The Black Dog Blog
Chateau Morrisette is among the oldest and largest wineries in Virginia. Previous to the Covid-19 pandemic we also operated an award-winning restaurant with a 95% recommendation rate on OpenTable. With fresh vintages, flavors, and events at the winery, restaurant, vineyard, and festival field throughout the year, we will keep you abreast of all the great happenings and the people who make up Chateau Morrisette Winery and Restaurant in this blog and through our Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest sites.
Results are in for the Harvest Challenge, 2016 Harvest Challenge, 2016 was a smashing success! The field of entries that were included: Hawaii to New York, down to New Zealand, and all parts in between. Our judges were truly some of the very best from all across the United States. We are pleased to announce the official results for the Harvest Challenge, 2016.Your standings are listed below. This judging promotes "wine to purchase for the Holidays!"
Wine Appellation Designation Price Award
2013 Chateau Morrisette Archival II Virginia Barrel Aged $19.99 Silver
NV Chateau Morrisette Chai Spiced Hard Cider Virginia $2.99 Silver
2014 Chateau Morrisette Chambourcin Virginia $19.99 Silver
NV Chateau Morrisette Cherry Ginger Hard Cider Virginia $2.99 Silver
NV Chateau Morrisette Hard Cider Virginia Barrel Fermented $2.99 Silver
NV Chateau Morrisette Sweet Mountain Laurel American $9.99 Silver
The awarded Best of Show winner was : Brian Arden Winery, Rose of Cabernet Franc, 2015 Napa CA Top wines received Best of Class by Category, Best AVA, and ultimately the Best of Show. The Brian Arden's Rose of Cabernet Franc was a stunning example of the "perfect" Rose. We wish to express our appreciation for your support of our wine competitions. Your medal should arrive in about six (6) weeks. We are very enthusiastic about the success of the Harvest Challenge, 2016 and look forward to seeing your entries next year Cheers! Wine Competitions Management & Productions
Wines of the South Competition is conducted by the Institute of Agriculture at the University of Tennessee. This year, there were 302 entries into the competition the judges awarded medals to 272 of these wines. Chateau Morrisette received medals for all six wines entered into the competition.
Sweet Mountain Laurel received Concordnace Gold which means all judged awarded this wine with a gold medal standing in it's catagory.
Our Dog Blue® received a Gold Medal.
Cherry Wine received a Gold Medal.
The Black Dog® received a Silver Medal.
Here at Chateau Morrisette, we are in the heart of our busy harvest season. The first grapes of 2016 were a small 2.5 ton lot of Chardonel from Patrick County. In the four weeks since then, we have received, processed, and are currently fermenting all of our Petit Manseng, Viognier, Traminette, Vidal Blanc, Niagara, Concord, and part of our Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Chambourcin. So far, we have worked with about 330 tons of grapes and there are plenty more on the way!
As grapes ripen, the berries soften, sugar begins to accumulate at a faster pace, acidity begins to decrease, and flavor compounds develop. When deciding when to harvest a variety, we take these factors into consideration along with upcoming weather events and the logistics of organizing a picking crew and transportation of the grapes to the winery. However, when fruit is ripe, it is all hands on deck and we work quickly to ensure fruit is harvested at the optimal time.
When white varieties arrive at the winery, we chill, weigh, destem, and press the berries to a white settling tank. We then chill the juice to settle all of the solids to the bottom of the tank. Subsequently, we pump off the clarified juice, warm it, adjust nutrients and sugar content, and finally inoculate it with a yeast strain specifically selected for the variety. After a tank is inoculated, there is a short period before active fermentation called lag phase where yeast are reproducing to their full biomass. After this, the yeast begin to ferment and convert sugar to heat, carbon dioxide, and alcohol. We monitor the sugar decrease and temperature to help us make decisions to manage the fermentation rate. Once sugar is depleted, the tank is considered wine and treated as such.
Red varieties ripen in the same manner, but are generally ready to be harvested later than the whites. When they arrive, they are handled in a different manner than the white varieties. All of the color and much of the flavor in a red wine comes from the skins. Because of this, reds are only destemmed and crushed before the juice, skins, and seeds are pumped to a red fermentation tank.
After inoculation, heat and carbon dioxide produced by fermentation begins to push berries to the top of the fermenter forming what we call a cap. This cap holds heat and, in order to homogenize temperature and extract color and flavor, we pump fermenting must (juice containing skins, seeds, and stems) from the bottom of the tank over the top to break up the cap several times each day. The way we choose to manage pump-overs and the rate of fermentation helps to determine the final style of the wine.
When a red fermentation is dry, we will drain the free flowing wine from the tank. The skins that are left still contain a significant amount of wine, so they are dug out of the tank and transferred to one of our presses. The press fraction of the wine is either blended back to the free run or kept separate for another blend.
This one was fun. We are winemakers. That means for most of the wines we make, our ingredient list includes grapes, yeast, sugar, and a few other additives we use in tiny amounts. Then, there were ciders! We were tasked with making three different flavors of cider and it was a blast! We decided from the onset to use all Virginia grown apples and real spices you are familiar with and can pronounce (except Cardamom perhaps, but if you’ve never had it, you should try it). We worked with Wades Orchards in Woolwine, VA; Silver Creek Orchards in Tyro, VA; and Murray’s Cider Co. in Roanoke, VA to grow the apples and press them to juice as our grape presses are not suited to processing apples. Next, we brought our freshly pressed juice to our winery in Floyd, VA where we fermented humble apple juice into incredible, delicious hard apple cider.
The barrel-aged cider was fermented and aged in barrel and its pure, clean, understated simplicity speaks for itself. I think you will agree.
And then, there were the flavors. We started with Chai Spiced cider. Our lab is typically full of complicated equipment and chemicals we use to analyze grapes and wines. However, when we were working on cider, we brought in whole vanilla beans, whole cardamom pods, whole cloves, whole peppercorns, cinnamon sticks, and ginger juice to meticulously trial our own blend of Chai until it was everything we hoped it would be. At this stage, we made a small batch of Chai Spiced cider and subjected the beta blend to the ultimate test—our scrupulous wives… They were unequivocally impressed with the cider, which gave us the poise to confidently move forward commercially.
Next, was the third cider. We wanted to make something original, yet approachable. We started playing with the idea of adding our own Cherry Wine to the apple cider and, while we liked it, it wasn’t interesting. It was too close to the Cherry Wine, so went back to the drawing board and almost threw out the idea altogether. Then, we had a flash of inspiration. What if we could elevate the Cherry cider to something more with just a simple, novel use of ginger? Preliminary trials were promising. Subsequent trials were more than promising. You get the concentrated flavors and aromas of cherry and apple with just enough ginger to intrigue your palate with the flavor, but not enough to get the heat ginger can bring in excess. We moved forward with the idea and the final product is something that all of us at the winery are all especially proud of.
Currently, this is a small-scale release to trial the different flavors we’ve developed in the tasting room before we scale up to broader distribution. If you like these and want us to keep making them, you have to let us know! If you haven’t tried them yet, come to the winery, try them, and please tell the associate pouring for you which cider is your favorite (all three is an acceptable answer). Ciders will only be tasted on certain days at certain times. Please check the website for more information.
Mark Squires reviews Chateau Morrisette's 2015 Petit Manseng for Wine Advocate.
The 2015 Petit Manseng actually has 10% Chardonel and 3% Viognier added. It comes in with 32 grams per liter of residual sugar and 13% alcohol. This was not here in time for our large focus article on Petit Manseng (April 2016), but as always, coverage is ongoing. The debut release for this brand, this is a nice first effort in a drier style. Only modestly concentrated, mingling a touch of grapefruit with peach, this is a tight and focused wine on first pour, but it does open and become more expressive with air. It also tails off a bit on the finish at that point. It always tastes great, though. This is a great style to use as a food wine with some cheeses, but it is tasty enough, light enough and fresh enough so that it will work better on its own in summer heat.
Rating: 87 points
Drink Date: 2015 - 2022
Reviewed by: Mark Squires
Date tasted: 13th Apr 2016
Source: 225, The Wine Advocate
Bottled: February 2015
Winemaker’s notes: May 2016
Our 2015 Viognier offers melon and apricot on the nose which is complimented by a rich palate reminiscent of honeysuckle and peaches. The Viognier fruit used to make this wine was grown in Tyro, VA. The fruit was whole cluster pressed to minimize skin contact in order to reduce the astringent character Viognier can suffer from. After cold settling, the wine was inoculated in tank and subsequently transferred to barrel for fermentation. After fermentation, the wine was racked and continued to age in barrel until December 2015.
Pair with grilled seafood topped with peach salsa and you won’t be disappointed. Enjoy now or lay down for 3-5 years.
Serving recommendations: 50-55°F
The Vineyard Manager Steve VanSutphin and I just visited with some of our nearby growers to check on how the vines are progressing this year. We are lucky to work with such experienced and quality growers. Here are a few of them!
John Ayers is located in Patrick County and has been growing for us for many years. This year we will be getting some Vidal Blanc from his vineyard. If you like our varietal 2015 Vidal Blanc, much of the fruit was from Ayers’ Orchard and Vineyard.
Nelson Stanley and his wife Elsie of Stanburn Winery are wonderful growers and some of the kindest people you’ll ever have the opportunity to meet. They are located in Stuart, VA and are growing Chambourcin, Cabernet Franc, and Traminette for us this year.
Mary Simmons is an extremely talented and passionate grower out of Ararat, VA. We will be getting a portion of our Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Chardonnel, and Petit Manseng from her at Spring Branch Vineyard.
2015 Petit Manseng
Bottled: January 2016
Winemaker’s notes: April 2016
An intensely aromatic nose of tropical fruits such as pineapple and mango combine with the sweet, floral smell of honeysuckle in this fine wine. The Petit Manseng grape is consistently high in acid which naturally lends itself to the medium sweet style of this wine.
While Petit Manseng is not as well-known as other white Vitis vinifera grapes, it performs immaculately in Virginia’s climate. It is traditionally grown in southwest France and generally is made into a dessert style wine. The fruit in this bottle was a winemaker’s dream to work with. As harvest approaches our growers sample their vineyards and we taste and analyze the fruit in order to make a picking decision. The main factors we are considering are flavor, sweetness, acidity, upcoming weather and associated damage. As flavor and sugar go up, acidity typically drops off. This didn’t happen with this wine; it ripened beautifully and the weather cooperated. It was grown by skilled viticulturists, picked at the optimal flavor ripeness, fermented cool and slow in stainless steel, and proudly crafted by our winery team.
Petit Manseng’s high acidity makes it a perfect choice for many types of cuisine. This combined with its medium sweetness lends itself particularly well to a dish like Thai green curry or a strong cheese like gorgonzola.
Serving recommendations: 50-55°F
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