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Black Ankle News & Updates

Sarah O'Herron
 
August 18, 2020 | Sarah O'Herron

Summer Newsletter 2020

Dear Friends,

We are often asked by people what we wish we knew before we started a vineyard and winery, and our immediate answer is always some variation on, “I wish I were a better mechanic.”  This is not the romantic answer that the questioner tends to be hoping for and we are often met with a quizzical look and a totally different question.  At the risk of seeming to whinge about a job that I truly do love, and is never, ever, ever boring, let me recount a bit of a conversation that I had with Ed this morning:

Ed: Hiya, how’s it going?

Sarah:  Fine here.  You were gone early this morning, how is the farm?

Ed:  Whew!  Typical morning of disasters – don’t worry – nothing dire and all under control, but…

Sarah:  Oh, no!  What’s going on?

{Brief background interlude:  We need to spray the vineyard today to protect against potential fungus.  We try to spray as little as possible and with the most gentle products we can use, so we push the window between sprays as long as we can.  There are thunderstorms in the forecast for this afternoon, so it is pretty crucial to our operation that we get the spray finished soon.  Very soon.}

Ed:  The new tractor is acting up again.  Yes, the one that we just got back from the dealer.  Something is going on so it isn’t giving enough power to run the sprayer.  We had to pull the de-leafer off the other tractor so we cold use it to spray.  That was a task unto itself.

{Second brief background interlude: We have just purchased a new leaf remover which will help us to remove the leaves from in front of the fruiting area of the vine.  Doing this opens the fruit to the sun so that it will ripen better and better sun exposure reduces the risk of the fruit being damaged by diseases.  The timing of this is less crucial.  It is a matter of days rather than hours, but still very high on the To Do list to get this piece of equipment going.}

Sarah: Yikes!  What happened?

Ed: We could not get the hose from the de-leafer off the tractor.  In fact, we eventually had to cut the hose. 

{Third brief interlude:  This piece of equipment sits on the front of the tractor but is powered from the back with compressed air that runs through a giant hose across the top of the tractor cab.  The hose in question is 4 inches indiameter and made of reinforced rubber.  Cutting it is no small feat.  But, we need that tractor freed up to spray and soon.  Did I mention that one of the things that we spray most, and is in the mix for today is sulfur?  Sulfur is a great fungicide – it is organic, has no risks of developing resistance and is very effective.  Its one downside is that it comes in a powdered form, which loooves to clog up sprayers.  If the mixer on the sprayer is not kept running for any significant length of time the sulfur will sink to the bottom of the tank and it is basically a hot mess. So the clock is ticking...}

Ed: Four guys were pulling as hard as they could, but no dice.  I called the dealer and they said, “Oh, yeah, that hose has so much pressure on it, that it has to be super tight, so we get this problem a lot.  Your best bet is to jam a screwdriver into the connection and try to wiggle it around the edges before you try to remove it.”  Would spraying the connection with Pam work?  Hooking the hose up to another piece of equipment to help pull?  Dealer: “Worth a shot…”  So, we just need to fix that hose end so we are ready to go once we get the tractor running well again.

Sarah: But the spray is going fine now?

Ed:  Yes, but I forgot to mention that once we got it rolling, it was only working on one side.  We had to take it all apart to try to hunt down the clog and could not find anything wrong.  Eventually, we found a ball bearing clogging one of the outlet hoses…

Sarah:  A ball bearing?  What is a ball bearing doing in a spray hose?  From where?

Ed:  Yeah…we have no idea.  We took apart the other side as well and there was nothing like that.  We can’t find anywhere that is missing a ball bearing, and it seems to be working now, so…

Sarah:  Fair enough.  Have you figured out what is wrong with the first tractor? 

Ed:  We spoke with the dealer.  Apparently there is some kind of switch/setting that limits the power to the PTO {the part of the tractor that sends power to equipment}, but they don’t know how it got turned on and they don’t know how to turn it off again.  They are sending a tech out to see if they can sort it out.  If they can sort it out, we can give the de-leafer another shot… At this point, I glance at the clock as I am putting my coffee in the microwave to reheat.  It’s 9:24. Here’s hoping that your mornings have fewer looming storm clouds, broken hoses and mystery ball bearings.  But at the end of the day, when we get to raise a glass, it is all worth it!  (Especially on the days that Ed deals with the glitches…)

Cheers!

Sarah (and Ed)

Time Posted: Aug 18, 2020 at 6:11 AM
Sarah O'Herron
 
April 14, 2020 | Sarah O'Herron

Recipes for April 19th Virtual Happy Hour


For this week’s Virtual Happy Hour, we will be talking about the Feldspar IV and the Slate 5 and we 
thought it would be fun to have a cook-along wine pairing dinner to go with the conversation.  Ed and I 
(Sarah) will be cooking up a few of our family favorites.  

Here are the recipes, in case you would like to cook them as well. 

Williams-Sonoma Tiny Roquefort Popovers

For an appetizer and Feldspar IV pairing, we are making the Williams-Sonoma Tiny Roquefort Popovers 
recipe, although we will be using Chapel’s Country Creamery’s Bay Blue in place of the Roquefort.  

https://www.williams-sonoma.com/recipe/tiny-roquefort-popovers.html  

Leek & Goat Cheese Tart

For a main course and Slate 5 pairing, we are making a Leek and Goat Cheese Tart (also adapted from a 
Williams-Sonoma recipe). 

Ingredients:  

For the Pastry
1 cup all-purpose flour​
¼ teaspoon salt​
½ cup butter, cut into 1-inch pieces​
2-4 tablespoons water 

Mix together the flour and salt.  Mix in the butter using a food processor or a mixer with the paddle 
attachment until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  Add the water a teaspoonful at a time until the 
mixture just holds together. Shape into a flattish 6-inch round and refrigerate for an hour.  ​
After an hour of chilling, roll the dough out on a well-floured surface until it will fit into a pastry tin or 
pie plate.  Trim the edges and put the pan into the freezer for about 20 minutes until firm. 
Once chilled, cover the pastry with foil (and pie beads or beans) and cook in a 325 degree oven for about 
15 minutes.  Remove the beans/beads and foil and cook another 3-5 minutes, until the crust is slightly 
golden.   Or skip this whole process and start with a pre-made pie crust…oops, did I say that out loud?​

For the Filling​
2 tablespoons butter​
3 leeks – just the white part and about 2 inches of the green, halved lengthwise and cut into 3/4 inch pieces.​
¼ lb. goat cheese – we are using Cherry Glen Chevre​
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese – or substitute with Shepherd’s Manor Tomae​
¾ cup half-and-half​
3 eggs​

In a large frying pan over medium heat, melt the butter.  Add the leeks and cook stirring occasionally, 
until soft and nomoisture remains in the pan.  This will take about 30 minutes.  
Good thing you have that bottle of Feldspar and those popovers to sustain you!  
Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Set aside to cool.
In a separate bowl, crumble the goat cheese, add the Parmesan or Tomae, half-and-half, eggs and salt and 
pepper to taste.  Whisk until well blended.  Stir in the leeks and pour the mixture into the pre-cooked pie shell.​
Bake at 325 until the mixture is firm.  ​
Let cool about 5 minutes and enjoy! 


If you prefer, you can easily substitute caramelized onions and Shepherd’s Manor Herb Ewe cheese for 
the leeks and goat cheese.
  The results will be different, but also delicious! 
 

Time Posted: Apr 14, 2020 at 3:13 PM
Ed Boyce
 
April 1, 2020 | Ed Boyce

Spring Newsletter 2020

 

Spring 2020

Leaving BAV a better place than we found it.

We love our little corner of the world.  From the time we bought this 146-acre piece of land we knew we had found a special place; an historic farmhouse nestled in a valley between two beautiful hills with expansive views of the mountains from the top.  We also knew that we wanted to change the whole character of the place by planting acres and acres of grapevines and inviting the public in to share the experience of the farm, but we had to find a way to do all of that while making it even better than it was when we found it.

We decided to embrace that challenge with a basic philosophy: use what we have and keep it simple.  This little idea (it seemed little at the time, anyway) has had an enormous effect on what BAV has become.  Need to frame buildings to store barrels and host customers?  Why not use our own trees and not bring in truckloads of boards?

Need electricity?  Why not generate it onsite from our own sunshine? Need to reduce the heating/cooling load on the buildings?  Why not use our home-grown straw for insulation and build window overhangs to block the sun in the summer but not in the winter?  Want ripe, healthy grapes?  Why not let wind and sun into the fruit zone by pulling leaves so we can minimize the need to spray?

Sometimes we feel a little bit old-fashioned in the way we do things, but choosing simple over complex, local over trucked in, and working with the land instead of against it has gotten us to the place we are today.  We have brought many changes to the piece of land we bought in 2002, but we are pretty sure that it is a happier and better place now, especially when that space is filled up with so many of you enjoying it.

It is pretty quiet around here right now, but we know our little place will be filled with joy, energy and people having fun again soon.

Nothing will make us happier.

 

Cheers,
Ed (and Sarah)

Time Posted: Apr 1, 2020 at 8:41 AM
Sarah O'Herron
 
December 30, 2019 | Sarah O'Herron

Our 2018 Vintage

We are delighted to announce the official release of the 2018 Rolling Hills and  2018 Passeggiata.  Of all the wines we have made so far in this Black Ankle adventure,  these are the wines of which we are the proudest.  Not because they are the tops in terms of richness,    depth or concentration (the last few Estates or Crumbling Rocks will knock them  out of the water), but they were the biggest test of our abilities, creativity and energy as winemakers.      Despite the curveball that was the 2018 growing season, we think they are really  delicious. 

We are always considered a fairly wet wine region, with an average rainfall of 40 inches per year, but in 2018 we had over twice that amount - more than 80 inches of rain fell, much of it concentrated during the growing season.   All that rain meant that the grapes struggled to get ripe and build the concentration that we strive for in our wines.  

To add to the challenge, once the grapes were finally ready to pick, they were thin-skinned and very fragile.  It took very careful handling, including lots of bleeding  (pulling off some juice very early to concentrate what is left), radical sorting  (we ended up with less than 40% of our normal red wine production), cooler fermentations,  and special treatment in the winery to get the wines into shape.  

We also took advantage of one of our favorite tools - blending.  We spent hours mixing and matching the various lots we had and  took advantage of the fact that we are able to add up to 15% of wine from another vintage, using some of  our stash of 2017's to add richness and depth to the final wines.  

Finally, we took the best lots, which in a normal year would have gone to  Estate, Crumbling Rock, Slate, Feldspar, etc., and put them into the Rolling Hills and Passeggiata.  

The resulting wines feel like a miracle to us after what nature threw our way!  Each time we  sit back with a glass of one of these wines, we are proud of the fact that we were able to  produce something worthy of our label - and grateful that so far, 2019 is making life much easier on us.   

Time Posted: Dec 30, 2019 at 12:43 PM
Sarah O'Herron
 
September 30, 2019 | Sarah O'Herron

Fall Newsletter 2019

Dear Wine Club,

In soccer, a player who has excellent ball skills with one foot but not the other, is said to have “two legs, but only one foot.” Carrying that a bit further, despite being personally someone who has “two legs, but no feet,” ie: no soccer skills whatsoever, soccer has somehow become a big part of my life. Ed still plays in local league, our children all are, or have been, dedicated players, watchers and fans of the game. Soccer gets a lot of bandwidth in our home.

So, I guess it should come as no surprise to me that our vineyard crew is primarily made up of dedicated and seriously impressive soccer players. We have an official Black Ankle Vineyards team, La Raza, which is a semi-slang Mexican term that, according to our crew, refers to working people, especially agricultural workers. Evencio, our vineyard manager, who also oversees recruiting of all our players – oops, I mean workers, played in a semi-pro league in Mexico until a serious injury ended his career. He is now the coach and team manager. When we sit down each spring to figure out who we need for the vineyard in the coming season and he suggests someone new, there is usually a two-pronged reason – this guy is a good mechanic, oh, and an excellent defender, or this guy has great vineyard experience, oh, and he happens to also be a great striker. Since we are regularly impressed by the level of hard work, dedication and excellence that we see in our crew, I think this may be the secret to good recruiting.

It is also a lot of fun to see these guys in action. I feel like I am watching superheroes switch roles when I seem them on the field. Guys who could not be more kind, gentle and laid-back all week long at the vineyard let their alteregos out on the field each Sunday and become seriously competitive athletes. I am always amazed at how much energy they have left for the game after a long week in the vineyard. As I sit down to write this, our vineyard team is one game away from possibly winning the regular season and heading off to the championship rounds. We are excited to see how the rest of the season unfolds for them and will be cheering from the sidelines!

Cheers,
Sarah (and Ed)

Ed Boyce
 
April 30, 2019 | Ed Boyce

Spring Newsletter 2019

Dear Wine Club Members,

Heads up, some gratitude coming your way:    Spring at Black Ankle Vineyards is a time of rebirth – vines waken after a long winter’s sleep, new wines get blended and bottled, and new ideas hatched over the winter break get trialed in the vineyard and winery.  But for many of us personally it is also the season of reunions, at which we get to look back on life at schools attended long ago and see what has transpired in the lives of old friends.  Many of them have gone on to do interesting and fulfilling things, but every time I go to a reunion I am reminded that I have a really, really great job.
 
Working in the vineyard lets me get dirty, sun-tanned and tired after a long day, while working in the winery around the smells and tastes of wine all day is a great pleasure.  Then I get to work with some of the finest employees we could ever ask for to create a special experience for our customers, whose smiles light up our tasting room.  Every day brings a new challenge, so it never gets boring.  How great is that!  I just wanted to use this space to express my gratitude to you, our wine club members, for supporting us in our journey to build a world class winery in Maryland.  As a result of your loyalty and patronage, we get to hire some phenomenal employees, work outside in the most beautiful “office” imaginable, and go home at the end of the day exhausted but fiercely proud.  You have our eternal gratitude.
 
Cheers!
 
Ed and (Sarah)

Time Posted: Apr 30, 2019 at 12:56 PM
Sarah O'Herron
 
January 30, 2019 | Sarah O'Herron

Winter Newsletter 2019

Dear Black Ankle Wine Club Members,

So, when is a new wine ready to release?  While Ed and I are pretty simpatico on many issues, on this point, we are often a house divided.  When wine is first bottled, it inevitably goes through a bit of an awkward stage – no matter how gentle the system we use for bottling is, the jostling around that the wine goes through to get from barrel to tank to bottle causes the wine to shut down a bit.  Aromas become somewhat muted and the delicacy and balance that the wine had during blending tends to be lost for a few months.  How long it takes for a wine to get over that period and return to what it was like before bottling can take from a couple of weeks to several months, depending on the wine. 

For white wines, as soon as the wine tastes, smells and has the mouthfeel that it had before bottling, it can be considered ready to go.  For red wines, however, the development in bottle tends to be more pronounced and here is where the controversy comes in.  The younger a red wine is the more pronounced its tannins usually are.  A very young can seem a bit harsh, but it also has great freshness and it works well to cleanse your palate and make each sip or taste of food that you take have as much impact in your mouth as the first.  As a wine ages, the chains of molecules that make up tannins bond together and get bigger, but are actually perceived as smoother and less noticeable in your mouth.  As the tannins soften, the fruit character of the wine tends to take a front seat and become more pronounced, while the tannins are a bit softer and less apparent.  After many years, a wine’s fruit flavors start to fade, its tannins begin to take on a silky, almost oily profile and the impact of the wine on your palate becomes much more delicate.

So where on this timeline of aging is the best point?  The beauty of wine is that on this question as on so many others, there is no right (or wrong) answer.  I like my wines young – I think the zip and freshness brought by stronger tannins adds to the enjoyment of the wine, even if it means the fruit is a bit less prominent and the mouthfeel is a bit tougher.  Or maybe I am just too impatient to crack into the new vintage to wait for it to soften up very much! Ed tends to like wines that are a bit older – favoring the more prominent fruitiness and softer tannins and exercising a lot of patience to let a new wine get there.

Where do you fall in the mix?  Try an experiment by buying several bottles of the same wine and trying it every few months or once a year and you will get a sense of how the wine changes and what you like best.  The 2015 Leaf-Stone is in your current shipment is a great wine to experiment with, because it will age a good long time, but it is (by my standard!) delicious right now, so you can’t go wrong.  I would have released it in August, Ed argued for April (if you are frustrated by the wait for your favorite wine, you know who to blame!), so we split the difference.

Whenever you drink them, we both hope you enjoy these wines to the utmost!

Cheers,

Sarah (and Ed)

Sarah O'Herron
 
December 23, 2018 | Sarah O'Herron

Winter Newsletter 2018

Dear Black Ankle Wine Club Members,

So, when is a new wine ready to release?  While Ed and I are pretty simpatico on many issues, on this point, we are often a house divided.  When wine is first bottled, it inevitably goes through a bit of an awkward stage – no matter how gentle the system we use for bottling is, the jostling around that the wine goes through to get from barrel to tank to bottle causes the wine to shut down a bit.  Aromas become somewhat muted and the delicacy and balance that the wine had during blending tends to be lost for a few months.  How long it takes for a wine to get over that period and return to what it was like before bottling can take from a couple of weeks to several months, depending on the wine. 

For white wines, as soon as the wine tastes, smells and has the mouthfeel that it had before bottling, it can be considered ready to go.  For red wines, however, the development in bottle tends to be more pronounced and here is where the controversy comes in.  The younger a red wine is the more pronounced its tannins usually are.  A very young can seem a bit harsh, but it also has great freshness and it works well to cleanse your palate and make each sip or taste of food that you take have as much impact in your mouth as the first.  As a wine ages, the chains of molecules that make up tannins bond together and get bigger, but are actually perceived as smoother and less noticeable in your mouth.  As the tannins soften, the fruit character of the wine tends to take a front seat and become more pronounced, while the tannins are a bit softer and less apparent.  After many years, a wine’s fruit flavors start to fade, its tannins begin to take on a silky, almost oily profile and the impact of the wine on your palate becomes much more delicate.

So where on this timeline of aging is the best point?  The beauty of wine is that on this question as on so many others, there is no right (or wrong) answer.  I like my wines young – I think the zip and freshness brought by stronger tannins adds to the enjoyment of the wine, even if it means the fruit is a bit less prominent and the mouthfeel is a bit tougher.  Or maybe I am just too impatient to crack into the new vintage to wait for it to soften up very much! Ed tends to like wines that are a bit older – favoring the more prominent fruitiness and softer tannins and exercising a lot of patience to let a new wine get there.

Where do you fall in the mix?  Try an experiment by buying several bottles of the same wine and trying it every few months or once a year and you will get a sense of how the wine changes and what you like best.  The 2015 Leaf-Stone is in your current shipment is a great wine to experiment with, because it will age a good long time, but it is (by my standard!) delicious right now, so you can’t go wrong.  I would have released it in August, Ed argued for April (if you are frustrated by the wait for your favorite wine, you know who to blame!), so we split the difference.

Whenever you drink them, we both hope you enjoy these wines to the utmost!

Cheers,

Sarah (and Ed)

Time Posted: Dec 23, 2018 at 7:11 AM
Sarah O'Herron
 
September 30, 2018 | Sarah O'Herron

Fall Newsletter 2018

Dear Black Ankle Wine Club Members,

Growing up, I was taught that if you can not say anything nice, you should not say anything at all. This growing season (a long, late winter was followed by heavy spring rains, and heavy summer rains, and heavy fall rains), it has been harder and harder for me to answer questions about how the weather has affected us and still, as they say, listen to my Mamma. I am going to give it a shot here, but don’t be surprised if this ends up being a very short letter…

2018 will go down as the rainiest year in the history of Maryland. From May 1st through September, we have received almost 4 times our normal rainfall total. When we set out to grow wine in the Eastern United States, we signed up willingly for the fact that we would have variability among seasons. The differences that each year bring keep life interesting and give each new vintage some distinctive character. Our California colleagues regularly ask us if we dry-farm (California-speak for farming without irrigation) or if we irrigate our vines. They are usually a bit puzzled at first when I answer, “No and no.” We do not irrigate, but we are not ever “dry-farming” around here – we get natural “irrigation” from the sky and we are prepared for that. Water management is one of the key factors in most of our vineyard development decisions: we have a hilly site, which will catch less initial rainfall, from which rain will run off quickly, and our soil is extremely well-drained and rocky with very limited water holding capacity. The rain that sinks in is dispersed very quickly and we have chosen rootstocks for our vines that are purposely inefficient in their use of water so that the vines are limited in how much rain they can absorb – the list goes on and on and all of these factors have made a huge difference this year. Our vineyards were designed to rise above in vintages like 2018, even though we would prefer more years like 2016 or 2017.

All of this to say that, while this year has been challenging, it has not been disastrous. The biggest impact that this rainy year has had on us, aside from a few grumpy days wishing the sun would finally shine, is that we have a very small crop. Grapevine flowers are extremely delicate and susceptible to rain during the flowering and fruit set period in the late spring/early summer and we had heavy rains during much of that period this year so our vines set a very small crop. As it turns out, that may have been good news in disguise. A small crop means that each vine is trying to ripen less fruit than it otherwise would, so despite the distinct lack of sunshine that this year has brought, the vines have been able to ripen the fruit that remained. We still have a few varieties left to harvest (and yes, we are still rooting for a few more sunny days!), but what we have picked has been surprisingly good, if not plentiful. All in all, we ended up working significantly harder to pick about half the crop we picked in 2017.

On the plus side for us, the last three vintages (2015, 2016 and 2017) were excellent, and we still have a decent number of barrels from those years tucked away in our cellar. As you know, we are not shy about mixing vintages to improve the balance between vintages, so keep an eye out for numbered instead of vintage-marked wines in the next few years as we pull from some older vintages to balance out this one. And since we got all the rain in 2018, there isn’t much left for 2019, right?

So, on to this quarter’s new wines:

The 2017 West Hill Chardonnay is medium-bodied and easy drinking with a lush mouth feel and juicy acidity. Aromas of yellow apple, starfruit, and pear are supported by a palate filled with tropical fruits, citrus zest and hints of creamy custard. Its finish is long and smooth. About 50% of the juice in this wine went through malolactic fermentation, a process in which tart-tasting malic acid (think biting into a granny smith apple) is converted to softer and smoother-tasting lactic acid (acid found in milk), making for a wine that we think has the perfect balance of acidity and structure.

The fourth rendition of Slate (also known as Slate 4) will be released to members only with this quarter’s allotment. It will either be included in your selection or offered as a wine you can add or swap for. It is a rich and balanced, full-bodied Bordeaux-Style blend that demonstrates diverse aromas and flavors of dark fruits, spice, anise, and tobacco leaf. It is clean and smooth but with plenty of verve, making for a complex, elegant and refined wine. As always, this wine demonstrates great ageability but is tasting wonderful and fresh should you choose to drink it sooner rather than later!

Well, so much for my short letter! Never trust an Irish woman who tells you she is going to tell a short story and enjoy your wines!

Cheers,

Sarah (and Ed)

Time Posted: Sep 30, 2018 at 12:52 PM
Sarah O'Herron
 
July 30, 2018 | Sarah O'Herron

Summer Newsletter 2018

Dear Wine Club,

Happy Summer!  Many of you have heard that we have purchased two new farms, with the idea of both expanding the amount of wine that we have available for Black Ankle Vineyards and creating a new sales and tasting space.  The new public space will be located in Clarksburg, on Peach Tree Road, just off Route 270.  We planted the first five acres of grapevines in Clarksburg this spring, so we are off and running! 

We are also excited to announce that we have settled on a name for the new farm: Live Edge Vineyards.  Why Live Edge? Often it is the little imperfections in things that make them so interesting.  Woodworkers refer to a Live Edge when they have left the natural shape of the tree to decide the couture of a finished piece of work.  The idea is that what has grown naturally is infinitely more varied, subtle and beautiful that what a woodworker would create in the shop.  In much the same vein, many gemstones get their colors from chemical impurities that turn otherwise clear crystals into dazzling blues, greens or reds.  A forest is enchanting not because of its regularity, but because of the vast array of sizes, shapes, colors, textures and smells that can be found there.  Straight lines and square corners have their uses, but nature almost never creates a crisp line or a perfect corner.   Rather the rule of nature is curves, contours and an ever-changing landscape.  Great wine is much the same way.  A wine that is perfectly consistent from the start of the bottle to the finish, or from day to day or year to year, can be pleasant, but never exciting.  The fascination of an extraordinary wine is how it can change over time or based on what it is paired with, or even our moods or the time of day; how it can spark our imaginations and add joy to our lives.

At both Black Ankle and Live Edge Vineyards, our aim is to capture the interest and complexity of nature in each bottle of wine that we make.  We work hard to create an environment in which our grapevines can flourish and then stand back and let the plants to their work, so that they create grapes with depth, character and finesse.  In the winery, we feel that our job is to help the wines through the fermentation and aging process but give them the room to express their individuality so that at the end of the day, we have wines that are more compelling than anything we could create without letting nature run the show.  Wherever we can, we believe in letting a little Live Edge shine through.  We will keep sending out updates as our project progresses.  Wish us luck!

As you try your wines for this shipment, you may notice that we have started using a new type of closure. We are constantly looking for ways to make the experience of Black Ankle Vineyards better and more consistent in any way we can.  Bottle closures may not be at top of anybody’s glamour list for making the best possible wines, but they have a crucial role to play in how our wines perform over time.  We work very hard to farm, ferment and age the best wines we can, and we get very frustrated when all that hard work is undone by a flawed closure.  All the different types of closures have their strengths and weaknesses and we have historically decided that corks, flaws and all, are better for our wines than anything else out available.

For our 2018 bottlings, we have decided to try something new and start using Reserva closures, a new product on the market.  The Reserva corks are made from waste sugarcane husks, so they are a manufactured product made from natural raw materials.  They appealed to us for a number of reasons:

Because of the materials which are used to make the closures, they cannot host the chemicals that cause cork taint, which previously made about 1% of our bottles smell like Grandma’s basement.
Very low “Oxygen Transmission Rate” – a fancy way of saying they seal tightly, keeping more air out than corks, so the wines will age more gracefully and we have greater control of what will happen to the wines once they are bottled.
Much reduced bottle variability – each regular cork is slightly different, leading to bottle to bottle variability in our wines, while the Reserva closures are identical, so while wines will still develop and change over time, on any given day, wines from the same vintage should be in the same place in their development.
Zero carbon footprint – the Reservas are made from sugarcane waste by a very gentle process (corks excel in this area as well, while screwcaps don’t), so they are actually making constructive use of what would otherwise be a waste product.

We think this change will give us better and more consistent wines (more vibrant whites and roses, better aging reds) and for us that is enough to make the switch.  Please let us know what you think – we welcome your feedback!  For this quarter’s wines, the Feldspar III has the new closures, as does the Bedlam Rose.

 

Cheers,

Sarah (and Ed)

 

Time Posted: Jul 30, 2018 at 12:49 PM