Arcadian Winery Release
French Camp Vineyards in San Luis Obispo County is a large property planted to several varieties including Syrah. We chose to take the top two acres of block 53, which was planted in 1997 to a Shiraz clone of Syrah from bench grafts. The rootstock selected was 5C and the trellis is a 2-foot Lyre. Vine spacing was set at 7 X 9 and rows run east west to accommodate uniform ripening of fruit.
In 2000, we negotiated an acreage contract that allows us to reduce the overall yield to 3.5 tons to the acre--much higher than we normally farm--but this is a very vigorous site normally farmed to 8 tons to the acre. I attempted to keep plant yields to one cluster per shoot, producing very concentrated flavors and a wine that might ultimately be the best from this vineyard.
Grapes were harvested at very modest ripeness in an effort to manage alcohol. Many Syrah producers push for greater ripeness resulting in wines of high alcohol and very low acidity. Often, I find these wines unbalanced.
The grapes were hand picked and hand sorted into half-ton bins and delivered to the winery. The fruit was again hand sorted and crushed with partially open rollers. We immediately inoculated with an isolated strain of yeast from the Côte Rôtie region of France. Fermentation lasted fourteen days and was without complications. The free run was transferred directly to barrels followed by the press wine from the press cycle. The two were kept separate throughout the elevage. The wine was aged in a series of one-, two- and three-year-old barrels for 17 months and was then bottled without fining or filtration.
La Genisse is a French term used to describe a heifer. During the evolution of this wine, I was often reminded of the Charolais cattle seen throughout the northern Rhône and Burgundy regions of France. These short stocky animals are prized as a source of beef and during the Second World War they were used as plow animals in the vineyards.
*Please note that the term heifer in French is a feminine term.