• An Image Slideshow
  • An Image Slideshow
  • An Image Slideshow
  • An Image Slideshow
  • An Image Slideshow

Wine is Different for Everyone

 

Wine JudgingHow do I stay motivated, focused and relevant in today’s world of winemaking? It’s always hard to sneak off but I try to take advantage of my winemaking friends’ competitive tastings and experimental trial tastings. Those events bring multiple winemakers together so there is information to be shared. I actually love the specialized trade publications that often spark internal questions here at the winery about how to improve upon an assortment of tasks. And occasionally, you have the honor of being asked to judge wine competitions as I was recently. It was a fascinating perspective into how we all look at wine differently - and that’s OK! It’s what’s makes wine so fun to enjoy and share!

 - Winemaker Kimberlee Nicholls

The Awakening

 

awakeningSo word on the street is that the grape vines are starting to awaken from their peaceful slumber.  Friends who like to get me excited (and they know who they are) have begun forwarding pictures from their own vineyards showing the tender new leaves emerging on their own properties. As a veteran, I’m unfazed by their taunting. It is the time of year for such wondrous things to happen.  A quick look and long chat with one of my growers in the vineyard this morning, shows that the vines are indeed coming to life as the dormant vines begin to weep sap. I’m still hoping for a few more rainy days to replenish our reservoirs while wringing my hands as we wait out the frost season. Now there is something to get excited about!

 - Winemaker Kimberlee Nicholls

 

 

 

Rosé in Time for Spring

 

rose bottlingThe Napa Valley is awash in a sea of yellow with the mustard in full bloom and I hear that the groundhog is predicting an early spring. The winemaking team is frantically working on two wines with which to celebrate spring. It seems fitting that our new 2012 Rosé of Pinot Noir was bottled on Valentine’s Day. The pale salmon color and fresh strawberry character will pair to any springtime offering, though I like to enjoy a glass while I am starting dinner at home. And speaking of love, we created a playful, slightly effervescent style of Muscato in 2012. It has a pop of sweet that will make your next Chinese take-out shine. Both wines will debut a new screwcap closure for easy access.

Already we are planning for the 2013 harvest and looking at fruit sourcing for our Cellar 1879 Red Blend which I find the most intriguing wine to make here at the winery. For me it is all about ultimate drinking pleasure when enjoying a true blended wine. As a winemaker, it is a professional hazard as I search to identify the grape varietals in each wine I taste. It is with that thought that I hope to create a wine that allows me to successfully fool myself. Our newly bottled 2011 vintage successfully mimics Malbec, in my opinion, with violet, boysenberry and tobacco aromas over lush, juicy berry fruit. I’m smitten!

- Winemaker Kimberlee Nicholls

How long should I age this?


KJNJan2013

When asked the question, “How long should I age this wine?” I undoubtedly cringe. One of the truly beautiful things about the enjoyment of wine is that we all enjoy wine for different reasons at different points along the aging process. One of the personal hazards of my job as winemaker is that I am forced to taste wines (rough job, I know!) brutally tannic and direct from the fermenter through the barrel aging and into blending and bottling.  My morning coffee drink is a quad shot non-fat latte, no sugar, so it should be no surprise that I like wines on the young side  with a deep understanding and appreciation of rough edges. The Markham wines show elegantly from the beginning, usually only occasionally requiring a swirl of air on the big boys. However with bottle aging of 2-3 years, our wines are lush, velvety and seamless. This is my target since most wines are purchased and consumed during that time frame. At 8-10 years, I find our wines really are at peak as they still have abundant fruit but also have relaxed into a harmonious middle life (much like myself). The big boy wines with big tannin structure will most certainly age upwards of twenty years, but why delay in gratification as my favorite wines are always just around the next vintage!

- Winemaker Kimberlee Nicholls

Fall Arrives, Harvest Ends



Wolleson-ZNThere comes a point in October when you truly know that Fall has arrived. For me, it is that chill in the morning air coupled with the scent of burning leaves. It was on such a morning that I decided harvest was over and we picked the remaining 2012 vintage just like that. What a quick journey this vintage has been for us at Markham! Unlike pomp & circumstance at the start, the end is quiet and subdued standing at the crush pad with my associate winemaker and cellar master saying good-bye.

Of course there is SO much for which to be thankful. We will be busy pressing out reds until close to Thanksgiving as the estate Cabernet continue to languish on their skins for a full 30+ days. Our red wines are dark and intense in a vintage that has lived up to the hype. The intoxicating aromas of yeast, banana and pineapple waft throughout the winery as they escape the chilly Chardonnay cellar only mid-way through barrel fermentation. We’re working on some new projects one involving Muscat and the other with old vine Zinfandel just for fun. I’m smiling and I am not alone!

-Winemaker Kimberlee Nicholls