Saturday, January 19, 2019

Gray Ghost Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2014 (VA)

Gray Ghost is a family owned winery in Amissville, VA. The winery is owned by Al and Cheryl Kellert. According to the winery, "A chemistry major in college,  Al was first introduced to winemaking by a college professor who  assisted him in his first fermentation experiment in 1969. Not long  after, he met and married Cheryl, and a career transfer landed them in Virginia amidst the beginning of the burgeoning  wine industry in the state."

The Kellerts moved in 1986 along with each of  the meticulously transplanted 160 vines from their Northern Virginia  neighborhood.  The plantings continued for a number of years. Gray Ghost currently cultivates more than 8,000 vines on 13 acres with such  varieties as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot,  Riesling, Vidal Blanc and Seyval Blanc.

Carrie Dykes wrote in Wine Enthusiast of the 2015 vintage, "This wine has upfront aromas of black cherries, dried herbs and baking spices. On the palate the spices take over, showing charred oak, bramble and vanilla. A full body and drying tannins crave an acidic lift. The finish is long and spicy."

The wine has garnered more medals than any of their other offerings. The last three vinatages have garnered approximately three dozen medals, including seven gold medals, one platinum, and other accolades.

Gray Ghost Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2014 is an unfiltered Bordeaux-styled Cabernet Sauvignon blended with touches of Merlot and  Cabernet Franc. The wine was aged for twenty months in French and American oak before being bottled. The featured a big, cherry, currant and blackberry attack, with a lovely does of vanilla and dark black pepper at the finish. Velvet, smooth, and impressive.

Enjoyed this older vintage very much!

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Two Amazing Reds: Arrowhead Springs Cabernet Sauvignon Estate 2014 & Estate Merlot 2014

I love Duncan and Robin Ross. Really good people. They are estate wine growers and are concerned with producing quality fine wines. Not only is Arrowhead Springs Winery among the leading quality wine producers in the Niagara Escarpment, it's one of the better quality producers throughout the state. 

Image may contain: Duncan Ross and Robin M. Ross, people smiling, closeup and indoor

They produce wines from their estate Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Chardonnay, Riesling and Vidal Blanc, as well as grapes purchased from local vineyards. Newer plantings include more Pinot Noir and Tempranillo. And they do it all using sustainable farming methods. And they are leaders in the industry.

Recently, I pulled out a pair of wines from them over a month's time. And it was nothing less than special.   

The first I pulled was the Arrowhead Springs Estate Merlot 2014. This Niagara Escarpment Merlot is grown on their western slope where truly the vines flourish during the growing season. This estate wine is aged in oak for 24 months. Big notes of red raspberry, ripe cherry, and cassis comes across with a lovely dollop of vanilla and spice. A real winner. Super impressive.

Image may contain: Duncan Ross and Carlo DeVito, people sitting, table, drink and indoor
Drinking Single Malt Scotch with Duncan in Rochester.

I have written here before I am loathe to try eastern Cabernet Sauvignon because I am always worried it will be a big dark red bell pepper. But Arrowhead Springs Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 was an impressive surprise. The attack was all dark cherry, dark raspberry, dark cassis, with a beautiful smooth middle, and impressive ending that develops into a nice dry finish. I had it with a New York strip steak, and it was so impressive!!!

I LOVE Arrowhead Springs! These wines prove that the Escarpment is a place where great wines are not only possible, but being made right now.

Great job Duncan and Robin!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Classic Cab Franc: Hopkins Cabernet Franc Estate 2008 (CT)

Hopkins Vineyard, in Litchfield, Connecticut, has long been one of my favorite wineries. They make a wide swath of wines, but their estate grown quality dry wines have been really impressive.

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I bought several bottles of this vintage of Can Franc and drank a bunch of them. But I saved a bottle to taste with some aging on it. Just the other night, I decided to have a boys night with my sons. We cooked  some steaks, a salad, and roasted potatoes. Now, I thought, would be a great time to break out an old bottle to try with it....and low and behold, I saw this Hopkins Vineyard offering.

Now, I know what you must be thinking - Cabernet Franc from Connecticut? But don't laugh. They share many of the same weather patterns as Long Island. But obviously, the Litchfield Hills are nowhere near the Sound. Despite all this, the winery has been making lush, deep estate Cabernet Francs for many years. The grapes are estate grown in the Western Connecticut Highlands AVA which was established in 1988.

According to Wikipedia, "The Western Connecticut Highlands AVA is an American Viticultural Area that includes all of Litchfield and parts of Fairfield, New Haven, and Hartford counties in Connecticut. The Connecticut Highlands are far enough away from Long Island Sound that there is little of the moderating effect on climate that large bodies of water produce. The region is relatively cool, with a short growing season between mid-May and mid-September. The soil in the area is glacial schist and gneiss. Local vintners have had the most success with cool climate Vitis vinifera and French hybrid grape varieties.[3] The region is located in hardiness zones 5b and 6a."

Hopkins Cabernet Franc Estate 2008 is a complex dry red. The estate fruit is punch-cap fermented. And the resulting wine is aged in American oak barrels for 23 months. Dark black berry, dark raspberry, cassis, and ripe cherry all come through. A lovely middle gave way to a layered creaminess, with spices of mocha, cocoa, and some black pepper at the finish. There was no question that the age had softened the wine. The flavors were slightly more mingled. The competing flavors had begun to breakdown and meld in ways as to make the wine more unified. The fruit was still solid, and there was enough acidity to keep it lively and lasting long on the tongue.

I went beautifully with the meal. A superb Cabernet Franc. And a great evening. We enjoyed it thoroughly.

My previous writing about Hopkins: