Petit Manseng is not known for producing a lot of dry table wines. It is usually a variety that can only be descibed as being all knees and elbows. It is generally angular and certainly not elegant or gentle. Now that said in 2011 we were able to tame the normally out of control sugars to make a wine of true elegance while also not compromising on riping the naturally high acidity and exotic character. This is just a really interesting wine that we can only produce in very random vintages.
||September 25 - October 3, 2011
||March 16, 2012
This bright yellow wine is a product of the 2011 vintage. We normally can not produce a varietal Petit Manseng, instead using it as a blending variety due to high potential alcohols. In 2011 we were able to get loads of the Petit Manseng tell-tale pineapple notes but combined with some herbal and grassy undertones, all on a relatively moderate alcohol level and still balanced acidity. Intense aromatics of pineapple, oranges and herb leading to a crisp, medium bodied palate with bright fruit and a long clean acidity driven finish.
Williams Gap vineyard has a steep south facing exposure giving an abundance of sunlight. The soils are mostly defined as Penn Silt Loam (hard red clay) which generates more fruit forward, easy drinking wines. It is a somewhat cooler site generally, regardless of the abundant sunlight, because of its relatively good elevation of about 950 feet. There is also a generally good breeze that covers that vineyard leaving fewer worries for moisture sticking with the fruit and canopy and therefore helping to maintain a clean vineyard. The vines in this vineyard are still young (7th Leaf) meaning that they still have yet to really show their true potential and showcase the true terroir so it is bottled as a varietal wine instead of vineyard designate.
The Honah Lee Vineyard is a steep South East facing slope sitting at about 1300 feet elevation in the mountains just outside Orange, VA. The soils consist of hard red clay leading to more fruit driven wines. The wines tend to get very exotic characters to them while maintaining a balance of acidity due to their great sunlight exposure, as well as the cooler nights from the elevation. The vines are all trained on cordon pruned vertical shoot positioning to best collect sunlight exposure and minimize pressures.
Mountianview Vineyard is our southern most vineyard, just outside Roanoke high up on a Southwest facing slope. The great slope and elevation creates a great combination of hot days giving exotic fruit and cool night preserving acidity.
The 2011 vintage simply put was heartbreaking at the time, but has turned out to be so much more then originally thought. There is no question that what everyone will remember was the harvest rains and lack of sunshine through the month of September. What very few people remember is the brilliant growing season that we had leading up to harvest time. Bud break was about a week earlier then average and the Spring brought just enough rain to keep the vines healthy through the warm and very dry summer months of June, July and August. There was great fruit set which was tempting to allow for a heavy crop especially after the relatively short but excellent quality 2010. This it turns out was critical for 2011. Those who managed for a lower yield really got a better chance to have some earlier flavor development and sugar ripening prior to the rains starting in the earlier to mid season white varieties like Viognier, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and even some Petit Manseng. While most wines do show some signs of dilution and several lack varietal character, there are some stunning wines from the vintage. Look mostly toward elegant and sometimes quite complex white while the reds will be lighter, fruit forward and easy drinking.
The grapes were carefully sorted with about 10% being disposed to ensure the best quality fruit made it to the fermenter. The grapes were lightly crushed and then pressed anaerobically to preserve aromatics but get a short skin exposure to add some complexity. The juice was cool (61 degrees) fermented before the vineyards were blended after racking once. The wine was then cold and heat stabilized before being filtered and bottled in March 2012.
Since this wine has great acidity but also has some decent weight it called for a slightly oily but firm fish with some acidity as well. This is great with Swordfish steaks marinated in Lime and Cilantro then grilled, served over a Caprese Salad. It is also quite delicious with fresh Chesapeake Blue Crabs picked and dipped in drawn butter or Shucked Oysters with lime and minced shallots.