A Tasting of “Nate’s Picks” for the December, 2011 Estate Club Shipment

October 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

Estate Club wines!  My favorite wines to taste!

2009 Tannat (Estate Club Select)

Here’s a wonderfully obscure wine for you: a Virginia Tannat.  Tannat has been historically grown in Southwest France, in the Madiran, which is an interesting wine region because, legally, they only allow red wines to be grown and made.  And the most widely planted red grape in the Madiran is Tannat, a highly-concentrated, deep red, highly tannic (the similarity between “tannin” and “tannat” is not coincidental) wine.  More recently Tannat has traveled to Uruguay, where it is the “national grape,” much like the Cardinal is our “state bird.”  Tannat plantings are splattered around other regions in South America, Italy, and the United States, but in fairly small quantities, which is why, unfortunately, many wine drinkers have never heard of it.

But it does well in Virginia, and has been doing so for over ten years.  There are some great Tannats coming from Horton, Hillsborough, Chrysalis, Chateau O’Brien and many others, but these wines are, for the most part, in short supply, and not well-known.  I love these wines.  They’re inky dark with a concentrated perfume and often wild, untamed tannins that should age well over time, most likely better than many other Virginia reds.

We made a bit of Tannat in the 2009 season, as an experiment, and after the first winter in barrel it became clear that the 2009 would be our first red Estate Club Select.  The wine is dark dark, aromatically full of dark red fruit, bramble, a slight earthiness, and vanilla.  It’s medium-bodied, and packing some serious tannins, as well as an intense, long finish.  This is a wine that morphs over time.  I’ve had a bottle at my desk open all week and each day it’s changed in aromatics and mouthfeel, gradually mellowing and opening up into something quite wonderful.

Our 2009 Tannat Estate Club Select is only available to Estate Club members through the December, 2011 wine shipment, and will not be available after the shipment.  I am excited to offer this wine.

Blend: 75% Tannat, 25% Merlot

Cases Produced: 104

2010 Nettare di Tramonte

This late harvest Vidal Blanc is by far the most exotic, expressive dessert wine we’ve made at Sunset Hills, and with good reason: the 2010 season was practically begging us to make late harvest wines.  With so much heat and so little water, we had to fight not to get sugar levels up in the unfermentable range.  The lone acre of Vidal Blanc we secure for our Nettare was ideal: some dessicated fruit, some botrytis, some super-ripe berries – all hanging from the same clusters. 

This wine is still in infancy, and I’ll be begging our Estate Club members to cellar this for a few years – these wines get so much more interesting and wonderful as time passes.  Right now, it’s full of fermentation esters, mint, honey, citrus, orange peel, and an almost bubblegum-like fruitiness.  The mouthfeel is wide, lush, and the finish is long and spicy.  A memorable wine.

Harvest: 10.20.10

Brix at harvest: 30

Residual sugar: 9%

Two things to note with this shipment: (1) these wines will be better if given time to age.  I would recommend up to five years if you’ve got the patience.  (2) these wines are both in limited supply, and more or less will not be available after this shipment.  We simply did not have much fruit for either of these wines.

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