2020 brought its challenges just like any vintage year. While some were challenging, many pushed us forward to continue experimenting in our winemaking process.
The 2020 vintage was a big year of changes at the winery. We made the decision to go full tilt on organic certifications for all of our wines. This lets you know you can trust that everything made under the pét project label came from vetted sources and contains no SO2. (check our the organic section for more info on the certification process in the US and how it differs from certifications for European wines) The growing season was relatively standard, however as harvest approached severe smoke from the Pacific Northwest fires blew into the Walla Walla Valley. Because of potential smoke taint, we avoided the use of any skin contact on our whites this year which saved us from any serious smoke impact. Due to changing temperatures, sun exposure, and other byproducts of the fires, you may taste slight bitterness in some of the wines, but we managed to avoid smoke taint in our pet-nats.
We purchased fruit from a new vineyard this year. Arete Vineyard is in the Columbia Valley AVA near the town of Othello, WA. This vineyard has some of the oldest Chenin Blanc and Gewürztraminer in Washington State (38 years old!) and we are excited to begin working with both varieties this year. Riesling and Syrah also joined the lineup of wines. Along with the new wines we tried a few new wine-making techniques (both in fermentation and in the cellar) in an effort to continually push for more complexity and diversity of flavor in our pet-nats. Both the Syrah and the Gewürztraminer were started using carbonic maceration. This process is most famously used in Beaujolais to produce lively, fruit-forward wines. For us the process begins by adding the grapes to a tank with a little pie de cuve and some dry ice to purge the tanks of oxygen. The tank is closed off with the exception of a fermentation lock which lets gas escape without letting oxygen enter. The absence of oxygen allows the fruit to begin an anaerobic fermentation and over the course of a few days the fruit begins fermenting from the inside out. The Gewürztraminer spent one week in these conditions while the Syrah spent about 10 days. We did this in an effort to boost aromatics and fruit intensity as we push for more dynamic range in the wines we offer.
Also, new this year, there was a more prominent use of pressure tanks in our production. With hand-disgorged pet-nats we bottle just before fermentation completes, followed by 3-4 months of lees aging, then disgorging. With this new method we rack the fermenting wine into a pressure tank and let it complete its fermentation and build CO2 as it would in-bottle. We then bottle under pressure off a higher racking port, leaving the sediment behind. This process does two things. It gives the wine less time on the lees and allows us to bypass the disgorging process while maintaining a naturally sparkling wine without filtration or additives. Though it may sound a little like the charmat method, the wine still undergoes only a single fermentation and it's just one tank, no filtering from one tank to another. While this method gave us a faster turnaround we still decided to lay down our 2020 Field Blend for 15 months of aging, different from the previous vintage which aged for 4.
Gewurztraminer - Sourced from Arete Vineyard. Whole cluster grapes spent a week in a sealed tank, undergoing carbonic maceration. After pressing the wine fermented slowly in cool conditions. Aged 4 months in bottle and hand disgorged. Coming in at roughly 3.5 bars of pressure.
GW: aromatics - granny smith apple, baking spice, cardamom, banana. Palate - honeydew melon, lychee, lemongrass, rose.
Syrah - Sourced from Conley Vineyard. Whole cluster graped were placed in a sealed tank for 10 days undergoing carbonic maceration. After going to press the wine fermented slowly in cool conditions before bottling. The wine was racked into pressure tank where it completed fermentation naturally and was bottled under pressure without any additives for filtration. Coming in at 2.5 bar of pressure.
Riesling - Direct pressed this wine took the longest to ferment. The wine was racked into pressure tank where it completed fermentation naturally and was bottled under pressure without any additives or filtration. Coming in at a little over 2 bar
Aromatics - honeysuckle marries honeydew melon or some other melon, kiwi skin, tropicsPalate - bright, juicy, lime, asian pear, apple crisp
Pinot Gris - Direct pressed and fermented slowly under the cool conditions. Bottled and aged 4 months prior to disgorge.
PG: reopen when it’s more done; we can’t pinpoint anything (pink lady apple)
Chenin Blanc - direct presseed. This wine aged 4 months in bottle and hand disgorged. Coming in at roughly 3 bars of pressure. Notes: lemon, toasted almond
CB: aromatics - melon, honeysuckle. Palate - Buddha’s hand, Asian pear, tamarind,
Piquette - Made by adding water to the carbonic macerated skins of our gewurztraminer. The aromatics and flavors are intense for this 7.5% alcohol “wine like beverage.” The aromatics are wild, almost otherworldly-citrus blossom with orange pith, lychee, and white balsamic on the pallet. There is roughly 1 bar or pressure under the cap, making it close to a lager in its subtle effervescence.