Sweet, savory aromas lead the way, sort of a mineral-laden black fruit---dark berries and plums. Smoke, dried herbs, violet, meat, wet stones and a hint of ironstone complete the package. It penetrates yet is a broad fragrant expression. I've always felt the aromatic range of this wine has its foundation in the four clones we use.
The black fruits continue on the palate, with black cherry, dark plum and spices echoing the aroma. While it's rich, almost luxurious, there's a tannic foundation and a structured acidity. Floral and earthy, the dried herbs and stones emerge here too, along with tobacco, thyme and lavender. This is a food-lover's Syrah, with weight, brightness and dimension.
(Clones 174, 383, 99 and Phelps) Vineyards: Ciel du Cheval Ranch at the End of the Road Classic Red Mountain character defines the Syrah La Côte Rousse, despite being the product of a cooler vintage. The warm site vineyards, Ciel du Cheval and Ranch at the End of the Road accumulated more heat than our other sites and ripened the four Syrah clones to a greater extent; we’ve never seen Red Mountain deliver less than full physiological maturity, every vintage. Nevertheless this vintage retains a vibrancy and energy that isn’t often found on Red Mountain.
From the hot, windswept slopes of Red Mountain, the 2014 Syrah la Cote Rousse is a serious, tight, backwards effort that won’t be for those looking for instant gratification. Possessing classic Red Mountain red and black fruits, dried earth, pepper, dried spice and black olive characteristics, it’s full-bodied, beautifully textured, has flat out awesome purity and impeccable balance. Give it 4-5 years of cellaring and drink it over the following decade or so.
While there's a long history of terrific wines from this estate, I think they've hit another level in the past few vintages, and these latest releases show a purity, elegance and textural quality not found in early bottlings. I'm sure this is in part due to the creation of a second wine, and even a stricter selection for all of the top cuvees. In short, don't miss a chance to try these wines. 96 Points Wine Advocate
Betz Family La Serenne Syrah is 100% Syrah
La Serenne is the most reflective of the site/vintage dynamic of our three single-site 2012 Syrahs. Lovers of this wine know that its source, the Boushey Vineyard, is the highest altitude of the three vineyards and is typically the latest harvested. This cool site was accentuated by the cooler season and the results reflect the seriousness of this vineyard and its care.
An extraordinary, nearly impenetrable black purple color leads to a concentrated, inky aromatic impression: smoky black cherry and wild blackberry dominate, but a litany of supporting aromas is already emerging: smoke, violet, mushroom, roasted meat, Chinese 5 spice and minerals. It has a full attack on entry and a big, rich mouthfeel that goes on and on.
2012 is our 13th harvest from this site and these rows. We continue to be impressed with the chameleon nature of this vineyard, in cool years and hot, in heat spikes and cool springs: it provides us with surprises and opportunities at every harvest. While the themes of deep black fruits and pliant structure always surface, the nuance of this vineyard and its care (thank you, Dick Boushey) make it some of the most satisfying fruit we work with every harvest.
"The pure, elegant and textured 2014 Syrah la Serenne offers that classic violet and floral characteristics of the cuvee, as well as medium to full-bodied richness, lots of black raspberry fruit, fine, sweet tannin and a great finish. It’s not as powerful or concentrated as the La Cote Rousse, yet it’s a joy to drink and will cruise for a decade or more on its balance and purity. - Jeb Dunnuck"
- Robert Parker's Wine Advocate (Issue #225, June 2016), 93 pts
Boich Wall Road Cabernet Sauvignon is made from 100 percent Napa Cabernet Sauvignon.
Pure dark fruits, plum preserves and dried blueberry notes are knit together with ribbons of crushed mineral and floral undertones, the palate is mouth coating and highlighted by ripe tannins and dense dark fruit and mineral notes. A long finish with wisps of pipe tobacco finish this exotic and expressive mountain Cabernet. Two hundred and twenty cases produced.
Vintage Notes – Marked by California’s ongoing drought, the 2014 vintage was notably early, garnering fruit with intense flavor. While vineyards throughout the valley reported pick dates up to three weeks ahead of schedule, moderate summer temperatures allowed grapes to ripen to perfection with outstanding quality and structure. Aromatic, luscious and fruit-forward, the wines of 2014 are proving ideal.
Wall Road Vineyard – This three-acre gem is located at the northern tip of the Mount Veeder AVA, due west of Oakville and the To Kalon vineyard. True to the Veeder AVA, this site delivers both the power and elegance we strive to achieve in our Mountain Cabernets. The elevation, slope orientation and well-drained soils yield fully ripened small berries with concentrated flavor.
Mount Veeder AVA – Known for its acclaimed Cabernet Sauvignon, this illustrious appellation produces graceful, expressive and world-renowned wine. Limited by nature, Mount Veeder’s rugged mountain terrain, high elevation and cooling influence from the San Pablo Bay allows for a long growing season that returns low, sought after yields. This results in powerful fruit with distinct berry flavors.
This is a thick, layered and leathery wine, with ample spice and complexity. Cinnamon, toast, clove, red currant and black cherry tones highlight a full-bodied robust experience of impressive integration and tamed tannins. -Wine Enthusiast 94 Points
Burgo Viejo Rioja Reserva is made from 85% Tempranillo, 10% Garnacha & 5% Carignan.
Burgo Viejo Rioja Reserva presents with red ruby color; black pepper and vanilla flavors and some mature black fruit taste too. Well-balanced, well-structured and elegant in mouth displaying some splendid taste of fruit and bouquet too.
Burgo Viejo Reserva Wine vinification has occurred blending different grape varieties to produce an aged wine that will surely keep maturity and fullness from the vineyard until the very moment of uncorking.
VINIFICATION: Alcoholic fermentation in stainless steel vats at controlled temperature; aged in American and French oak barrels -50% each- for 18 months.
Enjoy it with red meat and game.
"Sweet, ripe, plummy nose followed by notes of rosemary and thyme. Enlivening wine with a long and complex aftertaste." Decanter 90 Points
"(raised in a 50/50 combination of new and used French and American oak barrels for 18 months) Vivid ruby-red. An expansive, highly perfumed bouquet evokes ripe black and blue fruits, cola, incense and toasty oak, with a sexy floral overtone. Silky and broad on the palate, offering concentrated black raspberry, cherry-vanilla and coconut flavors that become spicier with aeration. In an emphatically fruity style, showing solid closing thrust, strong persistence and gently gripping tannins. - Josh Raynolds"
- Antionio Galloni's Vinous (February 2019), 91 pts
"A small step up in price, the 2014 Reserva (85% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano, and 5% Mazuelo) has a similar elegance and purity, with classic vanilla-laced notes of spice, garrigue, cedar, and both cherry and darker currant-like fruits. It’s balanced, has fine tannins, and is an outstanding wine. I like it today, but I suspect it’s capable of keeping for a decade."
- Jeb Dunnuck (March 2019), 90 pts
Casir dos Santos Gran Corte Red Blend is made from 80% Malbec and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon
Presents an intense red color with glints of bordeaux. Great aromatic intensity. It expresses red ripe fruits and vanilla. In the mouth it´s balance, with round and sweet tannins, rich and persistent.
Coming from a sustainable 50-year old plot, grapes are crushed, destemmed and go through pre-fermentative maceration at 11ºC for 24 hours. Alcoholic fermentation in tanks. 4 weeks of maceration with must. At this point we blend the varietals for them to be aged together in French oak barrels for 12 months, Malolactic fermentation in contact with fine lees.
Pairs with Red meet, pasta, lamb, cheese.
"The 2014 Gran Corte is a blend of 80% Malbec and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon from Maipú that fermented separately before being blended and put in barrel to mature for 12 months after malolactic in contact with the lees. It's a classical well-oaked and generous red, with plenty of ripe fruit, smoke and spices and a full-bodied palate with abundant, slightly astringent tannins in the style of the late 1990s. For fans of the style. It was bottled in December 2016. 6,000 bottles produced. - Luis Gutiérrez"
- Robert Parker's Wine Advocate (Issue #237, June 2018), 90 pts
Bright cherry color. On the nose you will find plenty of fruit aromas, well balanced as well as some reminiscences of spices that are appreciable. The oak presence gives elegant hints of black chocolate and vanilla. On the palate, the wine is very smooth and well balanced with the right amount of acidity. Fresh, long lasting and elegant.
The wine went through malolactic fermentation. The wine was aged 12 Months in French Oak barrels. Before bottling, the wine was slightly filtered.
Based all on Tempranillo, the 2014 Crianza offers a touch of earthiness as well as ample black fruits (black cherries, currants), spice, and vanilla oak. It’s medium to full-bodied, has ripe, silky tannins, ample fruit, and a great finish as well as plenty of character. It’s a thrilling, incredibly satisfying Ribera del Duero to enjoy over the coming decade."
- Jeb Dunnuck (March 27th 2019), 92 pts
This Vermentino is stunning. Think citrus freshness, limes, preserved lemon, a touch of green apple -- racy acidity combined with a robust structure, and finished with a slightly salty tang. Lean and crisp, this wine cries out for seafood.
The Annefield Grape Varietals
AWHITE QUARTZ SAPPONY INDIAN arrowhead was found at the site, so we have christened this vineyard Arrowhead. The first three-acre vineyard planting is on Georgeville silt loam, which produces moderate vine vigor.
With our deep, well drained soils, hot summers, and relatively mild winters, the climate and soil in Charlotte County are perfect for grapevines. We are taking advantage of these great conditions and have selected grape varieties that flourish here and produce the best tasting wines. Our vineyard is situated at 500-ft. elevation in an area with excellent air drainage.
Ripening fruit at Annefield Vineyards
Ripening fruit at Annefield.
We are implementing all necessary vineyard practices to optimize the quality of our fruit. These include the use of the Vertical Shoot Positioning system to train the vines, shoot thinning and leaf pulling throughout early summer, two hedgings per season, and fruit thinning on vigorous varieties.
In April 2006, we planted our first three acres. We started with Viognier, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. The Viognier and Cabernet Franc were grafted onto 3309 Couderc rootstock, and the Cabernet Sauvignon grafted onto Millardet et de Grasset 101-14. Both were selected because they are less vigorous than other rootstocks and grow well in our rich Virginia clay:
Viognier – Viognier is a white grape from the Rhone Valley that makes full-bodied, powerfully perfumed, intensely floral, spicy wines. Its rich and complex aroma is like overripe apricots mixed with orange blossoms. Other descriptors are lime, honeysuckle, jasmine, ginger, and melon. Like Chardonnay, Viognier takes well to oak and to malolactic fermentation.
Cabernet Franc – One of the major red wine grapes of the Bordeaux region, Cabernet Franc is the leaner sibling of Cabernet Sauvignon and often blended with it, not only in France but in Meritage-style New World blends. On its own it is less full-bodied, less tannic and less acidic than Cabernet Sauvignon but it may be more aromatic, fruity, herbal, or vegetal. Cabernet Franc’s primary fruit aromas often suggest raspberry, cherry, strawberry and, especially, plum. It almost always shows a distinctive aroma of violets and a slightly spicy flavor. When it shows vegetal characters, they tend toward bell pepper or stems. With oak treatment, smoke, toast, and tar characters emerge. Extended bottle age promotes earth, mushroom, and cedar aromas.
Cabernet Sauvignon – Cabernet Sauvignon is often called the “king” of red wine grapes. In the great wines of the Medoc region of Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon is always blended (with Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and sometimes Petite Verdot and/or Malbec), while elsewhere in the world it may be blended, or bottled on its own. At its best, Cabernet Sauvignon produces wines of tremendous intensity and depth of flavor. It can be firmly tannic and it usually shows dark purple color, firm acidity, full body, and concentrated flavors. It has an affinity for oak and often spends a year or more in barrel, gaining vanilla, toffee, cedar, and/or coconut flavors. Typical fruit aromas of Cabernet Sauvignon are black currant, blackberry, plum, and black cherry with occasional notes of rhubarb or prune. Herbal notes of pepper, asparagus, green or black olive, mint/menthol/eucalyptus and spice notes of ginger, oregano and anise might be found. The particular appeal of Cabernet Sauvignon, however, lies less in its fruit aromas and more in the subtle flavors that develop with years of bottle aging and the complex interaction between the fruit, tannins, fermentation, alcohol and oak.
In 2011, we will plant three additional varietals: Vermentino, Pinot Grigio and Vidal Blanc, all grafted onto Millardet et de Grasset 101-14.
Vermentino – With its bright acidity, aromas of citrus leaf and mineral, and refreshing finish, this grape will most likely become a favorite at Annefield Vineyards. This late-ripening white grape variety is primarily found in Italian wine, though it is thought to be Spanish in origin. Grown in several countries bordering the Mediterranean, its best known examples come from Northern Italy, particularly in the region of Liguria, and the island of Sardinia, where the wines are crisp, citrusy and generally unoaked. It is also the most widely planted white grape on the island of Corsica, where high altitude and hot climate vineyards produce more full-bodied wines with heady floral aromas. On the French mainland the grape is known as Rolle, where it is found in Côtes de Provence and Languedoc. Vermentino is a vigorous grower, resistant to drought, and usually ripens towards the middle of the harvest cycle. The wine is usually a pale straw color and relatively low in alcohol, with crisp acids, citrus-leaf aromatics, and pronounced minerality. Vermentino shows flavors of green apple and lime, heightened by refreshing acidity, good richness and medium body.
Pinot Grigio – Pinot Grigio, or Pinot Gris, as it is known in France, is a white wine variety that is thought to be a mutant clone of Pinot Noir. We know of it from the Middle Ages in Burgundy, where it was probably called Fromenteau. It spread from Burgundy to Switzerland by 1300. Reportedly the grape was a favorite of Emperor Charles IV, who had cuttings imported to Hungary by Cistercian monks. In Italy, Pinot Grigio is found in Lombardy around Oltrepo Pavese and in Alto Adige, Italy’s northernmost wine region. The grape is also prominent in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region. The grape was popular in Burgundy and Champagne until the 19th century, but poor yields and unreliable crops caused it to fall out of favor in those areas. The same fate nearly occurred in Germany, but vine breeders in the early 20th century were able to develop clones that would produce a more consistent and reliable crop. For our planting we chose two French clones propagated by the Foundation Plant Services at the University of California, Davis; these are intended to complement each another, for one has a mineral, steely quality (Clone 9), and the other is more fruity and complex (Clone 4). A marriage of the two should produce a wine that tastes strongly of stone fruit and citrus with a flinty, mineral edge.
Vidal Blanc – Vidal Blanc has proven to be among the most versatile varietals in North American viticulture. Vidal Blanc is a hybrid bred from the crossing of the over-productive and under flavored Ugni Blanc (known as Trebbiano in Italy) and an older hybrid, Rayon d’Or. Vidal’s high, natural acidity makes it suitable for a wide range of styles, from light and crisp with racy acid, to slightly off-dry, to Ice Wine. The grape is well suited to cold climates, due to its mid-season ripening and its ability to produce good crops from secondary buds in the event of a late spring frost Vidal produces large clusters of thick-skinned berries, and ultimately, wines with fruity floral characteristics, with grapefruit and pineapple notes. The grape’s thick skin allows this varietal to thrive in Virginia.
MUCH OF THE ROCK AND SOIL AT Annefield derives from weathering of the Precambrian rocks that underlie much of the county. Rocks formed during the Precambrian era are between 4.5 billion and 560 million years old. Eons of weathering of these Precambrian rocks have given rise to the Wissahickon schist and gneiss formations, which merge with rocks composed of volcanic material in the area. These complex formations underlie the Georgeville and Herndon loam soil series that is well represented at the farm.
Annefield Vineyards: The first vineyard block is planted in Georgeville series soil.
The first vineyard block is planted in Georgeville series soil.
Although the farm’s soil appears consistent on the surface, there are actually four different classifications of soil on the property:
Georgeville – The Georgeville series consists of deep, well drained soils that have a red clayey layer in the subsoil. These soils are undulating to hilly and are on uplands. They formed in material weathered from metamorphosed sedimentary rock. These soils are strongly acid or very strongly acid subsoil and are low in natural fertility.
Herndon – The Herndon series consists of deep, well drained undulating and rolling soils on uplands. These soils formed in the weathered products of metamorphosed sedimentary and volcanic rocks. These soils have a strongly acid to very strongly acid subsoil and are low in natural fertility.
Annefield Vineyards: Note the mixture of clay and weathered rock in the Cabernet Sauvignon block.
Note the mixture of clay and weathered rock in the Cabernet Sauvignon block. Orange – The Orange series consists of deep, somewhat poorly drained to moderately well drained soils that have a very plastic, clayey layer in the subsoil. These soils are undulating to rolling and are on uplands. They formed in material weathered from greenstone, slate and other fine-grained basic rocks. These soils have a medium acid to neutral subsoil and are low to medium in natural fertility.
Appling – The Appling series consists of deep, well drained soils that have a clayey layer in the subsoil. These are undulating to hilly soils on uplands. They formed in the weathered products of acid igneous and metamorphic rocks. Appling soils have a strongly acid to very strongly acid subsoil and are low in natural fertility.
Dark and chocolate, spiced with pretty notes of allspice and clove, this wine is round and rich, bursting with ripe berries, combined with an earthy complexity and a velvety finish.
Made from 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 29% Cabernet Franc
The wine spent 22 months on 75% new French oak with the remaining 25% second vintage French oak. Select barrels from the best forests of Taransaud, Boutes, Quintessance, and Vicard cooperages.
A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (60%), Cabernet Franc (30%) and Merlot, this wine seems a little green out of the gate, with aromas of herbs, cocoa, vanilla, black licorice, woodspice and black fruit. The fruit flavors display the warmth of this region, with the tannins providing some heft, stretching out over time. - Wine Enthusiast 91 Points
Tamarack Cellars’ 2011 Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Reserve is an outstanding blend of 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot and 29% Cabernet Franc that spent 22 months (each variety is kept separate until 12 months after the harvest) in 50% new and 50% once-used French oak. Classically styled, with lots of smoke tobacco, licorice and blackcurrant aromas and flavors, it has everything in the right place, in the right proportions, and is incredibly enjoyable to drink. Enjoy this medium to full-bodied, moderately tannic, balanced beauty over the coming decade, although it will probably last longer. - Robert Parker Wine Advocate 91 Points
Prunotto Barbaresco is made from 100 percent Nebbiolo.
Prunotto’s Barbaresco is produced from vineyards in Treiso and Neive in the Barbaresco area, it’s the elegant expression of Nebbiolo. An aristocratic wine yet accessible and pleasant. It is aged in large oak barrels of varying capacities to enhance balance and softness on the palate.
Delicate floral and red fruit aromas and flavors peek through the eucalyptus, tar and tobacco notes and muscular profile of this red, though it will take some time for them to emerge and occupy center stage. This version is balanced, elegant and long in the end. Best from 2023 through 2040. 800 cases imported. -94 Points Wine Spectator