Finding Our Premium Blend
August 9, 2011 § 5 Comments
In 2008, as we tasted through wine lots to make blending decisions, we decided to separate out the most expressive and intriguing barrels, and with them make a proprietary blend which would be bottled as our highest-end red wine, a wine intended for long-term ageing and comparison with some of our favorite red blends from around the world. This blend would be made in whatever quantities we had – 2 barrels or 20 – with absolutely no logistical concerns other than getting the absolute best wine into the bottle. This would be our flagship red.
Two-thousand and eight produced some wonderful wines in Virginia, and at Sunset Hills as well. As we tasted through our red barrels, we were excited by the smoothness and cigarbox aromatics of the Cab Sauvs, the depth and acidity of the Cab Franc, the darkness of Petit Verdot. We separated out numerous barrels for potential use in this “flagship” wine, but found we weren’t excited enough. The wine just didn’t quite hit the notes we were searching for. If we weren’t excited, how could we expect the customers to be? We made the decision to hold off for a year and see what 2009 would bring.
I have a distinct memory of tasting through the 2009 reds early in the blending process and being amazed by their sneaky power and unexpected depth and force. Two-thousand and nine was a “classic” Virginia year, and gave us pretty red wines, lots of violets and cherry, very appropriate tannins, and the aforementioned strength. We worked for weeks fine-tuning this “flagship” blend. The Cab Francs were beautiful, the Petit Verdot quite a force; not to mention we now had Tannat in our corner, wonderfully delicate Merlot, and our newfound affinity for lots of Hungarian and French oak. We put together a handful of blends we were proud of, but after some of us took home bottles to have with dinner, it seemed we all came to the same conclusion: while these wines were good (or even great) they didn’t have the memorable character we were looking for. They didn’t make you stop, put the glass down, and sigh. They didn’t make you cancel dinner plans so you could sit on your couch and just smell the thing for an hour and a half. It isn’t easy to describe what it is about wines that can make them eloquent or true “art.” Some wines you simply won’t forget, for reasons beyond my understanding.
So it’s after our blending trials with the 2010 reds that I can confidently say we will be producing our long-awaited flagship blend. Two-thousand and ten gave us red wines with more power, depth, and suppleness than we’ve seen for years. If there was ever a vintage to kick off this wine, it was 2010.
Which brings me to the point: we’d like our customers to name this wine. This won’t be a varietal wine, but a house blend, like Big House Red or Panoplie (don’t use those names; they’re taken). We’re looking for a name that is indicative of (a) the ultra-premium red wine quality, (b) a connection to Loudoun County/Purcellville/Sunset Hills. and (c) your own wild imagination. I cannot yet divulge the final blend of the wine, other than to say it will use only Bordeaux reds. But, again, this is a big, smooth, deep, lush red wine.
Over the past several months, you submitted hundreds of fantastic suggestions for this unique wine. We have narrowed the field and picked our top five favorites from the hundreds of names we received. Now your votes will help us to select the final name for our highest-end wine. You can vote on our FaceBook page, website or in the Tasting Room until March 1st, 2012.
The final long-awaited name will be announced on our Facebook page on Friday, March 9th. This wine will be bottled in the summer of 2012, and available at a sneak-peak pre-release party for Estate Club Members in August 2012.