Tag Archives: merlot

Vintages Uncorked: A Cellar Tasting with Hawk Haven’s Winemaker

Cellar1

One thing we always say at Hawk Haven is that every great wine has a story. And every once in a while, we get the opportunity to replay those stories when we uncork a bottle that we’ve kept hidden away for a certain period of time.

I don’t know about you, but I find it very difficult to hold on to a bottle of wine. I bought it because it was good, I want to drink it now! And most of the wines here at Hawk Haven are just right to open and enjoy. But there are a few that benefit beautifully from some additional cellaring, some up to 10-15 years.

Luckily our Winemaker Todd had the foresight to stash away a few bottles for all of us. That means YOU too! And we (the Hawk Haven staff) got the chance to try some cellared wines a few days before they will be released to the public for two days only during our Cellar Wine Tasting on January 16th & 17th, 2016.

2012 Signature Series Chardonnay

Cellar6Blend: 100% Chardonnay
Aging: 7 months French Oak
Alcohol: 13.5%
Bottle Date: April 2013
Production: 495 bottles
Tasting Notes: When this wine was first released in 2013, flavors of dried mango and vanilla filled the palate. Todd had carefully chosen specific clones of the Chardonnay grape, known as “Dijon clones,” as he was looking for a lower-yielding, more flavor-concentrated cluster of fruit. He definitely chose well, because almost three years later this wine has really blossomed. Those vanilla notes gained a pleasant creamy quality, and the mango evolved into caramelized pineapple and lemon creme brulée.

2008, 2009,  & 2010 Merlot

Cellar10Blend: 100% Merlot
Aging: ’08- 21 months French Oak
’09- 20 months French Oak
’10- 23 months French Oak
Alcohol: 13.9%
Bottle Date: ’08- July 14, 2010
’09- August 5, 2011
’10- July 2012
Production: ’08- 119 cases
’09- 84 cases
’10- 130 cases
Tasting Notes: Plum, cherry, and strawberry were all common denominators when these wines were originally released. The ’08 was marked by rich fruit and soft tannins. The ’09 was more aromatic with a peppery finish. And the ’10 was a nice balance of berry and spice. Tasting the 2008 Merlot now, the jamminess is stillCellar24 there on the nose, but now with an earthiness and notes of chocolate and cedar spice. But on the palate the fruit gently fades into elegant tannins. The 2009 still has some opening up to do, so now is a great time to get a few bottles for cellaring. Where the ’08 is more refined, the ’09 is bold and vibrant. The body is heavier, with more lush black fruit, a finish of mint leaf, and an oaky thread throughout. And finally, the 2010 Merlot is “super fruity” (that is very advanced wine terminology right there) with notes of strawberry preserves, leather, and bright fruit. The ’08 and ’10 vintages are prime for drinking now, but the ’09 will definitely benefit from additional aging.

2008, 2009, 2010 Talon

Cellar20Blend: ’08- 50% Merlot, 50% Syrah
’09- 47% Sangiovese, 34% Merlot, 19% Syrah
’10-33% Sangiovese, 33% Merlot, 33% Syrah
Aging: ’08- 24 months French Oak
’09- 20 months French Oak
’10-23 months French Oak
Alcohol: 13.4%
Bottle Date: ’08- December 14, 2010
’09- August 5, 2011
’10- July 2012
Production: ’08- 85 cases
’09- 122 cases
’10- 208 cases
Tasting Notes: The wines in our Talon label have always been known for being bold and jammy, and time has only improved on these qualities with an added elegance and smooth palate. Looking through the winemaker’s original notes when these wines were first released, I see a lot of words like blueberry pie, strawberry jam, cherry, and spice. Fast-forward to theCellar21 present and those somewhat astringent qualities have softened; we perceived leather, nuttiness, and caramel. The 2008 Talon has cherry and sweet spice aromas with a full palate spectrum of mint leaf to strawberry jam with a bright rush of tart cherry towards the finish. The berry notes in the 2009 are more on the tangy side; think blackberry and raspberry, with a leathery front palate of cranberry sauce. The ’10 has a softer nose, not quite as aromatic as the Merlot, but the palate really builds through the finish with nice tannins and a hint of sour cherry.

CONCLUSION

IMG_7275There was a definite consistency in the vintages with the Merlot and Talon. “You can find the terroir from year to year,” says Lou, our assistant winemaker, “These wines are alive.” The 2008 vintages are now more elegant and refined with softer tannins while the 2009’s are bigger and more robust. For all of the wines, from the Chardonnay to the Merlot to the Talon, you can absolutely sense the passage of time. When they were bottled, the fruity notes were packed in tightly with more pronounced qualities from the barrel. Once the wine got used to its new home, the fruit lost its inhibitions and rushed to the forefront. Now, time has allowed the flavors of fruit and oak to marry, and what a beautiful marriage it is!

We hope you will join us this Saturday & Sunday (January 16th & 17th, 2016) for our Cellar Tasting featuring all of these wines plus a bonus wine from our Signature Series collection! The Cellar Tasting is $20 a person and includes a souvenir glass. All of the wines will be available for purchase at the tasting room this weekend only. These wines are in limited quantity and won’t last long so be sure to get them while you can!

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50 Shades of Green: A Very Veraison Affair

Recently, veraison was in full swing at Hawk Haven and you know what that means, right? No? You don’t? Oh… well… this is awkward…

Not to worry, most people have no idea what “veraison” is, let alone how to pronounce it. Todd says it like the word “version” but with an “ay” between the r and s. But fancy Lou pronounces it the French way so it sounds like “vera-ZON” (say it with a French accent). I say it like… well, mostly I try not to say it at all, so instead I’ll just tell you what it is and show you some pictures.

Simply put, veraison is what is happening when the grapes turn from an opaque green to whatever color they’re meant to turn when they’re fully mature. That means your red wine grapes like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are turning different hues of purple, violet, and even blue. Similarly, the white wine grapes like Riesling and Chardonnay are changing to a golden tone, or a more translucent shade of green.

Below are some photos of our grapes in transition. You’ll notice that some varietals are farther along than others. The best way to see them, though, is on our Vineyard & Winery Tour where you’ll get up close and personal with the vines. You can also see more photos of veraison from our 2009 harvest by clicking here.

Pinot Grigio
Pinot Grigio
Merlot
Merlot
Merlot
Merlot
Gewurztraminer
Gewurztraminer
Tempranillo
Tempranillo

 

Lynsie-blog-signature

Behind the Bar: Lynsie

This is going to be very odd because today I’ll be writing about myself. Hello, I’m Lynsie, I manage the blog, facebook, and twitter for Hawk Haven. You might also see me in the tasting room, usually at the register. I started working here in the summer of 2010 because Hawk Haven was and is my favorite winery here in Cape May County. I love the atmosphere, not to mention the wine maker hasn’t yet made a wine I didn’t like. Everyone here is so friendly, from the staff to the customers, that it never feels like a job.

lynsiebiophotoI live in Cape May with my husband but I was born and raised in Delaware. No kids yet, but we do have a dog and two cats. I started pursuing an English degree at University of Delaware, but ended up majoring in Religion at Liberty University in Virginia. So, naturally, I have a completely unrelated job here at Hawk Haven, pouring wine and tweeting pictures of the vineyard.

I love reading, cooking, and jogging. I also have an unnatural obsession with Disney World which everyone here loves to tease me about. Seriously though, get me started talking about it and I won’t shut up. I am amazed at the number of guests that visit the winery who are fellow Disney lovers and I love exchanging tips and stories about visiting “the World.”

But I digress. I’m supposed to talk about my favorite Hawk Haven wine now, but the truth is I love the different wines for different reasons. Mostly it depends on what I’m eating.cinderella I love the Pinot Grigio with salmon baked with lemon slices and capers because the citrusy notes of the wine cut through the creamy texture of the fish. I don’t eat Mexican food without the Red-Tailed Rose because the fruity sweetness is a perfect match for the spicier tones in the food. The Northern Harrier Red is a great everyday drinking wine and when I’m in the mood for something with a little more substance like pasta or burgers, this blend is an easy pick. I could go on and on but I guess if you were going to get me a bottle for Christmas, I would want the 2010 Reserve Merlot. It isn’t on our regular tasting list (it’s Signature Series), but I promise you this wine is divine. It’s so smooth and rich with notes of raspberry and cocoa. It was love at first sip!

My advice for wine drinkers is to not be afraid to try new wines. Your palate is always changing, and besides, even within a particular varietal there are going to be different flavors depending on where it was grown, how it was aged, etc. Wine tasting should be relaxing and fun; remember, you’re here to find something you love! And don’t be afraid to ask questions.

P.S. This month Lynsie is raising awareness and funds for the International Justice Mission‘s goal to end human trafficking, sexual exploitation, and other forms of violent oppression by participating in Dressember. She will be wearing a dress every day for the entire month of December, and you can follow her on instagram and twitter. Please consider making a donation on her campaign page (click here).

Recent Awards

In the last few months we submitted several of our wines to a few different competitions/wine reviewers and we wanted to share with you the results.

We’ve already mentioned The Judgement of Rittenhouse where our 2010 barrel-fermented Chardonnay was given the opportunity to go up against a French wine of the same vintage and varietal. It didn’t win but it did get the silver at New Jersey Monthly’s wine competition. Some wine competitions award medals based on a point system; they aren’t compared to each other so multiple wines might receive the same type of medal (gold, silver, bronze) depending on how many points it got. At this competition, only one of each type of medal was awarded, so we were especially proud of our Chardonnay for getting the silver.

World Wine Championship

You’ve probably been to the wine section of a liquor store and seen the various ratings in front of the different wines and wondered who exactly assigned them. One of them is the Beverage Testing Institute on www.tastings.com. We submitted four of our wines to their World Wine Championship this year and here are the results:

2009 Merlot: 88 Points “Highly Recommended” Silver Medal
Ruby red color. Aromas of plum pudding and tomato chutney with a chewy, dry-yet-fruity medium-to-full body and a nice kiss of vanilla and peppery spices on the gentle finish.

2010 Chardonnay: 88 Points “Highly Recommended” Silver Medal
Golden yellow color. Aromas of roasted pineapple and toasty meringue with a fruity-yet-dry medium body and a honeyed apple, lemon mousse, fruit salad, and delicate brown spice accented finish. Tasty.

2010 Gewurztraminer: 87 Points “Highly Recommended” Silver Medal
Golden color. Lush fresh baked peach strudel and orange sorbet aromas with supple, fruity medium body and a honeyed golden raisin chutney and apple-pear cider finish. A nice late harvest style gewurz.

2009 Northern Harrier Red: 84 Points “Recommended” Bronze Medal
Ruby color. Aromas of cranberries and tomatoes on the vine with a soft, dryish medium body and a tangy, tangerine and sun-dried tomato accented finish.

This competition features wines from all over the world including California, France, and Italy, so we are always happy to see our wines place.

American Kestrel White- Bronze

2010 Chardonnay- Silver

2009 Merlot- Bronze

2010 Pinot Grigio- Bronze

2009 Talon- Bronze

2010 Viognier- Bronze

2012 International Eastern Wine Competition

2009 Talon- Gold

2010 Viognier- Bronze

2010 Chardonnay- Bronze

2009 Northern Harrier Red- Bronze

What’s In A Name?

How much do you know about Merlot?  Before you start quoting Sideways and say you’re not drinking any, let’s take a closer look at the third most grown wine in the world.

Hawk Haven Merlot Grapes
Our Hawk Haven Merlot Grapes

Merlot wine is a varietal made from the Merlot grape, which is also used in any number of blended wines.  The name Merlot is thought to come from the Old French word for “young blackbird.”  This was either because of the grapes gorgeous dark-blue color, or from the delight that blackbirds find in eating the grapes.

Merlot may be an offspring of the Cabernet Franc grape, and is a sibling of Carménère and Cabernet Sauvignon.  The grapes are identified by loose bunches of large berries with a thinner skin, fewer tannins and a higher sugar content than a Cabernet Sauvignon.  The softness of the Merlot grape, along with its earlier ripening, makes it a good choice for blending with Cabernet Sauvignon, which ripens later and tends to be higher in tannin.

There are three main styles of Merlot.  You can either have a soft, fruity, smooth wine with very little tannins, a fruity wine with a medium tannic structure, or a brawny highly tannic style made in the profile of a Cabernet Sauvignon.  Some of the fruit notes commonly associated with Merlot include cassis, black and red cherries, blackberry, blueberry, boysenberry, mulberry and plum. Vegetable and earthy notes include black and green olives, cola nut, bell pepper, fennel, humus, leather, mushrooms, rhubarb and tobacco. Floral and herbal notes commonly associated with Merlot include green and black tea, eucalyptus, laurel, mint, oregano, pine, rosemary, sage, sarsaparilla and thyme.  When Merlot has spent significant time in oak, the wine may show notes of caramel, chocolate, coconut, coffee bean, dill weed, mocha, molasses, smoke, vanilla and walnut.

Hawk Haven Estate Merlot
Hawk Haven Estate Merlot

Our own Hawk Haven Merlot was such a hit that we completely sold out!  Our 2007 Estate Merlot was an exceptionally balanced wine, with a delicate harmony of soft, rounded tannins and rich concentrations of fruit.  The lush plum flavors and notes of blackberry and cherry lent themselves to a smooth and velvety finish.

So what are we doing telling you about a wine that’s sold out?  Besides starting some deep cravings for a delicious Merlot, we want to get you all geared up for the release of our 2008 Merlot!  On August 13th we will be releasing our new Merlot, and every indication is that it is going to be just as good as last year.  Visit our website and sign up for our email newsletter for more information on this and other events at Hawk Haven.