Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Virginia’

A Visit to RdV Vineyards

February 15, 2013 1 comment

The wines of RdV Vineyards first came to my attention at the Best of Virginia offline tasting. In a year-long thread leading up to the tasting and various planning emails, RdV Vineyards was mentioned several times. I had never heard of them, for I do not drink that much wine from Virginia, so I checked out the website. I saw the comments from Jancis Robinson and became quite excited. The tasting itself turned into an increasingly faster paced race through almost three-dozen wines. Three different wines from RdV were included. I did not rate any of the wines I tasted particularly high but I did think the 2008 Rdv Vineyards, Rendezvous had rather captivating flavors. Towards the end Lou and I got to chatting with Jon Gonzales from RdV Vineyards who had brought the 2009 Lost Mountain and 2009 Rendezvous. Jon invited us out for a visit which we scheduled for right after the New Year. On a bright and crisp winter day we headed out west along I-66. We drove through Delaplane on windy country roads to come to the entrance of RdV Vineyards.

Rdv106

The winery appears as the driveway curves from the entrance to the right. It is revealed as a pair of modern white barns flanking a white silo. Upon inspection the silo appears at the center of three radially extending barns each of different lengths. The one story barns are located on stone foundations, with white vertically seamed walls, tall windows, batten shutters, and black standing-seam metal roof. The foundations, walkways, and chimney are of local stone. The walls are of white vertical boards in alternating widths which gives pleasing interplay with the regularly spaced roof and horizontally patterned silo. I was surprised to find such an interesting building.

We followed the left walkway which gently curved and headed uphill to the center of the winery. Through a pair of double glass doors we were greeted by Andrew Camp. Inside the winery the various spaces radiate around a two story exposure concrete structure which supports the silo. The silo itself acts as a giant skylight flooding the winery with light. We were led into the smallest barn which is brightly lit by windows on all sides. It features a tasting area with table, couch, and fireplace. More importantly it offers stunning views of the property and distant farms. We were soon joined by Jon Gonzales and winemaker Joshua Grainer.

By tradition tours begin with a glass of Thibaut-Janisson, Blanc de Chardonnay so with stem in hand we followed Josh. The working spaces of the winery are accessed by walking down a central stair case which lands in front of the entrance to the tank room. Down here the exposed concrete continues with a dark wood floor. Several supporting beams and posts are visible, expressing the functional nature of this level.

Rdv098

We first entered the tank room which is the tallest space ranging from the floor at the basement level all of the way to the roof. The floors are of a darker tile or brick (matching the wood floor just outside), the walls are of exposed lighter concrete, and the ceiling is of a crème color bead-board. The ceiling is supported by a wood truss whose metal elements are incorporated into cylindrical and gorgeous toroid pendant lights. Just beneath the ceiling are the windows which sit just above the stainless steel gangway and fermentation tanks. The cylindrical shape of each fermentation tank is reflected in the gangway above and the suspended toroid pendant lamps. The cold temperature, the reverberation of voices, the lighting, and the high ceiling are all evocative of a cathedral. I was certainly captivated and distracted. Andrew held my flute so that I could take some pictures. I went to start taking pictures and instead sent my camera skipping across the floor.

Rdv015

There are 12 stainless steel fermentation tanks with six arrayed on each side. The far wall acts as a backdrop to a rather large, deep red basket press. Josh explains that there are 11 parcels so all of the tanks allow each of the parcels of fruit to be fermented separately. The largest Cabernet Sauvignon parcel will be split across two tanks. At first all of the parcels were inoculated with neutral yeasts to allow for a controlled study of the parcel characteristics. Today he may introduce yeast into the first tank or two but in general there is enough yeast on the fruit and in the winery for fermentation to start within 2-3 days. With each successive tank, fermentation starts sooner as the winery fills with yeast. He does not employ enzymes. The wine is fermented for approximately nine days followed by two to four week maceration. They employ both punch-downs and pump-overs two to three times per day.

To continue learning about the parcels they occasionally ferment in small lots with puncheons. The puncheon is turned on end then one head is removed so that it may be used as a mini-tank. They may conduct general experiments or investigate a small section within a block which exhibits particular characteristics.

Rdv022

The tanks are constantly monitored so that the free-run juice may be pulled before it reaches its peak. The typically obtain eight to nine barrels per tank. The remainder is then basked pressed to yield one barrel.

We exit the tank room then stop in front of seven glass cylinders containing core samples. These samples reflect the composition underneath the surface of the vineyard. There are 18 inches of clay and gravel then almost 40 feet of decomposed granite which is at a consistent depth throughout the knoll. Beneath that is the infamous Virginia greenstone.

Rdv026

We move counter-clockwise to walk through the doors leading to the radially extending barrel cave. It is quite a change from the contemporary feel of the winery and is indeed made by a cave specialist. Immediately on the floor you find “semper fidelis” which reflect both Ruger’s military past but also the motto of Chateau Cos d’Estournel. This barrel vaulted cave is spaced by stone and cement ribs. The central walkway is of triangularly shapes cement pieces which are flanked by the barrels against the walls. The barrels rest on supports over rocks.

The barrels look new, they are barely stained, the metal is gleaming, and the cane is perfect. In fact the initial vintages were aged in 100% new French oak barrels to eliminate any issues with purchasing older barrels. As the barrels age the goal is to have 60-70% new oak for each vintage. The barrels themselves are from several different cooperages so no single style shines through. This first cave currently contains the 2012 vintage which is organized by parcel. As if to match the barrels there is only the faintest of scents. You do not get that permeating aroma of wine and wood.

The long room is lit by sconces on each wall with each centrally located between each rib. The lights themselves are on hooks. The coiled cords reflect the ability to be used as trouble-lamps. Through the shadows damp is evident in the seams of the walkway and the rocks. Josh explains he can control moisture by spraying down the floor or opening doors.

Rdv030

The parcels and press wine are aged separately and all undergo malolactic fermentation. The barrels are racked once every six months. The amount of oxygen exposure, which is controlled through inert gases like Nitrogen, depends on the individual lot and point during elevage. When young they may encourage aeration of the wines but with time oxygen exposure is limited or completely avoided. The wines are typically aged 18-22 months depending upon the vintage.

The first cave ends in a small room. To the right is a small arc of a cave where the pressed wine is aged. To the left, continuing counter-clockwise, is the back cave which arcs to a second radially extending passage. This cave features a solid concrete walkway with simpler cement ribbing. This back cave contains the 2011 vintage. The back cave eventually leads to the bottle aging cave. The spartan design of this cave frames the back wall of exposed rock. Here we are some 40 feet beneath the surface of the vineyards. During our visit the rock was dripping with water. This wall gives an indication of the water content in the hill for during the driest months the wall is dry. This cave is more utilitarian with a working cement floor, no ribbing, and industrial pendant lamps. Alongside the walls are bins full of unlabeled bottles of wine.

Rdv039

Blending typically occurs during the late winter to early spring following the vintage. Press wine may be used to add body and structure to the blends. There is no blending across vintages. When bottling occurs there is no filtration. They may fine the wine using egg whites.

We return to modernity through a set of double-doors. Here we enter the labeling and bottling room which is just off of the center of the winery. The bottling line itself is located within a small glass enclosed room, brightly lit with palates of wine stacked about. It is a clean room within a spotless a winery. Here we find bottles of the third wine the 2010 Exsurgo, previously known as Friends & Family for the 2008 and 2009 vintages. This wine draws inspiration from The Foreign Legion Winery in Provence. While Rutger cannot dedicate an entire vineyard to our veterans he can donate all of the proceeds of this wine to support Hope For The Warriors.

Rdv044

Just outside of the bottling room, to the right, is the laboratory. It too is glass enclosed. Samples are always sent out to Eric Boissenot in Bordeaux but the laboratory allows Josh to check on things in parallel. It looks unused right now though evidence of use is chalked on the back wall. “M CF CS PV”. The tables, chairs, cabinets, and counter tops are all of stainless steel. The back wall features stained concrete which matches the color of the support beams. It is lit by a combination of recessed and track lighting.

Rdv047

The final room is the wine cellar. The space appears to have the same footprint as the laboratory and shares similar lighting. Along the walls are floor to ceiling, irregularly spaced bins. They are, of course, stocked with wine. Wooden crates of wine are arrayed on the floor. There are bottles and magnums from the Rhone, Bordeaux, Germany, California, and Virginia amongst others. We do not walk in but there are glimpses of Chateau Leoville Barton, Domaine de Chevalier, Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou, and Chateau Palmer. The standards of comparison here are established and set very high.

Rdv049

We return upstairs to put on our jackets for a vineyard tour. RdV Vineyards is located on one of the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Lost Mountains is a series of granite knolls coming off of the Blue Ridge Mountain. Rutger’s knoll rises to 900 feet with vineyards planted from 650 feet at the base to 850 feet at the top. This is the highest elevation in the area with panoramic views from the mountains to Dulles Airport.

Rdv107

The property consists of 100 acres of land that was originally home to cattle. The lower pastures were originally clear but the hill was covered with scrubland and trees. The soils are weak. Because they were incapable of supporting any crops the previous owner fed his cattle hay on the hillside during the winter. Josh comments that he can still see the effect of the hay storage in certain vines. After purchasing the land the hill was extensively sampled and mapped. To prepare the site the hill had to be cleared then the soil was ripped and slightly augmented to provide consistency.

We opt for the full vineyard tour on foot which is a delight for the dog. It is planted with 11 parcels spread over 17 acres. There are some greenstone inclusions rising to the surface. We walk up a gravel road passing a Cabernet Sauvignon parcel to our right and a Cabernet Franc parcel to our left. We come across an orchard. This inclusion is productive but the others are left grassed.

Rdv065

The vines are primarily oriented north-south with the slope determining the degree of variation. The vines are trained double Guyot cane pruned with vertical shoot positioned. The vines are spaced every four feet and the rows seven feet. Due to the volume of rock brought up during ripping they decided to put it to good use. Rocks work well in many vineyards so they use it in their own manner. Thus on the ground you will find a low line of rocks connecting the vines. In a steeper eastern parcel these low lines actually become a structural element of the terraces. Grass covers the ground. While it helps control erosion it can be used to stress the vines through letting it grow or cutting it back. In the winter the area around the base of the vines are cleared out with a blow torch. Irrigation was installed though it is periodically used only for the Merlot vines. The water itself is sourced from a well on the hill.

Rdv073

Josh is clearly passionate about RdV. If he is not working in the winery he will work outside in the vineyard. There is even a crew of six vineyard workers who have been employed since the vines were first planted in 2006. Josh continues to answer our questions with depth and enthusiasm. The rootstock is mainly Riparia Glorie with one block 420A, the goal being low vigor. The vines themselves are mostly of ENTAV heritage though one parcel is planted with UC Davis Cabernet Sauvignon Clone #4. The clones were chosen to provide lower yields, small/loose clusters, and small berries. The parcels are planted with 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 12% Petit Verdot, and 8% Cabernet Franc.  The steepness of the knoll allows water to run off during downpours.

The harvest generally starts with Merlot in mid-September and ends with Cabernet Sauvignon in mid-October. Everything else is picked in between. This distribution acts as insurance against the weather.  The fruit is hand harvested by the employees of Rdv. The harvest occurs during the daylight hours for the temperatures are not too hot. The harvested clusters are cooled overnight. This has two benefits, the skins on the berries are tightened up for the conveyor belt and it allows the same people to both harvest and sort. There are two sorting passes followed by the complete destemming of the fruit.

Rdv053

We ask about vineyard issues. The parcels are planted above the elevation of the frost line which is visible during the colder months near the red barn. They can see the frost line visibly move but it does not come near the lower parcels. The entire property is surrounded by an eight foot deer fence. This leaves birds as the only wild life which samples the grapes. The hill is located in a gap so that a constant breeze from Paris touches all of the vines keeping them healthy from the effects of humidity. This sounds well managed but in 2011 they suffered highly-localized hail damage. The fruit and canopies were extensively damaged.

We return to the tasting room where Andrew has poured glasses of the 2009 Rendezvous and 2009 Lost Mountain along with a plate of charcuterie, cheese, and bread. The bottles were opened and decanted in the morning so at this point they had experienced several hours of air.  The wines were very good. The flavors I found in the 2008 Rendezvous promptly came back to mind. I would have been content to simply taste these two wines but I was glad that Jon had invited us out to visit the winery. The determination to produce outstanding wine is certainly evident in the winery, vineyard, vinification, and the wine itself.

Rdv078

2009 RdV Vineyards, Rendezvous – $75
This wine is a blend of 35% Merlot, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Cabernet Franc, and 12% Petit Verdot. There was a dark red nose which was a bit more lush and open. In the mouth there was racy, black red fruit, good weight, and a little tart note towards the finish. It had fine grip. With air the finish became a bit racy with a dark aspect. There was a minerally and perfumed aftertaste. It has an overall brighter personality. *** Now-2018.

2009 RdV Vineyards, Lost Mountain – $88
This wine is a blend of 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, and 9% Petit Verdot. The nose was a little lush but firmer with a very fine, dark, earthy quality. In the mouth the wine was obviously more structured with very fine tannins and integrated acidity. There was firm red fruit, which was a little chewy, some tartness, and good weight. It is a serious wine. There were drying tannins in the finish which were citric like and a bit spicy. There was a dark aftertaste as well with serious weight. The ripeness of the fruit starts to come out with air.  Drinkable now with air but I would cellar a few more years.  ***(*) Now-2023.

Rdv100

Several weeks later Lou and I finally met up with Rutger. It was befittingly at a Chateau Leoville Barton and Chateau Langoa Barton dinner. During a pause in the tasting we chatted about the architecture of the winery and more on Exsurgo.  Rutger’s winery itself reflects the vernacular architecture of Delaplane.  Through its large windows there are views of the vineyards and surrounding farms.  And from the top of the knoll is a commanding view of the county.  It was after the tasting was complete that the conversation turned towards drinking wine.  But not Rutger’s wines.  While his wines get mentioned in the same breath as that of Bordeaux and Napa, Rutger has chosen to ground himself in Virginia.  I shall be curious to try future vintages as the roots reach deeper in to the decomposed granite.  I encourage you to visit as well.

The Best of Virginia (and Maryland Too)

November 21, 2012 3 comments

Weygandt Wines

This past weekend Lou and I attended a Best of Virginia tasting organized by Robert Ford and hosted by Weygandt Wines.  I came in late to the organization so I thought it best to let Rob describe the origins of the tasting.

Inspiration for the Tasting

About three years ago my Fiancee Megan and I were eating breakfast on a lazy sunday morning, wondering what to do with our day. At this point we were surprisingly novice wine geeks, early in the stages of tasting anything and everything to develop context for our palates. We did however, through our tasting, seem know what we enjoyed and were respectable in judging quality. We had heard about Virginia wine country and had nothing better to do, so after a bit of internet research we hopped on I-66W and headed west. It seemed that in Northern Virginia (if not Virginia as a whole) Linden had been the forerunner in quality and vision when it came to virginia wine. I still remember arriving on our first visit. The GPS had taken us on wild ride, traversing several miles of unpaved roads to reach the Linden sign. From our first sip of the day, it was clear the wines were special. They had balance, authentic fruit, direction, freshness, and evolution on the palate. The care used to craft the wine was palpable. They embodied the qualities we had come to look for in a wine.

We are now full on wine geeks, but as any other wine geek knows, the more you learn and taste, the more there is to learn and taste. And while virginia has settled into a limited role in our wine drinking, it remains an important one. When we open a Linden wine we find ourselves comparing it to chardonnays and bordeaux blends from around the world, remarking how well they would likely compete in a global context. Therefore we always had the idea of a blind tasting, pitting the Linden and other best of Virginia, against equal competition from more established wine regions. And after a long period of idle contemplation, seemingly like usual, everything simply fell into place. It started with a thread on Wineberserkers regarding RdV Vineyards, and morphed into a “what if” tasting idea. As I was going to be in DC over the weekend, inspiration struck, and I began to organize the Best of VA vs World tasting. Interest was a bit slow over the first day, but quickly it appeared the tasting would be rather large and comprehensive. It was one of those events that was meant to happen, as everything simply fell into place. Many participants were available on the proposed date, we were easily able to use Weygandt Wines as a fantastic tasting space, and everyone seemingly had excess wine to contribute. By Friday morning we had more interest than we could accommodate, and had put together a surprisingly large and complete line up of wines. The stage was set … how would Virginia fare?

-Robert Ford

Bagged and Numbered

The Virginian wines were known ahead of time to the participants with the ringers only known to Rob and those who brought them.  The wines were brown-bagged and served in four flights: Whites, Mature Reds, Young Cabernet Franc or Merlot dominated reds, and Young Cabernet Sauvignon dominated reds.  All of the wines were opened just prior to tasting except for #17 RdV, Rondevous which was decanted one hour ahead and the #25 Yannick Amirault which was opened one hour ahead.  Tasting sheets were provided and we were asked to rate the wines so that group results could be tallied.  After tasting through all of the wines they were revealed.

Many thanks to Jim Law of Linden Vineyards who opened his cellar so that Rob could purchase the 1997 Reserve Red, to Jon Gonzales of RdV Vineyards who brought the 2009 Rendesvous and Lost Mountain, to Ed Boyce of Black Ankle Vineyards who provided the 2007 Crumbling Rock, and Michelle Gueydan of Early Mountain Vineyards who brought the 2011 Ankida Ridge, Chardonnay along with a few ringers.  Also to everyone’s generosity for bringing so many wines and to Warren, Sarah, and Weygandt Wines for allowing us to take over part of the store.

Rob In Action

RESULTS

Rob tallied up the results from eight participants.  In some cases a wine received only seven scores but in most cases it was eight.  Of the 33 wines tasted 16 were from Virginia, 8 from France, 2 from California, 2 from Maryland, 1 from Washington, 1 from Italy, 1 from Malta, 1 from New Zealand, and 1 from South Africa.  In this section I have listed the top three wines from each flight.  For the remaining average scores you will find them in my tasting notes.

One cannot draw serious conclusions from such a tasting but I can point out the generally strong breadth of the Linden wines, the seriousness of RdV, and the strengths of Black Ankle.  When I hear about local wine it seems to be in the context of Virginia but hopefully after this tasting a few more people will cross the Potomac River to Maryland.  I am also curious to try other selections from King Family Vineyards and Pearmund.

Flight 1 – Whites
1. 2008 Linden, Chardonnay, Avenius Vineyard (86.88)
2. 2009 Ataraxia, Chardonnay, South Africa (86.38)
3. 2011 Ankita Ridge, Chardonnay (85.13)

Flight 2 – Mature Reds
1. 1997 Linden, Reserve Red (89.13)
2. 1995 Chateau Troplong Mondot (87.13)
3. 1993 Robert Craig, Affinity (86.25)

Flight 3 – Young Reds (Cabernet Franc or Merlot Dominant Blends)
1. 2005 Chateau Joanin Becot (89.00)
2. Tied: 2009 RdV, Rendezvous and 2006 Black Ankle, Crumbling Rock (87.38)

Flight 4 – Young Reds (Cabernet Sauvignon Dominant Blends)
1. 2007 Gramercy Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon (87.29)
2. 2009 Cliff Lede, Cabernet Sauvignon (86.86)
3. 2009 Barboursville, Octagon (85.43)

TASTING NOTES

It took steady effort to taste through all of the wines in the time alloted.  As the time advanced past the normal closing time there was a bit of a dash to finish off the tasting.  My notes capture the wines during a brief few minutes so bear that in mind.  Normally I would not rate wines during such a tasting but as part of the group exercise and general fun of it, I did.  At the end of each note you will find the average group score in parenthesis.

FLIGHT 1 – WHITE WINES

David and Rob

I thought the white wines from Virginia showed very well.  While several of the wines had obvious barrel notes, my two favorites the 2010 Pearmund showed good integration along with fruit, weight, and acidity and the 2008 Linden showed lively fruit with an attractive gravelly quality.  Wines like these make me think a Virginia white wine tasting should be in order.

1 – 2011 Ankida Ridge, Chardonnay
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from a two acre vineyard at 1,800 feet. It was fermented in 100% neutral French oak barrels of which 50% underwent malolactic fermentation. It was then aged for nine months on the lees.  The light to medium nose was textured with barrel roast notes.  The barrel note continues in the mouth with rich, slightly perfumed fruit,a bit of weight in the finish.  There were some tart apple flavors and acidity. (85.13)  ** Now.

2 – 2009 Linden, Chardonnay Hardscrabble
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from 15-25 year old vines in the Hardscrabble Vineyard. The free run juice was fermented with both cultured and indigenous yeasts, some barrels underwent maolactic fermentation, followed by 10 months of aging on the lees in new and used French oak barrels. Alcohol 13.8%.  The color was a very light straw yellow.  The light fruit nose had some barrel notes along with heavier, yellow fruit aromas.  In the mouth there was crisper fruit to start  then tropical fruit which mixed with barrel flavors, some apple, and Christmas spice.  The aftertaste was a little coarse and shorter compared to #1.  (84.57) ** Now-2013.

3 – 2010 Pearmund, Old Vine Chardonnay, Meriwether Vineyard
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from 25+ year old vines. It under went 100% malolactic fermentation then was aged for eight months in French oak. Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was light yellow.  The light+ nose revealed heavier yellow fruit, better integration of the barrels notes, and fine texture.  In the mouth there was sweet tropical fruit which was delivered with an initial burst of acidity.  Then old perfume, good weight, and a core of ripe fruit.  There was ripe fruit and spices in the finish and a good aftertaste. (84.50)  **(*) Now-2017.

4 – 2008 Linden, Chardonnay Avenius
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from the Avenius Vineyard planted in 1996 at 1,300 feet. It was barrel fermented in older French oak, did not undergo malolactic fermentation, and was aged on the less for 10 months. Alcohol 13.7%.  The color was a very light yellow.  The nose bore ripe, concentrated yellow fruit.  In the mouth the flavors were lively on the tongue with integrated acidity, followed by gravelly white, ripe fruit.  There was an ethereal quality to the aftertaste.  (86.88) **(*) Now-2015.

5 – 2009 Domaine Bernard Defaix, Vaillons, Chablis 1er Cru
Imported by Winebow. This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from both young and old vines.  The color was light yellow.  The light to medium nose offered up perfumed, white and yellow fruit with a hint of something.  In the mouth there were flavors of bread at first followed by a hollow, citric finish, and a barely detectable hint of foxy flavors in the aftertaste. (83.00)  * Now.

6 – 2009 Ataraxia, Chardonnay, Western Cape
Imported by Worthwhile Wine Company. This wine is 100% Chardonnay which was barrel fermented then aged for ten months in Burgundian oak barrels. 13.5% Alcohol.  The color was light yellow.  There was a light+ ripe, yellow nose. In them mouth there were lively white, heavy fruit which was acidity driven.  There was a good mouthfeel, fine stoney, texture, and a drying finish with tart citrus flavors. (86.38) ** Now-2015.

FLIGHT 2 – MATURE RED WINES

The Author and Lou

This was a somewhat disjointed flight in terms of the wines tasted but it did reveal a complete 1997 Linden, Reserve Red.  I am glad that Rob was able to work with Jim Law on this selection.  It is drinking very well right now.  I did not guess it was from Virginia for I thought the 1999 Chateau Barde-Haut was!

7 – 1994 Roccadoro, Chianti Classico
Imported by Winebow. This. Alcohol 12%.  The color was light-medium tawny, showing extreme age.  The nose was over the hill with thin, delicate berry fruit in the mouth. (Flawed)  Flawed.

8 – 1999 Chateau Barde-Haut, St. Emillion Grand Cru
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. This wine is a blend of mostly Merlot and Cabernet Franc sourced from 30+ year old vines. It was fermented with indigenous yeasts, underwent malolactic fermentation then was aged for 18 months in new oak barrels. Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was a light to medium garnet-cherry.  In the mouth there were cedar box flavors, a touch of menthol, then cherry and raspberry.  There was a core of racy red fruit then blue flavors but then it completely thinned out. (82.00)  * Now.

9 – 1997 Linden, Reserve Red
This wine is a blend of 44% Cabernet Franc, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Petit Verdot, and 11% Merlot. Alcohol 13.9%.  The color was a light to medium ruby.  The light nose was followed by focused, black and red fruit in the mouth.  There was black fruit acidity,with mature flavors in the finish.  A complete little wine. (89.13)  ** Now.

10 – 1993 Robert Craig, Affinity, Napa Valley
This wine is a blend of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot, and 3% Cabernet Franc.  The nose was light with mature red fruit.  In the mouth there were brighter red fruit, texture, plenty of acidity, and a little powdery red candy. (86.25)  * Now.

11 – 1995 Chateau Troplong Mondot, St Emillion Grand Cru
Imported by Luke’s Distributing Co. This wine is a blend of mostly Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from 50 year old vines. It was fermented in stainless steel tanks, underwent malolactic fermentation then was aged 12-24 months in new oak barrels.  The color was a medium ruby.  The nose offered up cedar and vanilla.  In the mouth there was finely textured black cherry fruit, a little menthol, spicy finish, and a lifted, incensed aftertaste. (87.13) ** Now-2015.

FLIGHT 3 – YOUNG REDS (Cabernet Franc or Merlot Dominated Blends)

The King Family Vineyard and Chateau Joanin Becot were the standouts for me in this flight.  I do not if it is a pure varietal or blend but it was attractive all around without a hint of underripe fruit.  The 2006 Black Ankle, Crumbling Rocks had pebbly texture and the 2008 RdV, Rendezvous while tight, had an interesting earthy flavor which was new to me in my Virginian wine experience.  Both of these wines deserve revisiting.

12 – 2009 RdV, Rendezvous
This wine is a blend of 35% Merlot, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Cabernet Franc, and 12% Petit Verdot. Alcohol 14.5%.  The color was medium purple ruby.  The medium strength nose was of black fruit and low-lying vanilla aromas.  In the mouth this finely textured wine had black and red fruit, expansive flavors as the wine progressed, and a touch of greenhouse towards the finish.  The tart red fruit had plenty of tannins which coated the lips and teeth along with a certain perfumed flavor.  Upon revisiting it was a bit loose. (87.38)  ** Now-2017.

13 – 2006 Black Ankle, Crumbling Rock, Frederick County
This wine is a blend of 38% Cabernet Franc, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, and 5% Petit Verdot which was aged for 16 months in 75% new French oak barrels. Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was a medium garnet-ruby.  The light to medium strength nose was initially mature with a bit of wood box. In the mouth there were tangy red fruit, acidity, then fine, pebbly texture.  The fruit became tart, citric red and drier towards the finish.  There was textured aftertaste to this complete wine.  A touch up from #12.  Upon revisiting this showed good weight. (87.38) ** Now-2015.

14 – Linden, Boisseau Red
This wine is a blend of 44% Cabernet Franc, 34% Merlot, and 22% Petit Verdot sourced from the Boisseau Vineyard planted in 2000 at 600 feet. It was fermented with indigenous yeasts then aged for 20 months in French, American, and Hungarian oak. Alcohol 14.4%.  The color was a medium ruby with hints of grape.  The medium strength nose was fruit driven.  The wine tasted young and confident with bright, tart red and blue fruit, citric tannins, and acidity on the tip and sides of the tongue.  It was a bit expansive in the aftertaste but was less integrated than #13. (85.29) ** Now-2015.

15 – 2006 Clos L’Eglise, Pomerol
Imported by R&R Marketing LLC. This wine is a blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc sourced from 35 year old vines. It was aged for 18 months in 100% new French oak barrels. Alcohol 14%.  The color was medium ruby.  The light nose was a touch mature with almost gravelly red fruit.  In the mouth there was more concentrated, attractive black and red fruit with acidity.  Then plenty of fine wood tannins, which were a touch spicy, came out.  Actually there were lots of powerful tannins. (85.86) ** 2015-2019.

16 – 2005 Chateau Joanin Becot, Cotes de Castillon
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. This wine is a blend of 75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Franc. Alcohol 14%.  The color was medium garnet-ruby.  The light nose was of high-toned red and some black fruit.  In the mouth there were tangy, citric red fruit, very fine, drying tannins, and better integration.  Quite young but nice. (89.00)  **(*) 2017-2022.

17 – 2008 RdV, Rendezvous
This wine is a blend of 62% Merlot, 29% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Petit Verdot. Alcohol 14.5%.  The color was a medium+ grapey ruby.  The light nose revealed nice fruit, red and black berries.  In the mouth the fruit was slightly earthy, which was interesting, but was not giving up much.  This young wine had drying, ripe tannins.  Upon revisiting it showed better concentration, along with tannins, than the 2009. (84.14) ** 2014-2018.

18 – 2010 King Family Vineyards, Cabernet Franc, Monticello
The color was a light, grapey ruby.  The light nose was interesting and concentrated.  In the mouth there was lots of flavor and  delicacy to the riper red fruit.  It was perfumed and showed attractive integration. (85.14)  *** Now-2014.

19 – 2011 Clos Roche Blanche, Cuvee Pif, Touraine
Imported by Louis/Dressner. This wine is a blend of Cabernet Franc and Cot. Alcohol 12%.  It was a light to medium purple ruby color.  The light to medium nose smell like a European Cabernet Franc dominated wine.  The mouth followed the nose with powdery, red candy fruit, drier flavors, and a little orange citrus.  It firmed up a touch in the finish as tannins were left on the lips. (83.00) ** Now-2015.

20 – 2007 Pearmund, Ameritage
This wine is a blend of 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 17% Malbec, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 10% Petit Verdot.  The color was light to medium garnet.  The light nose revealed raspberry candy and greenhouse aromas.  In the mouth there were ripe and sweeter red fruit which turned into black fruit.  There was a little weight, candy notes, along with minimal, spicy tannins which were integrated. (82.57)  * Now.

21 – 2009 Barboursville, Cabernet Franc, Reserve
This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc, from five different clones, which was fermented in stainless steel then aged up to 14 months in new and used French oak barriques. Alcohol 13%.  The color was a light to medium garnet.  The light to medium strength nose was scented with greenhouse aromas.  In the mouth there were ripe, sweet, black and red fruit.  It was rather sweet, the ripe tannins, some head in the finish, and less integration than #20. (82.14) * Now.

22 – 2009 Chateau de la Bonneliere, Les Cornelles, Chinon
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler. This Alcohol 12.5%.  The color was light to medium grapey ruby.  The light nose smelled thinner, like wet Cabernet Franc, and salt water.  In the mouth the light fruit sat in a structure with flavors of old vintage perfume, and tangy red citrus in the finish.  There were fine+ tannins, a touch spicy, as flavors thinned out. Better than #21 and #22. (83.00) * Now.

23 – 2007 Black Ankle, Crumbling Rock, Frederick County
This wine is a blend of 34% Cabernet Franc, 30% Cabernet Sauvingon, 22% Merlot, 11% Petit Verdot, and 3% Syrah which was aged for 18 months in 100% new French oak. Alcohol 14.9%.  The light to medium strength nose was of higher-toned, mixed berries.  In the mouth the mixed fruit was concentrated with some sweetness, good integrated then a touch of heat in the finish, and a lifted aftertaste.  Upon revisiting this showed enjoyable ripe fruit.  (84.43)  ** Now-2016.

24 – 2008 Puriri Hills, Pope, Clevedon
Imported by Nice Legs LLC. This wine is a blend of 52% Cabernet Franc, 32% Merlot, and 16% Carmenere. Alcohol 14.2%.  The color was a light to medium garnet.  The light+ nose revealed finely scented berries along with a greenhouse/pine aromas.  In the mouth the black and red fruit initially mixed with acidity then remained lively throughout.  There were almost juicy black fruit with a tannins structure for aging. (85.43)  * Now-2015.

25 – 2009 Yannick Amirault, Les Quartiers, Bourgueil
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler. This is 100% Cabernet Franc fermented with indigenous yeasts then aged for 12 months in tonneaux. Alcohol 13%.  The color was a medium ruby-garnet.  The light nose revealed overly ripe fruit and some stink.  In the mouth the black and red fruit felt clumsy and flavor with a line of very drying, fine wood tannins.  Below #24 by a touch.  (80.67) * Now.

FLIGHT 4 – YOUNG REDS ( Cabernet Sauvignon Dominated Blends)

Brett and Alyssa

The tasting speeded up during this last flight.  The Cliff Ledge was my favorite followed by the Gramercy Cellars, which in this case, suffered from lack of decanting.  Of the Virginian wines the Linden, Hardscrabble was the most interesting followed by the Glen Manor.

26 – 2007 Gramercy Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot.  The color was a medium garnet.  The light nose was finely textured but played it close.  In the mouth there was focused, tangy black fruit which was integrated with acidity and ripe tannins.  The flavors became riper towards the finish where there was a little warmth.  Upon revisiting this showed fine, dense flavors. (87.29) ** Now-2015.

27 – 2009 RdV, Lost Mountain
This wine is a blend of 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, and 9% Petit Verdot. Alcohol 14.5%.  The light nose was of ripe, sweet dark fruit.  In the mouth there was riper black fruit and watering acidity before it thinned out a bit.  The finish firmed up with dry tannins. (83.29) ** Now-2015.

28 – 2008 Glen Manor, Hodder Hill
This wine is a blend of 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 15% Petit Verdot, and 7% Cabernet Franc. Alcohol 13.8%.  The color was a medium ruby garnet.  The light nose had a bit of roasted red fruit.  In the mouth there was very tart, acidic red fruit, with a tannic structure.  There was watering acidity and a little rough finish.  Upon revisiting this showed citric, red fruit. (84.67) ** Now-2016.

29 – 2009 Barboursville, Octagon
This wine is a blend of mostly Merlot with some Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot which was fermented in stainless steel then aged 12-14 months in new French oak Gamba barriques. Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was a light to medium purple ruby.  The light nose revealed tamales and red fruit.  In the mouth the wine was tighter with balanced black and red fruit, firm structure, and very fine tannins.  It is hard and needs time to unfold. (85.43)  *(*) 2015-2018.

30 – 2007 Linden, Hardscrabble
This wine is a blend of 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc, 8% Petit Verdot, and 4% Carmenere sourced from vines planted between 1985 and 2006 at the Hardscrabble Vineyard at 1,300-1,400 feet. It was fermented with indigenous yeasts then aged for 18 months in used French and Hungarian oak barrels and puncheons. Alcohol 14.2%.  The color was a medium grapey ruby.  The light nose was interesting.  In the mouth the tangy fruit initially mixed with acidity then drier black and red fruit flavors developed.  It was a little gravelly with powdery, redder fruit towards the finish. (85.29) ** Now-2017.

31 – 2005 Melqart, Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot, Malta
Imported by First Vine. This wine is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot which was aged for five months in barrels. Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose was light with seaside aromas.  In the mouth, oh cr*p, no! (75.23)  Poor.

32 – 2009 Boxwood, Topiary
This wine is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Malbec which was fermented in stainless steel then aged up to 12 months in French oak barrels. Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was a medium garnet.  The light to medium strength nose was lifted with old perfume aromas.  In the mouth there was a little CO2 with interesting, stinky fruit.  It was a bit racy with lipstick, drier flavors in the finish, and a long greenhouse aftertaste. (82.00) * Now-2015.

33 – 2009 Cliff Lede, Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District
This wine is a blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot, 2% Malbec, 1% Merlot, and 1% Cabernet Franc which was aged for 17 months in 60% new French oak. Alcohol 14.9%.  The color was a medium+ garnet..  The light now was of good, pure red fruit.  In the mouth there was good mouthfeel, controlled ripeness, a little spice, and some firmness.  There was citric acidity. I would see what happens with age. (86.86) **(*) Now-2018.

Three Random Notes

September 14, 2012 1 comment

Here are a trio of tasting notes from this summer.  The Olivier Leflaive is an affordable buy and makes an acceptable, inexpensive selection.  The Lovingston would work to both cook with and drink when making braised ribs.  The Veramonte is the most interesting of the lot.  These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

2009 Olivier Leflaive, Les Setilles, Bourgogne Blanc – $14
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from Puligny-Montrachet and Meursault which was vinified for 8 months in both stainless steel and oak barrels.  The color is a light+ yellow.  The nose reveals yellow fruit with a little barrel toast.  In the mouth the flavors are apple-like at first then the wine rounds out becoming a bit vibrant and a little savory.  It becomes tart with a touch of tannins in the finish.  ** Now-2013.

2009 Lovingston, Rotunda Red, Monticello – $12
This wine is mostly Merlot with some Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.  Alcohol 13.7%.  The color is a light to medium purplish ruby.  The light to medium strength nose is followed by medium bodied flavors of somewhat ripe fruit and greenhouse flavors.  There is a touch of heat as chunky tannins dry things out in the finish.  The flavors drop off fast leaving a dark and stormy aftertaste.  Drinkable.  ** Now.

2007 Veramonte, Primus, Colchagua Valley- $15
Imported by Huneeus Vintners.  This wine is a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Syrah, 8% Merlot, and 7% Carmenere.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The nose and mouth are similar.  In the mouth it opens up well with tangy, a little chewy, grainy, red fruit.  There was some greenhouse note as the flavors filled up the mouth.  The drying, tannins coat the lips but have some enjoyable ripeness.  After an hour there is underlying black licorice, dry cinnamon baking spiced, black cherry, and some spicy tannins in the finish.  ** Now-2016.

A Close Look at the Wines of The Williamsburg Winery

The Author at the Winery with the Wines

Last year we celebrated Independence Day by attending the Blues, Brews, and BBQ Party at the Williamsburg Lodge.  Rather thunderstorms rolled in, everything was cancelled, and then we returned to our hotel rooms.  It was not a complete disaster as I was surprised by the wines poured: 2006 Williamsburg Winery, Governor’s White and 2003 Williamsburg Winery, Arundell, Cabernet Sauvignon.  They were actually rather decent!  Thus on my inaugural visit to The Williamsburg Winery I knew I had to purchase some older vintages to try along with more current selections.

After participating in a Basic Tasting I stopped by the wine store to purchase six bottles.  Both the online and winery stores maintain an extensive list of older vintages.  There are bottles of Chardonnay back to 1988 which one may buy and Cabernet Sauvignon back to 1989.  I tried to balance vintage strength against affordability in coming up with my six bottle selection.  The 1994 and 1995 vintages were produced by former winemaker Steve Warner.  The 2005 and 2007 vintages were produced by current winemaker Matthew Meyer.

2007 – The best year I have witnessed in Virginia so far.  The growing conditions were perfect with little to no rain during harvest.  The total rain fall for August-October was approximately 9.5 inches.  Rating – Exceptional

2005 – An excellent year for both red and whites.  The rains held off during crush and we had consistent temperatures throughout the growing season.  Rating – Excellent

1995 – A dry, hot summer.  Bold ripe fruit.  Not as complex as 1997.  Rating – Excellent

1994 – Some rain through summer.  elegant Whites.  Well-structured Reds.  Rating – Very Good

Excerpted from A Review Of Past Vintages, The Williamsburg Winery

This week we gathered at Lou’s house to taste the wines and I suppose to also swim in the pool and eat.  Lou is curious so he promptly agreed to let me provide the red wines blind.  The 2005s and 2007s were double-decanted at my house and had 1.5 hours of air before tasting.  The 1994 and 1995 were decanted at Lou’s house  and had 15 minutes of air before they were tasted.

The 1994 and 1995 were completely past prime and barely drinkable which is a shame given the price of the 1995.  The 2007 vintage with its increased flavors does appear to be a step above the 2005.  Both of these vintages improved with air and I believe smelled their best on the second day.  My favorite wine was the 2007 Trianon which struck the best balance of dark fruit, acidity, and structure for near term development.  The flavors of the 2007 Merlot Reserve are richer than the 2005, but the 2007 has ample tannic structure requiring short-term aging.

While we got settled in we started off with a white wine which Lou poured blind.  Weygandt Wines had a few bottles of this so Lou picked one up to try.  Amazingly, Adriene guessed it was made of Roussanne!  I thought it was a Chardonnay from Jura.

2004 Alban Vineyards, Roussanne, Edna Valley – $30
The color was vibrant golden straw.  The nose was oxidative at first then it blew off to reveal finely textured apple orchard notes with underlying aromas of delicate tropical fruit.  In the mouth there was good texture, lightly creamy at first then oily, with some tannic notes.  The flavors expand in the mouth with a refreshing finish.  There was lots of salivating acidity in this balanced,  fully mature wine.  This opened up nicely over an hour.  *** Now-2014.

1994 Williamsburg Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon – (375 mL) $6
This wine was aged for 12 months in oak.  This was a light+ brick color which looked aged!  The nose was minty fresh, a touch underripe.  In the mouth the hard red fruit was dried out followed by a minty aspect.  There was a little bit of watery acidity and some texture.  Not Rated, Past.

1995 Williamsburg Winery, Merlot Reserve – $48
This wine was aged for 12 months in oak.  The color was lighter than the 1994 and was tawny.  There was an old, musty nose.  Perhaps a bit more body but musty flavors with old perfume in the aftertaste.  Not Rated, Past.

2005 Williamsburg Winery, Merlot Reserve – $28
This wine is 100% Merlot which was fermented in stainless steel with a proportion undergoing malolactic fermentation.  It was aged for 18 months in French and American oak.  Alcohol 12.8% vol, pH 3.61, TA 6.07 g/L.  The color is a medium, ruby purple.  The tight nose starts off a little foxy then eventually takes on higher-toned red fruit.  In the mouth there is a good smooth body which is a little racy.  The flavors are a bit mouthfilling with flavors of cherry and some wood.  There was a little bit of heat on the first night in the aftertaste.  This shows structure at this point with fine+ grippy tannins which are starting to resolve. ** Now-2015.

2005 Williamsburg Winery, Trianon – $36
This wine is a blend of 80% Cabernet Franc, 10% Petite Verdot, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon which was fermented in stainless steel with a proportion undergoing malolactic fermentation.  It was aged for 18 months in French and American oak.  Alcohol 12.7% vol, pH 3.59, TA 5.55 g/L.  The color is a light to medium ruby.  The light fresh nose reveals greenhouse aromas and a pepper note.  In the mouth the drier red fruit follows the nose with more tannins and some dark red fruit.  With air the red berries take on brighter and higher-toned flavors.  There is a fair amount of structure and fine drying tannins. * Now-2015.

2007 Williamsburg Winery, Merlot Reserve – $28
This wine is a blend of 88% Merlot and 12% Petit Verdot which was fermented in stainless steel with a proportion undergoing malolactic fermentation.  It was aged for 18 months in French and American oak.  Alcohol 12.7% vol, pH 3.72, TA 5.66 g/L.  The color is a medium+ purple ruby.  The light nose has more berry nose and with air fresh-cut grass.  In the mouth there is an old perfume note, greenhouse notes, and a touch more concentration than the 2005.  It is a somewhat savory with a bit more richness, plenty of structure along with ample fine drying tannins and wood box notes in the aftertaste.  With air the flavors tilt towards cranberry.  ** Now-2017.

2007 Williamsburg Winery, Trianon – $32
This wine is a blend of 80% Cabernet Franc, 15% Merlot, and 5% Petit Verdot which was fermented in stainless steel with a proportion undergoing malolactic fermentation.  It was aged for 18 months in French and American oak.  Alcohol 13.7% vol, pH 3.83, TA 5.96 g/L. The color is a medium ruby purple.  The light to medium nose has a strange scent at first but then takes on red berries and oak.  The mouth follows the nose and is a touch savory with good flavors which expand in the mouth.  The dark fruit, wood box, and a drying aftertaste. ** Now-2018.

Tasting Wine At the Williamsburg Winery

July 27, 2012 1 comment

After our Independence Day holiday at Colonial Williamsburg we stopped by The Williamsburg Winery.  The 320 acre estate is located only several miles from Colonial Williamsburg next to the James River.  Purchased in 1983 by Patrick and Peggy Duffeler planted Chardonnay, Seyval Blanc, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon from 1985-1988.  In the early 2000s those vines were pulled up to allow planting in 2003 of different clones of Merlot, Vidal Blanc, Petit Verdot, and Traminette.  Most recently Viognier was planted in 2009 with Cabernet Franc and Malbec in 2010.  There are now some 50 acres of vineyards.  The estate produces wine from mostly estate fruit but also sources from 12 vineyards in Monticello and Loudon County.

With the Reserve Tasting fully booked we decided to do the basic tasting.  At the low-end the 2009 Arundel,Cabernet Sauvignon is both approachable and affordable.  In the mid-range the 2010 Acte 12, Chardonnay gets a floral boost from the addition of Traminette and should appeal to many.  The 2006 Gabriel Archer Reserve reveals tangy, cranberry flavors which are focused and chewy.

2011 Williamsburg Winery, Dry Rose – $12
This wine is a blend of 94% Merlot, 3% Traminette, and 3% Vidal Blanc.  There was a very berry nose.  In the mouth the tart red fruit flavors were very dry with high acidity, perhaps a touch of tannins, and a decent finish.

2010 Williamsburg Winery, Acte 12, Chardonnay – $18
This is a blend of 97% Chardonnay and 3% Traminette which includes non-estate fruit.  It was primarily barrel-fermented and aged.  The richer yellow nose contained some floral hints and ripeness.  In the mouth it was moderately fresh with some tart fruit, some wood notes, and a bit of weight.

2010 Williamsburg Winery, Traminette – $18
This is 100% Traminette which was sourced from estate vineyards.  It was fermented in stainless steel then aged in French oak barrels.  The nose was very floral with tropical aromas and sweet honey.  There is a touch of residual sugar followed by tea notes mixed with yellow fruit.  The black tea aspect is a bit heavy.

2009 Williamsburg Winery, Arundel, Cabernet Sauvignon – $11
This wine is blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12.5% Cabernet Franc, and 12.5% Petit Verdot which was aged for 6-9 months in American and French oak barrels.  The nose reveals greenhouse aromas with pepper notes.  In the mouth the tight red berries make way to some blue notes.  This is very approachable with mild tannins and a slightly racy aftertaste.

2007 Williamsburg Winery, Burgesses’ Measure, Merlot – $15
This is a blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon which was aged primarily in wood.  The nose reveals greenhouse aromas with perhaps clove.  In the mouth the tart red fruit shows more focus with obvious but nice tannins.  There is old-school perfume in the dry finish.

2006 Williamsburg Winery, Gabriel Archer Reserve – $26
This is a blend of 34% Cabernet Franc, 21% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, and 6% Petit Verdot.  The nose is light but reveals darker fruit.  In the mouth the cranberry and tart red fruit flavors are integrated with acidity.  The wine is tangy and a little bit chewy.  This showed the most focus.

NV Williamsburg Winery, Vin Licoreaux de Framboise – $18
This is a blend of red wine and raspberry juice.  The raspberry nose works well. In the mouth the are tart, pure raspberry flavors which are completely puckering.  Interesting but very hard to drink.  As suggested, best drizzled on things.

Reexamining Three Wines from Tarara Winery

When I tasted through the wines at Tarara Winery the pours were generous enough for me to develop reasonable tasting notes.  I certainly enjoyed tasting them and quickly decided I wanted Jenn to try them. I even thought it would be fun to surprise a few friends with glasses of the white wines and they too rather enjoyed them.  My favorite was the 2011 Boneyard White which should drink for a few years but its vibrancy is great right now.  The 2010 Charval is seductive and should be drunk this year.  The 2010 Boneyard Red has good components but requires a few years of age for them to integrate together. It is pretty cool to see both Petit Manseng and Pinotage included in these wines but it is more fun to taste them.  If you are curious about Virginian wine then definitely check out Tarara.  The prices are very reasonable too.  I look forward to trying the single-vineyard wines.

2011 Tarara Winery, Boneyard White – $15
This wine is a blend of 42% Chardonnay, 28% Viognier, and 19% Petit Manseng of which 90% was fermented in stainless steel and 10% in neutral French oak. The Chardonnay underwent malolactic fermentation and the wine was blended after three months. It was cold and heat stabilized.  For detailed information please look here.  The color is a light yellow and straw.  The light nose reveals gravelly white fruit.  In the mouth the flavors are vibrant on the tongue with lively acidity, and a touch of yeast that mixes with the white and yellow fruit.  The middle reveals a creamy mouthfeel and minerals before the lightly sweet tropical fruit in the finish.  *** Now-2014.

2010 Tarara Winery, Charval – $20
This wine is a blend of 65% Chardonnay, 15% Sauvignon Blanc, 11% Petit Manseng, and 7% Viognier. The majority of the fruit was fermented in stainless steel with approximately one barrel of each in oak. Fermentation was with a combination of indigenous and commercial yeasts. After six months the barrels and tanks were blended then cold and heat stabilized followed by filtering.  For detailed information please look here.  This vintage was fermented to dryness. The nose reveals white peaches and nectarines.  In the mouth there are flavors of focused white fruit and a touch of minerality all delivered with a very round mouthfeel.  The white, floral fruit continues in  a lush manner through the long aftertaste where gentle spices are left on the tongue with the tiniest barrel note.  Though there is a soft personality there is enough acidity to keep things moving.  ** Now-2013.

2010 Tarara Winery, Boneyard Red – $15
This wine is a blend of 31% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot, 21% Petit Verdot, 11% Cabernet Franc, 11% Tannat, and 5% Pinotage. The maceration lasted 37 days, the wine underwent malolactic fermentation, and was aged for 16 months in 20% new and 80% second and third use Virginia Oak.  For detailed information please look here.  There is a light+ nose of lifted black fruit, greenhouse aromas, and a touch of toast.  In the mouth the fruit is ripe but focused with blue fruit then fresh spices.  There is a good mouthfeel with the finish wrapping up with vanilla and sweet spice.  This needs one or two years to come together.  ** 2014-2018.

A Pair of Wines Drunk in Williamsburg

During our annual Independence Day holiday at Colonial Williamsburg I usually try to drink a few different bottles of Virginian wine.  Not personally, rather with my family so that I may hear their remarks.  For our candidates I headed to The Cheese Shop which is conveniently located between historic Colonial Williamsburg and the campus of William & Mary.  The main floor houses a deli in the back of which is located the stairs to the basement wine shop.  The store carries an edited selection of international wines.  I was particularly interested in Virginian wine so the staff recommended the Barboursville wine.  I grabbed the Boxwood because I have read some decent remarks about their wines.  The Barboursville drank quite well upon opening the bottle.  It lets loose is flavors in a manner that should appeal to many and though I wish it were less expensive, it seems to be reasonably price.  The Boxwood seems to require more cellaring so that it will flesh out and reveal its subdued non-fruit flavors.  This should put the bright raspberry and cranberry core into good balance which I suspect will maintain youthfulness.  The Barboursville was the favorite so if you find yourself at The Cheese Shop in Williamsburg then I recommend you try this reasonably priced selection of theirs.

2009 Barboursville Vineyards, Cabernet Franc, Reserve, Orange County – $22
This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc from five different clones which was fermented in stainless steel then aged for 14 months in new and used French oak barriques.  A light to medium strength nose of dark red fruit.  In the mouth it is quite open and expansive with red fruit, a tangy aspect, perhaps a touch of toast, and up-front personality.  ** Now-2015 .

2008 Boxwood Estate, Boxwood – $28
This Medoc style wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot sourced from six to eight year old vines.  The fruit is destemmed, fermented in stainless steel then aged for up to 12 months in French oak barrels. There were fresh, lifted and bright red raspberry and cranberry flavors.  Acidity came out towards the back along with fruity tannins, a lifted perfumed finish, and a tight black fruit note.  With air the wine puts on a little weight becomes a little creamy and develops a subtle greenhouse and pepper note. ** Now-2017 .