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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.
Sarah (and Ed)