The 2012 growing season reminisced of 2009; mild and warm days followed by cool nights without any extreme weather events to disturb this smooth and slow growing season. Needless to say, the various Hyde de Villaine blocks thrive in a vintage sans late season rain and extreme acts of Mother Nature. Harvest began on September 5th after a long and slow maturation period allowing our fruit to reach an impeccable definition and balance.
Hyde Vineyard experienced a long, cold season that began with wet weather well into mid June. Ultimately, the rainy weather delayed flowering and set. What followed was a cool summer providing slow and steady Chardonnay maturation. A late September harvest capped off the ideal vintage providing balance and heightened minerality.
Late spring showers, ultimately delaying budbreak and lengthening flowering, marked an atypical 2010 vintage at Hyde Vineyard. Consistent and warm summer weather followed providing a slow and steady fruit development. In late September, our Chardonnay fruit achieved maturity (three weeks later than our average ‘vendanges’). Good fortune would have it that all of our Chardonnay was sourced before an abrupt and intense heat spell in late September.
Entering the third year of a drought, the 2009 winter was dry at Hyde Vineyard until unexpected rains in early spring. Bud break was later than usual avoiding any risk of frost damage; persistently mild weather created a long, slow ripening vintage leading to wines of balance and deft concentration.
The 2008 growing season was marked by extremes. We experienced the coldest spring since 1970 with 27 days of frost protection in April. Fortunately, Hyde Vineyard’s proximity to the San Pablo Bay diminished the impact of cold weather on the vineyard fruit. This vintage was also the second year of a drought that led to smaller clusters and berries bringing an intensified concentration.
Intense minerality, stone fruit and delicate floral perfumes of acacia and honeysuckle intertwine to create a complex sense of purity. On the palate there are layers of pear, spice and citrus. Ultimately, this wine embodies the brilliance of Hyde Vineyard with its combination of ripe fruit and crisp acidity combining for a long, elegant finish. Aged for 11 months in French oak (35% new) followed by 3 months in stainless steel without any fining or filtration.
The 2006 vintage was a year of eventful extremes. Despite significant flooding in parts of Napa Valley, winter rains did little damage at Hyde Vineyard where the shallow soils drain extremely well. Rain continued into spring delaying bud break by a few days. Mid spring provided improved weather, as Hyde Vineyard experienced bloom along with a near perfect fruit set. A ten-day heat-spike in July caused sporadic sunburn on various exposed clusters shutting down growth and hindering maturation for nearly two weeks. Sunburned clusters were carefully removed before veraison. Finally, the weather normalized through the month of August and the remainder of the season, consisting of morning fog and flavor concentrating winds.
The 2005 vintage in Los Carneros was cool and slow paced. After an early bud break in the middle of March, Hyde Vineyard experienced wet weather in May and June. Summer consisted of cool weather thanks to the San Pablo Bay fog influence. From maturation through harvest, days were sunny and mild, allowing flavors to develop gradually with purity and expressive complexity.
Ten days of unusually warm weather in early March got the growing season off to a fast start in 2004. Bloom occurred three weeks in advance, however the season eventually slowed as the climate at Hyde Vineyards was cool and unsettled, yet free of rain. Finally, the weather was nearly perfect consisting of foggy mornings and warm, breezy afternoons – enough to concentrate dense flavors and sugar. The yields were light again in 2004 offering dense and concentrated fruit. Harvest started two weeks earlier than usual for HdV, a few days before the temperature increase in early September.
The 2003 Vintage started as a cold, wet and late one. It was a vintage of contrasts. The cold and wet spring may have interfered with fruit set resulting in relatively light yields ranging between 1.9 and 2.9 tons per acre. We dry farmed 90% of our blocks with the relatively slow and cool summer allowing the fruit flavors to develop beautifully showing great balance and sugar accumulation. In early August, a small rain increased the powdery mildew pressure in one of our blocks, but had little influence on the high quality and balance of the fruit.
The cooler-than-usual weather in late September and October allowed the later-maturing Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon vines to develop tannins and flavors to optimum ripeness. Natural acid levels are the key to health and longevity in a wine, and the acidity of the 2002 HdV Red wine is remarkable. Waiting for these conditions was important in 2002, and the rewards were concentrated fruit flavors, mature tannins, and firm natural acidity.
The 2001 growing season was one of constantly warm afternoons at Hyde Vineyard. The result was an early Chardonnay harvest of rich, ripe fruit at the beginning of September. Fortunately, the Carneros climate benefits from the cooling effects of the San Pablo Bay, with its characteristic early morning fog and afternoon breezes, and these helped maintain a good level of acidity in the fruit. Consequently, our Chardonnay kept its freshness to balance the ripeness of the vintage.
At Hyde Vineyards, Larry Hyde carefully watched the HdV Merlot selections as the fruit experienced “coulure” during flowering, resulting in very loose clusters and beginning what would be a very low yield at less than 1.5 tons per acre. As the clusters developed, our selections produced their distinctive millerandage or “pea-berries”, before ending the growing season under extraordinary hydric stress. The south-facing Cabernet Sauvignon block underwent extensive thinning and canopy management to promote even ripening and a concentration of flavors.