Our Most Memorable Wines of 2014

January 21, 2015 § Leave a comment

January 21st, 2015

Speaking with some of our staff, I thought it would be fun to compile a list of a few of our favorite wines and wine memories of 2014.  Partly this is for my own benefit – I’m always looking for interesting wines, and I love a good wine story – but partly also I wanted to see how wine had fit into peoples’ lives over the previous year.  By no means does this include our entire staff, but here’s a good sampler:

Elizabeth Sedlins, Hospitality and Public Relations (and also one of our (if not the) longest-standing employees!):  Francois Montand Blanc de Blanc Brut NV

My husband and I finished signing all the papers involved in closing on our house on July 28th last year.  John and I left the lawyer’s office and drove directly to our new address.  We carried two things into our “new” old house (our new home was built in 1790):  an antique clock made by an ancestor whose son was killed in the Battle of Antietam, and a bottle of Francois Montand (and two glasses).  
 
We placed the clock on the fireplace mantel, set the fragile hand pieces to the correct time and wound it with the antique L-shaped key.  The old house now had a heart beat.  John popped the cork on the Champagne and we now had a celebration!  The bubbles seemed so elegant, the racing acidity lifting the creamy texture to a lovely finish.  I have heard good champagne described as a sword wrapped in whipped cream.  Indeed!
 
It was a moment I will always remember: the clinking of our glasses, the ticking of the clock and the sun moving across the old random-width pine floors.  Our country was young when this house was built, many families have lived here.  The bloodiest battle in our history was fought across the river.  It was a reminder that we are one couple, in one specific time, in one specific place – but this specific time and this specific place.  
Lawrence Camp, Operations Manager: Podere San Cristofero 2008 Petit Verdot (battonage trials)
   In June I had the opportunity to travel to Italy with my girlfriend to visit our friend Lorenzo, who owns a winery in Tuscany. We made it to his vineyard/home 4 days into the trip, and 3 days after I successfully proposed to my [now] fiancée(!). One particular evening, Lorenzo opened up two special wines to celebrate our engagement. For me, the experience was absolutely unforgettable. I found myself sitting at a table with my newly betrothed and our dear friend, smelling, tasting, and discussing the nuances of his fine wines out of hand-marked and unlabeled bottles – these Petit Verdots were trials bottled to understand the effects of battonage on their reds). Even now I can almost feel the sensory overload delivered by the warm Tuscan air gently breezing through our kitchen-turned-tasting room, the vineyard views out of the opened window, and the wines themselves – two aged varietal Petit Verdots. The wines were so memorable not only because they were outstanding quality (which they were!), but also because I was caught up in the experience – one that had probably been repeated in that region millions of times for more than a thousand years.
Penni Walker, Wine Club and Events Manager: Apothic Red 2012
   My most memorable wine of 2014 was supposed to be Sunset Hills 2010 Mosaic, on the day my youngest child (and only son), graduated from USMC boot-camp this past November.  The whole family was able to make the trip, and it was sure to be a great and wonderful day.  As it happened, I was so worried about where to pack my precious bottle of Mosaic in the car that I left it on the kitchen table.  When I realized it had been left behind, I was devastated – you know all that planning of the “open that bottle” moment in your head.

In the end, that was silliness.  The day shared with my “little” family of 10 was among the best in my life, and the bottle we eventually had, a 2012 Apothic Red, purchased at a Walgreens, was exactly what we needed.

As for the Mosaic?  Well, I have grandbaby #3 coming this summer, so perhaps then.  There’s always something to look forward to, and a wine that will go perfectly with the day.

 

 

Mike Canney, Owner: Sunset Hills Vineyard 2010 Reserve Cabernet Franc

My most memorable wine of 2014 was the Sunset Hills 2010 Reserve Cab Franc.  Partly, it was because Diane and I were cooking out in Florida, with steaks, baked potatoes and corn on the cob on the grill.  That is my favorite meal, and with all the health worries about cholesterol, etc, etc, etc, and being aware of my goal to live forever (so far so good!), it is a special meal that I don’t get too often.  When I do, I wouldn’t waste the occasion with anyone, or any ingredients –  it is only the best.

So, Diane and I picked our 2010 Reserve Cab Franc, shared a glass while the steaks were cooking, and finished the bottle with dinner outside.  To me, the best wine for grilled steaks is a rich, powerful cab franc, and I think we do one of the best.  It was a great evening, and if I did it again, I would want the exact same experience.

 

 

Nate Walsh, Winemaker: Santo Wines Santorini Assyrtiko Grande Reserve 2011

This summer my entire family – parents, siblings, wife, sisters-in-law – traveled to Greece to celebrate my Mom’s retirement.  It was a great trip, partly because we got to see so many beautiful areas in Greece, but also because it was an opportunity to spend time with my family, who I don’t always see enough.  Both my and my wife’s (and her sister’s) birthdays happened while in Santorini, toward the end of the trip.  To celebrate our birthdays, Sarah and I slipped away one evening to have dinner together, just the two of us.  We wandered through the streets of Oia until we found a nice-looking place, and had dinner on a balcony, surrounded by candles, staring out at dusk over the ocean.  The wine itself – I have to be honest – it was nice, but certainly I’ve had “better” wines a hundred times over the past year.  But that’s the one I remember, in that moment.

The February/March 2015 Club Shipment

January 12, 2015 § Leave a comment

January 12th, 2015

Generally both of the wines in this shipment would have already been released – we usually release Petit Verdot around Christmas, and Petit Manseng around Thanksgiving; however, for the February/March 2015 shipment we wanted to do something special, so we delayed these releases until the wines opened up into a pronounced complexity of aromatics, until they were really swingin’.  While these can be enjoyed over the next few years, our winemaker thinks the 2013 Petit Manseng and 2012 Petit Verdot are both currently in a great sweet spot, and are pouring wonderfully.

Sunset Hills Vineyard 2013 Petit Manseng –  Our fourth bottling of this varietal wine, and also the fourth time (due to limited quantities) that it’s been available only to the club.  The 2013 is more akin, in many ways, to the 2010: highly-ripe, exotic fruits blended with coconut, vanilla, and thai spice all kind of focused around a sappy core of deep fruit and invigorating acidity.  One of the most exciting white wines that came from the 2013 vintage.  Petit Manseng, for me, continues to prove itself as one of the more consistently delicious – emphasis on delicious – and interesting white wines we’re able to produce, although our style has been changing over the years as a reflection of the different vintages.  Drink now through, what, 2018?

Blend: 100% Petit Manseng, Berry Hill Vineyard, Orange VA

 

Sunset Hills Vineyard 2012 Petit Verdot – Petit Verdot can be many things: brambles and chunky tannin, black fruits and bracing acid, cigarspice and oak, and on and on.  For us, much of this has to do with the vineyard and vintage, and much also with our decisions of where to lead the wine through blending.  The 2012 vintage was exciting because it gave us two new vineyards in which to grow Petit Verdot, and thus really expanded our blending options.  As such, I believe we have a fuller, more ultimately self-contained Petit Verdot – one that has more balance than what we’ve achieved in previous years, while still showing those great graphite and bramble spice notes that make the varietal so interesting.  Just released.  Drink now through 2020.

Blend: 75% Petit Verdot, Shenandoah Springs Vineyard & Catesby Vineyard

22% Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate Vineyard #2

3% Merlot, Malick Vineyard

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