I had entertained the idea of starting a home vineyard on a family property within eyesight of downtown for several years. I had hesitated because I was not certain which cultivars would do well at the site.
The 2008 Witch Creek Aglianico, from Valle de Guadeloupe fruit, was a bit of a stylistic departure from this producer’s Montepulcianos (from the same region). Brambly blackberry aromas, up front, were followed by hints of pepper and smoke and a faint hint of maple syrup. In the mouth, light berries were backed by a faint brininess. This upper medium-bodied wine had supple, slightly astringent tannins, good acidity, and a touch of heat. A medium-length finish carried berry flavors into some astringency. On the second day, it showed some oxidation, suggesting it may not be built for the long-term. Some savory herb and fruit aromas were disitinct. In the mouth, it remained faintly briny, with faint oak notes and hints of brown spice towards the back. There was also a greener edge to the dusty, suede-like tannins. Proportionate acids persisted. Some heat was present on the noticeably shorter, vaguely plumy finish. This wine was lighter than expected and was far less briny than the Montepulcianos. Nevertheless, it matched the brisket and BBQ ribs well. (12.4% ABV, 1 bottle tasted, 140 cases made)
The 2008 Witch Creek Montepulciano was more ungainly. Aromas of dill, at first, were followed by briary, vaguely herbal notes. In the mouth, brine dominated with meaty flavors coming before light strawberry. Structurally, this wine was light, creamy and thinner than the ’07. Strawberry persisted into the finish. On the second day, aromas of wild sage became more defined and were accompanied by a distinct salty aroma. In the mouth, it was much brinier than the 07, with light black fruit and an almost peppery character. Overnight, this wine medium-boded wine had become fuller, smooth and unique in its saltiness. Game, blackberry and brininess lingered on the finish. This wine definitely overpowered the pizza, needing pure, rare red protein. It overpowered the blackened salmon. (13.3% ABV, 1 bottle tasted, 150 case made)
The 2007 Witch Creek Montepulciano offered ripe, fleshy strawberry aromas, a piney note, and a hint of dill. In the mouth, it was savory, gamey and briny with strawberry flavors playing a well-placed second fiddle. It was lush, rich and full bodied with supple tannins. The finish was drying and meaty with strawberry and some heat (14.3 % ABV). Overnight its aromas exhibited light cured game, fleshy strawberry and a hint of wild herbs (dill?). In the mouth, slight game was accompanied by fleshy strawberry, an unmistakable but proportionate and tamer brininess. The texture was softer, velvet like. Medium-boded, with good balance, it had some heat. It almost overpowered the mushroom pizza (because of the briny character), and needed unembellished red meat protein. It was also a bit awkward with the blackened salmon. (1 bottle tasted)