Last week, #VAWineChat focused on the wines of Breaux Vineyards, a Loudon County winemaking institution. A good group of wine lovers gathered at the winery, while the rest of us followed along via live stream and tweeted our questions and comments to Frank.
Frank was joined by Jennifer Breaux Blosser, daughter of the founder Paul Breaux, who helps manage the estate, and Heather Munden, a chef-turned-winemaker from the San Francisco Bay area. Click here for a great profile and interview between Frank and Heather.
Breaux makes wine from all estate fruit, and Jennifer said the winery plans on increasing production from 10,000 to 20,000 cases over the course of ten years.
I found it interesting to hear from Heather about her transition from California (where she studied at UC Davis), to Virginia. In Virginia, she said, “you have things like snow.” Due to the cold, it also takes vines longer to establish themselves in the soil, sometimes more than five years. And what if it turns out you’ve planted a variety that doesn’t work in that particular site? “It takes a big wallet and a strong stomach,” Heather said, to acknowledge that the vines aren’t working and something else should be planted instead.
|Left to right: Frank, Jessica and Heather chatting up Virginia wine.|
We had an interesting discussion about whether Virginia Cabernet Franc is considered the state’s signature red, which grape is the most underappreciated in the state (Answer: Merlot), and all sorts of other wide-ranging topics.
While chatting, I tasted through three of Breaux’s reds, a 2013 Cab Franc, a 2007 Meritage and a 2002 Merlot. Overall, I found the wines quite interesting, bold but structured, and clearly capable of development in the cellar. The 2002 Merlot was fascinating, delicious, complex and evolved a lot over the course of the evening and into the next day.
2013 Breaux Vineyards Cabernet Franc Lafayette - Virginia, Northern Region, Loudoun CountyA bright ruby purple color. Juicy and fresh on the nose, black cherry, mixed currants, a significant dose of bay leaf, tobacco. Dusty but moderately structured tannins, bright acid, the wine is medium-bodied with a silky mouthfeel. Tart red currants dominate on the palate, mixed with some black cherries and plum skins. An interesting cedar, tree bark and wood shavings element, some chewing tobacco and bay leaf spices. With time, I get more green coffee and roasted chestnut. Some underlying toast and oak, but the wine still stays clean. Very enjoyable, a brighter, fresher style, lacking some of that sweet jam or stewed fruit I sometimes get in Virginia Cabernet Francs. Could probably age for a few years, but perfect for early drinking. (87 points)
2007 Breaux Vineyards Meritage - Virginia, Northern Region, Loudoun CountyMedium ruby color. Time needed to open up and coax out notes of red currants, wild raspberries, red apple peel, some caramel and sweet baking spices get more expressive with time. Full-bodied and bold at 15.2% alcohol. Still quite firm on the tannins, medium-low acid. Flavors of blackberry cobbler, red currants, plum skins. Toast, mocha and cedar shavings mix with some earthy, forest floor and roasted coffee notes. Opens up a lot to show more subtle and complex fruit, and those earthy spices really come out, especially on the second day: rosemary, thyme, black pepper. A deep, lingering finish. A higher octane wine at first, much prettier and silkier on day two. 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 18% Malbec, 10% Petite Verdot and 5% Cabernet Franc. (89 points)
2002 Breaux Vineyards Merlot Reserve - Virginia, Northern Region, Loudoun CountA lighter ruby color. More relaxed and seductive nose of sweet cherries and wild strawberries, I’m also getting some white pepper, red clay, dried roses, hints of paprika and sun-dried tomato. Really interesting aromatic stuff. Still going and lively, on the palate, impressed by the structured tannins that provide support, medium-low acid though. A mouth-filling wine but smooth as well. Red plums and cherries gush, but show signs of mature complexity with the notes of potting soil, dried flowers, fallen leaves and sweet pickles. Roasted coffee and chestnuts too. Long, so smooth and silky, one of the most complex and thought-provoking Virginia Merlots I’ve tasted. (90+ points)
Thanks to the team at Breaux, Frank Morgan and all those who participated and made this yet another memorable Virginia Wine Chat.