Revisiting a Wine – 2010 Petit Manseng

November 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

We’ve recently been focusing more on which of our wines are ageing well, or not well, or in any way different or unique from what we’d been expecting, in an effort to understand the vineyards a bit more, and move toward bottling longer lasting wines.  A good quote I’ve heard of winemakers is that if you’re not concerned with how your wines are ageing, then you’re not taking your job seriously.

The 2010 Petit Manseng was the first wine we made exclusively for the Wine Club, and is the only Estate Club Select wine we’ve made consistently every vintage since its inception.  We’ve been thrilled to see the many incarnations of Petit Manseng as it reflects the recent Virginia vintages.  It’s a wine that can be made into numerous styles here, and we like to base this on what Mother Nature gives us.  We often say we’re going to wait to see what the Petit Manseng “wants” to be before we pick and begin our winemaking.

The 2010 Petit Manseng – Harvested September 6th at 26.2 brix, 3.27ph.  We didn’t want to let the yeast go to dryness here (and could they have?), so we allowed fermentation to swallow about 24 of the brix, leaving a nice round RS on the body and finish.  Entirely barrel fermented, with 33% new French Oak.  Overall the wine is a high alcohol, off dry white, maybe (hopefully?) in the style of some of the bigger whites from Alsace.  At bottling, great nutty aromatics, wild fruits, and a nice bold structure.

The 2011 Petit Manseng – Harvested September 20th, at 22.7 brix, 3.05ph.  More of an austere style, due to slowness in ripening.  Very high acid, and almost no RS on the finished wine.  Again, all oak, all French, 25% new.  This wine is still not at its peak, but the acid and strong varietal aromatics make it better for food than most of the other whites we bottle.  Drastically different style than the 2010.

The 2012 Petit Manseng – Harvested September 11th, at 26.4 brix, 3.09ph.  Still in barrel, still undergoing our battonage program, not to be bottled for five or six more months, this is my favorite PM we’ve made.  Very stunning, clean, almost pinpoint specific aromatics of nutmeg, stone fruit, thai spice, and honey.  Great depth from these vines.  We played with the idea of letting it hang for a late harvest, but backed away when things were tasting so great, and I’m happy with our decision.

The Sunset Hills Vineyard 2010 Estate Club Select Petit Manseng – Really coming into its own in terms of varietal characteristics – honey, papaya, ginger, clove, and that distinct smooth cheese rind tangy quality we often see in Virginia Petit Mansengs.  The oak impact has lightened over the past year, so there’s more integration, a better whole.  Lightly sweet, very broad and open in the palate – lots of open space, lots of room to breath.  Wonderful lingering spice.  Lively, energetic, still quite youthful.  Will this be the best ageing white wine that we produce?  What’ll it taste like in another year?

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