Stinson Vineyards and Ankida Ridge Vineyards
Let’s get this out of the way: There aren’t going to be any pictures. I forgot my camera.
The first winery we hit on the Appellation Wine Trail’s Grand Opening day was Stinson Vineyards, a new winery that’s not technically open to the public yet. They actually open on June 16th, with their Grand Opening celebration on July 4th; but, they rolled it out for this one day.
It was pouring rain, so we didn’t get a great look at the outside of things, but the inside is comfortably utilitarian. At least for this event, there were three small wine tasting stations, some comfortable indoor seating, and a selection of fresh jams and herbs for purchase. The atmosphere was friendly, open, and airy. The tasting room is attached to their actual “operations” area, and there was free movement between the two, which was kind of fun.
We wandered up to the middle tasting bar, and were greeted by Rachel Stinson, who is also the social media guru for the winery (and, incidentally, for the Appellation Trail club’s twitter feed at AppTrailVA). I’d been sending her, though I didn’t know it was her, annoying tweets all week about details of the event and wineries. So, I shouldn’t have been as surprised as I was when she recognized me. Despite my annoying over-tweeting, she was very friendly and helpful. Unsurprisingly, she was also really knowledgeable about the wines. Tastings were $5. For this event, that included a small lunch of a slider and some sides, too (see more about that in yesterday’s review).
As we were getting ready for our tasting, Rachel pointed out their Nomblot Concrete Egg. Yeah, I didn’t know what the heck that was or what it was for, either. Fortunately, you can do what I did, and read about it on their blog. As I found out when I did so yesterday, it probably explained some of what I had in my tasting notes. Apparently, there are only a few of these in the state, including one owned by Jim Law.
We started off with the 2010 Sauvignon blanc ($21.99). Stainless steel fermented. There was a lot of citrus for me on the nose: a really floral lemon and tart apple stood out, but there was some grass and hay on the nose, as well. This white was very light, but still managed to have what I think of as a “deep” palette. I have no idea why I got butter on this one, since there’s no oak. A solid white with nice dryness. I should probably point out here that I am still learning about Sauv Blanc, so I am not the best person to judge this. Generally I am a reds girl, but I’m really, really trying to learn to love whites, and I could definitely drink this. They say to pair it with oysters, crab, or salmon, but I think it would overpower the latter two unless there was a butter or cream sauce. I’d put it with fresh oysters, cedar-planked grilled shrimp skewers, or lemon cream pasta.
Next was the 2010 Rose ($19.99). This dry rose is 100% Mourvedre grape according to their tasting notes, and sat on the skins for 48 hours. It had great color. Unfortunately, it didn’t have much flavor up front for me. I got a lot of minerality, and even some smokiness (which the tasting notes actually list, as well), but not a lot else. On the back, though, it had a really long, pleasant finish. Overall, I think this is too light to stand up to much in the way of food. It would do well for some white drinkers trying to break into reds, but for me there just wasn’t enough there.
The 2010 Sugar Hollow White ($14.95) is a blend of Petit Manseng (a particular favorite grape of mine) and Rkatsiteli. The latter I knew exactly zero about, until Rachel mentioned it was a Russian grape (which is now my full extent of knowledge about it). This is a super-light porch sipper with 0.9% residual sugar. I got peaches and honeysuckle on both the nose and palette, which isn’t surprising given the Petit Manseng. I can’t imagine any food this would stand up to, so drink it alone and well-chilled. At the price, it’s a fine bottle to pop for guests at a summer shindig. It’s not so much my speed, generally, as I don’t typically care for sweeter whites, but I’d take a glass or two on a hot night around a bonfire.
The reds kicked off with the 2010 Sugar Hollow Red ($12.99). The notes say it’s whole berry fermented and aged in stainless. The nose was dark berry with some leather, and dirt and wet forest. I don’t mean that in a bad way, I like the smell of dirt and wet forest–it’s a clean, earthy kinds of smell. In fact, I suspect that’s the word I should have used, but I like my description better. Again, this had a lot of minerality, of which I am quickly becoming a fan, and the medium finish was leather, plum, and that earthy thing. Thadd wasn’t a fan, but I like this as a full bodied table red, and the price is hard to beat for that.
We finished up with a barrel sample of the 2010 Cabernet Franc ($21.99). They’re bottling it May 2nd, so I assume it’ll be available for sale when they open in June. I got a lot of tobacco and smoke on the nose, which carried over into the palette. There was some black pepper, and some cherry in the background. This wine is still really tight, and I’ll be interested to see it in a year or two. I think it’s going to age nicely, and will benefit from some time in the cellar. This was probably my favorite of the offerings, followed closely by the Sugar Hollow Red.
Currently, Stinson is buying all their grapes from other local wineries. They’ve got their own vines in the ground, but it’ll be a couple of years before we see what they do with them. Rachel mentioned that they were learning some biodiversity technique from Ankida Ridge Vineyard (see my review of their pinot noir below), so it’ll be interesting to watch them mature as they have control of their own fruit. Overall, they’ve got some solid, unique wines priced appropriately and one really great value, and I believe they’re a winery to watch.
While we were there, we also got to taste a barrel sample of Ankida Ridge Vineyard’s Pinot Noir (there’s no price on this yet).. In a word: DRY. This had smoke all over, from the nose to the palette to the finish. There was a lot of tobacco on the nose and at the finish, but little on the palatte. There was a lot of black cherry and some floral on the front and middle, dying in the finish. The spice kicked in here a bit late, but lingered nicely through the finish. It was a little hot, though I suspect that some aging will remedy that. I am total sucker for a good pinot noir, and I’ll even drink a mediocre one, so I was pretty excited to see another example of this wine from local fruit. Only a few places in VA have the microclimate to grow these grapes, and I am not sure if Ankida is growing their own or buying them from one of the local places. This was a great example of a Pinot Noir. It’s exciting to see another well-done version of this here in VA. It’s tight, but since it’s not even out of the barrel yet, that’s totally expected. I’d pair this with Basque chicken. I know that’s oddly specific, but it’s all I could think about when tasting it, and that’s what’s going to get paired with it when we bring a bottle home.
They’re not set to open until fall, but Rachel said they’d be selling online sometime in May. Meanwhile, you can keep up with their progress via their blog, where you can also moon and goo-goo at the fuzzy little lambs they’ve got roaming around.
Tomorrow: White Hall Vineyards.
Author’s Note: I’ve been asked why you can’t leave comments on my blog. You can, it’s just not as easy to find as I’d like to to be. Look just below this post, and you’ll see a small, gray paragraph of links/actions. Just click “Leave a comment.” I’ll leave one now, so you’ll see a number beside it.
- Grab Your Life Jacket, And Triple A Card, We’re Going Wine Tasting! (eclecticedibles.wordpress.com)
- Get an “Official” Taste of Spring on The Appellation Trail (cvilleuncorked.com)