Friday, May 11, 2012

Akinda Ridge Vineyards (VA) - WOW!

Ankida Ridge Vineyards was one of the new finds on my recent trip to Virginia. This was one of the wines from the first day of grand tastings. It was one of the big eye openers about Virginia wine among the Taste Camp East 2012 participants.

Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Ankida Ridge is a family-run Burgundy style little oasis of Virginia wine. And its flavors are delicate and distinct. They are proponents of sustainability and biodiversity, and work their densely planted vines on the steep, granite mountainside at 1800 feet.

The Vrooman family, for their consultants, hired the renowned viticulturist, Lucie Morton to guide them in the vineyard. And for the wine-making end, the award-winning winemaker, Matthieu Finot, has overseen their production of wines, with Nathan Vrooman, serving as the winemaker under Matthieu’s guidance. And impressive roster.

The 2010 Chardonnay was the first eye opener. Hints of green apple, tropical flavors, slate, and a whiff of vanilla all meet you when your nose first approaches the rim of the glass. On the palate the green apple and the tropical fruits come to life, with the light, straw colored wine. There was a solid ending with this wine, where the soft acids and low tannins slowly fell away leaving the slightest hints of oak and lots of fruit. This was a wine that I was still tasting 60 or 90 seconds after I had swallowed the wine. Linger? No…absolutely fill the mouth like few American made, Burgundy-style chardonnays I have ever had. Especially east coast.
Very much like the quality I am used to from, say, Sherwood House on the North Fork. This wine was so good, I let it linger for a while, despite the frenetic pace of the tasting.

The second wine from them that we tasted was the Pinot Noir. 2010 Pinot Noir is not the wine of Virginia. While red grapes ripen beautifully more than not in Virginia, Pinot Noir is too cold blooded a grape for Virginia. It likes its hot days and cool nights. I’m not a huge fan of hot weather Pinot Noirs…they are usually more like clubs compared to the artists brushes of cooler regions. This Virginian Pinot Noir was an exception. Like red in color, with wonderful hints of cherry, plum, and hints of raspberry was an incredible find. It was big fruit up front, with some acidity and not too much tannin. It was aa soft approachable red. It had just a hint more acidity than you usually get from a Virginia red. A lovely wine, with just enough vanilla from the French oak.

Both these wines were eye openers. Someone obviously took the proper time with them to ensure their quality and finesse. These were truly wines well above the norm, for any region. Tremendous stuff!