Tag-Archive for ◊ White Hawk Vineyard ◊

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!

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!

29 Oct 2009 Barrel tasting the remaining 2008 vintage wines

I did barrel tasting from the remaining 2008 wines in barrel with some wine club members on Tuesday.  The wines tasted were: 2008 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast; 2008 White Hawk Vineyard, Sangiovese, Santa Barbara; 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville Vineyard, Napa Valley; 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Rafael Vineyard, Napa Valley.  All of the wines are tasting very good! :)

I was quite happy at how all of the wines showed.  Here are some tasting notes:
The 2008 White Hawk Vineyard, Sangiovese was tremendous!  It has great concentration with aromas and flavors of blue fruit (blueberry, boysenberry) and cherry.  The wine is not as classic as the 2007 Sangiovese is but I think a bit of blending with Sangiovese from the Stophlman vineyard will bring in a the lovely sour cherry flavor one looks for in Sangiovese.  Also, a bit of Cabernet Sauvignon will give it a long and lovely finish.

The 2008 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, which has had its primary blend done already is very similar to the 2007 Pinot Noir with the exception of more smoke, earth and hints of spice.  The acidity on the wine might need a slight tweek just before bottling but seems very good during my quick taste.  If you liked the 2007 Pinot Noir, I think you will enjoy the 2008 version very much.  I will be doing the final blend of the 2008 Pinot Noir to have it bottled in time for Christmas but not Thanksgiving. 

The two Cabernet Sauvignons are amazing!  The wine is concentrated, rich and complex.  The fruit flavors of the Coombsville vineyard is quite striking — lots of cassis with some nice middle-palate fruit and a long finish.  The Rafael Vineyard fruit tastes of dense raspberry jam.  It is not typical for Cabernet Sauvignon to have a raspberry flavor but the combination of the two wines will be very good.  I will be looking to blend in some petite verdot to add complexity with a spicey and tannic element and some Cabernet Franc for aromatics.  The resulting blend will be powerful wine with some nice aging potential.

19 Feb 2009 2008 Rose and bottling soon…

Yesterday, I was supposed to be bottling the 2008 Rose (Sangiovese / Syrah), Santa Barbara and my 07 White Hawk Vineyard, Sangiovese.  The bottling did not happen due to the wine being too cold — did not have enough time to warm up after being cold stablized in the cold room.  The wine must be closer to room temperature to make sure the bottling machine fills the bottles with the correct volume of wine.  In this case, the machine would have put in more than 750 ml / bottle due to the volume of the liquid being slightly smaller than when it is at room temperature.  If the bottles were filled with cold wine, there is a chance that the corks would be forced out as the wine reached room temperature.

I should be bottling the 2008 Rose, 2007 Dry Creek Syrah and the 2007 White Hawk Vineyard, Sangiovese, Santa Barbara next Wednesday.  The labels have not been printed yet, so they will be put into “shiners” — no label and no foils. 

The 2008 Rose has turned out quite well.  I am proud of how my experiment has turned out.  The blend of Sangiovese bleed and Syrah bleed is very distinctive and very good.  The chemistry on the Rose is: 4.0 grams/liter of sugar, total acidity is 5.5 grams/liter, 3.62 pH, 14.17% abv (will need to work on getting that down in the future).   Jen is working on a name for the Rose, so we should be getting the labels printed soon.  The Rose will be great with a bit of chill on it during the summer months!

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.

05 Feb 2009 Vintage 2008 Barrel Sampling results

I have been tasting through my 2008 barrels to see how the vintage is coming along.  So far, the vintage looks to have promise — the final wines could be very impressive but it will take some careful work with them to make it happen.   At the moment, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Sangiovese are looking very good.

2008 Combsville Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Appearance: opaque red/purple core -> purple rim
Nose: medium+ intensity; coffee/espresso, cedar, black currant, boysenberry, herbs
Palate: Acidity = high; tannins = high, grippy; Flavors = black currant, boysenberry, cedar; Intensity = pronouned; alcohol = medium+, length = medium+
This wine is going to be the backbone of our Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon — it is off to a great start and I can not wait to see how it evolves in barrel.

2008 Rafael Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Appearance: opaque- ruby/slight purple hue core -> purple rim
Nose: pronounced intensity; red fruit (cherry, pomegranite, strawberry, slight sour cherry), black currant, fresh raspberry
Palate: intensity = pronounced; acidity = high; tannins = medium, fine-grained; flavor = black pepper, red cherry, strawberry, red curants, slight espresso; length = long
This wine will be the “fruit” component to the Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon blend.  It tastes lovely now with a lot of complexity already.

2008 White hawk vineyard, Syrah, Santa Barbara
Appearance: opaque purple/ruby core -> purple rim
Nose: intensity = medium-; violets, plum, rhubbarb, slight cedar
Palate: intensity = medium+; tannins = medium; length = medium+; flavors: espresso, strawberry, pomegranite, cedar (on finish), slight black pepper on finish; alcohol = medium+

2008 Thompson Vineyard, Syrah, Santa Barbara
Appearance: opaque ruby/purple core -> purple rim
Nose: intensity = pronounced; oak, coffee/espresso, red fruit (cherry, currant), slight floral, black fruit (olive and cherry), green olive
Palate: acidity = medium+; tannins = medium+ grippy; length = long; alcohol = medium+; flavors = olive tempanda, black pepper, oak, rhubbarb (red savory), star anise; finish = slightly bitter

2008 Bohemian Vineyard, Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley/Sonoma Coast
Appearance: medium ruby with slight purple hue core -> pink rim
Nose: intensity = medium+; toasted oak, red cherry, fresh strawberry, violets, slight espresso, smoke
Palate: Acidity = high; tannins = medium-, soft; length = medium+; concentration = medium-; flavors = cherry, strawberry, watermelon, smome, white pepper on finish (slight bitterness with a bit of angular acidity).
This wine is quite different from prior vintage: prior vintage= long even growing season, this vintage = short growing season with heavy frost damage early in the vintage.

2008 Gap’s Crown Vineyard, Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
Appearance: deep ruby/purple core -> pink rim
Nose: intensity = medium+; sulphur, black fruits (cola, cherry, currant), anise, warm spices
Palate: acidity = high; tannins = medium, slightly grippy; length = medium+; flavors = dark cherry, cola, earth, slight pomegranite, dried strawberry
This wine was sulphured two days before I tasted the wine, so nothing to worry about here.

2008 Saralee’s Vineyard, Marsanne, Russian River Valley
Appearance: light gold core -> water white rim
Nose: intensity = pronounced; mineral, white floral, tea, honeysuckle, pear blossom, pear, asian pear, fresh cut grass
Palate: Acidity = high; length = medium+; flavors = mineral, honeysuckle, bosc pear, white pepper on finish; concentration = medium-
This wine is off to great start.  The concentration/body weight is a bit light right now but the stirring program has just been started.  The palate weight will improve as the lees are stirred (once every two weeks).

2008 Saralee’s Vineyard, Roussanne, Russian River Valley
Appearance: light gold core -> water-white rim
Nose: intensity = medium+; mineral, white floral (apple blossom), perfume, green fruit (pear), warm spice
Palate: acidity = medium+; intensity = medium+; length = medium+; concentration = medium+; flavors: mineral, white floral, pear, fuji apple, cardamon
This wine is turning out very nicely.  The wine did not go through malolactic fermentation to help retain the natural acidity.  The combination of the Marsanne and the Roussanne should make for another lovely white Rhone blend, The Angel’s Share!

26 Oct 2008 To bleed or just dilute ?

One of the key questions a winemaker asks him/herself is whether you should do a bleed on the processed grapes before innoculating with yeast to start the primary fermentation.  A bleed is the removal of some of the liquid (mostly sugar and water) from popped/crushed grapes as part of a brix adjustment.  Generally, a bleed is used to lower the sugar amount / potential alcohol by bleeding some liquid out roughly 12 to 18 hours after processing while replacing it with the same volume of water.  If the grapes are very juicy (lots of water in them, you may want to remove some liquid to help increase the ratio of liquid to skins for better concentration.  This approach is done for varietals such as Merlot, Syrah and cult Cabernet Sauvignons.

I decided to bleed both Syrahs and Sangiovese to go for a better skin to liquid ratio after the water adjustment to lower the potential alcohol into the target range.  Normally, wineries will just pour out the bleed liquid.  The bleed was such a lovely violet color and smelled so good that I decided to try to make Rose or Violet in this case.  I kept the White Hawk fruit bleeds together (60% Syrah and 40% Sangiovese) and put the Thompson Syrah bleed in a different vessel.  The White Hawk Rose is coming along great with fantastic aromas and flavors over a slow cool fermentation; I am very happy with this so far!  The Thompson Syrah only started fermenting a few days ago, so not sure how it may turn out.  If both Roses are good and blend well, I will make one Rose that will only be available to Wine Club members.

I will keep you up to date on the Rose progress in future posts.  Note: I am tickled pink that Rose is working out as I hate to waste good juice.

26 Oct 2008 2008 harvest is coming to a close

2008 will probably not be considered a great vintage due to the rough growing season especially in Northern California — frost at budbreak / fruitset, early hot weather, little rain and a cool growing season.  The quality of each AVA will vary greatly with the level of vinicultural practices used.  The main issue was frost-protection in part of the Russian River valley, Napa Valley and the Sonoma Valley; Santa Barbara was skipped from much frost damage.  If frost damage happens early enough in the season, the vines will lose initial shoots and flowers but the vine will push a second set of shoots and flowers.  The second set is behind the first set by 3 to 5 weeks depending on condition, yet fruit from both sets will start to change color at the same time.  If the vineyard manager did not drop the second clusters before veriasian, it will be impossible to differentiate the unripe clusters when harvesting the fruit.  The resulting mix of ripe and unripe fruit would produce a terrible wine! 

The frost and cool growing season resulting in much lower yields than in past years.  We lost part of our Bohemian Pinot Noir allocation due to early frost damage to the vineyard.  If the vineyard management was good, the fruit could be quite nice especially from the Santa Barbara County area.

The Crush phase of the 2008 harvest is coming to a close for Lionheart Wines with the last fermentations starting to kick off today.  The Crush season started early at the end of August with an early high-temperature spike that forced some growers to bring their fruit in earlier than expected due to sugar levels and raisining of the berries.  The Crush is ending at a more gentle pace that the start which is always appreciated considering the long hours in the winery up to this point. :)

Initial thoughts on our 2008 Wines:

  • 2008 White Hawk vineyard, Sangiovese, Santa Barbara County — this wine is going to be spectacular!  The fermentation was well-behaved and cool resulting in fantastic aromas and flavors.  At the pressing, the wine could be smelled all over the winery with many people commenting on what was the wine and how do I get some!
  • 2008 White Hawk vineyard, Syrah, Santa Barbara County — the wine has fantastic fruit flavors/aromas with the distinctive pomegranite and orange peel notes.  The syrah was co-fermented with Viognier and Marsanne with some very nice complexity and enhanced aromatics.  The wine is going to be blended with Syrah from Thompson vineyard resulting in a syrah made in the 2006 style — big fruit, some jamminess, good structure and begging you to have it with lamb!
  • 2008 Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon — the first fermentation went well with the results not clear until pressing happens on Monday.  The second fermentation is kicking off today and should be basically done by next Sunday unless I decide to do extended maceration for mid-palate complexity.  The wines should be quite nice and done in the 2006 style when the final blend comes around.
  • 2008 The Angel’s Share, Saralee’s Vineyard, White Rhone blend — the Marsanne and Roussanne have just recently started to fermented coolly.  It will take several weeks for the fermentations to be completed but the racked juice tastes very good and already has great aromas.
  • 2008 Gap’s Crown, Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast – the wine is currently going through malolactic fermentation.  The overall quality will not be clear until malolactic fermentation is complete but initial indications are that it will be a good blending component for our Sonoma Coast blend. The wine is a co-ferment of clones 115 and 828 fruit.
  • 2008 Bohemian, Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley/Sonoma Coast –  the wine is currently going through malolactic fermentation.  The overall quality will not be clear until malo. fermentation is complete.  The wine is a co-ferment of 115 and 667 clones; the aromas are very nice and similar to aromas/flavors in our 2007 Pinot Noir.  I will be blending in some 777 clone wine after malolactic fermentation completes.

Unfortunately, I was not able to secure some of the McGinley Roussanne for this year.  I will be taking immediate steps to remeady that situation for next harvest.