Friday, March 16, 2012

Barrel Tasting with Delaplane Cellars

Last Saturday night (March 10th) we were invited, along with several other wine bloggers, to Delaplane Cellars where owners Jim and Betsy Dolphin were showcasing their soon to be released red wines. The winery focuses on single vineyard wines, whether single varietal or blends. And the winery excels in showcasing these vineyards on the wine's labels - a practice we wish more wineries would follow. But before heading downstairs into the barrel room, we were first offered a palate cleansing white, the 2010 Mélange Blanc, a blend of Chardonnay (62%), Honah lee Viognier (27%) and Petit Manseng (11%). Even with the petit manseng, this is a dry blend - fruity with refreshing acidity. For those of us who usually enjoy the winery's 100% Honah Lee Viognier, this wine will have to substitute, since they did not receive enough fruit to produce a single varietal.

Once downstairs we started with the first estate wine bottled at the winery, the 2011 Delaplane. The vines were planted in 2008, and thus, three years later bearing suitable fruit. The blend is predominately Merlot (50%), followed by Cabernet Sauvignon (33%) and Cabernet Franc (16%). The wine is fruity with low tannins making this an easy drinking wine. The only deficiency was a lack of mid-palette - but that will probably go unnoticed by most consumers.

The next stop was at a Slavokian oak barrel filled with their Williams Gap 2010 using grapes sourced from Williams Gap Vineyard - located in Loudoun County near Round Hill, Virginia. The wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (31%), Merlot (30%), Cabernet Franc (27%), and Petite Verdot (12%). This is a bigger wine than the Delaplane- with bold flavors and more tannins on the tail, even though the wine went through extended masceration to soften the tannin structure. This will be a fine wine, possibly my favorite blend of the evening.

The final blend was the 2010 Springlot, sourced from grapes grown on the top of Naked Mountain by John Everson. The proportion of grapes was directly related to amount of grapes sourced which corresponded to a semi-Right Bank wine: Cabernet Franc (40%), Cabernet Sauvignon (30%), Merlot (17%), and PV (14%).

We then moved to two single varietal red wines starting with the 2010 Shirland Syrah aging in a new American Oak barrel. For those who are interested, the vineyard is located near Middleburg. The wine will be located in the people's cellars rather quickly since Delaplane has a history of crafting mighty fine Syrah. I don't see this as an exception.

The other single varietal red was the 2010 Honah Lee Tannat and as many are aware, this Orange, VA vineyard is the source of many different grape varieties. Whereas their 2009 Tannat needed to lay down because of the high tannins - the 2010 version is ready to drink now. The juice was pressed quickly at dryness so as not to add even more tannins. Tannat is quickly becoming a favorite wine of ours and this is another example of an underrated grape that excels in the Commonwealth.

Finally, we sampled what we consider Virginia's other signature white grape, Petit Manseng. For the first time Delaplane is producing an estate Late Harvest Petit Manseng which comes in at 10.5% RS but with typical acidity to balance the sugar. This pineapple flavored wine will satisfy their consumer's demands for a sweet offering.

This was a special evening where I was fortunate enough to be invited to the barrel sampling, but also a chance to meet or catch up with fellow bloggers My Vine Spot, Wine About Virginia, Virginia Wine In My Pocket, and Craig's Grape Adventure. Cheers to Delaplane Cellars.

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