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.
Red Phoenix Red Blend is made from 57% Zinfandel; 14% Petit Verdot; 12% Petite Sirah; 7% Syrah; 5% Merlot; 5% Cabernet Sauvignon.
With European origins dating back centuries ago, blended red wine is once again having its day in the sun. Red Phoenix Red Wine Blend represents the essence of this well-deserved resurgence. Unbound by a single varietal or appellation, and given more flexibility with vintages, winemaker Joseph Smith skillfully showcases six distinct varietals in this luscious and layered wine. Unlike traditional red blends, Red Phoenix is both barrel aged and barrel fermented, adding structure, balance, and a new dimension to a wine that is rooted in tradition and soars on the palate.
75% of the fruit is coming from Lodi AVA, while the remaining 25% are Napa Valley AVA's fruits.
Coastal aromas of fresh fruit and lush florals coupled with a deep ruby color intrigue the senses. Bright, bold flavors of cherry and blackberry ascend on the palate while showcasing subtle, smooth tannins. The wine crescendos with anise, chocolate and toasted oak, offering depth and complexity, as velvety flavors continue to linger and evolve throughout the long, rich finish.
"This rich, velvety, mature and full-bodied wine was made from 93°/o Cabernet Sauvignon. Concentrated blackberry and blueberry flavors are generously accented by milk chocolate. While rather tannic, the mouthfeel is full but not tight. -J.G. "
- Wine Enthusiast (November 2022), 90 pts
Avennia Justine Red Blend 61% Grenache, 21% Mourvèdre, and 18% Syrah.
Justine reflects our belief that Washington is capable of producing world class blends of grape varieties traditional to the Southern Rhone region of France. The name is inspired by one of the great heroines of recent literature, who also sprung from the imagination of the Mediterranean. Dark, seductive, complex, with a chasm of depth: The Justine is a great reflection of Avennia's mission of expression, and Washington's generous terroir.
Tasting Note: Big black cherry, blackberry, hints of orange peel, fresh herbs and loam on the nose. Plush and round on the palate. Dark earthy fruits from the Mourvedre, along with citrus high notes, mountain flowers, jasmine, and savory herbs. Balanced and complex without forgetting its hedonistic roots in the Southern Rhone.
Avennia Valery Red Blend is made from 86% Merlot and 14% Cabernet Franc
Valery is named for the patron saint of wine in the St. Emilion region that inspired it.
We started with old vine Merlot from a stony block in the heart of the Yakima Valley and added complex, aromatic Cabernet Franc from the Horse Heaven Hills. The result is a balanced, complex wine with the elegance and ethereal perfume that this blend of two of Washington’s best varietals are known for.
The nose on this wine is very perfumed, almost exotic with notes of fresh violets, red plum, winter mint, fresh herbs and crushed limestone qualities. The palate is poised and balanced, with red fruits and mocha powder encapsulated in limestone. The finish lingers delicately, with the Cabernet Franc asserting a light tobacco and herb note, giving depth. A compelling wine that will continue to unwind for 7-10 years in the cellar.
"Brought up in 30% new French oak, the 2016 Valery (70/30 Merlot and Cabernet Franc) offers more black cherry and earthy, herbal notes as well as a medium-bodied, seamless, beautifully balanced style. It too shows a vibrant, fresh, yet concentrated style that has a Bordeaux feel in its weight and texture."
- Jeb Dunnuck (April 2019), 93 pts
"Good medium-dark red. Aromas of blueberry, mocha, licorice and violet are a bit darker than those of the 2015 version. Dense and penetrating, with wild flavors of dark berries, licorice and game given lift by rocky minerality and a minty nuance. Chris Peterson slightly acidified his Cabernet Franc from Champoux Vineyard, which he added to the wine for richness. This beauty may yet tighten up in the bottle.- Stephen Tanzer"
- Antonio Galloni's Vinous (November 2018), 92+ pts
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
Sunset Hills Mosaic Red Blend is made from Merlot 23.5%, Cabernet Franc 58%, Petit Verdot 17.7%
Dark tobacco and leather alongside cooked blueberry and plum. The structure is solid leading to an even finish.
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
Mt Brave Cabernet Sauvignon is made from 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6.5% Cabernet Franc, 3% Merlot, 1.5% Petit Verdot and 1% Malbec.
Lots of cassis and black raspberry fruits as well as classic Mount Veeder notes of lavender, violets, bouquet garni, and rocky, mineral-like notes emerge from the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon. A deep, full-bodied mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, it has a plush, layered texture, beautiful tannins, a deep, concentrated mid-palate, and a great finish. Another head-turning wine from this label, it’s a candidate for the best Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon out there at the price point.
-Jeb Dunnuck 97 Points
The 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon from Mt. Brave is fabulous. Inky, rich and explosive, the 2018 possesses tremendous depth and tons of personality. Graphite, blue/purplish fruit, blackberry jam, bittersweet chocolate, sage, lavender, menthol give the 2018 tons of character to match its explosive feel. The brooding, backward wine is going to need quite a bit of time to unwind, but boy is it gorgeous.
-Vinous 97 Points
Grand Veneur Chateauneuf Du Pape Blanc La Fontaine is made from 100% Roussane.
Yellow-gold color. The nose is rich in aromas of citrus fruit, tropical fruit, quince and honey, with a touch of vanilla. On the palate, the same aromas appear together with a fatness combining exotic fruit and vanilla : the wine is rich, generous and elegant, with extraordinary length. "La Fontaine" is often considered to be one of the best Châteauneuf du Pape white, and it is by definition a superb gastronomy wine.
Best between 1 and 8 years.
"The 2021 Châteauneuf Du Pape La Fontaine Blanc is a much more concentrated, serious wine, and it takes plenty of air to show at its best today. Based on Roussanne, it has a medium gold hue as well as rich aromatics of honeyed stone fruits, orange blossom, caramelized peach, and toasted bread. Beautiful on the palate as well, it’s medium-bodied, has a layered, concentrated mouthfeel, good acidity, and a great finish. Give it a year or three in the cellar and enjoy over the following decade."
- Jeb Dunnuck (November 2022), 94 pts