Wednesday, June 2, 2010

New Wines, Part Two

The second stop on Monday's excursion was La Vigna winery near Higginsport OH.  They were releasing the second vintage of both their Proprietary White wine and their Proprietary red wine and offering a comparison tasting with the first vintage, a deal impossible to resist.

The Proprietary White is 100% Petit Manseng and just like watching a toddler grow, what a difference a year makes.  The two white wines were very different. The 2008 vintage had seen barrel fermentation and aging and went through the malolactic fermentation as well.  This was an off dry white, bordering on sweet with lots of honey, ripe pineapple and vanilla aromas.  The taste was mostly about the pineapple and vanilla.  A good wine but one that seemed more geared toward the sweet end and one that would be best on its own.

The 2009 vintage was never out of stainless steel, saw no malolactic fermentation and was quite dry.  The pineapple notes were still in the nose but were more subtle. Some citrus notes showed up as well.  The flavor profile was more geared toward stone fruits, golden plums and apricots resting in top of a tart pineapple taste.  This wine needs food and one of the bottles I brought home will be opened with a Moroccan inspired chicken with a curried couscous with dried apricots.

The 2007 and 2008 vintages of the Proprietary Red wine were also available.  The red wines are a blend of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.  These two were more similar than the two whites, but each was its own wine.  The 2007 is a huge wine with a lot of tannin, a full range of black cherry and cassis flavors and a warm toasty and spicy flavor from the oak. Remarkable length to the finish.  It's a wine I liked a lot last year when I purchased four bottles, but it's a wine that still needs two or three years to really open up. 

The 2008 vintage is a much more approachable wine at this time, but everything needed for aging is still there.  The flavors weren't quite as dark and intense as in the 2007 but the cherries and cassis were still there though tending to be a little redder than in 2007.  There were some good, gripping tannins and some wonderful acidity.  The oak in this wine was much more subtle but it added a complexity I liked.    It's difficult to choose between the two vintages, but if forced to I would opt for the 2008.

One of the things that changed between the two vintages was the barrels.  The 2007 vintage was aged in Kentucky oak barrels with French oaks heads while the 2008 vintage was aged in Minnesota oak with French oak heads.  The grain is much more open on the Kentucky oak and that gave the 2007 vintage the warm, spiciness that was appealing with the darker fruit.  The less noticeable oak in the 2008 wine was due in part to the tighter oak grain.

The bottom line to me is that the 2008 wine has an elegance to it that is lacking in the 2007 vintage.  Both have very good depth of flavor and length but the 2008 has more finesse  and subtlety to it.  Good wines.

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