Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Virginia's Best Wines: 2014 Virginia Wineries Governor’s Cup, USA

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller and Doug Fabbioli, Fabbioli Cellars. Doug Fabbioli won 2 Gold Medals and one of the two wines made it into the 2014 Governor's Cup Case

Visiting Wine Maker Doug Fabbioli and his Fabbioli Cellars in Virginia, USA

On Thursday evening, February 27, Governor Terry McAuliffe awarded the 2014 Governor's Cup to The Williamsburg Winery for its 2010 Adagio at the Virginia Wineries Association’s Governor’s Cup Gala at the John Marshall Hotel in Richmond, Virginia. The 2010 Adagio, a red wine blend of 42 percent Cabernet Franc, 30 percent Merlot and 28 percent Petit Verdot, had the highest overall score in the competition.

For last year's competition, see: Governor’s Cup Competition 2013, Virginia, USA

Dave McIntyre, from the Washington Post: … the Governor’s Cup win is a real coup for the Williamsburg Winery, also one of the state’s largest, and its winemaker, Matthew Meyer. A graduate of the oenology program at the University of California at Davis, Meyer came to Williamsburg in 2002 after working at several prestigious wineries in Napa Valley. “My goal is to make a bold wine, yet retain the nuances of the Old World style,” Meyer wrote in an e-mail. “When blending any of my wines, I always think of three things: my wife, Elena; my late father; and food. If I can create a wine as beautiful as Elena, as complex as my father, and food friendly, then I am on the right track.” Meyer achieved that with the 2010 Adagio ($72 at the winery), which I described in my notes simply as “luscious.”

Winemaker Matthew Meyer’s tasting notes call the Adagio a very bold, upfront wine with loads of jammy fruit: The blackberries and blueberry notes are accentuated with some elegant mature darker fruit such as figs, dates and prunes. There is a hint of spice (warm cinnamon) with molasses and soy. The earthy notes come across with a touch of nuttiness.

The 2014 Governor’s Cup Case

20 wines earned gold medals (90 to 100 points), with the top 12 scorers becoming the Governor’s Case and the top scorer – The Williamsburg Winery 2010 Adagio - winning the Governor’s Cup.

The 2014 Virginia Governor's Cup Competition – with 410 entries from 96 wineries - was conducted over several weeks of tasting and administered by Jay Youmans, a Master of Wine and Head of the Capital Wine School in Washington DC. The preliminary tastings were held at the Capital Wine School in Washington DC. 133 wines made it to the final round, held in Richmond. 15 judges — sommeliers, retailers, distributors and writers — tasted the wines over three days in early February to determine the winners.

2014 Gold Medals and Governor’s Cup Case

Here are the 12 wine of the Governor’s Cup Case, in alphabetical order. All wines got gold medals.

Barboursville Vineyard – 2008 Malvaxia Passito
Barboursville Vineyard – 2010 Nebbiolo Reserve
Barboursville Vineyard – 2010 Octagon
Barren Ridge Vineyard – 2009 Meritage
Fabbioli Cellars – 2011 Tannat
Horton Vineyards – 2010 Tannat
King Family Vineyards – 2011 Meritage
North Gate Vineyard – 2011 Meritage
Rockbridge Vineyard – 2008 Meritage, DeChiel Reserve, unfiltered
Sunset Hills Vineyard – 2010 Mosaic
The Williamsburg Winery – 2010 Adagio (CUP WINNER)
Two Twisted Post Winery – 2012 Chardonnay

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller and Mark Fedor, North Gate Vineyard

See: North Gate Vineyard in Virginia, USA – A Profile

7 other wines garnered gold medals – meaning they attained an average of at least 90 points, but they were not in the top 12. These were:

Afton Mountain Vyds – 2012 Festa di Bacco
Cedar Creek Winery – 2011 Cabernet Franc
Fabbioli Cellars – 2011 Tre Sorelle
Jefferson Vineyards – 2010 Estate Reserve
Jefferson Vineyards – 2010 Meritage
Pearmund Cellars – 2010 Ameritage
Veritas – 2012 Viognier

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller with Chris Pearmund from Pearmund Cellars (and Vint Hill and La Grange)

The 2014 Governor’s Case includes 7 Bordeaux blends, including the 2010 Octagon from Barboursville Vineyards. The 2009 Octagon won last year’s Governor’s Cup. No Cabernet Francs, once touted as Virginia’s most promising red grape, made the final 12.

Impressively, the 2014 Governor’s Case includes 3 wines from Barboursville Vineyards, which is located in the Monticello American Viticulture Area of Central Virginia, in and around the Charlottesville region. The historic Virginia winery is located on the estate of James Barbour, former Governor of Virginia, in Barboursville. The winery was founded in 1976 by Gianni Zonin, a prominent Italian winemaker whose family has roots in Italian viticulture going back to 1821. The Zonin Group is based in Vicenza, Italy. Barboursville is Zonin's sole American venture.

Dave McIntyre: Luca Paschina is Virginia’s premier winemaker, at the helm of a winery that has found the magic combination of commercial and critical success.

The only dry white in the 2014 Governor’s Case is a barrel-fermented Chardonnay from Two Twisted Posts Winery, a Loudoun County newcomer scheduled to open to the public this spring. The general view is that this is not because of a lack of premium white wines, but because of the timing of the competition: Most 2012s are sold out, while 2013s have not yet been released yet.

Wine Producer Virginia

Virginia is the 5th largest wine industry in the US, with 230 wineries and 2,500 acres of vineyards. Sales of Virginia wine reached a record high in fiscal year 2012 with more than 485,000 cases sold.

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.

Picture: Virginia

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, is as close as you can get to Champagne outside of France. President Obama served it to French President Hollande at a State Dinner earlier this year.

American Wines with French Roots: The Wines President Obama Served at the State Dinner for President Hollande, USA/France
As Close as You Can Get to (French) Champagne at the US East Coast – Claude Thibaut and His Virginia Thibaut Janisson Sparklers at screwtop Wine Bar

schiller-wine: Related Posting

Northern Virginia Magazine October 2012: Wine Recs from Local Winos

Virginia Wines Shine in San Francisco - 2012 San Francisco International Wine Competition, USA

Jim Law and Linden Vineyards in Virginia – A Profile, USA

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

An Afternoon with Jordan Harris, Winemaker of Tarara, Virginia, USA

Vineyard Walk, Wine Tasting in the Vineyard and Lunch in the Tarara Tank Cellar with Wine Maker Jordan Harris, Tarara Winery, USA 

Visiting Jennifer Breaux Blosser and Breaux Vineyards in Virginia, USA

Bordeaux Meets Virginia: Visiting Rutger de Vink and his RdV Vineyards with Anne Cuvelier from Chateau Leoville Poyferre in St. Julien, Bordeaux

Judging Virginia Wines in Suffolk, Virginia - Virginia Wine Lover Magazine Wine Classic 2012

A New Winery in Virginia - The Barns at Hamilton Station Vineyards, USA

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

Book Review: "Beyond Jefferson's Vines - The Evolution of Quality Wine in Virginia" by Richard Leahy, USA

TasteCamp 2012 in Virginia, USA – A Tour d’Horizont

As Close as You Can Get to (French) Champagne at the US East Coast – Claude Thibaut and His Virginia Thibaut Janisson Sparklers at screwtop Wine Bar

See: American Wines with French Roots: The Wines President Obama Served at the State Dinner for President Hollande, USA/France 

Visiting Wine Maker Doug Fabbioli and his Fabbioli Cellars in Virginia, USA

Governor’s Cup Competition 2013, Virginia, USA

North Gate Vineyard in Virginia, USA – A Profile

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