Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Introducing Silverback Vineyards

Silverback Vineyards in the brainchild of consulting winemaker Charles Herrold who dreamed of a boutique winery completely under his helm that would focus only on a concise portfolio of ultra-premium, small-lot wines. He found the quality and control he desired in Washington State's Columbia Valley leasing select blocks of grapes from premium vineyards and producing his wines among a strong community of like-minded winemakers in and around the city of Grandview.

The Columbia Valley has long attracted many of the world's great winemakers who work out of co-op or collective wineries such as Long Shadows Vintners which has been home to the likes of Michel Rolland, John Duval and Randy Dunn, each producing a signature wine and showcasing the amazing terroir of the Columbia Valley AVAs. With his Silverback Vineyards project, Herrold aims for the renown quality and prestige of Long Shadows while imparting his signature style on some of the world's most beloved wines: Chardonnay, Syrah and Bordeaux Blends.

Herrold's approach to winemaking is to apply minimal intervention, focusing on well-tended grapes from proven vineyards and by making the right choices in the winery to avoid compensating with chemicals - a common practice in the wine industry. Few faults or tweeks get past Herrold's refined nose and palate leading him to, essentially, strive to produce wines that pass his own critical sniff test.

The four wines that will be released this coming winter (exact dates not yet confirmed) would pass any one's sniff test as exceptionally crafted and executed gems that are sure to be a hit with collectors for their ageability and promise of further evolution.

The winery's website is not yet active, but look to get on the mailing list once it is to request an allotment. BC residents will have to wait until early 2013 before they're likely to see a bottle on a wine shop shelf. Your best bet is the Everything Wine store in South Surrey.

A note about the scores
I'm using some large ranges here as these wines have yet to be bottled. Though the wines are "finished" (blends have been finalized and the wines racked and/or filtered), they won't be released until the winter of 2012 upon which they will have spent 4-5 months in the bottle. Also, these wines are built to age and evolve, thus, the range is also an indication of expected improvement over time. Wines may be re-tasted upon release for a final score.

2011 Chardonnay - 94pts
A single-vineyard Chardonnay from the Horse heaven Hills AVA, cropped to 3.5 tonnes per acre and aged in both French and Hungarian oak with only minimal lees agitation for 6 months. As a result, the palate is exquisitely balanced with a subtle, ever-present texture allowing the fruit, mineral and oak influence flavours to sing in harmony with the mouth-watering, citrus melody.
Full Review

2010 Sangiovese - 92pts
Aged in 500L American oak puncheons and sourced from the Desert Hills Vineyard near Grandview, Washington, this Sangiovese also shows depth of character with layers of crayon, boysenberry, huckleberry and churchwood (worn, yet cared-for old wood). May not age as long as the fuller-bodied and finely structured Silverback Syrahs and blends, but some further evolution is possible, if not probable.
Full Review

2010 Syrah - 95pts
A dark, intense ruby coloured Syrah with a medium purple rim and a lovely sheen. Pulls you into its web at first sniff with layers of dark fruit, violets, tar, licorice, vanilla, subtle allspice and vibrant citrus notes. An excellent prelude to the concentrated palate that offers superb acidity and balance with fine tannins and long-lasting, spicy dark fruit flavours that role around your mouth with youthful abandon.
Full Review

2010 Référence - 94+pts
Fans of Blackwood Lane's 2006 and 2007 "Referènce" will enjoy a familiar blend of 43% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot, 12% Petit Verdot, 9% Cabernet Franc and 5% Malbec with Herrold's signature concentrated-yet-gentle and endlessly-layered graphite and dark fruit flavour profile. Classic Meritage berry fruit and savoury, gun powder and Christmas cake spice flavours add complexity to the finely tuned oak treatment and proprietary yeast program that Herrold employs. Ultra fine tannins and perfect acidity levels create a wine for enjoying in its youth or for aging 15+ years.
Full Review

2011 Reserve Syrah - 99pts
Charles decided to experiment with one barrel of his 100% free-run Syrah production from the 2011 vintage using a Bordeaux yeast normally reserved for Cabernet Sauvignon and the results are truly stunning. Violets, tar, cherry, licorice and citrus characters galore. This wine is as close to perfection as I've had the privilege to taste. Glaetzer's Amon-Ra springs to mind but with more depth, if that's even conceivable.  Of course, time will tell. Only 55 cases have been produced.
Full Review

 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2012

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