VIRGINIA: Holiday Pet Nat and Sparkling Wines at Early Mountain Vineyards

The winemaking team at Early Mountain Vineyards has been busy since the start of fall harvest and has an exciting new offering of experimental wines that are available just in time for the holidays, including two pet-nat wines and a nouveau style wine. In addition, a 2013 Brut Sparkling was made in conjunction with Claude Thibaut of Thibaut-Janisson Winery and has just been released for sale.

Maya Hood White, Vineyard Manager & Enologist, has a passion for pétillant-naturel, or pet-nat, and has been experimenting with variations over the years, making Early Mountain the first Virginia vineyard to produce a pet-nat. In fact, it has been a family affair where her mother visits every year to help with the hand-bottling process, which can be very laborious and involved during an already hectic harvest season. This year, two pet-nats, bottled in October, along with a young wine made by winemaker Ben Jordan, will be available for purchase beginning December 15:
Pétillant Natural - White Blend (56% Sauvignon Blanc, 43% Petit Manseng, 1% Malvasia Bianca): At the encouragement of winemaker Ben Jordan, Hood White created a pet-nat blending Sauvignon Blanc and Petit Manseng and a tiny bit of Malvasia Bianca. The result -- of what many might consider an "odd" combination -- is a sparkling wine with a unique flavor profile that nicely matches the high acid of the grapes with richness brought by the residual lees in the bottle. It's more savory and aggressive than expected and, is the first time Early Mountain has harvested anything from their baby Malvasia vines that were planted in the spring of 2015.
Pétillant Natural - Rosé of Syrah (100%): This is the second year that Hood White has made a pet nat from Rosé with Syrah from the vineyard’s Quaker Run site. She says that Quaker Run Syrah is really nice on its own (i.e. as a still wine) but also translates to something quite unique as a sparkling. She used an ambient starter this year, so it's less interventionist and has yielded a pet-nat that is even more unique than last year's.
 Young Wine - Red Wine (100% Syrah from Quaker Run): The third experimental wine, crafted by winemaker Ben Jordan, is a young red wine of Syrah made in a "nouveau" style. It's 100% Syrah from Quaker Run and Jordan fermented the grapes using whole-cluster carbonic maceration. Think Beaujolais Nouveau, but made with Virginia Syrah instead.
2013 Brut Sparkling Early Mountain Vineyards has also just unveiled a 2013 Brut Sparkling Wine, made in conjunction with Claude Thibaut from Thibaut Janisson Winery. Thibaut crafted the base wine and Ben Jordan and Maya Hood White worked with him on the dosage 

Available for sale at the vineyard, as well as through the online store, the 2013 Brut is made with 100% Chardonnay grapes and has notes of Golden Delicious and Granny smith apples. This is a great holiday, winter wine that nicely balances acidity and fruit and pairs well with oysters, caviar and raw fish flavored with citrus and chilies, as well as a variety of cheeses including washed rind and funkier varieties. The wine retails for $30 a bottle