This photograph by Tom Aitken shows French troops loading wooden cases of wine into a lorry for transportation to a safe location. This photograph is believed to have been taken during the German Spring Offensive of 1918 when the town of Amiens feared German occupation. The Allied counterattack of August 1918 eliminated the threat.
Aitken, Tom. French soldiers removing the wines from the cellars in Amiens into lorries. 1918. National Library of Scotland. URL: http://digital.nls.uk/74549050
Over ten years ago my wife took a welcome break from her law school studies for us to spend a weekend visiting wineries in Virginia. The wines of Linden Vineyards stood out to us then as they do now. We still do not drink much wine from Virginia but through my friendship with Frank Morgan (Drink What YOU Like) I have tried and become aware of more wines. As a result it was not with complete ignorance that I walked into Virginia Wine True To Our Roots tasting. I could only attend the last hour so after conversing with Dave McIntyre (DM Wine Line) I set out to taste what I could. What is more important than reading my short notes is to try some of these wines.
If you could try only one from each winery I would suggest 2012 Ankida Ridge Vineyards, Pinot Noir. I was unaware there was Pinot Noir based wines in Virginia and this was very good. There is, of course, the famous 2010 Barboursville Vineyards, Octagon. There was good depth of flavor and it is poised to develop in the cellar. The iconic 2010 Linden, Hardscrabble Red showed very well out of decanter. It is hard to believe this wine is 15.3% alcohol but it was balanced with meaty flavors, herbaceous notes, and the ruggedness of youth. It should develop really well. Waves of flavor come out of the 2010 RdV Vineyards, Rendevous so much so that you’ll be amazed at the amount of flavor but also feel the urge to drink more. The 2013 Michael Shaps, Viognier 2013 Michael Shaps, Viognier offers both ample floral aromas with weighty mouth feel but also good acidity and mineral notes. I should note that the tasting was held in Washington, DC at Range, a proud supporter of Virginia wine.
Ankida Ridge Vineyards
2013 Ankida Ridge Vineyards, Rockgarden Vert
This wine is a blend of 85% Vidal Blanc and 15% Pinot Noir which was fermented and aged in stainless steel. Alcohol 10.3%. There was highly lively acidity on the tongue. This tangy wine still had CO2 with drying tannins and dry chalk notes.
2013 Ankida Ridge Vineyards, Rockgarden Rouge
This wine is a blend of 40% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 30% Cabernet Franc that was aged in 20% new French oak. Alcohol 13.5%. This had more greenhouse aromas that mixed with vintage floral perfume. The vintage flavor continued in the mouth with a persistent old-school aspect.
2013 Ankida Ridge Vineyards, Chardonnay
This wine is 100% Chardonnay which was aged in 12% new French oak. Alcohol 12%. The flavors had a ripe hint before a yeast note came out and the structure firmed up. It became creamy with supportive oak in the middle and stone notes in the finish.
2012 Ankida Ridge Vineyards, Pinot Noir
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir which was aged in 25% new French oak. Alcohol 13%. The red and black fruit had that Virginia hint. The fuzzy/fluffy flavors filled the mouth with structure underneath and fine tannins evident in the aftertaste.
2010 Barboursville Vineyards, Octagon – $55
This wine is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot. Alcohol 13.8%. This was a balanced blend in the mouth showing good depth, black fruit, floral notes, and a little cocoa. It had a racy finish and some grip.
2013 Linden, Avenius Sauvignon Blanc
There was a textured, aromatic nose of grassy and ripe aromas. The texture repeated itself in the mouth complementing the good flavor.
2011 Linden, Hardscrabble Chardonnay – $35
There was a tight nose with very subtle toast aromas. There was a lot of acidity on the tongue, flavors of baking spice, and firmer acidity in the finish. It developed brighter fruit.
2011 Linden, Claret – $25
This wine is a blend of 44% Merlot, 36% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 20% Cabernet Franc declassified fruit sourced from the three vineyards. It was aged for 20 months in older French barrels. There was good, clean fruit in the mouth. The wine tasted young with moderate structure, acidity, and some spice flavor adding to the black and red fruit.
2010 Linden, Hardscrabble Red – $50
This wine is a blend of 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, and 3% Petit Verdot that was aged for 21 months in 60% new French oak barrels. Alcohol 15.3%. There were slightly meaty flavors with racy fruit. It was black and almost inky with a slight herbaciousness and dry spices. It bears the attractive roughness of youth.
2010 RdV Vineyards, Rendevous – $75
This wine is a blend of 44% Merlot, 24% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Petit Verdot, and 12% Cabernet Franc which was aged for 18 months in 100% new French oak. Alcohol 14.9%. There were dense, youthful aromas that came out of the glass. The flavors were concentrated and racy with black fruit, ripe texture, and a spicy hint. The wine was big but so tasty. There was a long, black fruit aftertaste with just a hint of cocoa powder.
2010 RdV Vineyards, Lost Mountain – $95
This wine is a blend of 64% Cabernet Sauvignon and 36% Merlot which was aged for 18 months in 100% new French oak. Alcohol 14.7%. The nose was dark with low-lying aromas. In the mouth dense, red and black fruit mixed before red notes poked out. The wine was drier with spicy tannins that continued into the finish. There was some minerality, baking spice, and a chewy aftertaste.
2013 Michael Shaps, Viognier – $26
This wine is 100% Viognier which was fermented with native yeasts then aged in stainless steel. Alcohohol 13.7%. The aromatic nose brought right, floral aromas. The ripe start continued to build in flavor with an almost honied feel. Minerals came out in the finish before the wine left a lip-smacking sensation.
2013 Michael Shaps, Petit Manseng
This wine is 100% Petit Manseng sourced from a single vineyard. It was barrel fermented then aged in 30% new French oak. Alcohol 14.6%. The tight nose made way to good, focused fruit in the mouth. There was a hint of almonds, almost tart fruit, and a little spicy, dry finish. A youthful wine.
2010 Michael Shaps, Cabernet Franc – $28
This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc which was fermented with native yeast then aged for 24 months in 100% French oak of which 50% was new. Alcohol 13.7%. There was focused bright fruit that has that Virginia taste. The wine had a tart side with dense, red and black fruit, and ripe, gum-coating tannins.
2010 Michael Shaps, Petit Verdot – $35
This wine is 100% Petit Verdot which was fermented with native yeast then aged for 24 months in 100% French oak of which 75% was new. Alcohol 13.7%. There were bright black and red fruit, a racy nature, and a citric finish. The flavors stood out.
James Gillray’s Uncorking Old Sherry (1805) is a particularly memorable image even at a visual level. This political satire was published just days after a debate between Prime Minister William Pitt and Richard Brinsley Sheridan. In this image Richard Brinsley Sheridan is caricatured as a bottle of Sherry that William Pitt has just uncorked. Instead of producing a lovely bottle of wine, out spews a collection of “Old Puns”, “Lame Puns”, and “Fibs, Fibs, Fibs”.
Uncorking Old Sherry. Gillray, James. March 10, 1805. Museum Number 1851,0901.1165. The British Museum.
The wines of Collioure pop-up in the area from time to time. Those from Domaine La Tour Vieille have appeared in my posts before but never those of Tramontane. The 2011 Domaine La Tour Vieille, La Pinede, Collioure while clearly young, showed high-toned red fruit that was more structured. The 2009 Tramontane, Collioure perhaps benefitted from the bottle age to be rather aromatic and sport some complexity. It was the more generous of the two but maintained an attractive integration of the aromas and flavors. I like to drink good wines from Collioure for they live on the edge, representing the wild terrain and the warmth of the sun. These wines were purchased at The Wine Source in Baltimore.
2011 Domaine La Tour Vieille, La Pinede, Collioure – $22.50
Imported by Kermit Lynch. This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, 15% Carignan, and 15% Mourvedre sourced from 35-70 year old vines on soils of schist. It was aged for 12 months in vats. Alcohol 14.5%. The nose revealed firmer red aromas. In the mouth were high-toned flavors of red fruit and minerals. The wine was initially rounded with some toast notes and a little heat on the back of the throat. With air the wine balanced out to show hard, red fruit, tart berries, some roast, and cinnamon-like spices. There was a tangy finish and aftertaste. **(*) 2016-2024.
2009 Tramontane, Collioure – $22.50
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler. This wine is 100% Grenache sources from old vines on soils of schist. Alcohol 14.5%. This was more aromatic with dried floral aromas, pastilles, and spices. In the mouth were richer flavors of red fruit followed by lots of flavor from fine, powdery and ripe red blue fruit. There was a little bit of tannins and a touch of lively acidity on the tongue tip. With air there were some cinnamon notes, wood box, and more tannins. It developed flavors of raspberry supported by good acidity and followed by a floral finish. *** Now-2024.
The Cartier family have been producing wine and olive oil on their Mas de Gourgonnier estate for decades. The vineyards have been certified organic for just as long and is proudly detailed on the labels. Most people are familiar with the Rouge that is presented in the traditional squat wine bottle. Less commonly seen is the Reserve de Mas. This wine is a blend of equal parts Grenache, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon that is aged in large oak casks. My one previous experience with the Reserve de Mas came in the form of the 2007 vintage. I had never this wine before so I paid dearly for one bottle as described in my post The Spices and Herbs of Mas de Gourgonnier.
The estate is located south of Avignon where it is hot, dry, and windy. This region produces wines distinct from the familiar flavors of the Southern Rhone. The wines of Mas de Gourgonnier always exhibit dried herbs but the Reserve de Mas adds complexity from its earthy notes. The dry flavors are intertwined with acidity, lower alcohol, and incredibly fine tannins. The structure becomes evident in the aftertaste suggesting this wine will develop for several years to come. These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.
2011 Mas de Gourgonnier, Les Baux de Provence – $16
Imported by Dionysos Imports. This wine is a blend of 35% Grenache, 18% Syrah, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 24% Carignan. Alcohol 13%. The nose bore lighter aromas of dried herbs. There was a gentle introduction of flavor with black and red fruit. The flavors were lighter in body but there was some weight and ripeness. The wine became drier towards the finish where it mixed with herbs and black fruit. There was a very fine structure. With air the wine took on an orange- lift. **(*) 2014-2020.
2010 Mas de Gourgonnier, Reserve du Mas, Les Baux de Provence – $22
Imported by Dionysos Imports. This wine is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Alcohol 13%. There were earthy, dry red fruit flavors that were dry in a sense and made lively by salivating acidity. The structure existed as incredibly fine tannins that dried the mouth. There were dried herbs and a little vintage perfume. Black fruit flavors developed with air that were entwined with acidity before the tannins returned in the aftertaste. *** 2015-2024.
The latest vintage of the Calder Wine Company Charbono sports a slightly different label but still offers unique flavors. Both the 2009 and 2011 vintages offered up earthy flavors. However, the 2009 vintage was meaty and the 2011 vintage showed more acidity and vintage perfume. These vintages clearly reveal how different Charbono tastes and in my mind that makes this an essential wine to try. This wine was purchased at The Wine Source in Baltimore.
2011 Calder Wine Company, Charbono, Meyer Vineyard, Napa Valley – $24
This wine is 100% Charbono sourced from 44 year old, dry farmed vines that were fermented in small, open-topped bins. It was aged for 18 months in 85% neutral oak and one new French puncheon. Alcohol 12.1% The nose revealed high-toned aromas of herbs. In the mouth were flavors of tart red fruit then dry black flavors came out simultaneously as the acidity built. There were consistent flavors of subtle earthy and vintage perfume. Though the wine was light in flavor it had some controlled ripe fruit as well. The flavors fell a bit short in the finish only to have the vintage perfume return in the aftertaste. Unusual. ** Now-2018.
Some of you may recall that I have an interest in wine related tables which is reflected in such posts as A Visual History of Wine Gauging Tables. This interest led me to Heinrich Wilhelm Dahlen’s book Karte und Statistik des Weinbaues im Rheingau und sämmtlicher sonstigen Weinbau (1885) that is full of viticultural statistics for the Rheingau and other areas. Though these statistics caught my eye, it was the colorful vintage chart for the former Duchy of Nassau that stood out in the otherwise stark and dry book. The chart is fascinating for several reasons. First, it covers the vintages of 1682 through 1884. I do not yet know of any vintage chart that describes both quantity and quality of wine-yield for 17th century vintages. If you are aware of one then please let me know. Second, to describe quantity and quality it employs a color-coded bar chart where the color indicates the quality and the width of the bar indicates the quantity.
The chart is assembled based on several sources of information. On inspection you will notice slight format changes but the overall idea is consistent. There are four quality levels indicated: vorzüglich (excellent), gut (good) , mittelmäßig (fair), and Gering und schlecht (poor and low). The quality levels are color coded: vorzüglich (red), gut (green), mittelmäßig (brown), and Gering und schlecht (gray). The quantity of the wine is indicated in two manners. For the years 1682-1829, specific quantities were not available so the bar widths are fixed. The quantities are verbally described using such terms as echt viel for a large quantity. For 1830 through 1884 specific quantities were available so the width of the bar directly correlated with the amount. Thus with a quick glance you can see that the vintages of 1834, 1846, and 1868 were both of the highest quality and produced in the largest quantity. After 1868 there was a string of poor vintages with that of 1875 surely flooding the market.
Dahlen, Heinrich Wilhelm. Karte und Statistik des Weinbaues im Rheingau und sämmtlicher sonstigen Weinbau. 1885. dilibri Rheinland-Pfalz. URL: http://www.dilibri.de/rlb/content/titleinfo/94715