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Reflection & Anticipation: Our Winemaker's Update

As we close out 2022 and jump into 2023, it’s a good time to look back and forward with Majuscule. 

The ride that was 2022

It was a growing year that was full of surprises. Frost and hail came early in the year, but luckily most of Napa Valley was spared damage to the vineyards. The growing season progressed from there with little out of the ordinary. The temperatures stayed a little on the cooler side all summer long, which made many of us think that the harvest would again stretch out to Halloween. The vigor was easily managed, and the crop looked to be slightly above average.  And then came September 5th. Up on Mount Veeder we had three days over 110 degrees in the vineyard with one day hitting 116 degrees! The valley floor was just a degree or two cooler. Thankfully, we had a good week to prepare for the heat and watered heavily in anticipation. 

Grapevines are quite incredible in how they manage their stress from heat, as they shut down sugar production at around 96 degrees and once the heat has passed, they bounce back. Some vintners chose to pick prior to the heat spikes, but for us, the grapes were too underripe, so we rolled the dice. A few inches of rain followed the heat on September 18th and the growing season progressed very slowly. We moved up the harvest starting in late September from our usual mid-October and had to toss out a good 40% of our usual yield. This will result in a small production of about 450 cases compared to nearly 900 cases the year before. The quality of the fruit that we kept is very good, so we remain hopeful about the vintage. 

New wines coming this Spring

We're excited to release three wines this Spring, including two brand new offerings.

The 2021 wines are still in barrel and what a fantastic vintage it will be. The vintage fits right into the typical Majuscule profile – fruit driven and elegant with balanced and restrained tannins. The growing year was perfect for us – warm and long. We’re bottling the first of the 2021 wines at the end of January – the 2021 Assemblage Red Blend which we introduced two years ago. With 15 months of aging in 50% new French oak barrels, Assemblage is 46% Cabernet Franc, 38% Cabernet Sauvignon and 16% Merlot, all from the Wildcat and Saffron vineyards high on Mt. Veeder. This is my annual “summer red” - a wine that is a little lighter in style and Cab Franc driven. The perfect wine to put a little chill on it and take outside for a summer barbeque. The Cab Franc can manage the heat from spicy foods and the slight chill will keep the palate focused. 

Joining Assemblage will be a true Monopole wine – single vineyard, single block, single varietal and single clone. The 2019 Garçon, is named for a single lot of clone 169 of Mt Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon, which I lovingly refer to as The Bratty Boy. Garçon means boy in French. While tasting the Cabernet lots in barrel over the past years, the clone 169 was showing incredible backbone and balance, so we decided it was worthy of a standalone bottling. We won't make Garçon every year though. In the glass, the fruit comes at you early, and the slightly higher acid level will provide endurance for long aging. It's ready to drink now with a brief time in a decanter and will age for a couple of decades going forward. Everyone knows that I love playing with clones (yes, Jeff), and this is one that I am quite proud of and that I hope you will enjoy very much.

We’ll round out our spring release by introducing our first sparkling wine. The 2019 Cuvée Majuscule is a true Blanc de Noir of 100% Pinot Noir from a vineyard out on the Sonoma Coast. The wine is bright, jumpy and toasty. A balanced palate is followed by a lingering finish. It’s a celebration in the glass, and a bottle looking for a celebration. Heck, it’s a great complement to cheese, salads, fish or just a regular Tuesday.

So, jumping in to 2023 we appreciate each of you and your continued support. We look forward to hosting some small group events this winter in Arizona and back up in the Wildcat Vineyard in the spring.

Cheers and thank you!

Greg Brickey, winemaker & proprietor

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