07 Jun 2011
Back in November I tried my very first Virginia wines. A quick review of the post reminds me that I was blown away by 2009 Keswick Vineyards Viognier and moderately surprised by the Kluge Brut Rose. With the 2011 Wine Bloggers Conference coming up in late July, Virginia is poised to be the center of the online wine world for 3 days.
Smartly, members of the Virginia wine community are getting wine into the hands of wine writers ahead of the event. As I often teach, the blog posts that come out of the tasting will jump to the top of search engine results when bloggers and consumers start to do some research. Frank Morgan of @drinkwhatulike / DrinkWhatYouLike.com was one of the main tasting hosts in the online tasting.
The speed tasting of six wines in a sixty minute span included such world renowned bloggers as @lenndevours of New York Cork Report, @suburbanwino of Suburbanwino.com and @wineharlots of WineHarlots.com. If anyone was up to the task, it would be these guys.
As usual the tasting event bumped into a private event that was scheduled at Nectar. And, as even more usual, this post is way delayed as the event happened on May 24.
As these wines were tasted in a very quick fashion, I’ll share my brief synopsis, initial impressions and overall score. I did enjoy the wines for a few days after the online event and some of the added notes come from these experiences.
2010 Keswick Vineyards Verdejo
The first wine of the night came from the makers of the Viognier that wowed me back in November. It is great to see the Spanish grape Verdejo coming out of Virginia. The wine was cold fermented for 29 days until it was bone dry. A modest aroma of tart citrus and alfalfa come out of the glass. The mouth is very Sauv Blanc’ish’ and boasts a great acidity. The low 12.8% alcohol is a welcome site. I really enjoyed this wine, and for $18.95 it is a good price point for a crisp citrus summer wine. 3+/5
2010 Veritas Sauv Blanc Reserve
While, I’m not in the habit of paying $25 for a Sauvignon Blanc when there are many great ones to be had for under $20, the Veritas did shine a little truth into my world about the potential of this grape in Virginia. This bone dry Sauv Blanc came across very much like it’s New Zealand cousins as grassy with a little grapefruit and cat pee (trust me, not as bad as you would think). Most wine drinkers would be able to pick this out of a line up as a Sauv Blanc with the traditional tart acidic finish. At this price, only going 3/5
2010 Boxwood Topiary Rose
Ahhh, nothin’ says summer like sippin on a dry Rose! This blend of 75% Cab Franc and 25% Malbec has an extremely orange hue to it. Aromas of rhubarb, melons and herbs came out of the glass. In the mouth the wine seemed a little light overall on flavor but the mellow fruit and herbs balance made for a great experience. Like most dry Rose this wine would pair extremely well with all kinds of light summer food. $14, 3+/5
2010 Jefferson Vineyards Viognier
A very curious blend of 75% Viognier, 14% Riesling, 7% Chardonnay and 4% Petit Manseng. Three-quarters of this wine spent six months in neutral oak and an interesting aging of adding the lees (skins) of the remaining grapes back to the wine make for some very bold flavors and aromas. The plain branded label is rescued by the strong aroma of honey, guava and lemon. The mouth feel has a hint of oak but is a nice addition to the thickness of the wine. At $25 this is a fantastic Viognier, 3+/5
2010 Chrysalis Vineyards
This 100% Viognier spends 5 months in oak (95% neutral and 5% new). Very traditional flower fragrance and tropical fruit present itself in this wine. After coming off the Jefferson Viognier, this wine is a little less dramatic. The nearly $30 price tag is a big turn off for me. 3/5
This is my first experience with Petit Manseng. At first sniff the wine strikes me with apricot and a slightly sweet pineapple. After sipping the wine, I was shocked to learn that the wine had only 1% residual sugar. The apparent sweetness in the mouth made me think at least 3-4% RS. The wine had a fantastic balance of tart citrus acid and sweet peach, pineapple and apple. At $17, I can very strongly recommend this wine if you can find it. With only 150 cases produced, you may want to make a trip to Lovingston winery soon. 3+/5
17 Nov 2010
Virginia is home to some of our country’s early history, 8 US presidents (including 4 of our first 5), Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, a strong military ship yard, beautiful beaches, and some of the most amazing Fall scenery in the U.S. With some of our countries earliest history of wine, Virginia is not just for lovers, it is for wine lovers.
38 years ago I was born among the hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, in Roanoke, Virginia. The childlike fondness I have from living there for 10 years remains with me. While we occasionally go back to VA to visit my mom’s side of the family, it’s been eight years since I’ve been back. Apart from a small sip from Sean Sullivan a few months back, I’ve yet to experience the wine of my forefathers…and mothers, and aunts, uncles, and cousins.
I was recently invited to participate in an online wine tasting of six Virginia wines. Needless to say, I was excited. For me, this was a chance to connect with the wine my family drinks and a little family heritage. Sadly, shipping was delayed and I wasn’t there to receive the wines the day of the tasting. Over the days that followed I casually made my way through the six wines (three whites, two reds, and a sparkling wine).
*Note to distributors and representatives, when introducing new wines and wine regions to a group of people, please include winery information and winemaking notes.
Since I tasted these wines a few weeks ago, I’ll share my brief notes and my overall impression of the wines that I received. The 2011 Wine Bloggers Conference is in Charlottesville, VA July 22-24. You can count on me being there and then enjoying a nice return visit with my family in Roanoke. If you are interested in learning more about Virginia wine, I suggest you check out the following blogs.
The Virginia Wines
The 2009 Monticello Gewurz had medium flavor but lacked a strong acidity which left the wine lingering in the mouth. A hint of sweetness is present on this mostly dry wine along with average flavors of peaches and stone fruit. Overall a nice first impression. The winery web site prices this wine at $19. 3/5
Wow! My notes indicate that I really enjoyed this wine. 14%ABV, 420 cases, combination of oak and barrel fermentation. Awesome flavors of melons and pears coupled with a great acidity make this a pleasant sipping wine or paired with food. At $22, I will definitely keep my eyes out for this wine on the trip back east! 4/5
This wine didn’t do much for me. It came across a little flabby, light in flavor and heavy handed on the oak. The label leaves a little to be desired. At a retail price of $23, I would give it a test sip before you commit. 3-/5
This Seven Oaks Merlot is a little thin on fruit and comes across very young, green and under ripe. Flavors start smooth but then move to a little tartness on the palate. The finish is rough on the edges. 75% of the wine is aged 10 months in French and American oak. $18, 3/5
60% Petit Verdot, 30% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc – This is a very dark and moody wine with colors of dark plum and black. Good aroma of flowers and fruit jump out of the glass getting me very excited for the sip. In the mouth the wine is slightly gamey along with deep fruit flavors. Under-ripe bell peppers and a slight minerality make the mid-palate slightly disjointed. Really enjoyed the layers of flavor. $25, 3/5
95% Chardonnay and 5% Pinot Noir – Lively bubbles that race to the top of the glass. Good aroma of strawberry toast and yeast. While the wine is made dry, there is a nice hint of sweetness on the front palate. I’m not a sparkling wine expert, but this was a very tasty wine that went down very quickly. With only 12%ABV, the bottle was quickly empty. $28, 3+/5
Overall, I was most impressed with the Viognier and the Sparkling wine. I look forward to exploring more Virginia wines in a few short months to see what else is coming out of the region. A few of these wines were rough around the edges, and the whites were better than the reds, in my opinion.