Thursday, January 20, 2011

VELLUM 2009 Discovered!

Last year I wrote a little about how we at Vellum Wine Craft blend our wines to bring one final offering to the world. Back then, I mentioned that blending essentially is the art of good planning. This still rings true! Jeff and I carry on this tradition of “good planning” at the beginning of each year. What has escaped me, is that whilst I made a fair assessment of what blending is and is not, I never came around to describing the individual wines and why they are so essential to VELLUM. I am kicking myself now! All that wine is integrated and bottled, so the 2008 VELLUM vintage is soon to be released! For the lucky few that have a bottle, there’s no guessing what’s what. Again, my apologies - all around.

This year I resolved that for the 2009 VELLUM vintage I want to bring clarity and understanding to every palate. You should know what you are buying. We keep no secrets here and we feel that a more informed palate is certainly a happier one! VELLUM, as many of you know is comprised of four distinct blocks of wine - two Cabernet Sauvignons, a Merlot and a Petit Verdot. Here is rare a look in at some of my 2009 notes:

Petit Verdot:

A nose of baking spice, toast, briar oil and dark fruit translate neatly to a full, but complete and lightly structured wine with a considerably persistent finish. This wine has all the depth and elegance I could ask of it.


Classic caramel nose with additional notes of raw cocoa and an undertone of tar. This wine is surprising and has gone through a marked transformation especially on the nose - with a little guidance. It is supple and light with buoyant bright cherry fruit hitting front, middle and back continuing to a sleek finish. I have a rocky relationship with all Merlot, but I nominate this one for Comeback Wine of the Year!

Clone 8 Cabernet Sauvignon:

The nose is of particular interest in this wine. There is the signature espresso grounds and graphite, but there is also roasted meat, freshly chopped hickory wood and hawthorn berries. I could smell this for a very long time. The wine has a wonderful high fore-mouth entry which comes down gently with counterpoint flavours to the nose of Bing cherries, raw cocoa and understated dark stone fruit skin. The finish is weighted but long and balanced. I get the sense that it is wanting to be bottled?

Clone 337 Cabernet Sauvignon:

I am struck by this nose displaying leather, cigar box and cedar oil- some of my favourite things. However, none of that can be found on the palate. This wine broods. There is layer after layer of dark briary fruit and it unfolds in waves. Each one is complete and focused and outdoing the one previous. I am not sure when the finish is going to end but I truly love it. It’s good that we have a lot of this!

Please forgive some of my language when tasting, I get a little passionate, caught up in the moment and the words gush out in real time. Maybe all winemakers are like this...I hope not? I do want to mention that it is easy to imagine when putting any blend together there would be little difference in the end as the largest volume would absorb the others. Wine does work that way, but there is a percentage limit where component wines do become noticeable. In VELLUM, we maintain tight control of proportions - not too much of this or too little of that. That part is the balance we preach and practice in the vineyard and likewise in the cellar...and it shows.

This first critical tasting of 2009 VELLUM was full of surprises for the two of us, and we expect VELLUM will be elevated in a bolder direction. Also, there is so much going on with each of the four wines that they should to be able to stand alone if the need arose. And that, for 2011, may indeed happen (hint, hint...)!

Barrel tastings are always a pleasure for us. Please come discover what makes this vintage is so special!

- Karl Lehmann, Winemaker