the fruit on the south side, open the fruit to dappled sunlight on the north side and allow the night breezes to cool the ripening grapes.
The Hungarian Hanging Curtain is a complete departure. The vines grow straight up a very tall stake, over six feet tall, and the canes are trained to drape down over a wire strung between the tall stakes. At first glance, our new vineyards could be mistaken for a field of hops. The long, loose curtain of leaves shades the fruit, but still allows air movement to keep things cool. The economic advantage is that the vines can be mechanically pruned. The quality play is that this method produces a wall of fruit with a lot of small clusters scattered down the drape. Because the fruit is not crowded together, the vineyard ripens at an even rate. And because the clusters are smaller the flavors are more concentrated and intense.
The first experimental acres are devoted completely to red varietals: 40 acres of petite sirah, 30 acres of petit verdot, 27 acres of cabernet sauvignon, 10 acres of tempranillo and 3 acres of tannat. We expect to harvest the rich and flavorful fruit in the fall of 2014.