It turns that that I did the Pollak Vineyards barrel tasting two weekends in a row. I had friend in from out of town today, so we we went again the 2nd weekend of the tastings. The tasting covered 5 different wines (4 varietals) each of which I’m pretty excited about. Jake Busching, the Pollak Vineyards winemaker (wine grower, as Jake says) lead the tasting both times and is, as can be expected, a wealth of information about the Pollak Wines.
2009 Chardonnay – The Chardonnay is pre-filtered and is quite cloudy in the glass. Jake explained that the bottling process will involve filtering the wine to ensure that no stray yeast ferments sugar once the wine is in the bottle. The wine is a bit acidic at first but not so much that it dominates the overall richness of the wine. I’m sure the final bottling process will bring the Chardonnay to a proper finish and will be excellent upon release.
2008 Cabernet Sauvignon – Jake focuses on dirt. His goal is to ensure his wines reflect the qualities of the dirt the grapes are grow in (i.e. the Albemarle Terrior). The Cabernet reflects this by having strong fruity and earth flavors. It will be quite tasty for years to come.
2007 Meritage (bottled) – The purpose of a barrel to bottle comparison was to allow for some comparison of the development of the wine. The 2007 had a bit more bite than the “out of barrel” 2008, but was also quite fruity.
2008 Meritage – In comparison to the 2007, this wine was much smoother which allowed me to focus a bit more on the more subtle, less in your face, fruit flavors contained in this wine.
2009 Mille Fleur – Of all the wines we tasted, I think I’m most excited about this one (actually, the 2008 version to be released in the next few months). The Mille Fleur is a desert wine in which a small amount of the 2009 Viognier was left on the vines as long as possible to help develop sugars. It’s then harvested and subjected to a fermentation process, but only about 5% of what is normal. This is done to ensure the wine remains sweet. Where this wine gets exciting is that the 5% fermented wine is then mixed with “a boatload” of a Viognier brandy made with grapes from the 2008 harvest, which increases the Alcohol content to 17.5%. All grapes were estate grown. The 2009 Mille Fleur, like the Chardonnay is quite cloudy, but is an excellent early stage dessert wine. The 2nd time at the barrel tasting Jake’s audience was only myself, my wife and a friend. We were very fortunate. Jake opened the 2008 Mille Fluer cask (to be released in the summer of 2010) and let us try the near finished product. Whereas the 2009 has 14 months left in oak barrels, the 2008 has been in oak for 18 months. The short description of the 2008: fantastic! On our way out, I put my name on the list for several barrels.
Unfortunately, the 2009 Pinot Gris nor the Viongier were available for tasting. Jake commented that if you think the 2008 were good (which I did, I took one all the way to Shanghai after all), the 2009s are significantly better. Interestingly, the 2009 climate was just about ideal (the best of the 14 years Jake has been making wine in Albemarle County). Check out the 2009 August Climate update. While the year started out quite wet, the last half of the summer was slightly drier than normal. Most importantly, the August temperatures were relatively benign with evening temperatures regularly in the 50s. This allowed the grapes to develop near perfectly. I’ll be loading up on quite a bit of both varietals when they are released.