Reflections of a Double Vertical
May 24, 2011 § 1 Comment
We hosted a vertical tasting at Sunset Hills this past weekend, tasting three years of our Reserve Cabernet Franc (’06, ’07, ’08) and three years of our late harvest Nettare (’08, ’09, ’10). I was excited for this event, not only because it gives our customers an opportunity to taste some interesting wines, but because the differences in the wines facilitates discussion of each individual growing season, and how different wines can age in different ways. It’s one thing to talk about it, but it’s another thing to have the opportunity to taste it.
The Cabernet Francs are all wonderfully different wines, despite coming from the same vineyard block and being vinted in (more or less) similar manners. The late harvest wines (one from Petit Manseng, and two from Vidal Blanc, which we will continue to utilize for our Nettare) are still too fresh to show any age in color or flavor, but are nonetheless still very unique to each other. Most (or nearly all) of the participants in this tasting admitted to me that they rarely drink wines with such high R.S. (a shame, a dreadful shame). It was fun for me, then, to illustrate the intricacies of these wines, and explain how, in my opinion, there are no wines or foods in the world that can create the haunting aromatics and lushness of certain aged late harvest wines. For me, late harvest white wines make some of the best beverages in the universe.
2006 – 2010 have all been considerably different growing seasons for Virginia – all of them have been ‘good’ years, but in ways that provide us with diverse styles of wine, both red and white. One of the most educational aspects of a vertical tasting in any winegrowing region with such unpredictable weather patterns is tasting the wine while discussing the growing season, and explaining what certain temperature, precipitation, and seasonal oddities can do to the growth of wine grapes, the balance of the grape chemistry, and thus the finished product itself.
I love that we make wine in Virginia, where the vintages have always wavered between extremes, because it places more emphasis on the time that the wine was made, as well as the place, and I think these differences, and our mental connection between the wine we are drinking now and the year in which it was made, add to the experience.