Sunset Hills Shenandoah Springs Chardonnay is made from 100 percent Chardonnay.
This is our first release of a clone-specific wine for Sunset Hills. The goal is to show you a specific terroir, one that year after year delivers excellent fruit quality. I chose clone 96 for its complexity both in ripening and barrel aging. During ripening, the fruit has notes of pineapple and pear with great acidity. I saw this wine as a chance to highlight not only the vineyard, but how detailed we can get in growing and making wine.
75% Clone 96
20% Clone 76
5% Clone 17
Notes of light honeysuckle, Asian pear, raw almond, and lemon custard. Medium body and medium acid.
Deep red in color, this wine is silky on the palate, with ripe, jammy fruit and a powerfully long finish that is pleasant and slightly smokey. A rich, age-worthy wine.
Handling: Hand-picked, chilled, destemmed, lightly crushed into bins and tanks Pre-ferment: 0 – 4 day cold soak. Yeast: Inoculated: – various strains. Fermentation: average of 10 days. 15 years old vines.
G.D. Vajra Bricco Delle Viole Barolo is made from 100 percent Nebbiolo.
The Barolo Bricco delle Viole shows the signature verticality of its vineyard. The wine is beautifully layered and - while restrained as it’s always the case in the youth of Bricco delle Viole - it also shows a complexity of layers with purple flowers, sweet spices and mineral tones. The palate is noble, with a refined acid spine and profound tannins that promise a long aging potential.
Among the historical vineyards of Barolo, Bricco delle Viole is the highest and the closest to the Alps. It rises from 400 to 480 meters above sea level, on the Western ridge of the village. Its name, “Hill of Violets”, originates from the flowers that blossom early here due to the perfect south exposure. Up above the fogs, Bricco delle Viole enjoys the earliest sunrise and the last sunset every day. Thanks to its vines dating back to 1949 and -now- 1931, a dramatic diuturnal temperature range and this pure light, Bricco delle Viole generates a sophisticated and profound Barolo DOCG of bright aromatics, chiseled tannins and subtle minerality. 2018 is a vintage that shows many nuances of Bricco delle Viole: beyond the signature verticality of this site, the wine offers high tones laced with mineral nuances and plenty of energy and youth.
A juicy Barolo, with vibrant acidity and a fluid profile that exudes cherry, raspberry, mown hay, mineral and eucalyptus aromas and flavors. Tight yet long, with excellent potential.
#26 Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2023
The last wine poured at my tasting at the winery is the G.D. Vajra 2019 Barolo Bricco delle Viole. With its high vantage point in the hills west of Barolo, Bricco delle Viole is a world apart in terms of soils (with Sant'Agata marl and fossils) and even harvest times. Slow and careful ripening like the kind that characterizes fruit in 2019 renders a very delicate and ethereal expression with floral tones, wild mint and licorice. This organic wine is solid in build and structure. Indeed, Isidoro Vaira remarks that Nebbiolo tannins have changed since the 1970s and 1980s.
-Wine Advocate 97+ Points
Jeweled in appearance, the 2019 Barolo Bricco Delle Viole may be the best wine I have tried yet from Vajra. Its gorgeous and alluring perfume of fresh roses is followed by a Burgundian, elegant red with incredible length and no harsh edges, fine and present tannins, and beautiful, graceful concentration. It is drinking well now, and I will be trying to get my hands on as much of this as possible. Drink 2025-2045.
-Jeb Dunnuck 97 Points
Xavier Vignon Lirac Rouge is made from 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah.
Ripe fruit, ranging from raspberries and cherries to hints of stone fruit. Yet, it's not over the top or simply fruity. This full-bodied wine adds hints of leather, garrigue and licorice along the way, evolving from creamy to velvety on the palate and through the lasting finish.
Pairs with lamb Tagine with dry fruits - Duck breast fillet with green pepper sauce - BBQ Prime rib of beef.
"An 80-20 blend of Grenache and Syrah, Vignon's 2019 Lirac is drawn from multiple parcels with galets roulés over clay soils. Roughly one-third went into oak, while the rest stayed in tank. It may be the most complex of the various Vignon "Signature" offerings, marrying hints of garrigue and licorice with mixed berries and hints of oak. It's medium to full-bodied, silky and forward, with the same lip-smacking drinkability factor that marks all of Vignon's wines on the finish. - Joe Czerwinski"
- Robert Parker's Wine Advocate (September 2020) 92 pts
Argot Simpatico Ranch Chardonnay is made from 100 percent Chardonnay.
Powerful aromas of key-lime, white flowers, orange blossoms and a fierce, flinty, sauvage note define a wildly complex nose. Once in the mouth, gracefully pronounced textures coat the palate delivering an exotic interpretation of cool-climate Chardonnay character — lime peel, orange blossom, ginger and clove —lingerings deep into a vibrant finish.
Planted 1978. Shallow volcanic soils on the gently-sloped, south-facing foothills of Bennett Peak on Bennett Valley’s floor. One of California’s coolest Chardonnay vineyards. In the final year of 3-year draught cycle, Simpatico Ranch saw its earliest ever harvest and smallest crop, exposing a reserve of exoticism and minerality previously untapped. A watershed vintage for both the vineyard, and appellation. Night harvested by hand on 9/16, whole-cluster pressed direct to barrel; no settling to ensure maximum lees contact. Barrel fermented on heavy lees. Malolactic fermentation. 16 months in French oak, 50% new. Finished 2 months in steel tank, low Sulphur during barrel elevage.
There are 225 cases of the 2019 Chardonnay Simpatico Ranch, which is from a cooler, higher elevation site in Sonoma. Lots of peach, tangerine, honeyed minerality, and toasted hazelnuts all emerge from the glass, and while I don't think it matches the 2018, it's a brilliant Chardonnay offering medium to full-bodied richness, nicely integrated acidity, and a great finish. It's beautifully balanced and is going to keep for at least 5-7 years."
- Jeb Dunnuck (September 2021), 94 pts
Benjamin Romeo La Cueva del Contador is made from 91% Tempranillo, 9% Garnacha.
Named after the centuries-old caves or “cuevas” carved out of the hillside below the castle of San Vicente in Sonsierra north of the Ebro, this wine is composed of 91 percent Tempranillo and 9 percent Garnacha. The fruit is sourced from eight different plots that yield about 1.2 kg per vine. Fermentation begins after a three-day cold maceration and the wine is aged for nineteen months in 100 percent new French oak and bottled without fining or filtration.
The palate offers flavors of blackberry coulis, Damson plums, Rosemary and well-integrated tannins; this wine is well balanced and youthful with a long powerful finish. Both red and black fruit are pronounced in the nose, but there are also mineral and herbal notes of gravel and lavender.
I found cleaner aromas and a fresher quality and finer tannins in the 2019 La Cueva del Contador, a quite complete wine with elegance and finesse combined with power and concentration. The oak is still noticeable after 18 months in new barriques, and I'd wait a little longer before pulling the cork. It has the perfume of La Cueva in the background. It should resurface with a little more time in bottle. 10,000 bottles produced.
-Wine Advocate 95 Points
Sunset Hills Dusk is made from 100% Chambourcin.
Showing youthful bright fruit aromatics of baked apple pie, vanilla, and cigarbox spice. Medium-bodied with a nice balance of sweetness and weight, spice and caramel filled finish.
Chambourcin has proven to be a great varietal for this port-style wine. Offering great black fruit notes such as plum and blueberry, this varietal carries the weight of this bold style quite well. The wine was aged partially in whiskey barrels to give an edgier approach to such a concentrated wine.
Sunset Hills Vineyard, nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, produces award winning, 100% Virginia wines from our Amish restored, historic winery. From the planting of the first vines in 1999, Mike and Diane Canney, owners of Sunset Hills Vineyard, had a vision of making fine wine of the highest quality in a manner which was gentle on the land. That vision is reflected in the sustainable farming practices employed today.
The original Sunset Hills was a very large and beautiful farm that later became Reston Virginia. Diane and I used to work very long hours in office buildings in Reston, looking out over the scenic landscape, dreaming that one day we would have a beautiful farm like that. Years later, after searching to find the perfect place for our vineyards and winery, Diane and I bought our first farm. Each evening, we would watch the sun set over the Blue Ridge mountains, talking about what grapes to plant, where to plant them and how we would do whatever it took to maximize quality. In 1999, the first vineyard was planted and we needed a name. We knew it could only have the name of the farm we had admired years before. Today, many of our customers and friends enjoy our wines on the 150 yr old farm, and enjoy watching the sun set over mountains. Sunset Hills Vineyard has been the perfect name!
After graduating from UVA in 2011, it was Corry’s love of travel that first led her to the wine industry. She soon found herself working the harvest in far off places like New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and France, with a few closer to home in Oregon and Virginia. She called both King Family and Blenheim Vineyards in Charlottesville home for a while, working harvests and spending time in the lab learning the ins and outs on winemaking, but it was her stretch in Oregon that showed her this wasn’t just a job, but a way of life. Although she’s been tempted by opportunities in Sonoma, CA, her desire to start her career as a winemaker in her home state of Virginia has kept her planted close to home. It excites her that Virginia is still in the early experimental phase of winemaking, and she really believes in the quality of wine that can be crafted here. She’s already experimenting in the cellar, and we can’t wait to see the fruits of her labor as they unfold in the future. If she’s not drinking a Virginia Chardonnay, you’ll most likely find her with a glass of Pinot Noir in her hand. When she’s not in the cellar, she’s likely out hiking, playing her cello or gone for a run.
Sunset Hills (18 acres), 50 West (7 acres), Shenandoah Springs (23 acres), Sherman Ridge (13 acres), Catesby (17 acres).
Age of the vines: 1 - 20 years
Evening Land Seven Springs Vineyard Summum Chardonnay is made from 100 percent Chardonnay.
The Estate Chardonnay comes from a unique block of young vines at the southern edge of Seven Springs. With vines running right up to a rich forest of Douglas fir, these Burgundian clones of Chardonnay face northwest with a view across the entire vineyard. The Seven Springs Chardonnay underwent a very gentle whole cluster press before being racked to French oak barrels for fermentation. The wine remained in barrel, roughly 30% of which was new, for 12 months before being racked to tank. The wine completed élevage in tank for another 6 months before bottling.
Brilliant straw-yellow. Fresh and energetic on the incisive nose, displaying fresh pear, nectarine and Meyer lemon scents accompanied by suave floral, saffron and chalky mineral flourishes. Silky and open-knit, offering densely packed yet shockingly lively citrus and orchard fruit, honeysuckle, oyster shell and saffron flavors that show superb tension and back-end lift. Finely delineated and lithe in character, finishing extremely long and seamless, with vibrant mineral cut and lingering floral and orchard fruit notes.
-Vinous 95 Points
Belle Glos Balade Pinot Noir is made from 100 percent Pinot Noir.
Dark violet in color with aromas of dark fruit and toasted brioche with a hint of baking spice. Bold and sophisticated on the palate with blackberry, boysenberry, French toast, black pepper, and a trace of cinnamon. This wine is beguiled with complexity and a light refreshing approach, yet not overly bold on the palate.