Eros Vertical Tasting

What is a Vertical Tasting?

Imagine stepping into a time machine made of wine bottles- welcome to Vertical Tasting!

So, what exactly is a Vertical Tasting? Think of it as a sensory journey where you taste different vintages (years the grapes were harvested) of the same wine, side by side. It’s like seeing a movie’s sequels but in liquid form.

Now, why do these vintages taste different? The magic lies in Mother Nature and in the winemaker’s creativity. Each year, grapes face unique weather, sunlight, and soil conditions—nature’s whimsy at play. These variations directly influence how grapes grow, ripen, and ultimately, the flavor they bring to your glass.

As wine enthusiasts, savoring a Vertical Tasting unveils the story of a wine’s evolution. You’ll notice nuances, like how one year might boast fruit notes, while another offers a richer, more complex taste.

Vertical Tastings aren’t just about sipping—they’re about unraveling the tale bottled up in every vintage.

Now, let’s explore the details of our first of three special verticals of the year: our flagship, Right Bank Bordeaux-style blend, Eros.

How Winemaking Techniques Affect a Wine

Every wine has its own personality. It is rarely possible to control its outcome unless you know the vineyard and the varietal temperament and understand what yeast, nutrient, and chemistry balance is needed throughout its entire journey from grape to juice to the final wine in bottle.

For example, a full-bodied wine starts with quality grapes being harvested, fermented, processed, and aged in oak barrels to disguise the sharpness of the acidity.  This happens by layering in the essentials of texture, character, and aromas to invite a sensational sensory experience from the oak tannin to introduce the layering process as it integrates into the wine tannins.

Every decision in the winemaking process matters- from fermentation to cellar maintenance to barrel aging, filtering, bottling, and bottle aging. Sediment, proteins, tannin, oak tannin, and tartrates (wine diamonds) are all essential parts that make a wine unique.

Over time, as the wine ages, many elements of the process help a wine form its full-bodied complexity. Developing a quality wine takes strategy and patience. For a bold red wine, its bottling is usually within two years to give it time to mature and gain additional elements from the cask it lived in for its existence.

Once bottled, the wine’s next crucial steps over the following years are bottling and aging, with the winemaker tasting the wines regularly. This leads to sensory evaluation and the art of analyzing the layers of its origin as well as its complexity from vine to bottle.

The Making of Eros

In the making of Eros each year, we consider all factors, from hand harvesting a specific percentage of each varietal from our Estate vineyard (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc) to how we crush to how long we cold soak each lot and ferment them separately with a varied recipe for each varietal and block that is blended into the future Eros.

As longtime members know, Eros is our flagship wine, blended to mimic the style of classic wines from the Right Bank of Bordeaux, France. The layers and opulent mouthfeel it exhibits in its prime takes time to evolve throughout the winemaking processes. Which leads to a fine wine aged in a cask that flows into numerous dimensions of textures, characters, and aromas.

To allow an analysis of each blend of the same family, such as Eros, it is important to understand its basic characteristics.  Eros has had a unique impressionistic elegance in its bold, full-bodied, rich, elegant layers of Blackberry, Cherry, Anise, Cocoa Nibs, and Cracked Black Peppercorn as the primary iconic expression it represents without limits. This wine has been a major part of Sunstone’s history and connects with those who have an eccentric view of wine.

Its spice is dominant in the middle to a lingering finish, including a grand finale through its bright, opulent, smooth tannin finish. Eros has a definitive style that protrudes beyond its limits and creates an exciting path for those who want to learn about its unique characteristics and about why aging wine matters.

By tasting them side by side in a vertical wine tasting of the exact wine of multiple vintages over years of aging is to understand wine longevity.  Each wine is made to be drunk now or to have an extended aging wine.

The details of the 2019, 2020, and 2021 Eros are listed below. As you can see, several similarities across vintages exist, including black pepper and dark fruit character. Some of the differences include red fruit notes in some while not in others and more floral notes present in certain vintages.

Taste through these side by side to see if you can pick out the differences.  We will be offering a complimentary guided tasting of this Eros vertical online sometime in the near future. Stay tuned for more details!

Wine Bottle

2019 Eros

Retail: $80.00

Grape Blend and Source70% Merlot, 23% Cabernet Franc, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon
Sunstone Estate Vineyard
Technical SpecsPH: 3.74
Acidity: 5.0 g/L
Alcohol: 14.8%
Case Production814
Winemaking NotesEros is our flagship Right Bank Bordeaux-inspired blend, named after the Greek god of love, and made of fruit entirely from six blocks of the Sunstone Estate, including Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. The grapes for the 2019 Sunstone Eros were hand harvested from from each block separately within 16 days in October 2019. We then crushed the fruit to tank, and barrel aged them in 30% new French oak. As we created our trial blends we tasted through each merlot, cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon block and blended to taste by layering these separately fermented varietals from vineyard terroir, fermentation, specific casks chosen to make this flagship right hand crafted 2019 vintage. This Eros was sent through full malolactic fermentation (approximately 98%) to reduce the malic acid sharp acidity. Our “six block blended wine” was aged in 30% new French oak casks and 70% neutral French oak barrels for 20 months before being bottled to 814 cases on December 10, 2021.
Tasting NotesThis estate blend is quite subtle on the nose at first, offering elderberry, blackberry, pepper and light oak. The palate pops with an herbal core of bay leaf and eucalyptus, giving an edge to the cranberry and strawberry flavors.
Food PairingSpicy & Smoked orange peel molasses’s brown sugar thyme cabernet franc glazed spareribs w/braised mustard carrots, dill baked peas, shredded parmesan over mustard or macro greens.
CellaringThe 2019 Eros can be enjoyed now and may be enhanced for up to an additional 10-12 years if stored in proper conditions.
Wine Bottle

2020 Eros

Retail: $80.00

Grape Blend and Source86% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon 
Sunstone Estate Vineyard
Technical SpecsPH: 3.74
Acidity: 5.3 g/L
Alcohol: 13.8%
Case Production514
Winemaking NotesSunstone’s 2020 Eros varietals were hand harvested from the Estate vineyard and its designated blocks during the month of October 2020. Our team crushed the fruit and fermented each lot individually and blended later in the aging process. The wine was fermented by using an assortment of yeast such as BM45, RC212 and D80 and nutrients to balance the complexity of layers. We then added the secondary bacteria prior to completing primary fermentation, which allows for a round mouth feel and softens tannin structure. The Eros was blended, racked to barrel, and aged until April 2021 and bottled in December 2022.
Tasting NotesOur flagship Bordeaux blend wine, Eros. With lush fruity, floral aromas consisting of blackberry, lavender, figs, black pepper, earthy tones, cherry, anise, and cloves. The body of this wine consists of blackberry, black licorice, black tea, peppercorn, cloves, figs, lavender, dark coffee bean, and cocoa nibs. A great companion to a fine meal.
Food PairingSlow Cooked Lamb, Red Curry Kale Stir Fry, with Creamy Three Cheese Polenta
CellaringThe 2020 Eros can be enjoyed now and for an additional 8-15 years if stored in proper conditions.
Wine Bottle

2021 Eros

Retail: $80.00

Grape Blend and Source80% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon
Sunstone Estate Vineyard
Technical SpecsPH: 3.56
Acidity: 5.3 g/L
Alcohol: 14%
Case Production2,375
Winemaking NotesThe varietals for the 2021 Eros, our flagship, Right Bank Bordeaux-style blend, were hand-harvested from the Sunstone Estate vineyard and its designated blocks during October 2021. Our winemaking team crushed the fruit, fermented each lot individually, and blended it later in the aging process. The wine was fermented using an assortment of yeast, including BM45 and RC212, and nutrients to balance the complexity of layers. Secondary bacteria was then added before completing primary fermentation to produce a round mouthfeel and soften the tannin structure. The varietals for Eros were blended together in May 2022, then racked to 75% neutral, 25% new French oak barrels and aged until being bottled to 2,375 cases in December 2023.
Tasting NotesSophisticated aromas of dark berries, black tea, espresso, and agave nectar are accented by spice and pepper notes. Velvety and well-structured on the palate with a smooth mouthfeel broadcasting blackberry, cocoa nibs, espresso, cloves, dark cherry, and fresh figs before culminating in a warm, spicy finish.
Food PairingPappardelle Butternut Squash Pasta drizzled with sage butter, portobello mushroom, roasted tomato, and slow-cooked beef ragu
CellaringThe 2021 Eros can be enjoyed now and for an additional 8-15 years if stored in proper conditions.