We were so happy with our first Riesling, The Composer 2009, we had decided to increase our portfolio to include two more Rieslings. But Mother Nature had other plans.
2010 proved to be a challenging vintage for Riesling. The hallmark of Riesling from this vintage is its searing acids. It was evident early on that the best wines would need to temper this acidity. The worst thing from a branding perspective is to not offer a wine consistently. After introducing The Composer, we naturally expected to have a 2010 version. But in the end, we had to make the best wine possible. We had to put aside our branding concerns and listen – Mother Nature had something to say.
After a strict selection in the vineyards (including 3 picks at Sagemoor and 2 picks at Kilian) and strict selection in the blending process, we reduced our expected production of 400 cases of 3 different wines to 217 cases of one wine – one fantastic wine.
The Lyricist 2010 is a blend of Dionysus, Bacchus, and Kilian vineyards. With 44% botrytis fruit, The Lyricist 2010 is a compelling wine on par with some of the best Auslese-style wines. The wine was a true labor of love and continues to be one of my favorite wines we have created – when Mother Nature speaks, it pays to listen.
In 2011, we had the perfect conditions to make three different Rieslings – an off-dry The Composer, Spatlese/Auslese style The Lyricist, and a dessert wine called The Maestro. We haven’t made any of the Lyricist and Maestro since, but when the season is right, we will.
Since The Composer was in part named after Billo’s love of classical piano, we decided to name a wine after one of my loves – poetry. The first Lyricist has on its front label a work from John Keats.
On January 31, 1818, a 22-year old John Keats wrote a letter to his friend John Hamilton Reynolds. In it, he says that he wanted to write a serious poetical letter, but he was hindered, and because it was a sunny day, he simply couldn’t write in prose. Instead he dashed off a poem now referred to as “A Draught of Sunshine”.
Here is the shortened version that appears on our label:
Hence Burgundy, Claret, and Port,
Away with old Hock and Madeira,
Too earthly ye are for my sport;
There’s a beverage brighter and clearer.
Instead of a pitiful rummer,
My wine overbrims a whole summer;
My bowl is the sky,
And I drink at my eye,
Till I feel in the brain
A Delphian pain—
Then follow, my Caius! then follow:
On the green of the hill
We will drink our fill
Of golden sunshine,
Till our brains intertwine
With the glory and grace of Apollo!
For the second Lyricist, we approached HarperCollins and explained to them that we were highlighting poetry on our The Lyricist label. We suggested that we use current poets and that they give us the rights to use one of their poets. They loved the idea. So, the second label has on it a poem by Pulitzer-prize winning poet James Tate. I’m forever grateful that he agreed to let us use “The Lovely Arc of a Meteor in the Night Sky”. The poem has become one of my favorites:
The Lovely Arc of a Meteor in the Night Sky
At the party there were those sage souls
who swam along the bottom like those huge white
fish who live for hundreds of years but have no
fun. They are nearly blind and need the cold.
William was a stingray guarding his cave. Only
those prepared for mortal battle came close to
him. Closer to the surface the smaller fish
played, swimming in mixed patterns only a god
could decipher. They gossiped and fed and sparred
and consumed, and some no doubt even spawned.
It’s a life filled with agitation, thrills,
melodrama and twittery, but too soon it’s over.
And nothing’s revealed because it was never known.
For Winemaker notes, technical details, and reviews, please click on the following vintages: