Virginia Wine Notes

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Virginia Wine Notes

Postby David Mc » Wed May 16, 2012 6:23 pm

I have visited many Virginia wineries over the last year and here is a quick rundown. I have categorized them based on my opinion on whether they are average for Virginia wine, above average, or sets the standard for Virginia wine. In addition to the 14 below, I have visited 7 others over the years so my sample size is 21. These are concentrated in the Monticello AVA and the Northern Virginia Region.

Trip 1 (March 2011)

Glen Manor Vineyards: A fairly new winery, above average for whites, especially the 2009 Sauvignon Blanc, which reminded me of New Zealand SB. The reds were good also, but nothing special.

Chester Gap Cellars: above average for whites. The Viognier was excellent (although a bit high in alcohol, which I didn't notice during the tasting but noticed with a full glass during a meal a few weeks ago). Don't remember the reds.

Linden Vineyards: I'm going to abstain from an opinion here and I need to re-taste. The winery has stellar reviews but it was my last tasting after a very long day and I don't remember anything special about the wines.

Trip 2 (June 2011)

The Winery at La Grange: I would say about average for whites and a smidgen above average for reds. Their Cabernet Sauvignon was pretty good and so was their Meritage blend. I also liked the Rosé of Merlot.

Chrysalis Vineyards: average all around. They do a Norton, which I did not like and also a Tannat, which was bland. They do a bunch of "mass-market consumer" reds (light, sweet) which were unimpressive. I did buy a bottle Albariño on blind faith as it was not part of the tasting - I really liked it.

Boxwood Estate Winery: set the standard for Virginia wine. The Boxwood (Médoc-style) and Topiary (Saint-Émilion-style) are incredible, and incredibly priced at $25. Very earthy and meaty reds. The Rose is good too.

Trip 3 (December 2011)

Pearmund Cellars: fairly typical Virginia winery, about average in my opinion, nothing special.

Trip 4 (April 2012)

Notaviva Vineyards: I would say a little above average for reds and average for white. I liked the Ludwig Meritage blend. I found the "wine paired with music" marketing a bit silly.

Tarara Winery: incredible white wine! I loved the Petit Manseng and Chardonnay - the aromas was unlike anything I have experienced, very intense. Reds were nothing special.

Fabbioli Cellars: a little above average for reds and average white. I liked the Cabernet Franc and Tre Sorélle (Merlot, CS, PV blend).

Trip 5 (May 2012)

Bluestone Vineyard. Fairly average Virginia winery. Overall, both the reds and white were good; I bought a bottle of Cab Franc. They also have a Eiswein, but after having the real stuff from Germany, anything else seems terrible in comparison.

Veritas: I would rate it above average for both reds and white but I think the incredible venue, overlooking the Blue Ridge mountains, might be coloring my judgement. I did like the Vintners Reverse (Merlot, CF, PV, CS) and their Cab Franc.

DelFosse Vineyards and Winery: Incredible white wines! I loved their Chardonnay Reserve and 2009 Reserve d'Oriane (Chardonnay, Petit Manseng, Viognier). I also liked their red wines, especially the Cabernet Sauvignon.

Trump Winery. OK, I only visited this winery because of the Trump name and knowing the history of the winery (Kluge). Plus I wanted to know how The Donald would do it differently. He did not disappoint on both fronts! First the tasting - you find a place to sit and they bring you the tasting in very small half-glass carafes. They briefly explain the wine then you are on your own. I loved this format as I can taste at my own pace. Now the wines - excellent! This is not Trump's doing as it was Kluge's since he only bought the winery last year. Their sparkling wine was excellent, better than the Champagne I've had - and I'm not even a sparking wine guy. I loved the Kluge SP Blanc de Blancs Brut. The reds were excellent also - I loved the Kluge Estate New World Red (Merot, CF, CS, PV, Malbec).

Others Visited

Barboursville (multiple trips, I think 5): sets the standard for Virginia wine. The 2010 Pinot Grigio was out of this world; so was the 2009 Cab Franc. They are known for their Octogon, which I have 3 bottles in the cellar.

Horton (at least two trips): last visited a few years ago. It's famous for it's Norton and Viognier, but I was unimpressed with the lot. I need to reevaluate.

Burnley Vineyards: last visited over 5 years ago, rather awful.

White Hall: above average for whites; I liked the Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer. Reds where average.

Keswick: average for whites, I liked the Les Vents d’Anges Viognier and the really liked the Verdejo. The reds were disappointing.

Jefferson Vineyards: above average for reds, especially the Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. I don't remember the whites so must have been average.

Prince Michel Vineyard: last visited over 5 years ago. It's a tourist place right off a main road (Rt. 29) and I recall awful reds and ho-hum whites.
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Re: Virginia Wine Notes

Postby Dan Smothergill » Thu May 17, 2012 3:27 am

Thanks David. This gives me a list of places to try when in Virginia.
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Re: Virginia Wine Notes

Postby David M. Bueker » Thu May 17, 2012 8:00 am

Good job.

Veritas has a few good items. Their rosé is generally quite good and a decent value.

King Family is worth a visit.

I need to get to Boxwood.

Horton can be good, but their lineup is so huge that it ends up being focused on nothing. I bet if they culled the range a bit they would be better.
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Re: Virginia Wine Notes

Postby Brian K Miller » Thu May 17, 2012 1:42 pm

UVA Grad School here (22 years ago!) so this is interesting to me.

One of my disappointments is how hard it is to get wines from New York State...or Virginian and Michigan...here in California. I know about the Coal to Newcastle factor, but I would love to epxerience some of the cool weather reds from the east.
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Re: Virginia Wine Notes

Postby Brian Gilp » Thu May 17, 2012 5:15 pm

David, Thanks. My comments on some of what you visisted is below.

David Mc wrote:Glen Manor Vineyards: A fairly new winery, above average for whites, especially the 2009 Sauvignon Blanc, which reminded me of New Zealand SB. The reds were good also, but nothing special.


Agree on the SB. Liked the Petit Verdot more than you apparently. Also liked the Petit Manseng. Felt quality was higher than at Chester Gap but still prefer Linden. Plan to follow as I think good things will continue to come from Jeff.

David Mc wrote:Chester Gap Cellars: above average for whites. The Viognier was excellent (although a bit high in alcohol, which I didn't notice during the tasting but noticed with a full glass during a meal a few weeks ago). Don't remember the reds.


The Cuvee Manseng is a great bargin. Liked the Viognier but not knocked out. Agree with you that I don't even remember the reds. Will check out again but not a must stop.

David Mc wrote:Linden Vineyards: I'm going to abstain from an opinion here and I need to re-taste. The winery has stellar reviews but it was my last tasting after a very long day and I don't remember anything special about the wines.


My favorite VA winery by far of those I have tasted. The Chardonnays I think stack up to anything in their price range. The reds need some years to really shine but don't just hold, they evolve. The three vineyards yield significantly different wines and each have their own distinct character. I even drink the sweet wines here. I will note that I don't think the base level wines hold as much interest and those are what are usually on the basic tasting list. One needs to either pay for the celler tasting or buy a glass of two of the top tier to better appreciate what Linden is doing.

David Mc wrote:Boxwood Estate Winery: set the standard for Virginia wine. The Boxwood (Médoc-style) and Topiary (Saint-Émilion-style) are incredible, and incredibly priced at $25. Very earthy and meaty reds. The Rose is good too.


Completely disagree. The 2005s were nearly undrinkable. The 2006s were better but uninspiring. The 2007s were good and I thought that the winery may be showing its promise. Then the 2008s were back to unispiring. In 2008 I did not like the Boxwood at all but did purchase a few Topiarys thinking they showed promise. My most recent note is from November 2011 where I note that it smells artificial and is not enjoyable. Don't plan on trying again for some time. I agree that the rose is good but I can find other roses at that price point just as good.

David Mc wrote:Veritas: I would rate it above average for both reds and white but I think the incredible venue, overlooking the Blue Ridge mountains, might be coloring my judgement. I did like the Vintners Reverse (Merlot, CF, PV, CS) and their Cab Franc.


I have not yet visited but was gifted one bottle of PV with some bottle age on it. It was very good and makes me plan to stop next time I am that way. If the other wines can live up to that one bottle, this could be one of the better red wine wineries in VA.

David Mc wrote:Barboursville (multiple trips, I think 5): sets the standard for Virginia wine. The 2010 Pinot Grigio was out of this world; so was the 2009 Cab Franc. They are known for their Octogon, which I have 3 bottles in the cellar.


Consistently enjoy Luca's wine. Hard to pick a favorite as I think he does many things well. I do prefer his reds to his whites. My second favorite winery in VA from those I have tried.

David Mc wrote:Horton (at least two trips): last visited a few years ago. It's famous for it's Norton and Viognier, but I was unimpressed with the lot. I need to reevaluate.


I thnk the world of Dennis and I am forever indebted to the time he took talking to me about growing grapes in the mid-Atlantic region. Horton can make amazing wine and has done so at times. I still remember his version of a Duro red from 1996 and his 2000 Tannat. Unfortunately, they make a lot of wines that are nothing special. Only worth a visit these days due to his historical role in the state and proxmity to Barboursville.

David Mc wrote:Jefferson Vineyards: above average for reds, especially the Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. I don't remember the whites so must have been average


Visited once years ago. Only thing I remember is that I disliked everything. Maybe time to try again.

Some comments on some others not on your list

Naked Mountain was good a long time ago. Let quality drop. Last time I visited the tasting room seemed more like a Chuckie Cheese for adults than a winery tasting room so I guess they decided to change their business approach. So sad, since at one time they made very good Chardonnay.

Ingleside Plantation Similar to Horton in that I am indebted to Doug for the time he took with me but they make a whole lot of average wine and only rarely something that shines. When they get it right, it can be very nice. I still have one bottle of 2001 Petit Verdot which was possible the best red I have ever had from them. The Blue Crab line is a very nice QPR is a touch high on RS.

Rappahannock Cellars I have not been interested in their reds but find their whites to be acceptable and in many cases good.

There are a number of places that I have visited that have had nothing of interest or worse. I don't generally remember there names so its harder for me to list them. However, one sticks out in my mind. Oasis Winery was the worst winery experience of my life. The tasting fee was outrageous and the wines were horrible across the board. The site itself is beautiful but they had let the vineyard go and it was obvious. At the time, I did not know how famous the owners would later become for first crashing a White House event and then for being on The Real Housewives of DC.
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Re: Virginia Wine Notes

Postby James Roscoe » Thu May 17, 2012 8:22 pm

Oasis is now out of business and the vines have been let go, unless someone else has purchased the vineyard and rehabilitated it. I would generally agree with the assessment of there wines.

I would say that we had an excellent Prince Michel Merlot recently. Their Cab Francs are also fairly decent. Then again cab franc is generally decent all over the state.
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Re: Virginia Wine Notes

Postby David Mc » Thu May 17, 2012 9:04 pm

Brian,

Thanks for the comments - I was hoping you would weigh-in. I do need to take better notes and write them up in a more timely fashion. It's sometimes hard to remember back many tastings ago (I'm thinking specifically of Jefferson. After more recall, I do seem to remember they were nothing special when tasting but I just had a bottle of 2010 Cab Franc which I enjoyed).

As for Linden, my namesake of the Washington Post (Dave McIntyre) called the Linden Hardscrabble Chardonnay one of the better ones in the U.S. So I an anxious to get back there - it will be the first tasting of the day.

I checked my cellar and I have the 2007 Boxwoods, which you indicated might have been a good year. I thought they were great but it would be interesting to hear others perspectives.

As I was driving to Linden, I passed the remains of Oassis. The sign was still up and grass had overtaken the vineyards. But here is an interesting thing. As I was sorting through some old boxes, I found the Sparking Wine that was served at my wedding back in 1989 (I was married in Orange, VA (about 15 minutes to Barboursville!)). I checked the label and it was from Oasis!

Thanks for the other suggestions - I'll add them to my next trip.

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Re: Virginia Wine Notes

Postby David Mc » Thu May 17, 2012 9:05 pm

James Roscoe wrote:Oasis is now out of business and the vines have been let go, unless someone else has purchased the vineyard and rehabilitated it. I would generally agree with the assessment of there wines.

I would say that we had an excellent Prince Michel Merlot recently. Their Cab Francs are also fairly decent. Then again cab franc is generally decent all over the state.


My last trip to Prince Michel was many years ago so I'll have to stop by again to retaste.

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Re: Virginia Wine Notes

Postby Brian Gilp » Thu May 17, 2012 10:28 pm

David Mc wrote:
I checked my cellar and I have the 2007 Boxwoods, which you indicated might have been a good year. I thought they were great but it would be interesting to hear others perspectives.


I thought the 2007s were very good and still have both the Boxwood and the Topiary in the cellar. I remember posting here after my visit and tasting the 2007 about how Boxwood may be on its way to one of the best in the state. The improvement from 2005 to 2006 to 2007 was so dramatic that it left me really enthusiastic. I did worry then that the 2007 was more a reflection of the hot, dry vintage than improved winemaking but wanted to believe.
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Re: Virginia Wine Notes

Postby James Roscoe » Fri May 18, 2012 10:22 am

One thing about Virginia is that harvest time can be very wet and the resulting red wines can be very thin or in eed of a lot of manipulation. Either way it's difficult. 2011 may prove to be an exception if the grapes were picked early enough. Last summer was hot and there was a lot of early ripening before the torrential downpours of late August and most of September.

David- Oasis did a pretty decent sparkler if I am remembering correctly. It was just WAY overpriced.
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Re: Virginia Wine Notes

Postby Brian Gilp » Fri May 18, 2012 7:25 pm

Opened the 2007 Boxwood tonight and it's still a good wine. Great texture, decent fruit, a little herb edge for some complexity. A touch disjointed as the acid sticks out just a bit when consumed alone. Better with braised beef. Good but not great. No reason to feel that this will get better with additional bottle age.
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Re: Virginia Wine Notes

Postby JC (NC) » Sat May 19, 2012 7:59 pm

I enjoyed a tasting at Ingleside two or three years ago. The Blue Crab white blend was one that I purchased.
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Re: Virginia Wine Notes

Postby Pinchas L » Tue May 22, 2012 11:27 am

Speaking of Virginia wineries, I was wondering whether anyone has tasted the wines of Molon Lave Vineyards?

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Re: Virginia Wine Notes

Postby Carl Eppig » Tue May 22, 2012 1:09 pm

On our trips south we frequently stop at Fincastle Winery in a town of the same name just north of Roanoke, and just off I-81. A very nice friendly family runs it and they grow all their own grapes. We particularly enjoy their Cab Franc and Traminette.
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Re: Virginia Wine Notes

Postby Brian Gilp » Tue May 22, 2012 1:17 pm

Pinchas L wrote:Speaking of Virginia wineries, I was wondering whether anyone has tasted the wines of Molon Lave Vineyards?


New one on me, so I googled and found this http://swirlsipsnark.com/?cat=158 Calibrated with some of the wines I like and don't and seems I agree fairly well with their take on most wines.
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Re: Virginia Wine Notes

Postby Jonathan K » Wed May 23, 2012 4:56 pm

I last visited Virginia wineries 10 or more years ago. My recollections:

1.Lots of french hybrid grapes- vidal blanc, seyval, and besides for a pretty good late harvest vidal blanc desert wine- pretty uninteresting.
2. Oasis had just gotten some favorable press for sparkling wine and we tried it and it was not bad.
3. Jefferson Vineyards made a pretty good Cab Franc that I slipped into a blind tasting to a nice reception. They also put out a reserve one year that was even better.
4. Barboursville Vineyards produced the best all around wines we had in Virginia. Their Barbera was on a wine list in a Charleston, SC restaurant as recently as 5 years ago and outshone the Italian versions on the menu in the same price range.
5. Horton vineyards had good press for their Viognier but none of us liked it. We did however like their premium red made from Portugese grapes (Touriga Nacional,etc.). It was called something like Dionysius. Really didn't like the Norton.
6. Prince Michel had a restaurant with a wine list that had both Virginia and other wines. We tried the Prince Michel Gewurtztraminer which was Alsatian-style dry and very good. We also ordered a well-priced California wine we were surprised to see on the list (might have been a Kistler Chardonnay). The waiter was annoyed that we ordered it.

This was probably in 2000/2001. Great trip.
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Re: Virginia Wine Notes

Postby YoelA » Wed May 23, 2012 6:23 pm

Was in DC last week and was able to visit two nearby Virginia wineries.

Pearlmund Cellars: The best wines were the Petit Manseng, a reasonably tasty somewhat fruity white wine with good acid (and on sale for $ 12), and the cabernet franc, which had a medium body, good fruit and a fair finish. The viognier was just OK, the malbec lacked fruit and the Ameritage reserve was basically flat (expected since it contained about a third malbec).

Molon Lave: Two kosher wines - 2010 riesling, a light-bodied citrusy wine with good acid, and 2010 noiret, a somewhat bitter tasting light-bodied red. Other wines I tasted were the kokkineli rose - still had good taste though a few years old, and 2007 chambourcin, which was OK, had a light body, and was not as tasty as one I had bought from a Pennsylvana winery in the past.
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Re: Virginia Wine Notes

Postby James Roscoe » Wed May 23, 2012 6:34 pm

Is anyone going to the Vintage Virginia Festival the first weekend in June?
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Re: Virginia Wine Notes

Postby David Mc » Wed May 23, 2012 9:52 pm

Brian Gilp wrote:Opened the 2007 Boxwood tonight and it's still a good wine. Great texture, decent fruit, a little herb edge for some complexity. A touch disjointed as the acid sticks out just a bit when consumed alone. Better with braised beef. Good but not great. No reason to feel that this will get better with additional bottle age.


Brian,

I had the 2007 Boxwood over the weekend with short ribs. I liked the wine and agree with your assessment. I also have a 2008 Boxwood and will consume that this weekend and let you know what I think.

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Re: Virginia Wine Notes

Postby David Mc » Sat Jun 02, 2012 9:45 am

David Mc wrote:
Brian Gilp wrote:Opened the 2007 Boxwood tonight and it's still a good wine. Great texture, decent fruit, a little herb edge for some complexity. A touch disjointed as the acid sticks out just a bit when consumed alone. Better with braised beef. Good but not great. No reason to feel that this will get better with additional bottle age.


Brian,

I had the 2007 Boxwood over the weekend with short ribs. I liked the wine and agree with your assessment. I also have a 2008 Boxwood and will consume that this weekend and let you know what I think.

Dave


I drank the 2008 Boxwood last week - a big disappointment. Flat, dull taste with missing tannins. It was slightly better the next day, with a bit more structure but still very dull. Nothings redeeming about this wine.
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Re: Virginia Wine Notes

Postby Brian Gilp » Sat Jun 02, 2012 9:54 am

Dave, was that your first time tasting the 2008? Curious because when I tasted it at the tasting room over a year ago, I thought it so bad as not worthy of purchase. The 2008 topiary was worth a try on a few bottles but as I posted before not showing to be a good purchase either when opened later at home. I still have 2 topiarys left that will sit for years in hopes that time can heal them.
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Re: Virginia Wine Notes

Postby David Mc » Sun Jun 03, 2012 7:27 pm

Brain, yes that was my first tasting. I think I had the 2006 and 2007 at the tasting bar. If I had the 2008, I wouldn't have bought it. I have two more bottles left that I'll leave for a few years.

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Re: Virginia Wine Notes

Postby David Mc » Fri Jun 22, 2012 8:48 pm

Boxwood has opened a tasting room at its winery (and is closing the tasting bar in Middleburg)

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/all-we-can-eat/post/boxwood-estate-winery-goes-public/2012/05/29/gJQAHXAyzU_blog.html
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Re: Virginia Wine Notes

Postby David Mc » Sat Feb 09, 2013 11:06 am

Here are two more wineries I visited last year.

Trip 8 (November 2012)

Gray Ghost Vineyards. Fairly typical Virginia winery. The whites were decent and the reds were OK, with the cab franc standing out a bit. They also have a sweet wine, Adieu, which was mentioned in WS.

Narmada Winery. Unique Virginia winery with its India theme. They offered three flights; I had the Proprietors’ Reserves and Classics. Summary: oak and lots of it. My wife (who doesn't drink) could smell the oak standing next to me. Their website states they were aged in oak for 9 months. I think in time these could be decent but the oak was to overpowering right now.

I'm heading to Charlottesville in April and plan to visit a few.
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