Wines of the Week: Ankida Ridge Pinot Noir 2012, Chardonnay 2013
First, Congratulations to Nathan Vrooman, winemaker at Ankida Ridge Vineyards, and Rachel Stinson, winemaker at Stinson Vineyards! They were wed 5/28 and before leaving for the Caribbean, they blended their respective 2012 meritage wines in a commemorative bottling called “Marriage”. How touching is that?
It was a perfect cool late spring day last Sunday June 1st when Ankida Ridge Vineyard opened their small but airy tasting room and deck with a stunning view of the hills of Amherst County. The winery is so small they are only open a few times a year but I was happy to spend the afternoon there, tasting new releases.
Some winemakers try to make the same wine in every vintage. I like that Ankida Ridge tries to make their wines reflect each vintage in a complimentary way. Accordingly, the (estate) chardonnays from 2012 vs. 2013 are quite different. The 2012 chardonnay is typical of the vintage with a forward, fruity nose, lively lemon/citrus w.yeasty notes. On the palate, the wine is also lively, with well-integrated fruit and acid, no oak flavors, and a fresh clean lemon finish. The wine is stylish, cool-climate, like a Puligny-Montrachet. About 50% malolactic fermentation. This wine is almost out of stock at the winery but worth picking up at the 22 Brix wine bar in Charlottesville or other retail stores and enjoying this summer or with Thanksgiving.
By contrast, the Ankida Ridge 2013 Chardonnay (just bottled) is more subtle now, the nose is closed, with hints of bright lime and green apple, Macon-like. On the palate, the wine has a round smooth texture, but lively crisp mineral finish. Nathan used some new French oak (15%) since the wine was higher in acid than the 2012 and had less malolactic fermentation. The mid-palate is surprisingly smooth for the racy mineral nose, but balances the wine well. Excellent for hot summer weather and pairing with seafood.
As with the estate chardonnay, the estate pinot noir is different every vintage, and the 2012 is the best yet. The Ankida Ridge Pinot Noir 2012 has an amazingly vibrant nose of red cherries and truffles. Alcohol is a ripe but balanced 12.9% On the palate, the flavors are not just red but maraschino cherry, with huge volume, and white pepper and spice in the long lingering finish. This wine reminded me of Chambolle Musigny or Pernand Vergelleses in Burgundy, and I’d describe the quality as “Grand cru level on young vines.”
The Rockgarden label is non-estate fruit and the red and white are fine complements to the estate wines. “Vert” is a “green” wine made from early harvest vidal blanc, styled after the vinho verde of Portugal with high acid, low alcohol and perfect for summer quaffing, especially as an aperitif.
Rockgarden Vert 2013
Those who basically liked the 2012 Vert but felt it was a bit austere and high in acid will like the 2013. Less acidic than ’12, it has a pleasantly round mid-palette, with lively green apple flavors and almost seems like a dry cider but still has a grape character.
Rockgarden Red 2012
This is actually a meritage-style blend, 40% merlot, 30% cabernet franc, 30% cabernet sauvignon. Dark opaque color is followed by a very vibrant nose of red and black fruits; cassis, cherries, and white pepper. Palate: young, lively, very fruity but dry, a bit rough (tannic cabernet) but normal for young red. Stylish, let it mellow for 5-6 months and drink next winter.