2009 Androkteinos Hudson Vineyards
Growing conditions mean everything to this wine. Lee Hudson moved us to a new and unexcelled section of the vineyard in 2007, and since then we have made a wine that makes us deeply proud every year—warm fall, cold fall, dry fall, three rain storms. No matter. So I do not mean that the success of the wine depends on its growing conditions in any particular year. I mean that the wine roams a wide territory of excellence, and where it makes its home in a particular vintage depends on a) Spring rains and b) Fall rains. In general, one might say that Spring drought confers from the beginning intensity and fierceness; Fall rains do not inflate the fruit, but bring on interesting microbes and a special set of flavors associated with soft skins. But even this is too unspecific: there was late winter drought in 2009 that helped convince the vines to set a light crop. And then, right around the time that the flowers were being fertilized and the fruit beginning to set, we experienced a couple of heavy rainstorms. These diminished the density of the crop further, and left just enough water to soak into the earth to carry the vines to the finish wihtout needing irrgiation.
And then, at the end of the season, just as we felt that our syrah was nearing the leathery, way-past-fruit character that we look for in the vineyard—rain. Days of rain. Inches of rain. No let up. Ten times more rain than we had seen in 2010! I quote Kelly Macleod, Hudson Vineyards' viticultural director:
Fall of 2009 was actually quite difficult with a pair of yoked storms that brought large amounts of rainfall. Your fruit hung through at least one storms. I can't remember the date of the second storm, but I remember debating with you and your team and sitting in the vineyard looking at the molds develop on the fruit and you saying that compared to Long Island, this was nothing. You picked on 10/26 which was our last day of harvest in 2009.
In fact, the fruit hung through 2 and maybe three storms. It must have picked up some water, because we saw the sugar concentration drop. But it became more and more mature, even as it hung in the cold, wet weather. Standing up to rain is a kind of maturity in itself. Indeed, the fruit formed a tiny amount of mold that only intrigued us. When we finally brought the fruit in, it was deeply exotic, even from the beginning; dark and seductive even as juice. For the first time, we allowed the individual puncheon fermentations to mature in barrel separately; the result in the final blend is utterly new levels of complexity, as the individual fermentations strive against each other for dominance of the blend. There is new tension in this wine to match its usual richness and power.
We are at home in this new block; we love it, and we make better and better wine here every year. The 2009 is our best yet, but the 2010 will eventually kick its butt.