I really enjoy this time of the year in the winery cellar. The '03 reds and some fresh '04 whites are making their way to bottle and anything staying in the cellar gets a thorough assessment.
It's been about six months since the reds of 2004 went to barrel (Chards too). Now's the time they're starting to emerge from their rough and tumble youth and beginning to take the form and character that they'll carry into the bottle.
For the Chards, I'm beginning to make some blending decisions and trying to determine which lots will get a little extra time in oak, if any.
All this requires a lot of tasting.
I put on some music (big reds get big tunes; yesterday it was Creed: My Own Prison) and get out the glasses. I make copious notes. I try to get a sense of what the wine has done and what it's going to do down the road. At this time, there is the opportunity for critical intervention, to borrrow a term from my first aid training. If there's potential for a flaw, this is the time to set things right.
After this year's exercise I'm quite pleased with the way things are shaping up. I'm taking a vacation away from my usual skeptic's stance and enjoying the uniform of an optimist for a day or two.