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Part 2: An Interview with Paul Clary of Clary Ranch Wines

Monday, December 29, 2008

This is Part 2 of a 3 part interview series with Paul Clary. Part 1 can be found here. Part 3 can be found here.

Part 2: Vinification

Q: Would you consider yourself more of a grower or a winemaker? Which is harder?

Paul Clary: I'm a winemaker from root to glass. The hardest part about it is staying up for sleepless nights waiting for the frosts. 2008 was an unrelenting spring, as far as frosts go. 25+ frost events, where our previous "worst year" was 5 events. 

Q: Same questions as with grape growing- can you give some specific examples of things you can do (or not do) in the process of making wine that can really make a difference in the quality of the wine produced?

Paul: A routine late-fermentation addition of yeast nutrient can head off sulfide issues... On the "not-to-do" side, I'd say: Resist the temptation to tinker with the wine for off-flavors during barrel aging. The wine is Alive, and usually those off-flavors will resolve by themselves.

Q: Your 2004 Clary Ranch Grower's Reserve Pinot Noir seemed a little "bigger" than the 2006. Do you agree? Don't get me wrong the 2006 was awesome too- in fact it may have been more elegant. But at any rate- if you agree- was that a function of the grape growing season or something you did differently in the winemaking process?

Paul: Yes, the 2004 is a bigger wine, a stand-alone cocktail. The lighter 2006 goes better with a wide variety of foods. 2004's Pinot was made entirely of grapes from Block 4 - the clone is Pommard 4. 2006's Pinot contains mostly clone 4, but also has significant Dijon 113 from blocks 2 & 3, and 667 from block 6. That said, year to year the weather brings what it will, and it is reflected in the resultant wine. 2006 was a lighter year.

Q: I always get "tobacco/cigar box" aromas on your Pinot. Do you get that too? If so, where do you think that's coming from?

Paul: That comes from soaking my old cigars in the wine - just kidding! It's the grape and its environment. Any flavors are coming from the interaction between the grape, the yeast and the barrel. We use 40-50% new french oak, Medium plus toast.

Q: Are you considering making other varietals in the future? Or is Pinot and Syrah your passion?

Paul: For now, I'll stick with Pinot and Syrah, though I'd love to do a Riesling or Gewurz someday.

Other installments of this interview:
If you'd like to purchase Clary Ranch wines, we've put together a *special* offer for Wellesley Wine Press readers. Clary Ranch has agreed to extend their Holiday Gift Pak offer through January 15th, 2009 for all orders mentioning "The Wellesley Wine Press". When placing your order over the phone or in the comments section of your order, just mention this web site and you'll receive FREE SHIPPING plus great pricing on 2 bottles of Clary Ranch wines.

Click here to visit the Clary Ranch Web Site.
Click here to Order Clary Ranch wines and take advantage of this special offer.

If you have any comments or questions for Paul, please leave them below and I'll be sure to pass them along. I'd like to thank Paul for the time he took answering my questions for this interview so honestly and enthusiastically, and especially for the special offer he's extended to my readers.

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