A Tasting of the Wines for the October 2012 Estate Club Shipment

September 18, 2012 § 1 Comment

Below is a tasting of the two wines chosen for our October 2012 Estate Club shipment:

Sunset Hills Vineyard Reserve Chardonnay 2011 – Sometimes it seems like the most interesting wines come from the most difficult years.  In 2011 we saw endless rains during the ripening season, and we fought hard to keep our Chardonnay fruit healthy throughout the lengthened season.  Twice we went through the vineyard and thinned clusters, to prevent issues with mildew.  Twice more we passed through and dropped unwanted fruit, leaving our harvest nearly 3 weeks later than in 2010.  But the result has been something quite wonderful.

The 2011 Reserve Chardonnay more or less follows our standard Reserve Chard program: entirely barrel fermented in French oak (of which 25% is new, 25% is second fill, and 50% is neutral), lees stirring throughout the winter and spring, no malolactic fermentation, and blending in the late spring or early summer.  No fining needed.

I really love this wine.  It might be my favorite Chardonnay from our Estate Vineyard #1: expressive and lively, with aromatics of toast, coconut, ripe apple and white flower.  Leaner and a bit more acidic than the previous years.  Also drier.  Should drink well through all of 2013.  A very expressive and characteristic Chardonnay

Sunset Hills Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2011 – A massive Cabernet Franc blend.  Which of our Cabernet Franc vineyards did this not come from?  The base wine here comes from Benevino Vineyard, in Opequon, Virginia, which historically has given us Cab Francs driven more by texture and light red fruit, with very approachable tannins.  We also threw in barrels from all three of our Estate vineyards (#s 1, 2, and 3) for blending purposes.  On top of that there’s a bit of Petit Verdot, to lift the tannins which were otherwise light in the 2011 reds.

The real story here is the length of the season.  Most of these Cab Franc pieces were picked in mid- to late-October, after having hung through the entire season – all the rains and everything.  As a result we’ve got some very interesting, secondary and tertiary aromatics – aromas of cedar and tobacco on top of the youthful red fruit.  Like most of the 2011 reds, this one is nice and round in the mid-palate, and quite easy on the tannins, hence the early release.  Should drink well over the next two years.

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