Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Shelburne Vineyard Makes a Quality Statement!! (VT)

There is no one more excited about great wine than Ethan Joseph, head winemaker at Shelburne Vineyards. Just ask him about his Marquette(s).

Ken Albert, Sam Coppola, and Scott Prom are all partners in Shelburne Vineyards. They have an absolute passion to make great red wines, not just good for their region, but wines that compete with any region in the world. While Vermont might still be a few players away from a championship, as we like to say in sports, it certainly seems that have many of the key parts to make a very good run at the gold. For Shelburne, it starts with the head winemaker, Ethan Joseph!

I have visited Shelburne Vineyards for many years, and their in no question, that in the last four and five years, Shelburne Vineyards has upped their game substantially. I spent time with them at Eastern Wineries Exposition as well as at Taste Camp Vermont in 2016.

Shelbourne grows lots of Marquette. The place is surrounded by the grape. And good thing. Because they do a great job with it. It's fast becoming the premiere red grape in Vermont, and rightly so.

Whether at Taste Camp or at EWE, there is no one more fun to hang with than Ethan. According to his winery bio, "Ethan has been growing grapes and making wine at Shelburne Vineyard since 2008. He is responsible for all aspects of production, from vineyard to glass, and appreciates this integral role in the full cycle of winegrowing. As such, he is committed to highlighting the potential of northern varietals through sound viticulture and premium winemaking. Most recently, Ethan has developed a sub-brand for SV called Iapetus, which represents wines with a strong sense of place and applies minimalism in the winery. Ethan also shares his experience and expertise as a speaker at national conferences and serves as Treasurer for the Vermont Grape and Wine Council."

According to the website, "It all started 35 years ago when Ken Albert planted grapes in his backyard while working as an engineer at IBM.  Inspired by the new wine industry he discovered on trips for IBM to Quebec, he leased 3 acres of land from Shelburne farms and began his commercial vineyard venture believing that viticulture and winemaking could be a success in Vermont. Scott Prom a Shelburne neighbor (still working at his “day job” as a mechanical engineer) joined as a partner early on....the first commercial vintage was released in 2000."

"When Ken, his wife Gail, his brother Bill, and Scott tasted the wine from the new cold-hardy Minnesotan hybrid Marquette, they made the decision to purchase the land that is now their customer friendly flagship site. Their LEED-designed winery, opened in Feb 2008 surrounded by Marquette vines now stands welcoming the public seven days a week.  Sam Coppola, an attorney by profession, joined the partnership in 2013. The operation now includes of 17 acres of grapes, mostly the super hardy Minnesota hybrids, with a small planting of Riesling and Vidal Blanc."

With Ethan I have tasted numerous bottlings of his wines. Above are the Marquette Untamed, the classic Shelburne Marquette, and the Shelburne Crimson Sails. I love this wine. Crimson Sails is their first bottling of a totally non-oak-aged Marquette. It's very fruit forward. According to the winery, "After a rainy 2015 spring, things suddenly changed in mid-July. Constant sun right through harvest time yielded, truly, some very excellent fruit." This wine, aged only in stainless steel is very fruit forward, with blueberries, and mixed red cherries, hint of cassis and strawberry, with nice tannins and well balanced acidity. A superb drinking wine perfect for cheese courses, roast chicken, or pork chops. Fabulous with cheese. I love this wine. (apologies for the blurry pic!)

Web Iccon Marquette 2016.jpeg

Shelburne Marquette is the classic edition of this wine. You may be familiar with their older label, but the newest edition of this classic style from Shelburne is now sold in this new packaging. I have been drinking their Marquette since they first started offering it. The 2015 vintage was aged sur-lie for 8 months in both hybrid French-American, and Hungarian oak barrels. Ethan likes Hungarian oak for Marquette. The tasting notes that the "aroma hints at ripe dark berries with undertones of vanilla and coconut. The wine is robust and rich with notes of black cherries and baking spices with a medium to full body, soft tannins and a complex, lingering finish." I couldn't agree more. I think there' also hints of cassis and cocoa. This is a beautiful wine that begs for lamb or pork or chicken. Game would be perfect, anywhere from duck to venison, to wild turkey. An amazing wine. A solid, go to wine, no matter what region you are from.

The Shelburne Marquette Reserve 2013 was a revelation. This Marquette was aged sur lie — that is, on its spent yeasts and aged approximately a year and a half in oak. This dark purple wine, tinged with red, was jammy with bright and dark cherries, with a big slap of cocoa, some nice spice, vanilla, and good acidity. To me easily the best of the bunch. A classic wine that shows immense, immense promise. If not quite on par with the likes of the top growths from Bordeaux, it nonetheless, it stands proudly on its own merits. An wonderful wine deserving of attention and accolades, as well as a spot on your table, and a few slots in your cellar. Shelburne has been looking to make a statement, and no question, they have. You need to drink Shelburne!