Friday, February 26, 2010

Quick Note

This might be the shortest blog I ever write, but I wanted to let everyone know that I am heading down to Richmond for the Virginia Wine Expo this weekend! So if you are in the area, make sure to stop by and say hello! This will be my first trade show/festival and I am quite excited for it!

Also, in terms of our barrel tasting that is coming up on March 13th and 14th the afternoon session on Saturday is officially full and the Sunday session only has 5 spots left! Make sure to rsvp soon to insure your spot... I am very excited about the tasting and to see what 2009 grapes have in store for us. If you would like to rsvp please email or call 434-244-3341. Since I will be at the Expo all weekend you can talk to Kris about the event as well!

...And now I'm off to Richmond! 

Thursday, February 18, 2010

2009 Viognier

Stephen brought me a sample of the 2009 Viognier this morning and he gave me a little preview of what was to come when we bottle next. We plan on bottling again at the end of March and one of the wines that will be bottled is the 2009 Viognier. Viognier itself is a very versatile grape with a high alcohol content and high acid content. Stephen is planning on blending together the 2009 Viognier this afternoon after doing a bit of work to perfect the wine. Typically our Viognier is 100% oak aged and our Les Vents d'Anges Viognier is 100% stainless steel aged, but this year we are doing things a bit differently.

The Viognier Stephen brought me was actually 30% oak aged and 70% stainless steel aged. The first thing I noticed was the color of the wine. Stainless steel wines typically are much lighter in color and this wine seemed to fit that bill. Lets have a look, shall we?
The glass on the left is currently in the tasting room, the 2008 Viognier Reserve. The glass on the right is the 2009 Viognier. The 2008 Viognier Reserve is much more rich in color as well as aroma. This is not to say that the 2009 Viognier is lacking, it is currently a very focused wine with a nice interplay between steel and oak. I feel like oak really rounds out the mouth feel of any wine and the influence of the stainless steel keeps this wine feeling very fresh.

After Stephen adds the tank wine and the 5 barrels of wine to a stainless steel tank the perfecting will begin. Stephen is planning on doing some minor tweaks and fining to the 2009 Viognier, and I'll keep you abreast on what he ends up doing with the wine. Then the wine will continue to age on fine lees until we filter the wine right before bottling.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Candy Hearts and Fermentation

So our Valentine's Day event "Be Mine with Wine" went over quite well this year! Thanks to everyone who came to the event, it was great to see some familiar faces as well as some new ones. We also did a "guess the number of candy hearts in a Rose bottle" contest this year and let me tell you it was rather close! Our winning guess was only 6 candy hearts off and the person in second was only 8 off! We even got the traditional "Price is Right" guess of 2, just in case everyone else over bid, well played! Let me be the first to say congratulations to Veronica Buckovich, she has a free tasting and tour for her guess of 483 candy hearts.

In other news, the Nektar is looking great! Stephen did a test on it today and said that the sugar levels are dropping at around a brix a day. So by his estimations the fermentation will be complete in 10 to 14 days. Once the fermentation is finished the wine will be sulfured and put into barrels. The sulfur is added to kill off any remaining yeast so we can keep the same levels of residual sugar in the wine. The goal is to make this wine about 10% residual sugar. I was lucky enough to taste the Nektar and my first impression was that it currently tastes a lot like pineapple juice! It is still quite sweet, but I was surprised at how tart it was. I guess that bit of acidity is a nice balance to the sugar in the wine. The wine currently is opaque since the yeast is still floating around in the wine.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Snow Check!

With all of these rumors of snow this weekend we want to make sure you are still able to get some Keswick wines. So we are planning on doing an online promotion for the up coming snow days!

This weekend we will be offering free shipping for any orders over $75.00. But the real kicker is that we are going to be releasing our Cabernet Franc Reserve as an online special, which I am rather excited about! I think I'm even going to place an online order for a few bottles, just so I can get it before we release it in the tasting room. If my estimations are correct, we probably wont have it until the end of March or beginning of April. In my humble opinion, the Cabernet Franc Reserve is fantastic, best after decanting for a bit... So keep that in mind when you receive your bottle!

"SnowedIn" is the coupon to use at our online store this weekend for the free shipping and Reserve Cabernet Franc. Get it while its hot! (actually while its cold!) Make sure to capitalize the 'S' and the 'I', or else the coupon wont work! We will also be sending "snow checks", like rain checks for free tastings for anyone who makes an order this weekend, so you can come visit us once the weather gets nicer!

Here is a link to our online store:

Have a safe and great weekend!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Quirky Quercus

We just received some new oak barrels today! Since oak is such an important factor in wine, I think this is a great time to brush up on some facts about Quercus, or Oak

The two major types of oak that are used in wine making are French and American Oak. I will admit that the first vineyard I ever toured in Italy did have some massive Hungarian oak barrels. Massive as in over 7 feet tall; but I haven't run into any since then. So, back to the more common barrels...

One of the major differences between French and American oak is the way that the oak is aged. French oak is typically allowed to air dry for 36 months. This releases a lot of the bitter tannins that can be associated with oak. American oak is air dried for a much shorter period of time, closer to 24 months. After the oak has been aged the barrels are formed. Traditionally this is done by Coopers and the traditional method is over a fire. The inside of the barrel is charred, or toasted while this process happens. Some of our barrels have a stamp on them indicating the level of toast on the barrel. The toast can range from light to heavy. The more a barrel is toasted the more caramelized the inside will be. More caramelization leads to flavors like vanilla, toffee, and (you guessed it) caramel. Other flavors that can be imparted to wine through the barrels are nutty, smokey, toasted coconut, and spice.

Another major difference in French and American oak is physical characteristics of the oak, which leads to a difference in the way the oak is cut. French oak is a much tighter grain, therefore the oak is split along a grain in the wood. American oak is much more porous, so it can be sawed instead of split. This provides a higher yield of usable oak per tree, which contributes to the lower price of American oak.

As for our new barrels, they will be used for the Nektar, which is about half way through the fermentation process at the moment.