They Make Wine In Virginia?
The wines of Virginia are stepping up in the world. I have heard good things about them, and I have tasted some good stuff from some Maryland wineries. But I did not know that Virginia wines were capable of kicking some respected international wine butt in a serious blind tasting. In the United States, we think of the best wines as coming from California, Oregon and Washington. They certainly make more wine than Virginia, but the Pacific coast may have to make room at the top for the Atlantic coast.
Virginia Wine Summit
The tasting took place at the Virginia Wine Summit on October 2nd of 2012. The Keynote Speaker of the event was Steven Spurrier. No, not the football coach. This is the guy portrayed by Alan Rickman in Bottle Shock, the movie about how California wines kicked some French butt in the now famous tasting in Paris in 1976. I was told about this event by one of the tasters, Bartholomew Broadbent, an importer of fine wines.
The Virginia wines weren’t satisfied in beating just one country. In winning 6 of 7 tasting matches, they beat 3 countries. Remember this was a blind tasting – the tasters did not know which wine they were tasting, and the tasters are very well known and respected wine experts. Sorry about the detail to follow, but wine geeks really get into this kind of stuff, and it is a historic benchmark in the development of the wines of Virginia
First were two wines that featured Viognier, a white grape found most often in the Rhone region of France. Virginia’s 2010 Ducard Signature Viognier beat E. Guigal Condrieu. Guigal is a well known French producer in the Rhone area.
Next a Virginia Barboursville Reserve 2009 Cabernet Franc won over a French Chinon, which is an area in the Loire region that is justly famous for its Cabernet Franc based wines. Another Barboursville wine, this one a Bordeaux blend, came out on top over a Chateau du Tertre from the Margaux area of Bordeaux. This was a big surprise.
Another surprise was the Keswick Vineyards 2009 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon beating the Chateau Montelena (California) Cabernet Sauvignon. It was a surprise because Napa Valley’s Chateau Montelena produced the Chardonnay that beat the French Chardonnays in Paris in 1976.
The 5th Virginia winner was another Barboursville wine, this one a Nebbiolo. Nebbiolo is the grape of Barolo, which is heading up towards royalty in Italian Wine. The 6th winner was a Virginia made Petit Verdot, which is usually a blending grape in Bordeaux. You will almost always have to go somewhere else to find it made by itself. This time the Virginia wine topped an Italian version.
Those are the six winners, and all but one – the Cabernet Sauvignon – were less expensive than the competition. None of the wines is what we consider value wines here at Avoid Bad Wine, but they weren’t outrageously expensive either. Most were $18 to $30. Price is not the point. The point is this: Virginia wines have arrived, and there are more places to look for good American wine than just the Pacific Coast.