Tag-Archive for ◊ Syrah ◊

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.

09 Apr 2011 Tasting panel (Genophiles) enjoys tasting Lionheart wines

The Genophiles, a wine tasting group at Genentech, did a blind tasting of the following Lionheart Wines:
2007 Angel’s Share
2008 Angel’s Fare

2006 Syrah, Santa Barbara
2007 Syrah, Dry Creek Valley
2008 Syrah, Santa Barbara (available but not formally released)
2006 Roaring Red
2007 Roaring Red
2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley

The Genophiles are a group known for being brutally honest and fairly harsh critics.  I encouraged the group to be completely honest as I wanted to get their input on how the wines are aging and overall quality.  The ranking system is 0 to 3 puffs with 0.25 granularity (the scoring system is hard to explain.  The simplied version is this: 0 = the worst, 1 = I would drink this (might even pay for it), 2 = 90+ points and 3 = I would stab someone else to get the last of the bottle.).  There are also +/- involved.  

There were about 16 people tasting the wine so the results tended to be on a good bell curve distribution.  The group generally does not taste white wines as they have a bias against white wine…not worth the time was the feeling I got.  The group was pleasantly surprised by the white wines (they grudingly agreed the wines were good :) ).  Any wines that score a 2 will be in the running to be included in their end of the year blind tasting competition. 

My guess going into the tasting was that the blends would do well — white and red.  I was hoping to get the whites to score in the 2 range as it would be a big validation for the classic blend of Marsanne and Roussanne (with a hint of viognier for aromatics).  My guess was pretty good about what they liked.  I also noted that they tend to like the more aromatic and powerful wines.

The final tally was:
1.5+ =-> 2006 Syrah, Santa Barbara
1.75 =-> 2007 Angel’s Share (92 pts WE)
1.75 =-> 2008 Angel’s Fare (preferred overthe 2007 slightly)
1.75+ =-> 2007 Syrah, Dry Creek Valley
1.75+ =-> 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley (90 pts WE)
2- –> 2008 Syrah, Santa Barbara
2- =-> 2007 Roaring Red, California
2- =-> 2006 Roaring Red, California
2 =-> 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley

Normally, only 1 wine out of 8 hits the 2 range. So, I feel pretty good about how the wines are showing and aging.  The tasting does indicate that if you have 2006 Syrah, I would suggest that you break it out and enjoy it with some slow braised meat tonight ( especially lamb!)

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.

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!

30 Jul 2009 Bottling 2007 Roaring Red

A quick update from Lionheart Wines….

I bottled the 2007 Roaring Red, Proprietary blend, yesterday into shiners (bottles without labels for capsules).  The chemistry for the wine is: S02 – 32 ppm, pH – 3.58, TA – 5.3 grams/liter, ABV – 14.65% and VA of 0.60 grams/liter.  We ended up with 26 cases plus 9 loose bottles.  It is a small amount of wine but the challenge will now be to sell it given the challenging environment. 

I need to get the label text figured out and submitted for TTB approval.  After the labels are approved and printed, I will get the shiners labelled.  The wine will not be released until the fall so the wine has time to integrate and get over bottle shock.  I learned from the 2006 Roaring Red that it need about 6 to 8 months for the wine to fully integrate, but you could tell how the wine was going to evolved after 4 months or so.

The final blend works out to be:
55% 2007 Dry Creek Valley, Syrah
23% 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon
6% 2007 Mourvedre, Lodi
5% 2007 Napa Valley, Petite Verdot
9% 2007 Napa Valley, Malbec
2% 2007 Napa Valley, Merlot

So, this blend is very nearly a Bordeaux Blend just missing some Cabernet Franc to complete the big 5 varietals.  I guess you could say that this is a Bordeaux blend interpreted via the Northern Rhone (as the Syrah was co-fermented with Viognier).  The wine is a big, bold wine and truly lives up to the name — Roaring Red!

02 Jul 2009 Boeger Real Deal Red Lot#1, El Dorado

Appearance:
Deep ruby w/purple hue core transitioning to ruby rim

Nose:
Clean, medium intensity aromas of cherry (red and black), cedar, forest floor, mocha and vanilla

Palate:
Medium soft tannins; medium acidity; medium- body; medium+ intensity flavors of cherry (red and black), mocha, milk chocolate, vanilla and oak/cedar; The flavors are nicely layered / complex with enough oak to make it enjoyable but not overwhelming.

Quality:
Good quality wine well suited for summer BBQ and easy drinking events.  The wine is a very enjoyable easy quaffer.

Note:
The wine is a blend of 55% Syrah, 20% Mourvedre, 20% Grenache, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon.  The alcohol is 14.1%

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!

23 Apr 2009 2007 Eberle, Syrah Rose, Steinbeck Vineyard, Paso Robles
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Appearance: bright, light ruby core -> water-white rim

Nose: medium intensity aromas of strawberry, red cherry and hint of mineral

Palate: medium+ acidity, light tannins with a hint of bitterness, medium intensity flavors of red cherry, mineral and hints of floral and strawberry, medium+ alcohol and medium+ length.  The flavors are slightly layered with enjoyable minerality and balanced acidity.

Quality: The wine is a good quality rose that would be highly enjoyable with a slight chill on a warm summer day.  The price point of the wine is $13-$15.

11 Feb 2009 2007 Enamore, Allegrini + ReNacer

This wine is priced at $40 USD.  The wine is blend of Malbec (60%), Cabernet Franc (23%), Cabernet Sauvignon (10%), Syrah (4%) and Bonarda (3%).  The grapes were dried and processed in the Amarone style — dried on trays before being crushed and fermented.  The grapes were cold soaked for 10 days at 8 degree celsius and then fermented using native yeast for 90 days in stainless steel tanks at temperatures between 27 and 29 degrees C.  The wine was aged in new French Oak barriques for 12 months.

Appearance: opaque ruby core -> water white rim

Nose: medium intensity with flavors of berry compote, blood plum

Palate: medium+ concentration; medium alcohol; long finish; flavors = berry compote, black berry, plum, slight savory element.  The palate is very dense, balanced from start to finish. 

Quality: This is a very good wine and well worth seeking out.  The wine will hold for many years and develop more complexity in the bottle.

09 Feb 2009 Spring work in the cellar

You might not realize it but Spring is a busy time in the cellar.   The winter is when malolactic fermentation typically happens assuming the wines have not been sulphured and the temperature does not dip too low.  In Bordeaux, the temperature in the cellars typically does too low and malolactic fermentation shut downs but will complete in Spring.   The wines I wanted to go through malolactic fermentation are innoculated with a malolactic bacteria culture to make sure the malolactic fermentation completes in a timely fashion — it simplifies work in the cellar later.  All of the 2008 wines that are supposed to go through malolactic fermentation have completed.

Racking is the next big task usually done in the Spring.  The red wine is racked off the gross lees to avoid any autolytic flavors from developing.  White wine make be aged on lees to add creaminess to the texture and slight autolytic notes.  My white wines (Roussanne, Marsanne and Viognier) are all still on their lees and a stirring program has been started to enhance the body / palate weight and give a bit of creaminess to the wines. 

Blending is the next large task in the cellar.  I have been doing blending work on three wines: 07 White Hawk Vineyard, Sangiovese, Santa Barbara; 08 Santa Barbara Rose, and 07 Syrah, Dry Creek Valley. 

Sangiovese: The Sangiovese has turned out really well!  I am very happy with the wine.  A small amount of 08 White Hawk vineyard Sangiovese (5%) and a small amount of 07 Young-Inglewood Cabernet Sauvignon was blended into the 07 Sangiovese.  The 08 was added to freshen up the flavors/aromas and give a bit more power to the wine.  The Cabernet Sauvignon has added a nice element in the entry and the finish.  The wine is currently being cold stabilized in the cold room and should be bottled in the next couple of weeks. 

Rose: I have been doing blending / fining work on my 08 Rose (Syrah / Sangiovese) getting it ready for bottling soon.  I had to adjust the sweetness level a bit with the addition of some sucrose solution to give it a hint of sweetness.  Also, the rose has a slight bit of bitterness and a deep violet color (due to bleeding 24 hours after crushing instead of 6 to 12 as should have been done).  So, I am fining the rose with a combination of PVPP and Bentonite.  PVPP will strip out the bitterness and lighten up the wine.  The Bentonite is added to clarify the wine and compress the PVPP mixture that settles out of the wine (less wasted wine).  The process is to dissolve the PVPP in 1 liter of wine, mix the PVPP mixture into the wine, soak the Bentonite in a 1 liter of water for 3 to 4 hours, mix the rehydrated bentonite into the wine, move the wine into the cold room and leave the wine in the cold room for 4 to 6 days depending on the temperature of the cold room.  The clean rose will then be racked off the PVPP and Bentonite mixture on the bottom of the tank.  The clean rose will then be sulphur adjusted for bottling and bottled.

Syrah: The Syrah is a work in progress — a few adjustments at a time to get a good/great final product.  The wine is being blended with some Eaglepoint Vineyard Grenache to add complexity and aromatic lift (warm spice, black pepper and strawberry) along with some Catie’s Corner Vineyard viognier to further enhance the aromatics.  After the results of the blending have had time to stablize, I will be looking at possibly making further adjustments but the wine needs time to stablize.

Note: I am still working on typing up the South America trip.  Hopefully, I will have that available in a week or so.