Today was barrel tasting day at some of the wineries in this area so that meant some driving and sipping. And since the samples were small there was little worry of overindulgence.
Between the two wineries we visited (Kinkead Ridge and La Vigna) we tasted five barrel samples from the 2008 vintage, and three red wines from the bottled 2007 vintage and two whites from the bottled 2008 vintage. The results were quite interesting for the red wines and consistent at both wineries. The 2007 wines are big, full flavored, young and delicious. The 2008 wines have many of the same characteristics but seem to add a dimension of elegance to that mix. Both are very, very good vintages in this area. Sadly, the 2009 vintage is very poor - the price one pays in this area.
At Kinkead Ridge we tasted, in order, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. The Syrah was the most closed of the wines, the Cab Franc the most open and instantly appealing, the Petit Verdot the darkest and most flavorful, but the Cabernet Sauvignon was my favorite. Flavor, body, acid, tannin, oak were all first class. Time to put away some $ between now and September of 2010 when the bottled wines will be released.
This past September I purchased a mixed case of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc from the 2007 vintage, and it was good to taste those wines again to see how they were developing. I have yet to open any of mine. I was more than pleased with the progress the two wines showed in the bottle. Again, the Cabernet Sauvignon was my favorite.
From Ripley, Ohio we headed downriver and inland a short way to visit La Vigna, holding their first ever barrel tasting. No one in Ohio has a prettier setting for a vineyard, a gentle slope overlooking some hills in the distance. Sadly, my camera was not part of the equipment on this day.
La Vigna makes only two wines, Proprietary Red Wine and Proprietary White Wine. We started with the barrel sample of the 2008 red wine. This wine was wound really tight out of the barrel and it took some seriously swirling to open up. There was fruit and spice, a healthy dose of oak, good acid, and in the end a flavorful finish and burst of fruit that I liked. This wine also got my interest because of a change in oak that I want to watch develop. The 2007 Red (their first vintage) used Kentucky white oak with French ends while the 2008 is aging partly in white oak from Minnesota, again with French ends. The grain on the Minnesota oak is tighter. An interesting experiment that needs some time, but if the barrel sample is correct it's an experiment that's working.
As at Kinkead Ridge the 2007 bottled wine was brawnier, a stand up wine with a lengthy finish. Once again, I found a little more elegance and balance in the 2008 version. The wines is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. There were only 24 cases made in the 2007 vintage.
We also tasted the bottled 2008 white wine, a wine that is 100% Petit Manseng, As much as I hate sweet pineapple in overbearing Chardonnay wines, I liked the pineapple in this wine. It was tart and refreshing as opposed to sweet and syrupy and it was the result of the grape and not the overuse of oak. There was also some spice in this wine, a bare hint of cloves. This was a full bodied wine and had a mouthfeel like a Condrieu to me. 64 cases were made of this wine.
The wine budget will take another hit come release of La Vigna's 2008 Proprietary Red.