Thursday, October 4, 2012
Northern Virginia Magazine October 2012: Wine Recs from Local Winos
October is Virginia Wine Month. All over the State of Virginia, special events take place during the month of October.
The kick-off event was a Virginia wine summit on October 2, hosted by Governor Bob McDonnell and First Lady Maureen McDonnell. Wine experts from around the country were in Richmond to discuss Virginia’s blossoming industry. The summit featured panels, tastings and a keynote speech from Steven Spurrier.
Wine Recs from Local Vinos
The Northern Virginia Magazine has a major report about Virginia wine in its October issue. As part of it, the Northern Virginia Magazine includes a 2 page article with 12 wine recommendations from wine retailers, sommeliers, bloggers and others. I am one of them.
The printed version comprises 12 recommendations, while the online version comprises more: Wine Recs From Local Winos
What did I I recommend? A Blaufraenkisch from Otium Cellars.
Blaufränkisch is a dark-skinned grape, rich in tannin with a spicy character. The wines have aromas of dark ripe cherries and dark berries, are spicy and have medium tannin with very good acidity. Young wines are deeply fruity and become more velvety, supple and complex with age.
Otium Cellars, 2010 Blaufraenkisch - still a little young, but already showing great fruit flavors with spice thrown in, the wine is rich in tannin and will certainly become more velvety and supple with age. $28
Wine Producer Virginia
Virginia is the 5th largest wine industry in the US, with nearly 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.
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.
Otium Cellars is located on Goose Creek Farms and Winery near Purcellville and Round Hill a little ways off Rt. 7 in Loudoun County, Virginia on Tranquility Road. The Bauer family named their label after the road they are located on. The word Otium is Latin and means tranquility. Planted in 2007, the vineyard is home to several German varietals: Lemberger, Dornfelder and Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris).
For more on Otium Cellars, see: Tasting the “German” Otium Wines with Gerhard Bauer and Ben Renshaw at Otium Cellars, Virginia, USA
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