In wine regions old and young, all over the northern hemisphere, mid to late spring is time to taste the previous vintages product. In Bordeaux they call it “en primeur”, literally translated as “being new” — we’re not Bordeaux, but we sure get the notion of being new. Late May was time for the Mount Alto crew to pack up our best glasses and head to King Family Vineyards where Matthieu Finot and his team were guiding the 2018 through its maturation.
Our goal is to express the “terroir” of our little mountain, which encompasses sun, soil, farming, and the weather of the vintage. The 2108 growing season saw our area smash the all time record for rainfall, but through the good fortune of porous soils, diligent farming, and ruthless culling at harvest, we brought in a nice, healthy crop of grapes to make wine. The excess rains of the vintage produced a less tannic and concentrated grape than in a drier year, so we aimed for a wine style that would reflect the best aspects of the fruit. Matthieu opted for gentle punchdowns and extraction during fermentation and to use only neutral oak barrels (5 years old) to age the wine.
A new wine will often be shy in winter, but in spring we begin to get a sense of the nature of the vintage. The aromas are evident, so too the structure and mouthfeel, and the range of flavors. We tasted the 2018 Mount Alto Red, a blend of about 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Petit Verdot from barrel, and what follows are a range technical descriptions offered by the winemakers and some of us growers. I say “technical descriptions” because we want to let the beauty be judged by the imbiber, but to be purely subjective for a moment, WE are thrilled with what we've got going on here. Our fears of a difficult vintage have faded to reveal a wine that we are very proud to call Mount Alto — if you’d like to get release info, sign up for our mailing list here.
Matthieu -- Palate: morello cherry, baking spice, balanced, with good weight.
David -- Clean, balanced fruit. Light bodied and good acid… I was impressed by the presence of a solid glass of wine.
Camila -- loads of red berries aromas, blackberry flavors, balanced, good structure.
Robert -- cherry aroma, balanced acidity, medium tannins, balanced overall wine with a background flavor of cinnamon and clove that was present in our 2017.
Michael -- classic cabernet black currant aroma, good balance. Lovely finesse while maintaining a cabernet identity.
One final note, here's a fond farewell, and see you very soon to Michael McGeary, who was the assistant winemaker to Matthieu at King in recent years. Michael has just been named head winemaker at Rocklands Farm Winery in Poolesville Maryland. Michael was so great to work with, and he will be missed, and we wish him all the best and hope our paths cross again. Hope all our DC metro area friends swing by and check out the happenings at Rocklands — we are sure that Michael will be bringing great things to further their mission.