Thursday, March 3, 2016

Virginia's Best Wines: 2016 Virginia Governor's Cup, USA

Picture: The Governor of Virginia, Terence Richard „Terry“ McAuliffe, and the Keswick Vineyards Team with Al and Cindy Schornberg and Winemaker Stephen Barnard - 2016 Virginia Governor's Cup Winner (Photo: facebook)

Put on by the Virginia Wineries Association, the Governor's Cup is the commonwealth's premier wine competition that rates hundreds of Virginia wines. For the 2016 contest, which was held over a four week period during the month of January/early February, more than 90 wineries submitted 432 wines. Jay Youmans, MW, directed the competition.

2016 Governor’s Cup Gold Medalists

38 Virginia wines were awarded gold medals:

Ankida Ridge Vineyards, 2014 Chardonnay
Barboursville Vineyards, 2014 Vermentino
Barren Ridge Vineyards, 2010 Meritage
Bluestone Vineyard, 2014 Chardonnay
Bluestone Vineyard, 2013 Blue Ice
Breaux Vineyards, 2013 Meritage
Cardinal Point Winery, 2014 Clay Hill Cabernet Franc
Delaplane Cellars, 2013 Williams Gap
Fabbioli Cellars, 2012 Cabernet Franc
Gadino Cellars, 2010 Nebbiolo
Glen Manor Vineyards, 2013 Meritage
Granite Heights Winery, 2010 Evening Serenade
Granite Heights Winery, 2010 Lomax Reserve
Granite Heights Winery, 2012 Humility
Horton Vineyards, 2014 Petit Manseng
Keswick Vineyards, 2014 Cabernet Franc Estate Reserve
Keswick Vineyards, 2013 Signature Series Cabernet Franc
Michael Shaps, 2013 Meritage
Michael Shaps, 2013 L Scott
Michael Shaps 2013 Tannat
Michael Shaps, 2014 Petit Manseng
Michael Shaps, 2013 Raisin D’Etre White
Naked Mountain Winery, 2012 Petit Verdot
North Gate Vineyard, 2013 Meritage
Notaviva Vineyards, 2012 Excelsis
Paradise Springs, Winery, 2012 Tannat
Paradise Springs, Winery 2012 PVT
Paradise Springs, Winery 2013 Meritage
Pearmund Cellars, 2013 Petit Verdot
Pearmund Cellars, 2013 Chardonnay
Pollak Vineyards, 2012 Meritage
Pollak Vineyards, 2012 Merlot
Stone Tower Winery, 2013 Hogback Mountain
Sunset Hills Vineyard, 2013 Aldie Heights Cuvee
Sunset Hills Vineyard, 2010 Petit Verdot
The Barns at Hamilton Station Vineyards, 2013 Petit Verdot
Veritas Winery, 2013 Vintner’s Reserve
Vint Hill Craft Winery, 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon

Meritage blends lead with 14 wines receiving gold medals. Five wines that were 100% Petit Verdot won golds, and 2 Tannats and 2 Tannat blends also received gold medals. For whites, three Virginia Chardonnays and two Virginia Petit Mansengs won gold and highlighted that these grapes continue to show well in this climate. Four Cabernet Francs, one Nebbiolo, one Cabernet Sauvignon, one Merlot, one Vermentino, and two dessert wines were also among the gold medalists.

Picture: Christian Schiller and Jennifer Breaux Blosser, Breaux Vineyards

Eight wineries received more than one gold medal. Those wineries are:

Bluestone Vineyards (2)
Granite Heights Winery (3)
Keswick Vineyards (2)
Michael Shaps Vineyards (5)
Paradise Springs Winery (3)
Pearmund Cellars (2)
Pollak Vineyards (2)
Sunset Hills Vineyards (2)

2016 Governor’s Cup Case

Of the gold medal winning wines, the highest scoring red and white wines comprise the Governor’s Cup Case to showcase the state’s top wines. The top 12 scoring wines in the 2016 Governor’s Cup competition listed in alphabetical order are:

Barboursville Vineyards 2014 Vermentino (Barboursville)
Bluestone Vineyard 2014 Chardonnay (Bridgewater)
Cardinal Point 2014 Clay Hill Cabernet Franc (Afton)
Fabbioli Cellars 2012 Cabernet Franc (Leesburg)
Glen Manor Vineyards 2013 Hodder Hill (Front Royal)
Granite Heights Winery 2010 Evening Serenade (Warrenton)
Horton Vineyards 2014 Petit Manseng (Gordonsville)
Keswick Vineyards 2014 Cabernet Franc Estate Reserve (Keswick), Cup winner
Michael Shaps Wineworks 2014 Petit Manseng (Charlottesville)
Naked Mountain Winery 2012 Petit Verdot (Markham)
North Gate Vineyard 2013 Meritage (Purcellville)
Stone Tower Winery 2013 Hogback Mountain (Leesburg)

Dave McIntyre (in the Washington Post): The results hint at some interesting developments in Virginia’s wine world.

In previous years, white wines were underrepresented in the Governor’s Case. This year, the rules were changed to reserve three spots for whites. That four made it into the case demonstrates the strength of white wines this year. Two of them are Petit Manseng, which is making a strong bid to eclipse Viognier as Virginia’s most distinctive white wine. And it’s notable that both the Horton and Michael Shaps are dry expressions of this wine, which is more often made in a fruity or even sweet style. The inclusion of Barboursville’s Vermentino is another hint that Virginia has the potential to excite with “alternative” white wines.

Picture: Christian Schiller and Mark Fedor from North Gate Vineyards, see: North Gate Vineyard in Virginia, USA – A Profile

We also see consistency: North Gate’s Meritage (a Bordeaux-style red blend) makes the Governor’s Case for the third consecutive vintage. Glen Manor’s Hodder Hill (another Bordeaux blend) won the Cup in 2011 for its 2009 and reappears here. And Michael Shaps is a familiar name among Virginia’s elite winemakers. Shaps garnered five gold medals, more than any other producer, including one for his stunningly delicious petit manseng, which is in the Governor’s Case.

And we see new wineries emerging. Granite Heights, in Opal, won three gold medals for its red blends, including the 2010 Evening Serenade, which made the top 12. This is a tiny winery worth a detour off U.S. Route 29 as you drive to Charlottesville. And Loudoun County’s Stone Tower Winery, already a popular site for weekend wine tourists, earns a spot in the Governor’s Case with one of its first releases, the Hogback Mountain red blend.

Pictures: Annette and Christian Schiller with Kristi Huber, Founder andOwner of Stone Tower Winery in Leesburg, Virginia, at the Hungarian Embassy in Washington DC

2016 Governor’s Cup

Keswick Vineyards, located just east of Charlottesville, won this year’s Governor's Cup for best wine with its 2014 Cabernet Franc Estate Reserve. A Cabernet Franc won for only the third time in the 34th year of the award.

The Governor’s Cup was the third for Keswick winemaker Stephen Barnard. His 2005 Rappahannock Cellars Viognier Reserve won in 2006, and Keswick’s 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon was tops in 2009.

Wine Producer Virginia

Virginia is the 5th largest wine industry in the US, with nearly 300 wineries and over 3,500 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.

Picture: Virginia

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.

Picture: Christian Schiller and Doug Fabbioli, Fabbioli Cellars. Doug Fabbioli's Fabbioli Cellars 2012 Cabernet Franc made it into the 2016 Governor's Cup Case

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.

Picture: Christian Schiller with Chris Pearmund from Pearmund Cellars, which won 2 Gold Medals

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.

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
Claude Thibault of Thibault Janisson – an Ultra-premium Sparkling Wine Producer in Virginia, USA - at American Wine Society (Northern Virginia Chapter) 

Picture: Claude Thibault and Christian Schiller at American Wine Society (Northern Virginia Chapter)

Previous Virginia Governor's Cup Competitions

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

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

Governor’s Cup Competition 2013, Virginia, USA  

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 Wine Chat “Live” with Frank Morgan at Breaux Vineyards, Virginia, USA

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the write-up, Christian! But the caption for the photo at the top of the page is a bit confusing. Terry McAuliffe, the governor of Virginia, is the second from the right, holding the Governor's Cup.