We Couldn’t Be More Excited, or: An Early Taste Through The 2010 Reds

June 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

We hosted one of our “Premier Tastings” this past weekend, and a goal of mine in choosing the tasting lineup was to showcase wines that were more “vintage driven,” working from our white wines from the wonderful 2010 down to heavy reds from 2006.  I prefer to focus on vintages in these tastings because (a) who doesn’t like talking about the weather? and (b) it seems to me that wine drinkers can better relate overall structural differences in wine to seasonal variations than they can to winemaking decisions.  It’s more relatable when we talk about why a hot, dry Virginia summer tends to produce fatter, more exotic whites than it is to explain that your Semillon shows hints of orange peel because QA23 yeast produces so much beta-glucosidase that those terpenes just fly from the glass.

Here’s what we tasted:

2010 Chardonnay

2010 Viognier

2007 Reserve Cabernet Franc

2007 Cabernet Sauvignon

2006 Petit Verdot

2009 Sunset Red

Discussion of these different growing seasons led us to the memorable 2010 summer in Virginia, and while most people seem to enjoy the white wines from 2010, I am continuously being asked what is to come of the reds.  We taste through different varietals, vineyards, cooperages, and yeast selections fairly constantly here, and as we’ve moved into the summer I’ve been very impressed and excited by the blossoming of our red wines from 2010.

Breakfast. I mean, a Petit Verdot lineup!

 As we taste through these wines we’re hoping to accomplish a number of goals. (1) We’re critiquing our vineyard and cellar practices for those wines (should we have lowered yield? should we have picked earlier? should we have fermented hotter?, etc), (2) We’re critiquing our barrel selections (do we like the Zemplen forest better or worse than Nevers? do we like this cooper over that cooper?), (3) we’re trying to further understand the differences in vineyards, and the different varietals within those vineyards, (4) we’re slowly and thoughtfully determining which lots will make it into which final blends (does this Merlot block show varietal specificity? or would it be better suited helping soften the Sunset Red?), (5) we’re following maturation, (6) we’re looking for any possible problem barrels, and (7) we’re getting out of the vineyard for the hottest portion of the day.

As a whole, the 2010 reds are highly expressive and bold: these are big, lush, supple wines, with a lot of dark fruit, deep concentration, and in some cases extreme, almost Shiraz-like spiciness.  Although we’ll give them another 8 – 14 months in barrel, I can confidently let you in on the following:

– Our Estate Club Select wines from the 2010 reds will be Syrah, Nebbiolo, and possibly a vineyard designate Merlot.  The Merlot picked from our third-leaf vines in Vineyard 2 is much deeper, darker, concentrated, and tannic than our other blocks, which show great red fruit and openness.  We will certainly bottle this wine separately, but we have yet to determine whether we’ll single it out for the Estate Club, or bottle it as a Reserve.  Otherwise, (and without question) the Syrah and Nebbiolo are slated for the Estate Club.  These wines are both wonderfully unique from all the other reds, and from each other.  They are also our first foray into both varietals.  Overwhelming successes!

– Our Reserve Cabernet Franc will, for the fourth year running, consist of Cabernet Franc from the old block in Vineyard 1.  This block has consistently given us dark, brooding wines much more deep and complex than many of the other Cabernet Franc blocks.  This wine will be given an additional year in oak before bottling, and is slated for release in 2013.

– We will definitely be bottling a varietal 2010 Petit Verdot, also not to be released until 2013.  We utilized the Petit Verdot from 2009 for blending only, but the 2010 deserves its own bottle.


We’re planning both a Barrel Tasting and our Winemaker For A Day event for this fall and winter, both of which are great opportunities to taste some of these wines for yourself.  Hope to see you there!


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