“the wine should speak for itself”
This seems obvious, but the quality of the wine can get lost in the pursuit of marketing and image goals. Little Engine creates wines that showcase varietal fruit characteristics complemented with texture, balance and complexity.
Winemaking starts in the vineyard. That means the winemaker has to be in the vineyard throughout the entire year. The intended wine styles are directed throughout the growing season via canopy management, irrigation regimes, crop yields, etc. Grapes are harvested based on flavor profiles, not just lab analysis. Vineyard blocks are picked per section and/or clone when deemed to be at the optimal ripeness. We may harvest in a single block 3 or 4 times over the course of weeks. All grapes are hand harvested and processed at cool temperatures.
Techniques employed to enhance richness and complexity include prolonged pre-fermentation skin contact with both white and red grapes, spontaneous alcohol and malolactic fermentations, slow and extended fermentations to maximize macerations, barrel fermentations, sur lie aging and batonnage. Small batch winemaking creates plenty of components for future blending. Temperature control at all levels of processing and meticulous monitoring ensures every batch is following its intended path. All batches are kept separate until blending. Trials are undertaken every vintage to build upon experience and provide new layers to implement into the wine styles.
Blending is where the art catches up to the science. Now the pieces of the puzzles are put together to create the intended wine styles. Blending trials may take months. Ensuring the right balance of fruit and oak, the optimal acidity or preferred tannin profile is an arduous process for a perfectionist. This is also a time to reflect on the winemaking decisions made. There is constant motivation to surpass the previous vintage of wines in terms of quality and complexity. It truly is a pursuit of excellence.