I had work off on Friday and decided to head over to Sugarleaf Vineyards. I’d been reading about it for over year and hand not had the chance to try their wines. Driving up to the vineyard is an experience in itself but once there you are ensconced in a beautiful Albemarle County rolling hills location.
Sugarleaf wines are quite good across the board. Deborah, out server, explained that Sugarleaf has 5 acres of estate grown grapes including Cabernet Sauvignon, Viogner. The vineyard also sources wines Mt. Juliet Vineyards in Northwestern Albemarle county and While Hall Vineyards nearby.
The best white wine of the tasting was the 2007 Vidal Blanc. With 1.5% residual sugar, this wine is quite sweet (although not desert wine sweet) and had strong fruit flavors. I took home a bottle with me to have with grilled pizza that evening. While drinking that bottle, I noticed a spiciness that I did not taste in while on the property. I was initially a bit surprised because it has the same spiciness as in the 2008 Viognier, just not as strong.
My notes for the the 2008 Viognier say “spicy pear”, which is 80% Viognier and 20% Petit Manseng. It was a very close second to the Vidal Blanc and has an intense spiciness. It’s not overpowering or distruptive, but is definitely there and creates an interesting tasting experience.
The outstanding red wines included the 2008 Petit Verdot and the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. The cabernet has strong cherry flavors and the extra year in the bottle (compared to the other reds which were 2008s) has benefited this wine quite well. The 2008 Petit Verdot was a very intense wine with lots of berry related flavors. During the tasting of the wine I commented that “you can chew this wine the flavors are so intense.”
Overall, I’m very impressed with Sugarleaf Vineyards and the quality of their wines. It is a small outfit as far as Albemarle County wine producers go (they produce about 1000 cases per year) which probably explains the relatively higher prices. It must be very difficult to achieve any economies of scale producing 1000 cases.
The vineyard backs up against a mountain. It would be a great place to have a weather station because I’m sure Sugarleaf must have a significantly different climate compared to the Albemarle County Airport (the location with easiest to obtain weather data). The airport is on the other side of the county and would have a potentially significantly different climate than the airport. The different climate certainly affects the grapes as they grow and the weather station would help to qualify the changes.