Archive for the Category ◊ Wine Production ◊

09 Sep 2012 Angel’s Blush 2012 Kickstarter Project has launched!

We have launched the Angel’s Blush 2012 Kickstarter Project to raise funds to produce another vintage of Angel’s Blush ™ in a new custom crush facility. We are raising money for stainless steel tanks and barrels for the Rose production.


The last vintage sold out in 2 weeks! It was very, very good…especially on a spring day. The 2012 vintage will be ready by the start of next spring for your enjoyment.


There are many rewards available depending on your level of support! You will only be charged if the target goal of $7,500 is met. When we get close to $7,500, I will be announcing a new stretch goal to help Lionheart Wines expand!

Please help Lionheart Wines grow! We will most definitely take care of our supporters. If you have any questions, please contact Leon at lglover@lionheartwines.com or 650.576.1367. Harvest has started so we need make this happen very soon to get the best fruit.

21 May 2010 Label redesign

The label redesign process has finally gotten started!  Based on the feedback from the MBA marketing group, the lion image we have been using is not resonating with prospective purchasers.  The lion images that did resonate had a more artistic / artisan feel to them — watercolor of a ramprt lion.  The image is more of an impressionistic view of lion than the more realistic of the current version.   Do you agree that the more artisan lion would look better, be more engaging and attention getting than our current lion?

We are going to be using a different paper and move away from the foil stamping.  The approach here is more of the ‘Less is more’ theory.  The paper will be high quality ragged white paper. 

I would like the overall effect to be a classic label with a modern flare to it.  The label should make you think of a premium, artisan wine.  What qualities in a wine label make you think of quality, artisan/small lot, and premium product?  If you have any thoughts on this, please email me at lglover@lionheartwines.com.  (Note: I have had to turn off comments on posts due to excessive spam postings from IP: 69.174.246.208, monster-lite.com.  I am getting at least 20 spam posts a day now!)

As we get drafts/samples for the new label format worked out, I will post them to get peoples comments on them.  Your help will be most appreciated!

17 Mar 2010 What to do for the upcoming harvest?

2010 is going to be watershed year for many reasons. 

Jen and I are moving to Southern California (Pasadena / Altadena area).  Jen got a great job with American Realty Advisors.  Given the economy, we would be crazy not to jump on the job offer.  So, I am getting the house ready for sale or as Jen aptly named it “blandizing” the house.  We love bright and bold colors in the house.  Our realtor said the house is beautiful (should be in Architectural Digest or Sunset Magazine) but will not appeal to the widest possible market of home buyers.  I understand the realtor’s point but it is a bit frustrating. 

Winemaking has very similar parallel — do you produce high-end, small lot wines for an intensionally small segment of the wine buying public or do you produce cost-effective reasonable quality wine that we appeal to the masses?  This is a question that I have been thinking about quite a bit.  Our move is forcing me to re-evaluate where we produce wine and what type of product do we produce.  The economic downturn has been very hard on us — we are in the worst hit price segment.  The practical side of me says that we should be looking for the lowest possible production costs that result in an nice and easy quaffing wine at a price point of around $15/bottle retail; I have seen that you can sell wine like that to restaurants for the “By the Glass” program easily yet a wine that is $20/bottle can effectively only be sold for the wine list or to a retailer.  Yet, if I am going through all the hard work, I want to produce the best possible wine that I can.  You can say that by producing the lower end wine that I would be selling out artistically and economically.   I would still be in business while a large number of small-lot, high-end wine producers are going out of business.  Any thoughts from you on the subject?

I also am researching new custom crush facilities down in the Southern California (LA, Santa Barbara, Santa Ynez, Santa Maria).  If anyone has any suggestions for custom crush facilities, please let me know.  As part of the custom crush research, I am debating on what varietals to produce.  I am leaning toward Pinot Noir, Sangiovese and maybe a rose of Syrah / Sangiovese.  Cabernet Sauvignon could be possible if the price point would be below $20/bottle.  I do love Syrah but selling it is quite difficult given the cost of good quality grapes.

Oh well, the facts will drive the decision.  If you have any input on any of these topics, please add a comment or drop me an email at lglover@lionheartwines.com.

11 Feb 2010 Bottling 2008 White Hawk Vineyard, Sangiovese next week

Thankfully, my palate is not longer on the fritz. :)   After getting that back, I went back to double check the 2008 White Hawk Vineyard, Sangiovese which is scheduled to be bottled on the 16th.  It will be bottled into shiners as the label is no where near ready…I have to write up the back label text based on my tasting of the wine.

My tasting notes on the wine:
App -> opaque ruby/black core transitioning to ruby rim (very deep color)
Nose -> clean, medium+ intensity aromas of boysenberry, oak, baking spice, black fruit (cherry, olive), sour cherry
Palate -> high acidity; medium tannins with a hint of fine-grained green tannins on the finish, medium alcohol; medium to long length; pronounced flavors of black cherry, sour cherry, oak, boysenberry, blueberry, blackberry, baking spices with a tart finish; medium+ concentration and mouth-filling texture.
Overall -> the wine strongly reminds me of a Brunello de Montalcino from a fairly warm site. This is a huge wine that will need 12 to 18 months in the bottle before the true nature of the wine will be revealed. The wine has very dark aromas and flavors but a nice balance of spice and tannins to help give it longevity.  The acidity is quite bright so it will age very well and we be really good with food!

The difference between the 2007 and 2008 vintages is huge and surprising.  The 2007 vintage was much more like a Chianti Classico made in a lighter style than the dark, brooding 2008.  Each are lovely and I am looking forward to enjoying them in the future!

09 Feb 2010 Have you had your palate go on the fritz before?
 |  Category: Wine Production, Wine Review  | Leave a Comment

A couple of days ago I was checking the final blend of the 2008 White Hawk Vineyard, Sangiovese, Santa Barbara to make sure it was ready for bottling.  A very interesting thing happened to me — my palate was not working due to the nasty cold that has been around.  This is the first time that I have had this happen to me.  It was very strange — I could smell the lovely aromas of dark cherry, sour cherry, boysensberry, floral and tar notes; when I put the wine in my mouth, I was expecting to have similar flavors and good concentrated wine based on the depth and intensity of the aromas I smelled but I got a nasty surprise.  I could only taste fruit and oak tannins with a bit of white pepper on the finish.  It really kind of freaked me out. 

I took a sample home with me to have some of my friend try to see what they picked up in the wine.  Thankfully, they really enjoyed the wine and gave me some good feedback on the wine.  My palate had started to return to normal that day but it take take another couple of days before my palate returned to normal. 

Your taste is primarily driven by what you smell.  So, if your nose is stuffed up, you tend not to taste sublte flavors or any flavors at all.  In my case, I had nasal congestion but I could still smell the great aromas which was a good sign for the wine that I picked up such strong and pleasant aromas.    I have done a small amount of research on why the temporary loss of taste bud sensativity but I have not found anything yet.  If you know of any reason why this is, I would love to find out more about it.

02 Feb 2010 2008 Syrah blending trials

Recently, I did some blending trails with my two lots of Syrah from 2008.  The two lots are from the Thompson vineyard and White Hawk vineyard in Santa Barbara County.  The goal of the blending trial was to see if the wines were ready to make the primary blend of the two and/or would I need to bottle them seperately.  Thankfully, the two syrahs (each made as a blending component of a Santa Barbara County Syrah) are complimentary to each other.

2008 White Hawk Vineyard, Syrah, Santa Barbary County
App -> opaque black w/purple hues core changes to a purple rim
Nose -> Medium+ intensity aromas of black fruit, black olive, dried herbs, boysenberry
Palate -> Medium+ tannins (fine-grained with a hint of green tannins on finish), high acidity; medium+ intensity flavors of black fruit, violets, fresh raspberry (frambiose), blackberry, earth, cherry; medium+ alcohol, long length

2008 Thompson Vineyard, Syrah, Santa Barbara County
App -> opaque black/purple hues core changes to a purple rim
Nose -> pronounced intensity aromas of toasted espresso, milk chocolate
Palate -> Medium+ Alcohol; pronounced flavors of black fruit, bramble berries, spicy red fruit, light sulphur note (from recent sulphur addition) red grapefruit on finish

The blending trials consisted of 50% Thompson / 50% White Hawk to get a baseline to see how the two complimented each other — quite positive! — followed by blending with different amounts of Viognier, Grenache and/or Mourvedre.  The result of the trial for the primary blend turned out to be 49.5% Thompson / 49.5% White Hawk / 1% Catie’s Corner Viognier.  The primary blend will be completed and put back into neutral barrel as the wine does not need anymore tannins to round out the wine.  The small amount of Viognier does a great job of enhancing the aromatics and softening the strong tannins from the Thompson Syrah (it was in a new barrel with med+ toast). 

Primary blend
App-> opaque black/purple core transitioning to a purple rim
Nose -> Medium+ intensity aromas of black fruit(olive, cherry, cassis), blueberry, earth, red floral, apricot (slight from viognier)
Palate -> High tannins (soft), pronounced intensity flavors of black olive, sweet olive plant flowers, boysenberry, blueberry, currant, warm spice on finish; long length, high acidity, pronounced concentration

The primary blend with re-evaluated in 5 weeks to see how the blend is settling down.  The goal is to bottle the wine sooner rather than later to maintain the excellent aromas and flavors.  I think it will be a very good wine which will need 12 to 18 months in the bottle before it really starts to open up.  The wine is very big with an elegant and complexity to it.  I am very excited to see what it turns into!

12 Nov 2009 Blending 2008 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir…worth the effort!
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Yesterday, I did a blending trial for the 2008 Lionheart Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir to get ready for the secondary blending to be done.  I am hoping to bottle the Pinot Noir in the next two weeks — it will not be ready for Thanksgiving unfortunately.

I did 12 blending trials with various combinations of barrels and pinot noir single clone blending wines from the two vineyards I get Pinot Noir from — Bohemian (Freestone / Russian River) and Split Rock/Gaps Crown (Sonoma Coast).  Behemian is right next to the Sonoma Coast border so I just call it a Sonoma Coast AVA blend.  The style of the wine is more appropriate for a Sonoma Coast than a Russian River Pinot Noir.

The blend that I really liked is made up of equal parts from each barrel (90% of total volume), 8% 777 clone from Split Rock vineyard, and 2% 667 from Split Rock vineyard.  The blending session was very interesting for the following reasons: 1) the use of a single clone wine can have a massive change on the overall quality, balance and flavor profile; for example: a 1% shift of the 667 clone was very noticable, 2) 777 clone adds a great deal of body, red fruit flavors and helps extend the finish of the wine quite a bit, 3) aromatics of 667 are very good and are huge contributors to a complex Pinot Noir’s aromatic profile, 4) Pinot Noir is very sensative to chemistry shifts in the wine — aromatics and flavors shift very quickly with a slight acidity and pH adjustment, and 5) lower alcohol Pinot Noir has a much complex flavor and palate profile.

The tasting notes for the 2008 Lionheart Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, blend are:
Appearance: bright, deep+ ruby with violet core transitioning to ruby rim
Nose: clean, medium+ intensity aromas of black fruit (cherry, blackberry), blue fruit (blue berry and hint of boysenberry), hint of cotton candy, light cola, warm spices, red fruit (strawberry, cherry, raspberry) and oak
Palate: high acidity; medium tannins (soft, fine-grained but will need time in bottle to turn to velvety texture), medium alcohol, medium+ concentration, pronounced intensity flavors of blueberry, currant (red and black), cranberry, strawberry, violets, raspberry, black fruit(cherry and blackberry), warm spices on finish; long finish

The 2008 Pinot Noir will be going on sale as futures in the next week or so.  The actual release of the wine will not happen until spring of next year.  But, I might have some samples available at Thanksgiving dinner!

19 May 2009 Spring Blending Update

Spring blending is underway at Lionheart Wines!  I have been working on blending the following wines:

2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2007 Roaring Red, California
2008 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
2008 white Rhone blend (we can not use ‘The Angel’s Share’ anymore due to a trademark issue…if you have a suggestion for what to call the wine, please let me know)

The blending has gone very well.  I really enjoy working on blending the wines as you get to “fine tune” the work started way back at harvest of the grapes.   I have a wine style in mind which I try to reach in the final blend but do not artificially impose my will on what the wines are showing as their best qualities.  I want to make the best possible wine given the base blending components.

The 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon is looking to be a different style than then 2006; the 2007 has more ripe cherry / plum fruit which the blending will need to tone down.  I am going to be doing blend tests with Petite Verdot (to add spicyness and warm baking spices), Cabernet Franc (to add some floral aromas and more velvety tannins) and a bit of Malbec (make the wine more interesting, more layered in aromas and flavors).  The exact blend has not been worked out yet; the primary blend should be done by the first week in June.  The primary blend will then be put back in barrel to let it integrate before any final adjustments and bottling later this year.

The 2007 Roaring Red has been a bit of challenge this year.  I had to do a fining trial to get the tannin profile in line with the target wine.  The fining trial was done by taking equal volume samples of the current blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley and Kiona, Washington) and Dry Creek Syrah and adding 1 egg white worth to one sample, 2 egg white worth to another sample, etc and then left in a refrigerate to cold stablize it for a week.  The results from the fining trial indicated that about 1.25 egg whites per barrel seemed to get the proper tannin softness and structure for the wine.   After the actual fining is completed, the last part of the primary blend will be done.  The blending wines to be tested are Eaglepoint Grenache (for spiceyness and addition of light red fruits (currants, strawberry, etc) ), Contra Costa Mourvedre (for aromas and flavor complexity) and Petite Verdot ( for spiceyness and warm baking spices).

The 2008 Pinot Noir primary blending was very easy — equal parts of the Bohemian Vineyard and Gap’s Crown vineyard.  The blend was really nice and very similar to the 2007 Pinot Noir.   The blend will be topped with some of the Bohemian 777 clone from the second pick to add a bit more concentration to the wine as it integrates.   I am very happy with the base wines from these two vineyards!

The 2008 Saralee’s Vineyard, White Rhone Blend (formerly ‘The Angel’s Share’) blending was a several hour and over 15 blends tested for the primary blend to be determined.  The blend components all look very good by themselves but when properly combined you get a really lovely wine.   The final blend should be very similar to the 2007 White Rhone blend.   The 2008 primary blend is going to be 48% Roussanne / 50% Marsanne / 2% Viognier.    It was very cool to  be able to tell how the wine was going to evolve given this would be the third vintage — remember what the wines were like when initially blended versus the current state of each vintage.   I really enjoy working with the white Rhone varietals as the flavors and aromas are very complex and beguiling.  The white Rhone wine maybe bottled near the end of June depending on how the primary blend stablizes in tank.

19 May 2009 New Releases Coming Soon!

Lionheart Wines will be releasing several wines soon!  We are looking at releasing the following wines:

  • 2008 Angel’s Blush Rose, Santa Barbara (very limited only three cases have not been spoken for yet)
  • 2007 White Hawk Vineyard, Sangiovese, Santa Barbara
  • 2007 Syrah, Dry Creek Valley

The Rose has been a huge hit with everyone that has tried the wine.   The Rose has already been picked up by two restaurants and one market.  It is something very special that I am looking to do again in 2009 given the overwhelming response.  The remaining Rose will be offered to wine club members on an allocated amount — the announcement will be coming soon once the release date of the Sangiovese is set.

The long awaited release of the 2007 White Hawk Vineyard, Sangioeve, Santa Barbara is nearly here.  The wine has been in bottle for two months and recently labelled.  After the wine has come out of bottle shock, the wine will be released.  The Sangiovese is a great food wine; it just begs to be had with a rich tomato-and-meat based sauce pasta dish!   The wine should be ready to release by the end of the month but may not be able to ship it until early fall due to temperature issues.  I will be checking the wine consistently for when it is out of bottle shock.  I want you to get your wines soon, so you can enjoy it!

The 2007 Syrah, Dry Creek Vineyard, has developed into a huge wine!  The Dry Creek Syrah is very concentrated and dense.  The final blend on the wine includes Grenache, Petite Sirah and Viognier.  The wine could be from the Rhone given the flavors and aromas in it but with the power for ripe California fruit.  The wine will need to be in bottle for several more months before release to let it integrate and come out of bottle shock.  Your patience (and mine) will be very well rewards!

01 Apr 2009 Budbreak is here!
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Budbreak is starting to happen all over California which means the a lot of activity in the vineyard and harvest will be here before you know it! 

Budbreak is part of a grapevine’s cycle where the buds that will produce new shoots/canes for this year have started to swell and open as the new shoots rapidly grow.   The new shoots are very susceptible to frost damage and pests.  The new shoots will typicalled be sprayed with preventative pesticides (natural or a more industrial form).  As the shoot grow larger, the shoot will be tied to the supporting  wires of whatever trellising system is used for the grape vine.

Typically, eight weeks after budbreak, the vine flowers for 7 to 10 days followed by fruit set.  Cold or wet weather during this period will drastically hurt the yield of the vine.    Harvest starts in late August for early ripening varietals such as Sauvignon Blanc and can end as late as mid-November depending on the region in California.

Last year, there was some hard freezes in various areas of California which reduced the overall crop production for the state.  Hopefully, this year will be a cooperative year weatherwise from budbreak through fruit set….it would be nice all the way to harvest but let’s take one step at a time.