Reading, Writing and Wine) Annette Schiller (Ombiasy Wine Tours) Aaron Nix-Gomez (Hogshead Wine) David White (Terroirist) Frank Morgan (Drink What You Like)
Virginia wineries continue to gain national and international recognition. 10 of them recently won awards at the 2012 San Francisco International Wine Competition. The competition, held in June 2012, is the largest international wine competition in America, with more than 4,500 wines from 26 U.S. States and 29 countries competing. In that context, Frank Morgan and David White, recently organized a blind taste-off: Virginia versus the World.
Virginia Wines Shine in San Francisco - 2012 San Francisco International Wine Competition, USA
Vendredi du Vin #54 : Soyons Joueurs!
This posting is being published as part of the Vendredis du Vin, a monthly blog event in France. Participating wine bloggers - mainly in France - are all releasing postings today under the same heading. This month's Vendredi du Vin is orchestrated by Anne Graindorge, recent winner of the Wine Blog Trophy de Loire. The theme is "soyons joueurs!" - "Let us Gamble", on blind tasting.
Picture: Anne Graindorge Tasting Blind
Wine Producer Virginia
Virginia is the 5th largest wine industry in the US, with more than 200 wineries and 2,500 acres of vineyards.
In the original charter of the thirteen colonies was a royal commission to pursue three luxury items that England was unable to provide for itself: wine, silk, and olive oil. Every colony made attempts to satisfy the requirements of its charter. Despite many years of failure, the early Americans persisted in their efforts. A big step forward was made in 1740 when a natural cross pollination occurred between a native American grape and a European vitis vinifera. Other successful crossings followed.
In 1762, John Carter, who had 1,800 vines growing at Cleve Plantation, sent 12 bottles to the Royal Society of Encouragement of the Arts, Manufacture and Commerce in London for their evaluation. Minutes of their meeting on the 20th of October 1762 declared Carter’s wines to be “excellent” and a decision was taken to reward Carter’s efforts with a gold medal for his wines. These were the first internationally recognized fine wines produced in America.
Over the past 30 years or so, Virginia wines have experienced a tremendous development - to elegant and balanced, mostly European vinifera-based wines. Recently, Donald Trump as well as AOL founder Steve Case bought a Virginia winery.
Today, the vitis vinifera grapes Chardonnay and Viognier are the leading white varieties.Increasingly they are made without any or with neutral oak, to retain natural acidity and freshness. It appears Viognier is on its way to becoming Virginia’s official “signature grape”.
For French-American hybrid varieties, Seyval Blanc is still popular, but resembles now the fresh and crisp wines from France’s South West. Vidal has become the backbone of the artificially frozen (cryoextraction), ice wine which I am not a great fan of. Cryoextraction is an approach, developed by the French, which kind of simulates the frost in the vineyard in the wine cellar.
Pictures: At the Tasting
As far as red wines are concerned, there has been a shift from straight varietal wines to blends, with the blends now being dominated by Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Mirroring the Virginia white wines, there is an increasing focus on neutral oak and clean, vibrant fruit.
Tannat, Uruguay’ signature grape from the South West of France, is showing up in more Virginia wines, usually as a blend. The only red French American hybrid which has performed consistently well in Virginia is Chambourcin, which resembles the Gamay grape of Beaujolais.
Finally, Claude Thibault, a native from France, has taken Virginia sparkling wines to a new level. His NV Thibault-Janisson Brut, made from 100 percent Chardonnay, which President Obama offered his guests at his first state dinner, is as close as you can get to Champagne outside of France.
Washington DC Tasting of March 2013
The tasters were:
Frank Morgan (Drink What You Like),
David White (Terroirist),
Aaron Nix-Gomez (Hogshead Wine).
Isaac James Baker (Reading, Writing & Wine),
Annette Schiller (Ombiasy Wine Tours),
Christian Schiller (Schiller-Wine).
Picture: Annette Schiller (Ombiasy Wine Tours)
Hosted by the Washington Wine Academy, the theme was to pit Virginia Chardonnays and Bordeaux blends against similar, comparatively-priced wines from other regions in the world. We tried to stick to the $18-$35 price range for Chardonnays and $25-$55 for the red blends. While we managed to have all white wines from the 2010 vintage, for the red wines we ended up with wines from2006 to 2009. The wines were all brown-bagged and tasted blind.
Chardonnays: Overall Rankings
The overall rankings were:
• 1st – 2010 Domaine des Moirots, Le Vieux Chateau, Montagny 1er Cru, Bourgogne
• 2nd – 2010 Linden, Hardscrabble Chardonnay, Virginia and 2010 Ankida Ridge, Chardonnay, Virginia
• 4th – 2010 Domaine Luquet Roger, Vieilles Vignes, Pouilly-Fuisse, Bourgogne
• 5th – 2010 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Karia, Chardonnay, California
• 6th – 2010 Ox-Eye Vineyards, Chardonnay, Virginia
Here are my tasting notes.
2010 Gloria Ferrer Vineyards, Chardonnay, Carneros
100% Chardonnay, 100% barrel fermented with 29% undergoing malolactic fermentation, aged for 9 months in medium-toast French oak barrels, alcohol 13.5%.
Off bottle. Not Rated.
2010 Ankida Ridge Vineyards, Chardonnay, Virginia
100% Chardonnay, fermented in oak barrels with inoculated yeasts, 50% underwent malolactic fermentation, aged for nine months in barrel where it underwent regular batonnage.
Light yellow in the glass, notes of honeysuckle, green pears and citrus peel on the nose, a bit bitter on the palate, good finish.
2010 Linden, Hardscrabble, Chardonnay, Virginia
100% Chardonnay, fermented in new and used barrels with cultured and indigenous yeasts, some barrels underwent malolactic fermentation, aged for 10 months on the lees with batonnage, alcohol 14.2%.
Medium gold yellow in the glass, notes of honeysuckle, vanilla on the nose, a rich wine, round on the palate, lovely finish.
For more on Linden Vinyards, see:
Jim Law and Linden Vineyards in Virginia – A Profile, USA
2010 Domaine des Moirots, Le Vieux Chateau, Montagny 1er Cru, Bourgogne
100% Chardonnay, alcohol 12.5%.
Light straw yellow in the glass, notes citrus, lemon, honeysuckle on the nose, a crisp and fresh wine, notes of green apple and pear fruit on the palate, long mineral-laden finish.
2010 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Chardonnay, Karia, Napa Valley
100% Chardonnay, in barrels (83%) and stainless steel tanks (17%) of which 55% underwent malolactic fermentation, aged for 8 months on the lees in 29% new French oak, alcohol 13.5%.
Light yellow in the glass, notes of vanilla and caramel on the nose, a full-bodied wine, notes of ripe pear and melon on the palate, short finish.
2010 Domaine Luquet Roger, Vieilles Vignes, Pouilly-Fuisse, Bourgogne
100% Chardonnay sourced from vines 40-65 years of age, alcohol 13.5%.
Light yellow gold in the glass, beautiful, sweet notes of apricots, lychees on the nose, fresh and crisp on the palate, good texture.
For more on Pouilly-Fuisse, see:
In the Most Prestigious AOC in the Mâconnais: Pouilly-Fuissé, France
2010 Ox-Eye Vineyards, Chardonnay, Shenandoah Valley, Virginia
100% Chardonnay sourced from vines at 1,830 feet, fermented in stainless steel then aged in barrels, alcohol 13.2%.
Light straw yellow in the glass, notes of spices and vanilla on the nose, lively acidity on the palate, followed by some toast, and spice.
Red Blends: Overall Rankings
The overall rankings were:
• 1st – 2008 RdV Vineyards, Rendezvous, Virginia
• 2nd – 2009 Chateau d’Aiguilhe, Cotes de Castillon, Bordeaux
• 3rd – 2008 Dry Creek, Meritage, Sonoma, California
• 4th – 2006 Baron de Brane, Chateau Brane-Cantenac, Margaux, Bordeaux
• 5th – 2008 Barboursville, Octagon, Virginia
• 6th – 2007 Boxwood Winery, Topiary, Virginia
• 7th – 2008 Chateau O’Brien, Padlock Red; Virginia
2009 Chateau d’Aiguilhe, Cotes de Castillon, France
80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from 28-year-old vines, fruit was destemmed and fermented in temperature controlled wooden vats for 25-30 days, underwent malolactic fermentation then was aged on the lees in up to 80% new oak barrels for 15-20 months, alcohol 14.5%.
Chateau d'Aiguilhe is one of the wineries of Count Stefan von Neipperg. The von Neipperg portfolio also includes Chateau Canon La Gaffeliere and La Mondotte, 2 of 4 estates promoted to Premier Grand Cru Classés B last year.
Medium cherry in the glass, rich notes of sweet plums, red licorice on the nose, a yummy wine, notes of ripe fruit and chewy tannins on the palate, long finish.
For more on Chateau d’Aiguilhe, Cotes de Castillon, see:
The Wine Empire of the von Neipperg Family in France, Bulgaria and Germany
2007 The Boxwood Winery, Topiary, Virginia
Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Malbec, alcohol 13.8%.
Medium garnet in the glass, notes of cassis, leather, wet dirt on the nose, nice mouthfeel, soft tannins and creamy blackberry fruit on the palate, good finish with a hint of tobacco.
For more on Boxwood, see:
Boxwood Winery in Virginia: Lunch with Wine Makers Rachel Martin and Adam McTaggert in the Chai between the Tanks – TasteCamp 2012 East Kick-Off, USA
Interestingly, the von Neipperg and the Boxwood wines are "made" by the same winemaker,Stephane Derenoncourt, who consults at both wineries.
Drinking the Wines of Stephane Derenoncourt at Chateau Canon la Gaffeliere in St. Emilion, Bordeaux, and at Boxwood Vineyard in Virginia, USA
2008 RdV Vineyards, Rendezvous, Virginia
62% Merlot, 29% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Petit Verdot.
Medium to dark cherry garnet in the glass, rich notes of sweet roses, toasted oak, dark cherries on the nose, good mouthfeel, spicy tannins, flavors of cranberry sauce and blackberry jam on the palate, impressive depth, too young.
2008 Barboursville Vineyards, Octagon, Virginia
Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot, fermented in stainless steel tanks, macerated for 10-20 days, aged 12-14 months in new Gamba barriques, alcohol 13.5%.
Light to medium cherry in the glass, notes of cassis, smoke and rhubarb on the nose, a medium-bodied wine with tangy acid and bright tannins on the palate, good finish.
The 2009 Octagon won the 2013 Governor's Cup, see more:
Governor’s Cup Competition 2013, Virginia, USA
2008 Chateau O’Brien, Padlock Red, Virginia
63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc and 12% Petit Verdot, alcohol 13.9%.
Medium garnet in the glass, notes of candied cherries, spices on the nose, a medium-bodied wine with notes rhubarb and again spices on the palate, soft finish with some tannins.
2008 Dry Creek Vineyards, Meritage, Sonoma County, California
33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc, 14% Malbec, and 6% Petit Verdot, aged for 22 months in French and American oak, alcohol 14.5%.
Medium cherry in the glass, notes of fig, loam, leather on the nose, a fruity wine with notes of green pepper and wet earth on the palate, nice finish with a hint of vanilla.
2006 Baron de Brane, Margaux, Bordeaux
70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot, aged for 12 months in 20% new barriques, alcohol 13%. The second wine of Chateau Brane-Cantenac, a Deuxieme Grand Cru Classe en 1855.
Medium garnet in the glass, appealing on the nose, with ripe dark fruits and some oak, a medium- to full bodied wine, good acidity, cherries on the palate with a gentle layer of ripe tannins, long finish.
For more on Chateau Brane-Cantenac, see:
An Afternoon with Owner Henri Lurton at Château Brane-Cantenac, a Deuxieme Grand Cru Classe en 1855, in Margaux, France
Other Postings about the Event
Isaac James Baker (Reading and Writing, Wine), Frank Morgan (Drink What You Like) and Aaron Nix-Gomez (Hogshead Wine) have already posted about the event on their blog.