The Continuum of Ripening and the Cain Moment
The grapes in each vineyard will ripen along their uniquely individual path, subject to the climate of the region, the variety, the site and the weather of the vintage. In general the fruit will evolve through several stages, beginning with green fruit, fresh fruit, mature fruit, dried fruit, and so on….
In a cool year, we must be patient and wait to get beyond green fruit, whereas in a hot year, we must pay attention and move quickly to avoid jammy fruit and boiled fruit characteristics. But, in any particular vineyard, each of these factors will align differently, creating a unique fingerprint—the signature of that specific vineyard.
Depending upon vineyard, the year, and our intention for the wine, the “Cain Moment” will be found somewhere in the range of maximum aromatic potential, floral-spicy, fresh fruit-mature fruit (but before dried fruit), peak of color, and in the early range of maximum of tannin-pigment complexity. Adapted from Alain Carbonneau, “Théorie de la maturation et de la typicité du raisin,” Figures 5 & 6, Le Progrès agricole et viticole, No 13-14, 2007, p. 282.