Sugarleaf Vineyards is located in the Monticello region of Virginia, twelve miles South of Charlottesville. The vineyard was originally planted to be a hobby for friends and wine enthusiasts Jerry Bias and Mike Taylor. The original vines were ordered before Mike was tragically killed in the events of 9/11 in New York City. After all of the time, effort and research that went into planning the vineyard, Jerry thought it only fitting that he continue the dream of his friend and started planting the 2,075 vines himself. Realizing the work that was required to handle a 4 acre vineyard on his own, he decided to bring in professionals for some additional help and went on to produce some great harvests in 2003, 2004, and 2005. These vintages were sold to local wineries that produced award winning wines from the Sugarleaf Vineyard grapes.
In 2004 construction began on Sugarleaf’s very own winery which produced it first vintage in 2006. In October last year (2007) we got a chance to visit Sugarleaf while they are in the midst of their 2007 crush. Winemaker and vineyard manager Daniel Neumeister can be seen in the picture below pressing their Vidal Blanc. I got a chance to speak with Daniel that day, and got a true appreciation for his respect for the grapes. He believes that the vineyard and the winery should be a continuous experience for the wine, not a separate one. I couldn’t agree more!
So recently Megan and I sat down with a bottle of the Sugarleaf Vineyard’s 2006 Petite Verdot (PV) of which only which 78 cases were produced. This estate red was made from 100% PV grapes that spent 8 months in a combination of American (90%) and European (10%) oak before being bottled.
My Tasting Notes –
Nose – Raspberry, cranberry, saddle, canned corn, small hint of skunk (the animal), and tree (not typical oakiness but instead if you were to head into the woods and stick your nose on a tree)
Taste – French style green beans, blueberry and black raspberry Popsicle
Mouthfeel – Medium body, firm tannins and fairly high acidity
Finish – Long, still feeling the tannins in my cheeks, although I would not say they (the tannins) were overpowering
This was good wine, a great effort for the first vintage of Sugarleaf Vineyards. On the PV scale, it was not as rich and powerful as I like PV’s to be. It was still slightly green, and the tannins were still a little tight which would should smooth out after a couple more years of aging as they did calm down after being in the decanter for a couple hours. At $28 it has the problem that a lot of the better wines in Virginia have, and that is their quality, price ratio. For 30 bucks you can get a pretty rockin’ wine, or 2 pretty rockin’ wines. I understand where the price comes from though don’t get me wrong, only 78 cases produced, single vineyard, hand harvested and a brand new winery. Hopefully as Sugarleaf gains some economies of scale over the next few vintages their prices will reflect that and/or the wines will continue to get better (don’t forget I did like this wine) and warrant the higher price tag.
Sugarleaf as a beautiful estate, a lovely little tasting room and a state of the art facility you can take a tour of. So if you are in the Charlottesville area doing some wine tasting, definitely put Sugarleaf on your list.
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