2010 Toucan Wines Carignane Story

-- only 234 cases produced --


Our Old Vine Carignane is harvested from the low-yielding 120+ year old vines, grown in the Evangelho vineyard in Contra Costa County. This wine was slowly fermented after a period of cold soaking and pressed to a combination of new French, Hungarian and American oak barrels for 21 months. The resulting wine is a classic varietal bottling from this outstanding old vine vineyard.


The story of our old vine Carignane starts in the vineyard. These old vines are truly the most gnarly I've ever seen and date back to 1890's. Carignane is now an endangered grape in California, but widely planted in France and Spain.


The low yield vines from this Contra Costa vineyard, the climate, deep sandy soils, and the location near the Sacramento River basin, produce a rich and lush flavor profile and delicate nose. In California, Carignane is usually used by wineries as a blending grape, adding value to Zinfandel or used in a field blend of several varietals.


About 14 years ago I met the grower, who now manages the farming of the namesake vineyard, but has worked these vines with his family in years past and knows every corner of this old vineyard. In 2006 we agreed that Toucan Wines would produce a bottling of this fine fruit and the result was thrilling. We again found time in 2008, 2010, 2011 and we will again in 2012 produce this lovely wine.


The 2010 story was not nearly as colorful as the 2008 story...but it begin at 11:30pm Friday evening the 10th of September -- the start of 24 hours of Carignane. Two guys, one truck a trailer and several bins to be filled with stunning old vine Carignane.


We made some improvements in our logistics and with the trailer since 2008. Bob did some great improvements on the trailer, including new tires (in 2008 nearly all the trailer tires blew out), plus he welded new tie downs which made the load easier to deal-with once filled with heavy fruit.


One logistic improvement was stopping for fuel at a weigh station, to weigh the truck and trailer empty, at mid-point in the drive. This stop was needed anyway, and finding a weigh station in Gilroy at 2 or 3 in the morning was ideal. This offered us time for breakfast and it's a time savings we also used in 2011.


We arrive in the Oakley area about 4:30 in the morning still too early to meet our grower. A Denny’s serves us well with coffee and a Grand Slam... and why not - we're tired and need a meal.


Picking starts on time this year, at the crack of dawn. It's now Saturday morning September 11th, I join the grower in the field and we check sugar levels in the same area where we harvested our award-winning 2008 Carignane. Bob unloads the bins and before I know it, the crew is picking beautiful Carignane fruit and loading-up my bins one by one.


Once again Bob uses the time to snap a few shots of the old vines (shown here).


The fruit comes out of the field cool, and looking great. All loaded and the bins are tied down and in maybe an hour we are back on the road.


Unlike 2008, our drive home was easy, we stopped to weigh the now loaded truck and trailer and grabbed a snack before arriving home. Once home, we unloaded the bins and the work of crushing the 2010 Carignane began. With one volunteer and Terrie, we unloaded and sorted by hand seven bins of fruit. After we cleaned up the mess of leafs, fruit pieces, and bins - we had finished for the night at about 11:30 Saturday. Another 24 hours of Carignane.


I'm writing this description of our 2010 trip, while sitting in the winery amongst 10 barrels of 2011 Carignane. It's just days before our 2012 Carignane trip is planned, and I'm hoping for a smooth day without incident. Fingers crossed!


The 2010 Old Vine Carignane is our third release from this vineyard and it is a beauty. Coming into the winery at about 28 Brix, we slowly cold soaked the fruit and fermented using a combination of special yeast. I placed the resulting wine in great barrels and primary and secondary fermentation took about a year to complete.


Upon release this wine will be a little young, but still elegant and drinking well. I expect that with a little cellar time, the 2010 Carignane will become a favorite.


Order 2010 Carignane Here



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