I love Virginia wine, and I don't pass up an opportunity to shoot down naysayers. But since I've been paying attention to Virginia wine (for about a decade), I hear less and less of that nonsense.
Virginia wine has expanded drastically in that time, and the state now boasts some 300 wineries. I avoid any talk of "signature" grapes or styles in Virginia, because the wines are so diverse as to make such terms irrelevant.
For years now, I've been tasting a lot of wines curated by Virginia guru Frank Morgan, who founded VA Wine Chat, a tasting series that brings together people in real life and online to taste and talk about Virginia vino.
So I was stoked to join him and the wonderful crew at Flight, a DC wine bar, to kick of October as "Virginia Wine Month."
We tasted some exceptional Virginia wines that I wanted to share. There are no shortage of excellent producers in the Commonwealth, but the ones included in this tasting are definitely some of my favorites.
If you're still skeptical of Virginia wine, or never really jumped in, now's a great time!
My notes on the wines I tasted are below...
2017 King Family Vineyards Chardonnay Small Batch Series - Virginia, Central Virginia, Monticello
Aromas of spiced tea, yellow apples, honey, almond. Deep texture, a lot of concentration but freshness as well. Lots of honeyed tea and almond and some floral, dusty complexity. (89 points)
N.V. Virginia's Heritage - Virginia
Deep ruby color. Aromas of raspberries, red currants, spicy pepper, roses, violets, earth. Crisp and lively on the palate, structured nicely but fresh acidity as well. Raspberries, tart cherries, doused in roses, chewing tobacco, grilled herbs. Lots of different elements woven together well. A blend of Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, blended from barrels of Bordeaux varietal wine submitted from 16 different Virginia wineries (2016 & 2017 vintages), and then blended and aged in Virginia oak. It is released at the individual wineries as a way of celebrating 400 years if Virginia wine (next year is the 400th anniversary of the House of Burgess act that required colonists to plant grapevines). (88 points)
2014 Glen Manor Vineyards Hodder Hill - Virginia, Shenandoah Valley
Aromas of spicy dark currants, violets, pepper, deep and herbal, too. Rich but plump on the palate, plenty of freshness, lots of tart black currant fruit. Spicy, earthy, with pepper, mushroom, coffee, anise, dark chocolate shavings, forest floor. Structured wonderfully, but fresh as well. Plenty of time ahead hear. Wonderful stuff. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot. (91 points)
2015 Rosemont of Virginia Kilravock - Virginia
Gorgeous nose of crushed red and black berries, herbs, black pepper, cinnamon. Crisp and fleshy, tart red and black currant fruit, and lots of savory elements of pepper, mushroom and earth mixing with violets and rhubarb. Really impressive. Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. (90 points)
2013 Williamsburg Winery Adagio - Virginia
Vibrant purple color. Aromas are spicy and herbal, also incense, violets, lavender on top of gushing blackberry fruit. Grippy structure but crisp acidity. Plums, blackberries, suave fruit with deep graphite and smoky elements, some herbs and soy and black pepper. Deep, age-worthy, this is 12.8% alcohol, a blend of Petit Verdot, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, aged 14 months in all new French oak. (91 points)
2016 King Family Vineyards Meritage - Virginia, Central Virginia, Monticello
So lovely on the nose, with deep, juicy plyums and blackberries mixed with cinnamon, coffee and grilled herbs. Plush texture on the palate with crisp acidity that keeps the wine so lively. Crunchy red currants and juicy black cherries mix so well with violets, eucalyptus, charcoal smoke, green herbs, black pepper. Lovely stuff, but this needs time to age. A blend of Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. (91 points)
1999 Linden Chardonnay Hardscrabble - Virginia, Northern Virginia
Gorgeous aromatics of apricot, lemon curd, ginger, graham, sea salt, honey. Pretty and exquisite on the palate with pristine acidity and a lovely, velvety texture. Honey, almond, sea salt and ginger mix with apricot, lemon and apple fruit. This is harmonious, balanced, complex and still so youthful. A gorgeous Hardscrabble that showed wonderfully. (92 points)