Friday, March 23, 2012

Naked Mountain Raptor Red 2008 (VA)

August 16th 2010, Randy and Meagan Morgan became the newest stewards of a great tradition and one of the most well known wineries in Virginia.

The first vines were planted on this site in 1976 by Bob and Phoebe Harper, who were led here by the theory, “If you can find a place peaches will grow, grapes will grow too.” It started with four rows, but over the years grew to 6 acres producing over 6,000 cases annually. With Chardonnay that has been served at the White House twice (once during a State Dinner hosted by President George H. W. Bush, and again at a meeting with State Governor’s held by President Bill Clinton) the Harpers built a tradition of high quality wines accompanied by spectacular views.

I came across a bottle of Naked Mountain Raptor Red 2008 at the Eastern WIneries Exposition in Lancaster, PA. Obviously, someone Randy and Meagan were there, though we never met that I know of.

Raptor Red is a blend is approximately 31% Tannat, 30% Merlot, 20% Petit Verdot, 19% Cabernet Franc (this is an approximation from the 2007 vinetage).

Thw inemakers notes for the 2007 were as such, so I am assuming they were the same for the 2008:
All of the grapes were harvested and chilled in a refrigerated trailer overnight. The subsequent mornings the grapes were destemmed, crushed and were allowed to cold soak for a few days in one ton bins where they were punched down at least twice a day. Each red wine must was inoculated with BM45, D80 or D254 yeasts.

Following fermentation, when all of the grape sugar was converted to alcohol, the wine was concurrently inoculated with malolactic bacteria while it was pressed into stainless steel tanks. Malolactic fermentation, a second, bacterial fermentation is where the malic acids are converted to softer lactic acids. Following 24 hours of settling the wine was racked into barrels where it would spend the next 10 months. The wine was stirred weekly for two months and then monthly for eight months. Stirring, or Sur Lies aging, introduces the lees back into the juice to enhance the structure and mouth feel of a wine, give it extra body, and increase the aromatic complexity. Lees also absorb oxygen, and help maintain a slow and controlled oxidation during maturation. Lees stirring increases the release of yeast compounds into the wine, resulting in the creamy, viscous mouth feel of our Raptor Red. Stirring also helps integrate the wood or oak characteristics into the wine.

The wine was wonderful! Lots of dark berries and cocoa came forth from the glass. And a whiff of vanilla. Once on the palate the dark berries came through - dark raspberry, black cherry, and hints of cassis. Good fruit up front, nice acidity and low tannins.

This was a wonderful wine and a lot of fun! Very, very good! Excellent!