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Fulcrum Wines


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Summer 2010 Newsletter

Well, our third vintage has been released and the 2008 Pinots are showing themselves to be an excellent representation of the harvest. The Anderson Valley and Gap’s Crown bottling are still a bit tight, but we are finding the Tina Marie and On Point to be opening up nicely now. For those who have already ordered, we hope you are enjoying them.  For those who haven’t, we have approximately 6 cases of each left.

In this issue of our newsletter, we wanted to share some positive press we have been notified of, update you on the progress of our 2009s in the barrel, and let you know where Fulcrum can be found at events across the country. Finally there is a discussion of the use of oak barrels in the maturation process of Fulcrum wines. 

Wine Enthusiast will comment on Fulcrum

We always struggle with how to present reviews to you, our Decanter Glasses Cropped Fulcrum Winesbest customers.  We do not chase scores or modify our winemaking to improve our results with reviewers.  In fact, our approach of providing more balanced Pinots from California very often flies in the face of the current rating trends.  That being said, we do think reviews have a role and many of our customers value the opinions of national reviewers. 

So our current approach is to tell you about scores when we get them and let you judge.  The best way to really judge our wines is to taste them and hopefully we can provide many venues for you to do that.

With that out of the way, we will direct you to next months issue of Wine Enthusiast magazine where we have received advance notification that our 2008 Tina Marie Russian River Pinot Noir was granted a score of 94 and our 2008 Gap’s Crown Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir awarded a 95.

2009 Vintage Progress: Wines Sleeping in the Barrel

Barrel small Fulcrum WinesOur 2009 vintage has now spent 10 months in the barrel and we thought we would share how the wines are maturing.  They will continue to age until Christmas when we bottle. The planned release is in June of 2011.

2009 Gap’s Crown- Maybe our best Gap’s Crown so far.  Blend of 777 and 667 clones, this wine has the classic Sonoma Coast tannin structure and deep fruit.  Complexity is building as the wine opens up over the summer.  We continue to source more and more fruit from this vineyard.

2009 Anderson Valley- We have a new vineyard source in Anderson Valley, the Londer vineyard just outside of Philo.  This wine is built to age with dark fruits and firm tannins.  This will be a wine that will improve markedly between now and bottling and will continue to develop in bottle.  A blend of Swan and 115 clones. The key decision will be when to release it.

2009 Russian River-  Also a new vineyard for us, the Floodgate Vineyard.  Floodgate is in the middle reach of the Russian River AVA and we source 667, 777 and 828 clones.  Elegant and classic Russian River spice and red cherry come through.  Probably the earliest drinking Pinot in the 2009 line up.

2009 On Point-  We will have an On Point Pinot from Sonoma County and one from Anderson Valley.  Well balanced and remarkably complex even at this early stage.

So five Pinots will be bottled in December and we think 2009 is shaping up to be a very successful vintage for Fulcrum.  Now we just need to follow through in the cellar and at bottling to capture the potential.

Fulcrum Event Calendar

Events are always being added, but here is the line up through November:

Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival,  July 30- August 1st, Bally’s Casino

Summit Wine and Food Festival, September 24-26, Summit, NJ

Pinot on the River, October 24th, Russian River, CA

Tucson Wine and Food Festival, October 29-30th, Tucson, AZ

Pinot Days Chicago, November 13th, Chicago’s Navy Pier

Barrel Aging:  Fulcrum’s Approach to using Oak

One of the most significant winemaking decisions is how to apply oak to each wine.  At Fulcrum we only use barrels, so we won’t spend time talking about oak chips, cubes or granules that are used in more mass produced wines.  In fact, we use only French oak.  A very few wineries use some Hungarian oak as a small percentage of their barrels, but American oak is almost never used with Pinot Noir.  American oak provides a bigger oak "punch" and on delicate wines like Pinot it would be just too much.  With the topic of oak sufficiently narrowed down, we can now focus on our approach at Fulcrum.

The first important consideration is what percentage of new oak to use and we try to strike a balance with it.  New oak barrels impart the most oak influence and flavors.  Pinots can and are made with between 0 and 100% new oak.  At Fulcrum, we adjust the oak percentage based upon the relative concentration of each wine.  A more delicate bottling like our Anderson Valley receives between 25% and 35% new oak, where our Gap’s Crown is barreled in up to 50% new oak.  Bigger wines can usually handle and need more oak, where more elegant wines need to have oak applied more subtley or you risk over shadowing the fruit.

03 fabrication tonneau france Fulcrum WinesThe next consideration is the selection of the cooper.  Cooper is another name for barrel maker and there are dozens to choose from in France.  Fulcrum has made the decision to buy new oak only from Tonnellerie Remond.  We believe that by only using one barrel manufacturer we are able to better capture our house style consistently.  Even though we use only one barrel maker, we do vary the "toast" (the char on the inside of the barrel) and the forest of origin of the oak itself.

As you might expect, if the cooper allows the barrel to stay on the fire longer we will toast the barrel darker and thereby produce smokier flavors and often certain savory spice and tar flavors.  A medium toast preserves more fruit and offers more cedar, tobacco, and sweeter spice components.  Most of our wines have some percentage of medium and heavy toast barrels used and this allows us to manage the components the the final wine through blending.

Without getting into unnecessary details, it is important to mention the importance of the source of the wood.  Our barrels are purchased based upon which forest the wood was harvested from. We use barrles made from the forests of Allier, Troncais, and Betrange in the center of France.  The key is the tightness of the grain.  The looser the grain the faster the oak flavors, tannins, and aromas are imparted.  The tighter the grain the opposite.  Tighter grain is more expensive and in general Troncais is the tightest of the grains.  Again each wine will usually have some percentage of each of these used. 

In the Fall when we do our final blending trials we see how each wine has developed in each barrel.  With three forests and three toast levels spread across four Pinot vineyards each with at least two clones we have a tremendous amount of variety in the cellar and that allows us the most flexibility when crafting the final blends.

The issue of oak usage is much more complex than what we have discussed here, so if you have any questions about oak just contact us at info@fulcrumwines.com or become a fan on Facebook.  David will be happy to answer any questions.  Be warned that a simple question may result in a 2 page response.  David loves to talk shop.

Finally, check us out on Facebook and Twitter as David will be posting about the harvest and winemaking this year.

Thanks again for your patronage.

Christinna and David Rossi

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