May 15, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Below is a description of “Nate’s Picks” for June 2013
Sunset Hills Vineyard 2012 Chardonnay (Shenandoah, Virginia) – The 2012 season marked the first year we harvested fruit from the newly acquired Shenandoah Springs Vineyard, and this 2012 Chardonnay is the first release from that site. 100% Chardonnay, 100% Shenandoah Springs Vineyard, 100% stainless steel fermentation. With a high elevation, a silt loam soil structure sitting along a sliver of limestone, and moderate vigor for these 12 year old vines, we were able to delay ripening of this Chardonnay in order to achieve a polished, crisp, bright style of Chard with more texture than we see from our Estate Vineyard #1, with flavors that lean more toward the green melon, grapefruit, citrus rind side of things. Drinking very well now, this wine should develop into early 2015.
Sunset Hills Vineyard 2012 Rosé of Cabernet Franc (Loudoun County, Virginia) – Two pink wines in one year!? You bet! During the 2012 harvest we made two rosé wines – one from Chambourcin (which became our Sunset Rosé), and the other from bleedings from many of our different Cabernet Franc lots (which became the Rosé of Cabernet Franc). The two rosés could not be more different, and this Rosé of Cabernet Franc wine was so beloved by the winemaking crew during and after harvest that we knew it was destined for the Estate Club. Just a tad off-dry, with a luscious round texture and very warm, creamy, red raspberry and cherry aromatics, this is one of our winemaker’s favorite releases thus far from the 2012 vintage.
April 25, 2013 § 1 Comment
This has been a particularly dense season for dandelions all through the Estate Vineyards as well as across the property, and just driving through Loudoun County over the past few days I’ve seen more dandelions, I think, than any past Spring. I could be wrong of course. Maybe I just always forget how many we have.
In most residential or “landscaped” areas, these guys are considered noxious weeds, or pests, but there are a lot of benefits to dandelions: they’re great companion plants, bring nutrients to the soil, fix nitrogen, and act as bird food, which is not to mention all the culinary uses that are pretty much forgotten today (not to mention, especially, dandelion wine (which I’ve actually never had)).
The most interesting thing about dandelions, though, are the nicknames, like: blowball, cankerwort, doon-head-clock, witch’s gowan, milk witch, lion’s-tooth, yellow-gowan, Irish daisy, monks-head, priest’s-crown, puff-ball, faceclock, pee-a-bed, wet-a-bed, swine’s snout, white endive, and wild endive. I could go on.
April 18, 2013 § 1 Comment
Over the last two days (April 17th and 18th) we’ve seen bud break in all three vineyards, primarily the Chardonnays, Cab Francs, Traminette, and just a tad in the Viognier blocks. The next few days are looking warm and sunny, and most likely we’ll see the majority of the buds pop open, discounting the late breakers like Cab Sauv and Petit Verdot.
Overall we’re late in 2013. Winter was cold and long, and Spring has come late for all plants in our area – from the early-to-awaken daffodils and forsythia to the apple trees and rose bushes. This lateness is welcome, especially considering the frost damage in Loudoun County over the past three years. For perspective, this same Chardonnay saw budbreak on April 8th last year, a full ten days earlier. This is also potentially promising for mid-season ripeners like Viognier and Cabernet Franc, as it may push their ripening season into a period in late September when we see cooler days and night. But, who knows – it’s early. The season is just starting.
April 5, 2013 § 1 Comment
An early Spring photo of our Shenandoah Springs Vineyard. Across the pond stands the larger portion of Cabernet Franc, as well as Petit Verdot and Tannat. We’re currently in the stages of final pruning, as well as preparing the soil for our Viognier planting in a few weeks.
April 1, 2013 § Leave a Comment
In honor of the release of our Sunset HIlls VIneyard 2012 Chardonnay, we wanted to taste a short retrospective of our previous four vintages. Particularly of interest to us has been the bottling of Chardonnay from our new vineyard, Shenandoah Springs, and how it’s going to stand and age relative to our first Estate Vineyard.
Sunset Hills Vineyard 2009 Chardonnay (100% Chardonnay, Estate Vineyard #1) – Nice balance of lees and fruit, with large creaminess, nuttyness, and the edges of an oxidized character. This wine was prized at the time for the great acidity we got from the 2009 vintage, and it still shows through. Fading, yes, but still quite interesting.
Sunset Hills Vineyard 2010 Chardonnay (100% Chardonnay, Estate Vineyard #1) – Dense fruit, heavily aromatic, almost a wall of white flower and cream. Full bodied, great thickness and sappiness. Very vibrant.
Sunset Hills Vineyard 2011 Chardonnay (100% Chardonnay, Estate Vineyard #1) – Relatively subdued due to the wet vintage. Herbal, with nice hints of eucalyptus. Very open, with wide spaces and more room, less overt in-your-face qualities of the other vintages. Easy on the back end, clean, crisp, fresh.
Sunset Hills Vineyard “Estate Vineyard #1″ 2012 Chardonnay (100% Chardonnay, 100% Estate Vineyard #1 (and now bottled as a vineyard designate)) – Brightly floral, with white flowers, oranges, pears, honey. Very vibrant. Dense mid-palate. Loud, at this point. A powerful wine
Sunset Hills Vineyard 2012 Chardonnay (100% Chardonnay, 100% Shenandoah Springs Vineyard) – Our first bottling from the new vineyard in Woodstock. Very open, floral, with a green acid quality running through the entire wine. Potent aromatics. Great acidity. Leaner and more angular than what we get from Vineyard #1, also more expressive, more acidic, less flowers and more herbs.
March 12, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Below are the descriptions for “Nate’s Picks” for the April 2013 Estate Club shipment.
Sunset Hills Vineyard 2012 Viongier
Vineyards: Estate Vineyard #1, Estate Vineyard #3, Catesby Vineyard, Eagle Tree Vineyard, Bethany Ridge Vineyard
Blend: 100% Viognier!
Winemaking: Whole cluster pressed. Sixty percent sur lee French oak fermentation, with weekly stirring; forty percent stainless steel fermentation. Fermented to 0.4% residual sugar. Blend compiled in March 2012. No fining.
The Vintage: A strong year for our Viongier vineyards. We saw relatively uniform ripening come at an “average” pace for Virginia, with high sugars and good acids. Especially interesting blocks were Estate Vineyard #3, which saw its first real maturity, and Eagle Tree, in Lucketts, a new vineyard for us to work with, which had some standout fruit for the season.
Sunset Hills Vineyard 2011 Sunset Red
Blend: 39% Petit Verdot, 36% Cabernet Franc, 21% Cab Sauv, 4% Merlot
The Wine: As usual, the Sunset Red is a blend pulling a number of different varietals from a number of different vineyards, giving us the opportunity to really stretch ourselves in terms of the possibilities of blending.
In 2011, due to the heavy rains during harvest, we were required to lean more on Petit Verdot than we normally would, and less on the lighter-bodied Merlot, in order to blend a wine with the weight we like to see in our Sunset Red bottlings. Petit Verdot was in many ways the star of the vintage, ripening properly through the weather and providing many blends with the color and tannic structure otherwise lacking.
The resulting wine shows nice youthful fruit with warm red tones. Medium-bodied, smooth, with supple and delicate tannins. This wine will age well over the next two years.