Tag Archives: wine tasting

Tasting the Future: Barrel Tasting Hawk Haven Wines

ToddBarrel
Wine Maker Todd and his handy dandy wine thief.

Winter is a quiet time in the vineyard. The vines are being pruned and are enjoying a well deserved respite after a long growing season. But inside the winery walls, the winemaker and his staff are hard at work making all that grape juice into delicious wine. I managed to grab a few moments with our assistant winemaker, Lou, to talk about all that has been going on.

Steel_Wine_Tanks
Stainless Steel tanks are chilled to about 40 degrees

Since harvesting last fall, the white wines were cold settled to around 40 degrees, then racked into their fermentation vessel.”Racking is a fancy wine word for moving between barrels or tanks,” Lou explains. “For the white wines that are barrel fermented, such as Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, we use the ‘sur lie’ technique.” This is a method of aging where the wine is allowed to hang out with the dead yeast (lees), making sure to stir it up every once in a while until the desired flavor is achieved. “This way we get the full rich body of an oaked white wine but still maintain the desired elements of crisp acidity and fruitiness.”

Lou_Racking_wine
Lou racking some wine

At that point, it’s time to age the wine. The winemaker must decide: oak or steel? For the most part, Todd prefers to stick to tradition; wines such as Pinot Grigio and Albarińo are sent to stainless steel tanks, while others like Chardonnay and Viognier are put into oak barrels. But every so often he chooses to break with tradition and experiment, like his 2012 Signature Series Barrel-Fermented Riesling, or the Naked Chardonnay which is aged in stainless steel.

Lou explains: “We do both styles of Chardonnay because we want to have a nice, crisp, refreshing wine (Naked Chardonnay), as well as a rich, full bodied wine (oaked Chardonnay).” We will soon see another variation… the 2015 Viognier. “Todd decided not to barrel ferment the Viognier this year, but rather to cold steel ferment to capture all those big fruit flavors that are indigenous to the grape.”

The wine making staff taste every barrel for "quality assurance"
The wine making staff taste every barrel for “quality assurance”

And what about the reds? After these grapes are harvested, the juice is fermented as Must, which is another fancy wine word for the grape juice, skins, and seeds all mixed together. Then they are pressed and moved into barrels. “The red wines are from the 2014 harvest, so they’ve been patiently waiting in barrel, being racked every 6 months, and finally blended for your enjoyment. Todd and I did the painstaking work of tasting every barrel to make sure the blends were just right.”

Lou_Wine_tasting
Lou’s favorite part of the job: drinking the wine!

Heartbreaking, I know. It’s not hard to see why this is one of Lou’s favorite times of the year. Tasting the wines is a big part of the job. “It’s like bread right out of the oven. The wines have a perfect balance of oak and fruit. There’s a freshness, a unique flavor. It’s not something that everyone has the opportunity to do.”

Wine Maker Todd Wuerker
Wine Maker Todd Wuerker

That is, until now. Guests at the Hawk Haven tasting room get the opportunity to share the winemakers’ experience at this weekend’s Barrel Tasting and Futures Sale. You are cordially invited for a complimentary taste of wines to come on Saturday, February 20th and Sunday, February 21st. No reservations required! These wines (listed below) will also be available exclusively this weekend for pre-order at significant discount before they are bottled and released at retail.

lynsie-blog-signature

2008 White Port (second bottling)
2014 Quill
2014 Signature Series Syrah
2014 Cabernet Sauvignon
2015 Chardonnay
2015 Signature Series Viognier
2015 Sauvignon Blanc

Discounts available on futures only:
1-5 bottles: 15% off
6-11 bottles: 20% off
12+ bottles: 25% off
Wine Club Members will receive an additional 10% off

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!

Cellar4

Wine – Keep it Simple

Wine can be a very complicated subject matter. No doubt, tending and training the vines, growing the grapes, knowing when to harvest and finally the craft of bringing all of it together to produce an enjoyable experience to karlshare with family and friends is both challenging and hopefully rewarding for those engaged in the hard work. BUT!! If you are anything like me you are mostly interested in one thing: How does it taste and do I enjoy it.

O.K. you got me that’s two things.

Trust me, you do not have to be a Mensa candidate to enjoy wine. Some folks try to cultivate wine appreciation into an intellectual endeavor. It AIN’T. It is about the visceral impact of a good grape on one’s palate. That is it.

By the way the highest and best use to which a palate can be put is to separate the oral cavity from the nasal cavity. Everything and anything beyond that is simply a bonus. But what a bonus – when you find that just right wine to share with that just right person at that just right moment.

Take it from a lifetime member of the third reading group – keep it simple and savor the damn wine.

Karl-blog-signature

 

 

 

Karl is a former drill instructor and recovering attorney. He joined the Hawk Haven team in April of 2012 and we haven’t been able to get rid of him since. To read more about our resident vineyard curmudgeon, click here.

Be Our Valentine?

1533932_10151967819682955_973538982_n

Valentine’s Day is this Friday, February 14th, which is perfect because it means we have all weekend to celebrate. If you’re looking for something special to do with your significant other, Hawk Haven is the perfect place to spend a romantic afternoon and we have some very exciting festivities planned for this weekend.

If you’re single and Valentine’s Day is depressing for you, let us point out that studies have shown that CHOCOLATE makes everything better. It’s science! You can’t argue with science and you definitely can’t argue with chocolate. Not when there is wine involved, and I’m sure there are other studies showing that wine gives you eternal life or something, so you really can’t lose.

So here we are, offering you happiness and eternal life* and you’re still wondering what to do this weekend. Let us help you with that!

Our friendly tasting room staff are ready to serve up our award-winning wines!
Our friendly tasting room staff is ready to serve up our award-winning wines!

The tasting room is open daily, 12pm-5pm, for educational wine tastings, wine sales, cheese plates, and general hanging out. On Friday, February 14th, we will be offering our Wine & Chocolate Pairing for $12 which includes a wine tasting of eight wines, four of which are expertly paired with gourmet chocolates (we ate a lotttt of this chocolate so we’re pretty sure that makes us experts now), and a souvenir wine glass.

Then comes the Wine & Chocolate Wine Trail Weekend, February 15th & 16th. We are so excited for this weekend that we wanted to make sure you had plenty of time to enjoy it, so we extended our hours a bit to be 11am-6pm. Fall in love with our wines during the Wine & Chocolate Pairing, then stroll on over to our barrel room for a very special barrel tasting with our very special winemaker. During this barrel tasting, you will get to sample some of our newest wines and although they aren’t quite ready for bottling, they are already tasting great which is why we wanted to share them with you now. We will even be selling futures, so you can secure yourself some bottles before they are ever released to the public.

This is the best grilled cheese you ever had in your life, especially if you've never had grilled cheese.
This is the best grilled cheese you ever had in your life, especially if you’ve never had grilled cheese.

At this point you’ll be ready to sit back and relax under our heated crushpad tent with a glass of your favorite wine. Can’t decide which one you liked best? Order a red or white wine flight for a 2.5 ounce serving of four wines. By now you’re probably starting to get hungry, and as delicious as those chocolate tastings were, you need something more! We’ve got that covered too, with gourmet cheese plates and some appetizer-sized offerings from Chef Ryan Kennedy of Executive Catering. We had the opportunity to try some of these dishes last weekend, and they are not to be missed. You might have to order one of everything.

This article is getting pretty long but I am not finished! I didn’t tell you about the LIVE MUSIC yet! That’s right, we will have some great local musicians here from 2pm to 5pm all weekend. Come hear the poetic lyrics of guitarist Gordon Vincent on Saturday, then come back Sunday with your dancing shoes because we’ve got Tamara deMent on the violin accompanied by Jim Maher on the guitar.

And that’s that! If you totally scrolled straight to the bottom without reading any of the above, here is the jist of it: Wine, Chocolate, Food, and Live Music at Hawk Haven Winery this weekend, February 15th & 16th. Now you have to come because you skipped over all my hard work. See you there!

*Our lawyers have advised us that we must inform you we cannot guarantee eternal life from our wines. But we still think we can at least do the happiness part.

Roasted Butternut Squash Pasta

You know autumn is here when you visit the grocery store or farmer’s  market and everywhere you look are different varieties of squash. Acorn squash, spaghetti squash, even pumpkins, and of course my personal favorite: butternut squash. Even the name sounds delicious, and it is so easy to incorporate in all your fall recipes.

Butternut squash is a pale orange veggie with a long pear shape and a sweet, nutty flavor. The easiest way to cook it is to cut it in half long ways, scoop out the seeds, coat the inside with a bit of olive oil, then roast it coated-side down in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes, or until tender. You can jazz it up with a little cinnamon and brown sugar, chipotle powder, or even just salt and pepper. Once its cooked, you peel away the skin and it’s ready for any number of tasty dishes.

Recently a friend shared a very delicious butternut squash recipe with me and I couldn’t wait to try it. Even better, one of our wines here at Hawk Haven has reached its peak in flavors and aromas and turned out to be a perfect complement to this dish: the 2012 Signature Series Sauvignon Blanc.

photo 3

Due to limited production, the Signature Series Collection wines are not typically included in our normal wine tasting. The oak-fermented Sauvignon Blanc, however, has evolved so much since we bottled it back in April, and the once subtle essence of kiwi and melon have unfolded into bolder, more rich flavors of caramel and green apple. This wine is really in its prime!

So stop by Hawk Haven (we’re open every day 12-5pm), grab a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, and try it with this recipe tonight for dinner!

photo 1

Roasted Butternut Squash Pasta
Ingredients
1 medium sized butternut squash
1 tbsp olive oil
1 package fisarmoniche pasta (or your favorite variety)
3/4 cup ricotta
2 tbsp ponzu sauce

Instructions
Set oven to 400 degrees. Cut squash in half length-wise and scoop out seeds. Brush inside of each half with olive oil, then place face down on a baking sheet. Roast in oven for 30 minutes or until tender, then remove from oven and peel off skin. Roughly chop the squash into small pieces.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain off water and return pasta to pot. Stir in squash, ricotta, and ponzu sauce.

At this point you may be tempted to grab a fork and eat right out of the pot, but let’s be civilized, you’re drinking a Signature Series wine after all! Scoop some out onto a plate, pour yourself a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, and go sit at the table. Try not to inhale it, remember to chew, and most of all, enjoy!

photo 2

 

Got any favorite butternut squash recipes? What are your favorite foods to pair with Sauvignon Blanc? Tell us in the comments below!