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Virginia versus Other Regions

March 12, 2013 3 comments

Frank Morgan is in town and having organized a Virginia Versus Other Regions tasting with David White, I found myself taking the Metro across the Potomac River to Crystal City to join them.  While I have driven through Crystal City over the years the last time I walked around was over two decades ago.  Of course I was hopelessly turned around.  Fortunately Frank texted my way to an intersection where we met up to begin the evening.  A small group of us gathered at the Washington Wine Academy to taste the seven white and seven red wines blind.  The goal had been to taste wines of matching vintages and to open them all up at the start of the tasting so as to even things up as much as possible.  Not that there was an expectation that a particular vintage in Virginia was similar in California or Burgundy.  While we managed to have all white wines from the 2010 vintage, the red wines were another story so we ended up with 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009.  Present for the tasting were six people all with websites: Frank Morgan (Drink What You Like), David White (Terroirist), Christian Schiller (Schiller-Wine), Annette Schiller (Ombiasy Wine Tours), Isaac James Baker (Reading, Writing & Wine), and myself (Hogshead Wine).  Many thanks to Jim Barker, President of the Washington Wine Academy for graciously letting us taking over his facility.

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All of the wines were served blind in brown paper bags.  The white wines were simply popped and poured.  The red wines were popped and poured save for the two Bordeaux which had been double-decanted an hour or two ahead of time.  Being at the Academy we each had our own table and two glasses to taste from.  After completing a flight we individually revisited any wine of interest.  We were asked to rank the wines from 1 being our favorite to 7 being our least favorite using our own criteria.  Once everyone had completed their rankings we read them off to Frank who tabulated the results.  You may read about Frank’s view on ranking in Results from the Oregon vs. Virginia Viognier and Cab Franc Tasting.  For Frank’

You may read about Isaac’s experience at Virginia vs. The World – A Blind Taste-Off.  For Frank’s post about this tasting please check out The Virginia Wine Trials, Con’t – Virginia Chardonnay and Red Blends Take On France and California.  You may read Christian Schiller’s post Virginia versus The World – A Blind Taste-Off.

White Wines

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The overall rankings were:

  • 1st – 2010 Domaine des Moirots, Le Vieux Chateau, Montagny 1er Cru
  • 2nd – 2010 Linden, Hardscrabble Chardonnay and 2010 Ankida Ridge, Chardonnay
  • 4th – 2010 Domaine Luquet Roger, Vieilles Vignes, Pouilly-Fuisse
  • 5th – 2010 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Karia, Chardonnay
  • 6th – 2010 Ox-Eye Vineyards, Chardonnay

My personal top three wines and those of the group were the same.  I was pleased to see the Domaine des Moirots come out on top as they produce accessible and affordable wines.  While Linden and Ankida Ridge were tied in the group results, I preferred the Linden.  This vintage of Linden reflects the heat of the year but also flavors which come from the specific parcels planted in 1985 and 1988.  While it is drinkable now I imagine it should develop over the short-term.  On a much younger front, the Ankida Ridge is produced from 25% estate from a vineyard which was only two years old at the time.  I thought it a good inaugural wine.  Below you will find my white wine tasting notes presented in tasting order.

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1 – 2010 Gloria Ferrer Vineyards, Chardonnay, Carneros – $20 – (Not Ranked)
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from the estate vineyard.  The fruit was whole-cluster pressed, 100% barrel fermented with 29% undergoing malolactic fermentation.  It was aged for nine months in 27% medium-toast French oak barrels.  Batonnage occurred every three weeks for six months.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was a similar light yellow gold as #2.  Off bottle.  Not Rated.

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2 – 2010 Ankida Ridge Vineyards, Chardonnay, Virginia – $32 – (My #3, Group #2)
This wine is 100% Chardonnay of which 25% is estate fruit from the Tablas Creek clone La Vineuse and 75% fruit from Bedford County. It was whole-cluster pressed and fermented in oak barrels with inoculated yeasts of which 50% underwent malolactic fermentation.  It was aged for nine months in barrel where it underwent regular batonnage.  The color was a light yellow gold.  The subdued nose had a hint of toast.  There was good weight to the start with a bit of acidity then some creamy and a touch ripe fruit and toast.  This was driven by the mouthfeel with white fruit and ripeness in the finish.  ** Now.

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3 – 2010 Linden, Hardscrabble, Chardonnay – $33 – (My #2, Group #2)
This wine is 100% Chardonnay which was lightly pressed then fermented in new and used barrels with cultured and indigenous yeasts.  Some barrels underwent malolactic fermentation.  It was aged for 10 months on the lees with batonnage.  Alcohol 14.2%.  The color was a light to medium gold yellow.  The nose bore subdued heavier aromas.  The flavors were more expansive from the start showing some barrel toast which was well-integrated.  The wine was weighty but crisp with chewy acidity.  There were sweet spices, interesting flavors, and a richer style which was done well.  *** Now-2018.

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4 – 2010 Domaine des Moirots, Le Vieux Chateau, Montagny 1er Cru – $25 – (My #1, Group #1)
Imported by Weygandt- Metzler. This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from half of the 9 ha Le Vieux Chateau vineyard.  Alcohol 12.5%. The color was a light straw yellow.  The subdued nose was a touch flora with a hint of the sea.  The flavors were the brightest yet with apples, a tart finish, and salivating acidity. This tastes a bit young.  Eventually some clove came out in the long aftertaste.  *** 2014-2019.

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5 – 2010 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Chardonnay, Karia, Napa Valley – $30 – (My #6, Group #5)
This wine is 100% Chardonnay from vineyards in and near the Oak Knoll District.  The fruit was fermented in 83% barrels and 17?% stainless steel tanks of which 55% underwent malolactic fermentation.  It was aged for 8 months on the lees in 29% new French oak.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was a light yellow.  There were barrel toast aromas at first.  In the mouth the flavors were a bit flabby then turned hollow towards the finish.  The yellow fruit lacked verve.  * Now.

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6 – 2010 Domaine Luquet Roger, Vieilles Vignes, Pouilly-Fuisse – $30 – (My #5, Group #4)
An Alfio Moriconi Selection imported by Saranty Imports.  This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from vines 40-65 years of age.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was a light yellow gold.  There was not much on the nose.  In the mouth there was a crisp, focused start with tangy grapefruit and yellow flavors.  The aftertaste bore some texture.  Young.  *(*) 2014-2018.

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7 – 2010 Ox-Eye Vineyards, Chardonnay, Shenandoah Valley – $18 – (My #4, Group #6)
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from vines at 1,830 feet.  It was fermented in stainless steel then aged in barrels.  Alcohol 13.2%.  The color was a light straw yellow.  There was a light but decent fruit nose.  There was some lively acidity followed by white nuts, juicy fruits, some toast, and spice.  ** Now.

Red Wines

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The overall rankings were:

  • 1st – 2008 RdV Vineyards, Rendezvous
  • 2nd – 2009 Chateau d’Aiguilhe, Cotes de Castillon
  • 3rd – 2008 Dry Creek, Meritage
  • 4th – 2006 Baron de Brane, Margaux
  • 5th – 2008 Barboursville, Octagon
  • 6th – 2007 Boxwood Winery, Topiary
  • 7th – 2008 Chateau O’Brien, Padlock Red

My personal top four selections were the same as the group but there was generally strong consensus amongst them all.  I did clearly prefer the top two wines and had convinced myself that wine #1 was RdV Vineyards and wine #3 was a Bordeaux.  What fun to be wrong and prefer the inaugural vintage of RdV!  I would recommend cellaring it a few more years.  Below you will find my red wine tasting notes presented in tasting order.

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1 – 2009 Chateau d’Aiguilhe, Cotes de Castillon – $35 – (My #2, Group #2)
Imported by Pearson’s Wine & Spirits.  This wine is 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from 28-year-old vines.  The fruit was destemmed and fermented in temperature controlled wooden vats for 25-30 days. It underwent malolactic fermentation then was aged on the lees in up to 80% new oak barrels for 15-20 months.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The color was a medium cherry.  The nose revealed berries then a ripe blackness with air.  The mouth was similar with some racy, ripe fruit and minerals.  A decent wine with good expansion, chewy tannins, and a fresh finish.  It tightened up some in the finish.  I guessed RdV Vineyards.  **(*) Now-2018.

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2 – 2007 The Boxwood Winery, Topiary, Virginia – $25 – (My #5, Group #6)
This wine is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Malbec.  Alcohol 13.8%.  The color was a medium garnet, looking of age.  On the mouth there was red fruit and a greenhouse, menthol aspect.  The flavors were similar in the mouth with focus and quite a nice mouth feel.  There was tart acidity on the tip of the tongue.  I guessed Boxwood Winery.  ** Now-2016.

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3 – 2008 RdV Vineyards, Rendezvous – $55 – (My #1, Group #1)
This wine is a blend of 62% Merlot, 29% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Petit Verdot.  The color was  a medium to dark cherry garnet.  The nose was light and tight with brine aromas.  In the mouth the fruit was wrapped in structure with plenty of acidity, and some good mouthfeel.  There were fine, spicy tannins in this decent but young wine.  I guessed Bordeaux.  **(*) Now-2023.

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4 – 2008 Barboursville Vineyards, Octagon – $48 – (My #6, Group #5)
This wine is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot.  It was fermented in stainless steel tank, macerated for 10-20 days, then aged 12-14 months in new Gamba barriques.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was a light to medium cherry.  The light nose bore some fruits along with old perfume, and greenhouse notes.  There was ripe fruit in the mouth then focused black and red fruit.  It tasted like a Virginian wine.  The acidity was there followed by a short finish with black and red fruit.  The dry tannins were present on the lips.  *(*) Now-2015.

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5 – 2008 Chateau O’Brien, Padlock Red, Virginia – $24 – (My #7, Group #7)
This wine is a blend of 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc, and 12% Petit Verdot.  Alcohol 13.9%.  The color was a light to medium garnet showing age.  There was mixed fruit on the nose and just a hint of greenhouse.  In the mouth there was a mature aspect with soft, expansive overripe fruit.  The finish was soft with some tannins.  * Now.

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6 – 2008 Dry Creek Vineyards, Meritage, Sonoma County – $25 – (My #3, Group #3)
This wine is a blend of 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc, 14% Malbec, and 6% Petit Verdot which was aged for 22 months in French and American oak.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The color was a medium cherry.  The nose was subdued.  In the mouth there was sweet fruit with a touch of ripeness as it softened up with black cherry that filled the mouth.  There was a core of fruit in the finish along with vanilla, and drying, coating citric tannins.  ** Now-2018.

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7 – 2006 Baron de Brane, Margaux – $36 – (My #4, Group #4)
Imported by Saranty Imports.  This wine is a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot which was aged for 12 months in 20% new barriques.  Alcohol 13%.  The color was a medium garnet with some age.  There was red and black cherry flavors in the mouth, some maturity, and a lighter aspect which hinted at being hollow.  There was a cool, gentle finish with some ripe tannins.  ** Now-2015.

Christian, Isaac, Annette, the author, David, Frank

Christian, Isaac, Annette, the author, David, Frank

A Surprising Number of Wines at Shane’s House

February 27, 2013 Leave a comment

This past weekend we attended a class fundraiser at our neighbor Shane’s house.  The goal was to raise funds for a French Immersion class trip to Montreal.  The event was hosted by Shane, Denise, Scott, and Jennifer.  Shane works for Bacchus Importers and Scott works for Monument Fine Wines so I knew it would be a fun evening.  Throughout the house were tables representing a particular region of French.  Each table had several wines and dishes from that region.  There was quite a diverse set of wine so I did my best to taste through a variety and jot down some simple notes.

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Providing enough sparkling wine for everybody is a tough job but the NV Charles de Fere, Reserve Rose Dry is always a great choice.  It is an interesting blend of Gamay, Cinsault, and Cabernet from the Loire and Sciacarellu from Corsica!  I thought this bottle showed an entry of ripe fruit and rather fine bubbles which softly dissipate into a short mousse.  There was citric acidity and drying flavors.  The 2010 Gratien & Meyer, Brut Rose Premium Millesime, Saumur is a blend of most Cabernet Franc and Grolleau.  I am not aware of drinking Grolleau before.  This bottle had firmer bubbles which made a nice mousse, drier fruit, then white citrus fruit, and a tangy finish.

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Next I skipped over to the white Burgundies by starting with the 2011 Bastion de L’Oratoire Chanson, Vire-Cleese. This wine imported by Terlato is 100% Chardonnay which is vinified in vat and undergoes malolactic fermentation. It had  a light nose of white and ripe floral fruit, honeysuckle like.  In the mouth the whiter fruit had some tropical ripeness and grip.

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The  2011 J. M. Boillot, Montagny 1er Cru, imported by Vineyard Brands, stepped things up.  There was a light nose of good fruit, nutmeg, with more depth.  The flavors followed the nose and were lithe, focused and young with lively acidity.

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Of the 2005 and 2007 Bordeaux I thought a La Grange de Clinet decent but the Tuscan 2006 Tenuta di Arceno, Prima Voce, Toscana IGT from magnum, the best Bordeaux blend.  This is a blend of 65% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Sangiovese, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Syrah which was aged for 12 months in French oak.  There were maturing Merlot and Cabernet notes on the nose. In the mouth the flavors were structured but with good balance.  It took on black fruit, black minerally depth, and will certainly age.  Tasted blind I might not pick it out at Tuscan but it was certainly a good drink and reasonably priced.

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The Rhone wines were decent but I thought the Languedoc-Roussillon selection better.  For old-vine Carignan the 2007 Domaine de la Bouysse, Mazerac, Corbieres Boutenanc, made from 105 year old Carignan along with Grenache and Mourvedre, is pretty and approachable but will benefit from age.  I thought the 2011 Borie la Vitarele, Les Terres Blanches, a blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah, was lighter and simpler with its bright red fruit.  I am usually a fan of this wine.  The 2010 Abbaye Sylva Plana, Les Novices, Faugeres the best of the three.  It is a blend of Cinsault, Grenache, and Carignan from 15-60 year old vines on soils of schiste.  It had rich flavors, depth, and was not overbearing.

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The 2007 Domaine Maorou, Red Wine, VdP Hauterive is a blend of 36% Syrah, 34% Carignan, and 30% Grenache.  It showed more maturity than the previous three wines along with good fruit, dried herbs, and some ruggedness.  I did not get to revisit it.

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David McIntyre brought a selection of wines so of course I had to tuck into those as well.  The 2007 Potel-Aviron, Vieilles Vignes, Fleurie did not show much.  The tight nose was followed by tight red black fruit in the mouth, just a touch of weight, and fine, dusty tannins.  Perhaps it needed some air.

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More interesting was the 2006 Domaine Billard Pere et Fils, La Combe Basin, Saint-Romain Blanc.  This wine is 100% Chardonnay from the lieu dit La Combe Bazin. The wine is barrel fermented in 25% new French oak and aged sur lie for 12 months.  It had a light nose of mature aromas and gravelly yellow fruit.  It was tight in the mouth with gravelly, controlled flavors, fresh acidity in the finish, some tannins, and an orange peel note.  Nice.

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Back to the reds was the 2006 Chateau des Jacques, Clos de Rochegres, Moulin-A-Vent from Louis Jadot.  This wine is 100% Gamay sourced from granite soils and aged for 12 months in oak barrels.  What a lovely example of maturing Gamay.  It is still confident and has concentration for many more years of development.  A good surprise.

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Finally, a lovely treat was the 1988 Chateau Suduiraut, Sauternes that Shane found in his cabinet.  Maturing in a sense but not too complex yet with focus and acidity to last for a number of years to come.  Has drier flavors.

Tasting Wines with Nancy Priest of Frederick Wildman

A week and a half ago Lou and I went down to MacArthur Beverages to purchase some wine and taste a selection of wines poured by Nancy Priest of Frederick Wildman & Sons.  Nancy is the Fine Wine Manager for the mid-Atlantic region.  I tasted the white wines out of the little plastic cups so my impressions for those wines are brief.  We did switch to wine glasses for the red wines and I very glad we did.  For the nose on the 2001 Baron de Lay was in full-glory.  It overshadowed the other wines with its complexity, depth, and engaging personality that floated out of the glass.  This alone was worth the trip.

2009 Domaine Faiveley, Montagny Blanc – $17
Imported by Frederick Wildman & Sons.  This wine is 100% Chardonnay which was aged for 10-12 months in tank and neutral barrels.  There were flavors tilting towards cool with greenhouse and floral notes, a creamy mouthfeel, and turning citric-tart in the finish.  Precise and nice!

2009 Maison J. J. Vincent, Marie Antoinette, Puilly-Fuisse – $18
Imported by Frederick Wildman & Sons.  This wine is 100% Chardonnay vinified in stainless steel with 25% of the wine touching wood.  This bore subtler yellow fruit, as compared to the Montagny Blanc, with notes of stone.

2001 Baron de Ley, Gran Reserva, Rioja – $40
Imported by Frederick Widman & Sons.  This wine is 100% Tempranillo which was fermented in stainless steel before aging for 24 months in used French and American oak.  All of the fruit is from Baja.  There was a strong nose of red fruit, cedar, wood notes becoming minerally with red fruit and aged aromas.  In the mouth the wine was slightly juicy with red cherries and a tart acidity that ran through the finish.  Fresh in the mouth, it should drink well for some time.

2009 Hect & Bannier, Cotes du Roussillon Villages – $22
Imported by Frederick Widman & Sons.  This wine is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Mourvèdre and Lledoner Pelut.  It was aged 40% in demi-muids, 30% in tank, and 30% in stock vat.  This showed delicate, dark fruit, notes of lipstick, and a textured finish.  Just a short note as I recently posted about this wine here.

2009 Paul Jaboulet Aine, Domaine de Thalabert, Crozes-Hermitage – $52
Imported by Frederick Widman & Sons.  This wine is 100% Syrah vinified in neutral casks then aged for 12 months.  The nose was dark and tight.  In the mouth the dark fruit became dark blue fruit in the middle with compact, linear delivery that gave the impression of cool, strength and precision.  A bit spicy with a wood note.  The fruit, acidity, and tannins were taut and clearly needs to age for the mid-term.