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.
Faust Cabernet Sauvignon is made from 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, complemented with Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc.
"Cabernet’s classic aromas and flavors star in our 2021 Faust Napa Valley. Delicate violet notes lift the dark fruit on the nose—black currant and briary blackberry—layered with pungent forest botanicals, leafy tobacco, graphite, and toasted spice. The velvet of fine-textured tannins backs expressive red fruit flavors on a complex palate, both sweet and savory with mocha and minerality, juicy ripe fruit and freshness.” — DAVID JELINEK, WINEMAKER
Faust Cabernet Sauvignon—a blend of our Coombsville vineyard fruit with lots from other cool sites in the valley—sets the bar for elegant balance in Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. In 2021, cooler-thanaverage temperatures produced that balance naturally, with flavors and tannins reaching maturity against a backdrop of ideal acidity levels. The wine is deliciously versatile, with generously ripe fruit that makes it an appealing sip on its own, but also enough lively acidity to make it an ideal partner for a range of foods.
The winter of 2021 brought little rain and deepening drought conditions in Napa Valley, setting up a vintage of low yields and small, concentrated berries. At the same time, temperatures from spring through the growing season ran slightly cooler than normal, lengthening the ripening period after veraison. Sugar levels rose very gradually while acidity levels remained high and bright. As a result, the fruit came in with notable flavor intensity, supple and mature tannins, natural complexity—balanced between ripeness and vibrant freshness
Inviting aromas of ripe blackcurrants and blackberries as well as crushed walnuts, cedar and bark. Full-bodied, creamy and structured with firm, polished tannins. Balanced and even with a lingering finish.
-James Suckling 95 Points
Bella Union by Far Niente Napa Cabernet Sauvignon is made from 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 5% Malbec, 2% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot.
The 2021 Bella Union Napa Valley Cabernet possesses beautiful and intriguing aromas of dark plum, black cherry, hints of clove and barrel spice. The palate is well-structured with velvety tannins complemented by generous layers of fruit flavors of blackberry, fig, and raspberry preserves that give way to a melting finish.
Monteagrelo Cabernet Franc has beautiful ruby red with purple highlights.
It displays aromas of ripe red berries with a nice wood smoke complexity, thanks to the aging in French oak barrels. The wine has a very good structure, but the tannins are still quite round and integrated.
Aged in French and American oak barrels for 15 months. No filtration and no fining.
The finish is very long and will allow the wine to be consumed with food, such as grilled meat or cheese.
"From the Uco Valley, the 2019 Cabernet Franc Monteagrelo was aged in French vats for 10 months. A light purple in hue, the precise, expressive nose presents notes of green pepper, blackcurrant and ash with hints of jalapeño. Smooth with a broad palate, the flow is corseted a little by the mild freshness, as is the bold finish. A delicate red of a kind you rarely see in a Cabernet Franc. - Joaquín Hidalgo"
- Antonio Galloni's Vinous (November 2021), 92 pts
Signature Cabernet Sauvignon is made from 79% Cabernet Sauvignon and nearly equal portions of Petit Verdot, Malbec, and Merlot.
The Signature Cabernet Sauvignon has been a foundational wine for more than five decades. It is a benchmark for the long-lived hillside wines of the Napa Valley, full of structure and aging potential, yet seductively forward in its concentrated varietal character. The dry, rocky soils of Pritchard Hill produce small, intensely flavorful grapes. Crop thinning allows for full, even ripening and elevates flavor complexity.
Leading off the Cabernet Sauvignon releases, the 2021 Cabernet Sauvignon Signature is a larger production release and is 79% Cabernet Sauvignon and nearly equal portions of Petit Verdot, Malbec, and Merlot. Smoky black fruits, graphite, crushed stone, and tobacco notes give way toa medium to full-bodied, concentrated, powerful 2021 offering ample mid-palate depth, a layered, textured, balanced mouthfeel, building tannins, and a gorgeous finish. It's a brilliant bottle of wine that will benefit from short-term cellaring and have over two decades of longevity.
-Jeb Dunnuck 94+ Points
Sunset Hills Cabernet Franc is made from Cabernet Franc 80%, Petit Verdot 18%, Merlot 2%
Ripe red cherry, black plum, and hazelnut bring this medium bodied wine to the table. Elegant tannins and subtle toasty notes round out the finish.
The base for the Cabernet Franc is from the Shenandoah Vineyard site, which is typically cooler than the other sites offering bright acidity and red fruit characteristics. Hand picked, chilled, destemmed to bins and tanks for fermentation. Fermentation 6-12 days. 15 years old vines.
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
Franz Prager, co-founder of the Vinea Wachau, had already earned a reputation for his wines when Toni Bodenstein married into the family. Bodenstein’s passion for biodiversity and old terraces, coupled with brilliant winemaking, places Prager in the highest echelon of Austrian producers.
Smaragd is a designation of ripeness for dry wines used exclusively by members of the Vinea Wachau. The wines must have minimum alcohol of 12.5%. The grapes are hand-harvested, typically in October and November, and are sent directly to press where they spontaneously ferment in stainless-steel tanks.
Klaus sits adjacent to Achleiten and is one of the Wachau’s most famous vineyards for Riesling. The vineyard is incredibly steep with a gradient of 77% at its steepest point. The southeast-facing terraced vineyard of dark migmatite-amphibolite and paragneiss produces a tightly wound and powerful wine. The parcel belonging to Toni Bodenstein was planted in 1952.
Austrian Riesling is often defined by elevated levels of dry extract thanks to a lengthy ripening period and freshness due to dramatic temperature swings between day and night. “Klaus is not a charming Riesling,” says Toni Bodenstein with a wink. Klaus is Prager’s most assertive and robust Riesling.
Riesling’s high acidity makes it one of the most versatile wines at the table. Riesling can be used to cut the fattiness of foods such as pork or sausages and can tame some saltiness. Conversely, it can highlight foods such as fish or vegetables in the same way a squeeze of lemon or a vinaigrette might.
The 2020 Ried Klaus Riesling Smaragd is deep, pure and coolish on the nose, very complex, refined and flinty. Silky, refined and elegant on the palate, this is a juicy-piquant as well as crystalline and salty, very complex and persistent Klaus of great class and style with fine tannins, stimulating bitters and firm structure. A great wine. Tasted in June 2021.
At Prager, I could not determine that 2020 would be inferior to the 2019 vintage; on the contrary, the 2020 Smaragd wines fascinated me enormously in their clear, cool, terroir-tinged way. A 38% loss had occurred mainly because of the hail on August 22, although predominantly in the Federspiel or Riesling vineyards. There was no damage in the top vineyards such as Ried Klaus, Achleiten or Zwerithaler. "Interestingly, the vines are in agony for about two weeks after the hail. There was no more growth, no development of ripeness and sugar," reports Toni Bondenstein. The Veltliner then recovered earlier, while even picking a Riesling Federspiel in October was still a struggle. "Why Riesling reacted more intensively to the hail, I don't know myself either," says Bodenstein. Whole clusters were pressed to preserve acidity and to compensate for the lower extract, and compared to 2019, the 2020s were left on their lees longer. In June, however, the 20s in particular showed outstanding early shape.
-Wine Advocate 96 Points
Argot Le Rayon Vert Chardonnay is made from 100 percent Chardonnay.
"Le Rayon Vert", the phenomenon which occurs as the sun dips below the horizon, and a brilliant green flash occurs when sunlight prisms through Earth's atmosphere. Jules Verne wrote "a green which no artist could ever obtain on his palette”, akin to the ethereal, green halo all truly pedigreed Chardonnays radiate from the glass.
Wafting from the glass like a freshly opened stick of Wrigley's gum. Both intense and vibrant, the full-bodied palate delivers Granny Smith apple and stone fruits; confections of custard and sticky vanilla bean; animated by bursts of spearmint and pine forest.
The 2020 Le Rayon-Vert comes bounding out of the glass with bold notions of lemon meringue pie, fresh apricots, and sea spray, giving way to nuances of struck flint, wet pebbles, and Marcona almonds, plus wafts of lime leaves and mandarin peel. The medium to full-bodied is simply electric, delivering super-intense citrus and mineral layers with a crisp backbone and a very long, chalky finish.
-The Wine Independent 96 Points