Writers call upon the muse in order to bring language into being. Wine, too, is a form of expression–and like literature, it requires muses to come to fruition. While grapes need a producer to transform them into wine, I understand as a vintner that I also require a muse. Each year, I rely upon terroir as I craft a Cattleya vintage, paying scrupulous attention to every detail that will allow me to arrive at outstanding purity of expression in all of my wines.
Born in Medellín during a particularly difficult time for that Colombian city, I am accustomed to challenges. My apprenticeship in France provided me with excellent, hands-on-training in viticulture and enology. The techniques I mastered in over six years of education and experience in vineyard and winery have allowed me to hone my craft and to maintain the highest standards in winemaking.
The wines I produce at Cattleya possess their own distinct profiles, but together they offer illustration of my philosophy as a vintner. For this release of the 2018 vintage: The Call to Adventure (Chardonnay), Belly of the Whale (Pinot Noir), and The Initiation (Syrah), speak in their turn to the three pillars of craftsmanship most important to me.
CALL TO ADVENTURE
A Golden Example of Unswerving Attention to Detail
Attention to the smallest aspects of enology helps me work toward achievement in my wines. At this particular site, I have maintained over the years a close understanding of every block and row. I am always directly involved with canopy management, checking frequently to ensure that each cluster is protected from direct sun exposure. Managing the canopy closely also encourages excellent air flow, which inhibits the growth of botrytis and disease that overly wet conditions promote.
At the winery, I make sure to sort each cluster with care. My close focus on viticulture is matched by an equally laser vision in the winery. I decided upon a gentle press program for this wine, following up the initial press with scrupulous separation of good lees from too-heavy lees and dirt. When I worked in Burgundy, I often kept a sleeping bag by the press, napping rather than sleeping so that I could more closely supervise every part of this process. I continue this level of oversight today.
BELLY OF THE WHALE
Elegant Illustration of Terroir
In France, I worked directly in the vineyard. Exceptional wine demands exceptional fruit, and in California, as sole proprietor of Cattleya Wines, I choose sites very carefully, understanding that to craft wine of which I am proud requires terroir that speaks both to my head and my heart.
In our newest site at the Sun Chase Vineyard on the Sonoma Coast, I found pinot noir grapes of a rare quality. At 2,300 feet, the vines are provided with excellent sun exposure in a location that sits just above the maritime layer of fog. The elegance and complexity of Cattleya’s 2018 vintage provides perfect illustration of this beautiful site. After carefully hand-sorting the fruit during the pre-dawn hours of September 19th, I chose to cold-soak for ten days prior to the beginning of native fermentation, retaining 10% whole cluster to increase this silky wine’s texture.
A Model of Meticulous Craftsmanship
The Initiation gets its start in a vineyard that is near and dear to my heart. Cattleya began in 2011 with a single barrel of Syrah from the Soberanes Vineyard. Its rocky soils are underpinned with significant granitic boulders which encourage subtle minerality. The foggy mornings and chilly Pacific winds provide Soberanes with the perfect cool climate site. Furthered by being hand-harvested during the early-mornings of October 13th, the fruit was cold-soaked on the skins for ten days prior to a long maceration in tank.
What makes this darkly mysterious wine all the more special is a combination of attention to cooperage and barreling. For this 2018 vintage of The Initiation, I selected 100% new oak barrels that had been air-dried and aged for five years, in order to further this Syrah’s purity of expression. To coax a distinctively velvety texture from the fruit, I chose to age this wine for a full twenty-two months rather than the usual fifteen. The result is a complex wine with a beautifully elegant finish.
Maintaining close attention to all of the details from canopy management to harvesting to pressing to coopering allows me to produce wines of exceptional purity. Thank you for your willingness to accompany me upon my journey. Please accept the expressions of terroir in these wines as offerings of appreciation for your continued faith in me and your support of Cattleya Wines.