Straight Lines

July 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

Ahhh, hedging . . . . .



The Onset Of Ripening

July 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

Cab Sauv in early stages of veraison

A Tasting and Description of “Nate’s Picks” for the 8/11 Estate Wine Club Shipment

July 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

Every two months we ship two bottles to the members of our Estate Wine Club.  In June of this year, for instance, we took the opportunity to preview some of the whites from 2010: our Viognier and Chardonnay.  In the April shipment: the 2010 Rosé and our first Estate Club Select wine, the 2010 Petit Manseng.  In choosing the wines for each shipment, I try to consider (a) the time of year, (b) which wines are really hitting their stride, (c) whatever I’m excited about, and (d) the very diverse preferences of our Estate Club members.  Because you can’t win them all, we always allow members of the Estate Club to politely decline Nate’s Picks and to order wines of their choosing.  We’re happy to send you anything so long as there’re a few bottles left over for the owner.

Nate’s Picks for August, 2011:


  • Production Notes: 100% Chardonnay, 100% single vineyard, 100% estate fruit, 100% barrel fermented; from the über ripe, über clean, bursting-at-the-skins-with-exotic-flavor Chardonnay gifted to us by the dry, hot 2010 season.  Hand-picked, hand-sorted, fermented in all French oak from Allier and Jupilles, with weekly lees stirring through the winter.  Wine did not undergo malolactic fermentation, unlike our previous Reserve offerings, in order to retain some acidity following a hot, low acid season.  Wine was blended and bottled in June, 2011, without fining.
  • Tasting Notes: A fat, (I will say it again) exotic white wine, with aromatics of well-ripened orange and banana atop straw, coconut, vanilla, butterscotch, and some faint je ne sais quoi.  Thick and smoky, this wine is big, concentrated, and warm.  Bone dry and quite hedonistic.
  • Cases Produced: sadly, a mere 150.



  • Production Notes: Primarily composed of Cabernet Franc from two separate vineyard blocks, the fruit was hand-picked, hand-sorted, destemmed, hand-sorted again (a tiring day for the hands), fermented in small, single lot bins for 7-10 days, then pressed.  (Not to confuse things, but about half of the lots were given an extended maceration, i.e. the fermented juice, skins, and seeds were not pressed immediately after fermentation, but rather 30 days after fermentation, a winemaking process which alters, most prominently, color stability and tannic structure.)  Aged for 18 months in a combination of French and Hungarian oak, with lees stirring through the first winter.  The two lots of Cab Franc were then blended together, and joined by small but influential amounts of Petit Verdot, Merlot, and Tannat, in March, 2011.  Bottled in June, 2011, without fining.
  • Tasting Notes: I’m continually impressed that the pretty, violet-and-cherry elegance of the 2009 reds is backed up by some really sneaky power and complexity.  The 2009 Cabernet Franc currently shows wonderful delicate red fruit aromatics with a light dash of oak.  This wine has a fine-grained, complex and delicate texture, with light but still fairly lively tannins. 
  • Blend: 86% Cabernet Franc, 8% Petit Verdot, 4% Merlot, 2% Tannat
  • Cases Produced: 640 

I hope you all enjoy the August, 2011 Estate Club shipment, and that you’re having a great summer!

Enter, Cumulonimbi

July 5, 2011 § Leave a comment

Recently I find myself talking about the weather almost as much as I did the summer in high school when I bagged groceries and carried them out to customers’ cars, and was required by upper management to pass the time discussing fluffy things as non-political and non-controversial (this is now debatable, living, as we do, in a world of ‘climate change’) as heat and humidity.  ‘It’s really a nice one today, isn’t it?’ was my bread and butter.  That, and the legendary, ‘You gonna get a chance to enjoy the weather today?’

Split Merlot berry, after receiving all kinds of rain at all the wrong times

Winegrowers (and thus farmers, I assume, although I don’t know a whole lot of non-winegrowing farmers and so can’t say for sure) talk about hail not as hail but as a capitalized Hail Event, separating it from standard precipitation and putting it (rightly, I say) with hurricanes and tornadoes.  While one is perfectly right in saying, “Yesterday it rained,” which benignly paints the lowercase rain event in a  fairly inconsequential light, it would be incorrect to say the similar, “Yesterday it hailed,” or “Yesterday it tornado’d.”  One wouldn’t say, “Yesterday there was hail,” either, in the same way that one might say, “Yesterday there was a tornado in Omaha,” unless the hail was somewhere else, which doesn’t say a lot about the syntax but says something our placing less importance on equally devastating things happening in other places.  But if it happened to you, or your vineyard, the only way you can really say it is, “Yesterday we had a Hail Event.”

Punctured Merlot berry from a Hail Event


Vineyard damage from a Hail Event doesn’t seem to be extremely common in Virginia, but it is a concern and (as you might imagine) there isn’t a whole lot we can do about it.  Whatever you think might happen when a Hail Event situates itself above a vineyard is pretty much what happens.  The hail slices open leaves and cracks open the fruit.  Open fruit is then exposed to all types of nasty fungi and bacteria, and is unfit for wine production.  This year, we had a small Hail Event coinciding with heavy rains at a time when an imbalance of water movement through the fruit resulted in some berry splitting, which is identical as punctured fruit w/r/t all types of nasty fungi and bacteria.

Cracked iPod following a Tripping-While-Jogging Event

We have not had any serious water- or Hail Event-related damage in our vineyards this year.  (For perspective, it took me over an hour to find those berries you see above.)  But there have been some heavy hail-dropping thunderstorms in our area in the past two weeks, and I have heard anecdotally about damage to other vineyards, and possibly other farms, so while I hope the Hail Events for this year are behind us, it is something to keep an eye on, and certainly something to talk about.

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