Think back to 2013 . . . Barak Obama was sworn in for his second term in office, Edward Snowden leaked highly classified NSA documents via Julian Assange/Wikileaks, and Pharrell Williams and Daft Punk took the Grammy awards by storm. But what was going on in the vineyards of Santa Barbara County? Miles and Matt sat down to discuss how 2013 was anything but your average winegrowing year . . .
Miles: Hi Matt. In anticipation of the 10-year anniversary of the 2013 vintage we want to take a look back at what was happening in the vineyards and in the winery, the special things about vintage and what influence those things had on the wines.
Matt: I think we should title this feature, “Ten Years Gone” like the Led Zeppellin song!
I remember the 2013 vintage super well. To tell the story of 2013, I should also tell the story of the couple vintages before it. In 2009, we got a lot of rain so 2010, 2011 and even 2012 benefited from all that rain. 2011 was really low yielding. 2012 was the Goldilocks vintage was just right with higher yields and everybody was happy. And then, as often happens after a slightly higher yielding vintage like 2012, yields go the other direction the following year, and that’s what happened in 2013. It was dry, it was really hot and it was low yielding, and all of those variables combined to produce pretty powerful fruit. I remember the berries were really small so there was a really high skin to juice ratio that gives us really structured dense, serious wines. Out of the barrel young wines of this kind can be a little unfriendly and unapproachable.
Miles: Hot and dry all year doesn’t sound like Santa Barbara. Was it hot and dry from the beginning of the year?
Matt: Yes. It was hot and dry from the get-go and it persisted almost all year. It wasn’t like the classic Santa Barbara vintage where we get the super intense May Gray and June Gloom. It was the first year in a string of vintages 13, 14 and 15 and even 16 to a lesser extent where it was just really, really hot. It was really, really hot the whole year. I remember in the summertime just thinking it was bizarre that it was pool weather every day in the month of June. Very unusual for our area because we expect cooler, more moderate late spring/early summer weather.
The really wild part is that it cooled off at the tail end of the vintage. So all the later ripening varietals received some cooler conditions at the end allowing for longer hang time, phenolic ripeness and therefore a lot of complexity we weren’t expecting after the long, hot growing season. So all that depth of flavor and that complexity combined with the extra structure and density from the low yields in the small berries really made for a super great vintage to lay down in the cellar.
Miles: Sounds like a really interesting growing season that set up some epic winemaking!
Matt: Absolutely. The 2013’s were pretty dark, pretty intense, and very structured. I remember some wines were hard as nails right on release and thinking, “Man these wines need time”. The upside of that is that power has made for really great, ageable wine. In my mind, 2013 is one of the strongest vintages really in the last 20 years for ageability. So it’s really cool that we’re doing this 2013 release because this “rock star” vintage has now been perfectly cellared for 10 years.
We’re tasting them now and they’re just so balanced and elegant and fresh and there’s still a lot of life in them. 2013 really was just a stellar vintage, particularly for ageability.
Miles: I understand there is a special “Ten Years Gone” – A 2013 Vintage Retrospective” flight coming to the tasting rooms. Can you tell us what to expect from that program?
Matt: Absolutely! For the month of June, we’re offering a special flight in the tasting rooms to showcase the splendor of the 2013 vintage. We’ll be pouring Pinot Noirs from Cargasacchi Vineyard and Las Hermanas, Grenache from , Larner Vineyard, and Syrahs from Melville and Zotovich. I hope you’ll stop by and taste these really special bottles!
Miles: Count me in! Really looking forward to it!