Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Virginia's Best Wines: 2015 Virginia Governor's Cup, USA

Picture: North Gate Vineyard Winemakers/Owners Mark and Vicki Fedor at North Gate Vineyard. Their 2012 Meritage is one of the 12 Wines in the 2015 Governor's Cup Case

Governor Terry McAuliffe awarded the Virginia Wineries Association’s (VWA) 2015 Governor's Cup to Muse Vineyards for their 2009 Clio, a Bordeaux-style blended red wine. This is the first Governor’s Cup for Muse Vineyard, based in Woodstock in Shenandoah County.

Speaking at the Governor’s Cup awards ceremony, Governor McAuliffe said, “I am honored to present this year’s award to Muse Vineyards for their 2009 Clio. Robert Muse and his wife, Sally Cowal, embody the entrepreneurial spirit of Virginia winemakers: a vision for excellence, a relish for hard work in the vineyard, and an aptitude for risk and experimentation. Thomas Jefferson would be proud of Robert and Sally’s efforts and I congratulate them for winning the 2015 Governor’s Cup.”

For the results of the past 2 years, see:
Virginia's Best Wines: 2014 Virginia Wineries Governor’s Cup, USA
Governor’s Cup Competition 2013, Virginia, USA

Muse Vineyard’s Clio is a blend of 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc, 25% Merlot, and 25% Petit Verdot. Winemaker Robert Muse, in consultation with Matthieu Finot of King Family Vineyards in Crozet, employed a non-interventionist approach to the fermentation, an option made possible by optimally ripe grapes from the 2009 vintage. Following de-stemming and a light crush, the Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc were fermented separately with daily punch-downs. The wine was racked directly into 50% new and 50% neutral French oak barrels where it aged for three years before its bottling. The winemaker's tasting notes on the 2009 Clio are as follows: Deep burgundy in color, this classically-styled Bordeaux blend presents a lovely complex nose with notes of ripe cherry, vanilla, black tea, nutmeg and leather. The wine is wide and steady on the palate with a fine tannin structure, balance and length. Decanted, it continues to open beautifully for at least an hour. It will mature nicely for five or more years.

"The 2009 Clio is one of the first wines we produced from our vineyard,” said Robert Muse. This wine is grown and produced solely at our estate. It is something that speaks to the geology of the Shenandoah Valley, to the weather unique to our land and to the methods employed in our vineyard. It is that local element and authentic nature of winemaking that excites my wife, Sally, and me. We are glad others enjoy the fruits from this effort, and we are honored to be recognized among those that have won this award before us.”

The 2015 Virginia Governor’s Cup Competition was conducted over four weeks of preliminary tastings, held at the Capital Wine School in Washington, D.C. in January. The final round of tastings was held at The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond in early February. The Governor's Cup award winner and the other 11 wines that make up the 2015 Governor's Cup Case, are the top 12 highest scoring wines chosen from 390 entries of both red and white wines, from 94 wineries.

In addition to Muse Vineyards’ 2009 Clio, the other 11 wines in the 2015 Governor’s Cup Case are:

Cactocin Creek Winery - 2012 Meritage
Cross Keys Vineyards – 2013 Touriga
Delfosse Vineyards & Winery – 2013 Petit Verdot
Jefferson Vineyards – 2010 Meritage
King Family Vineyards – 2012 Meritage
Michael Shaps - 2012 Tannat
Michael Shaps – 2012 Raisin d’Etre White
Narmada Winery - 2010 Yash-Vir
North Gate Vineyard - 2012 Meritage
Rockbridge Vineyard - 2010 V d’Or
Vint Hill Craft Winery - 2012 Petit Verdot

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller and Mark Fedor of North Gate Vineyard, see: North Gate Vineyard in Virginia, USA – A Profile

This year's results are notable for a wide geographic scope of winners, as well as diversity of the wines themselves. For example, three wines from the 2015 Governor’s Cup Case hail from the Shenandoah Valley, four from Northern Virginia, and five from the Central Virginia area. The wide spectrum of wines include Bordeaux blended reds, Petit Verdot, a Touriga, a Petit Manseng, two white blends, a dessert wine, and a Tannat.

Jay Youmans, one of only of 35 Masters of Wine in the U.S., directed the competition. Youmans, who is also a Certified Wine Educator and the owner and educational director of the Capital Wine School, recruited wine judges from the professional wine buying and wine media community. A list of the judges along with their bios can be found at http://www.virginiawine.org/governors-cup.

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.

Picture: Virginia

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. See more: "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

North Gate Vineyard in Virginia, USA – A Profile

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

Governor’s Cup Competition 2013, Virginia, USA

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