Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

I just wanted to say Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Keswick Vineyards. Today is one of our days off, so we can spend time with our own friends and family. So I'll leave you with a short list of things I have become thankful for in my time working at Keswick:

1. Being excited to come to work everyday
2. Meeting our wine club members, who become familiar faces and friends
3. Hard working employees
4. Greetings from Mittens the cat
5. The absence of fruit flies
6. Feeling like part of the family
...and last but definitely not least...
7. Fantastic wine!

And in case you still don't have a clue what to drink with Thanksgiving dinner... see if you can scrounge up a bottle or two of Touriga! Since it is a medium bodied red it will not overwhelm poultry, and the little bit of fruit and the little bit of spices will be a nice complement to all of the wonderful Thanksgiving side dishes.


Friday, November 20, 2009

Black Reserve Friday

So I am very excited about this so I had to let everyone know about it! On Friday November 27th (Black Friday) we are going to be releasing one of our previously unreleased wines. I cant tell you which one it is because that would ruin the surprise, but I can tell you this... it is one of our reserve wines! So if you are trying to avoid the malls/crowds/traffic which seem to be unavoidable that day, come out to our tasting room to try this special wine. Feel free to bring a picnic (leftover turkey sandwiches anyone?) and relax.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Malolatic Fermentation

Recently we have been keeping the wines looking fantastic. One thing that is very important is stirring the wine barrels. The boys take out the bung, which is a giant stopper on the top of the barrel, and use a large metal pole to stir the wine. This keeps the yeast in suspension within the wine. I was able to taste the 2009 Chardonnay and I like it a lot right now. It is much more acidic and tart then the 2008 Chardonnay.


I think this is because it has not gone through malolactic fermentation. The way I understand it is that wines go through primary fermentation and the acid left present in the wine is malic acid. Malic acid is typically fairly tart and resembling a granny smith apple in flavor. If allowed, the wine will undergo a secondary fermentation which will change the malic acid to lactic acid. Lactic acid is more of the milk or yogurt acid, giving the buttery flavor to wines. To bring this full circle, that whole process is known as malolactic fermentation!

So that is the current status of the 2009 Chardonnay! I'll be interested to see if Stephen is going to push the wine completely through malolactic fermentation. I'll keep you updated!

Friday, November 13, 2009

I've got a Favor to Ask!

I've got a small request for our readers and I was hoping you could help us out. We are trying to increase our internet presence and one way to help is to review Keswick Vineyards! So if you have visited us or have enjoyed our wines recently feel free to post a small write up about it!

Here are some links you can use to write a review or two:
Google Maps
Trip Advisor

Any other site you know of would also be great! Thank you in advance!

In other news the storm in hitting Virginia right now is incredible! I cant recall a time in my life when there was rain and wind so persistent!  Maybe the El Nino of 1997? Either way this is crazy. It has been raining so hard for the last day and half that our lake is beginning to flood! Luckily, it seems to be slowing down as of this morning.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Veterans Day + Chocolate Sauce

Hey everyone! I just wanted to let you know that we are honoring Veteran's Day tomorrow by giving all active and retired military personnel a free tasting and 15% off any purchases as our way of saying thank you for all of your hard work and service for our country. So stop on by tomorrow!

Another exciting note is that the Norton Chocolate Sauce is officially back in the tasting room. We had a 2 week lull without it, but it is back just in time for the holidays! Not only is it fantastic with the Norton wine but it is also amazing with the Cabernet Franc. (We recently discovered how tasty the Cabernet Franc and dark chocolate is...)

The 2009 wines are looking fantastic. I was able to try the Cabernet Sauvignon after work today and I have to say it is amazing. My first impression of it was pomegranates, but this was a few weeks ago. Now after being in barrel for about a week and a half it is incredible. It is very dark and rich in color, inky but with a really beautiful deep red hue. The flavor also incredible, it is unbelievably smooth for how young it is and I know it is only going to get better with time. I wish I had a time machine to speed up the aging process so I could put the wine in the tasting room tomorrow!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Bentonite & Tartrate Crystals

Today Stephen worked on racking off some of our 2009 whites. First we took the wine off of the fine lees, which are the inactive yeast left in the wine. They fine lees settle down to the bottom of the stainless steel tanks and this way we are able to take just the wine out of the tank! After this was done Stephen added bentonite to the wine.

In Stephen's words bentonite is "an absorbent aluminum phyllosilicate." The way I understand it is that bentonite is put into the wine to absorb proteins from the wine.

After this has been done we are moving wine to a tank and then taking the temperature to 28 degrees! Apparently, the tank is going to be covered with ice in the near future, I'll be sure to take a picture and post it once that happens. By chilling the wine we are able to sort out the tartrate crystals before we bottle the wine. Tartrates are added to the wine to try and create a balanced wine, with the tartrates bringing up the acidity of the wine. Apparently, if we leave the tartrates in the wine it will form crystals in the wine and sometimes cause it to turn opaque when chilled. I guess it is a more a matter of vanity than taste!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Dessert on the Horizon

Yesterday we started the day off by pressing off the Chambourcin and the Norton to finish off the harvest... or so I thought! I just found out this morning that we have 5 tons of Viognier that we are planning on making into our Nektar. The Nektar is a dessert wine, typically created in the style of an ice wine. Ice wines are very popular in Canada and the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. The grapes actually freeze on the vine and they are picked in the wee small hours of the morning. (I've been listening to Frank Sinatra in the tasting room recently, and I can't seem to get it out of my head!) Because these grapes are frozen they are pressed off and a very sweet juice is left, which creates ice wine! Since we do not have such cold nights in Virginia we are left to make a mock ice wine, where we throw the grapes in a large freezer and then press them off. The Nektar has a rather long production cycle, so it will be pressed off and then sit in barrel for over a year! So dont expect to see that wine until January of 2011.

On the other dessert wine front, we have our Royale. This is a late harvest Norton wine. This has been sitting in barrel for a long time and is going to be bottled next month! So you can expect to see that in the tasting room in January (rough estimate). Either way, I have never tried either of our sweet wines, so that will be a fun new experience. Typically my pallet leans towards dry wines, but I've heard such wonderful things about both the Royale and the Nektar!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Come Get Your Holiday Passports!

We just started a new program in the tasting room called the Holiday Passport. It is a fantastic deal we are doing with Kluge Vineyards & Jefferson Vineyards. It is $10 for the tasting card and then you get free tastings at all 3 of the vineyards! Also, each of the vineyards is offering 15% off one of their select bottles. So if you are planning on doing tastings in all three of those tasting rooms, it is worth it!

As for our wine, the Norton and the Chambourcin are just about done and we have plans to press off the wines early this week. In order to get ready for the final press we had to prep the empty barrels. First we pressure washed the barrels to make sure that they were squeaky clean. Then we filled the barrels with water which causes them to swell up. This fills in any small cracks in the barrels and reduces loss of our precious cargo (the wines)!