2011 Gardens of Babylon Tenbrink Vineyards
This is our second Wine of Terror. Steve Tenbrink wanted to try to save the fruit of his vineyard from the devastation that he deemed inevitable, and tried to convince me to harvest early in October, before the third rainstorm of the year would hit. I insisted that we wait, and he listened. We harvested fruit nearly a month later, ripe in the best way, mature, complex, layered. But with 100% botrytis. My section of the vineyard, dry-farmed and farmed organically, was over-run. We really had no idea what to do with the fruit. After two or three days of cold-soak, a remarkable head of cheese-mold developed on the fruit. It was a couple of inches deep and thick! We decided not to break it up and just to let it sit on top of the fruit—so no punchdowns, no pumpovers.
The tank smelled wonderful—like a combination of blackberry pie and triple-creme cheese. We allowed the fruit to macerate undisturbed and fermented the wine with a floating cap for 45 days. During that time, we pumped the tank over twice—not 4 times a day, but twice in 45 days. The resulting wine is astonishingly powerful—but very light on its feet. There is no sensation of rot; just power. The cool of the vintage shows in the high acidity of the wine; in other respects, the wine is quite typical. The blend this year also includes Cabernet, Syrah, Cinsault. It is dark and powerful, completely ripe, but very different from any other vintage of this wine. The year is captured in it.