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#1 DonRocks

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Posted 10 October 2011 - 02:52 AM

I'm not fully on-board this locapour (***) train (*), but there is something oddly appealing about it both to the native Washingtonian and to the curious terroirist in me. Here's an essay by Dave McIntyre entitled "Why Regional Wine Matters."

(*) For three reasons: 1) Wine travels and keeps much better than, say, produce 2) Many of our area's grapevines are non-indigenous, so it's not like buying local wine is helping to protect the Potomac River watershed from English Ivy 3) For the money, you can get a better bottle of wine from elsewhere in the world (yes, Virginia wines have improved, but this statement still holds true). These are three pretty darned good reasons not to go gaga over locapour; still, my instinct is to support a developing local culture (but why doesn't anyone ever talk about Maryland?)

(Still waiting for Dave McIntyre's Buyer's Guide to DC Area Wines, hint, hint, and yes, I'd happily pay to own one (**) because I haven't made the time to teach myself, and if I need guidance, then so do 99% of other people.)

(**) Note to self: subscribe to Flavor magazine.

(***) And I like locachug better than locapour.

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#2 Escoffier

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Posted 10 October 2011 - 08:20 AM

We've found Linden Vineyards to produce some very nice wines. The Hardscrabble red is one of our favorites.

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#3 ktmoomau

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Posted 10 October 2011 - 11:23 AM

Don I think you should actually consider a forum on vineyards in the local region, although that might be a huge amount of work... It could easily be divided either by county or region. There really isn't a good guide on wineries, and although I have been to probably over 3/4 of the ones in the Central Virginia region, I am often stumped on where in Loudoun to send people who want to go and ask my advice. Because there is some good stuff out there. I just got a shipment from Mountfair, and our first bottle from it was great!

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#4 DanCole42

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Posted 10 October 2011 - 07:02 PM

For me it's as more about supporting local businesses and appreciating the area in which I live than in appreciating it as some kind of superior product (which it isn't).
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#5 Joe H

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Posted 10 October 2011 - 10:07 PM

For me it's as more about supporting local businesses and appreciating the area in which I live than in appreciating it as some kind of superior product (which it isn't).

Strongly disagree with this comment. The '07 Onyx from Hillsborough is excellent (this is the tannat that Dave McIntyre mentions in his article). Chateau O'Brien has a Tannat that is outrageously expensive (80 or so) but is excellent although the price should be half of this. Glen Manor's Hodder Hill is very good, too. All three of these wineries have a great deal of potential and, I believe, can lead Virginia into national recognition for excellence.

No, this isn't Napa or Walla Walla but it's more beautiful and there have been giant steps in red in the past several years. The real problem with Virginia wine, quite honestly, is value. My wife and I were in Walla Walla in the mid '90's and there were four or five wineries. Now there are more than 120 with several wines that are among the best in the world (K Vintner's Old Bones, Cayuse Bionic Frog, Leonetti Reserve). There is also real value there that Virginia wines don't have yet. Still, the '07 Onyx with a case discount is a value. ($32 list but 26-27 by the case) There will also be some people reading this who will actually be able to taste a wine like the '07 Onyx. You simply will not believe that Onyx is a Virginia wine.

Factor in the setting-Hillsborough is in a Tuscan like setting-and the wine is even better. Chateau O'Brien also has a fantastic setting while Bluemont is one of the most beautiful anywhere. So beautiful in fact that Bluemont may make more money hosting weddings than selling wine. (I am not a fan of their wine-just the setting.) Sitting in back of Glen Manor looks, for all the world, like you are overlooking an Austrian hillside.

There is now very real excellence in Virginia wine-unfortunately it is not yet across the board. But it is there.

#6 Josh Radigan

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Posted 11 October 2011 - 02:10 PM

I support local wines that I find appealing and as well through quality. But one of the biggest issues that has been at hand for the local industry is simple found in the ground and above. The climate is truly much tougher on vines in this region than anywhere else, not because of its cooling nights and ashorten growth period like one would find in Burgundy, but because of humidity and rain. One wonders why its so hard to predict weather in this area, simply drive west on I-66, go the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mts and find the answer. many weather fronts either bloom or bust due to the winds that travel along the ridge of that mountain line, thus making it hard to predict systems moving in and out, especially during the budding season in the early part of growth. One other note, red clay. Virginia is known for it, especially down the route 29 corridor. Red Clay is one of the hardest soils in which to grow vines.

besides all of that, some great wines are being produced in Virginia. I am proud to say that Virginia winegrowers are making great strides.

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#7 B.A.R.

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Posted 11 October 2011 - 02:33 PM

Strongly disagree with this comment......The real problem with Virginia wine, quite honestly, is value

How can you seperate the quality from the value? To me, THE measurement of quality is value. If it is a very good wine, just priced 2x what similar qualitative wines are priced (to use your O'Brien Tannat as an example), that's a problem.

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#8 DonRocks

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Posted 11 October 2011 - 03:49 PM

besides all of that, some great wines are being produced in Virginia.

You know what? I would actually say "because of all that" - great wine often comes from vines that suffer.

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#9 jparrott

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Posted 11 October 2011 - 03:57 PM

You know what? I would actually say "because of all that" - great wine often comes from vines that suffer.

Yeah, but not from vines that mildew or gray-rot.

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#10 DonRocks

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Posted 11 October 2011 - 04:02 PM

Yeah, but not from vines that mildew or gray-rot.

Right you are.

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#11 dmwine

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Posted 11 October 2011 - 07:37 PM

Thanks for these comments, everyone - I'm not so adept at quoting from various posts, so please bear with me as I try to respond to some of these interesting points.

Don - You wanted Maryland? You got it! In tomorrow's Post. As well as three years ago, though you're right - it is becoming increasingly difficult to identify "local wine" solely with Virginia.

And I'll stick with "locapour." I can't claim coinage, but I like the trite little rhyme with locavore, and "locachug" sounds a little too much like the bikers at the MD wine festival swilling the bottles of Basignani riesling.

I agree with Dan Cole about supporting local product, though I also agree with Joe H that some - repeat SOME - of the local wines are superior, or at least world class. I like to think of Virginia wine as a pyramid, with a lot of crappy wine at the base, but an increasing amount of really good stuff near the top - the tip of the pyramid is widening, as it were. California is a yield sign - lots of good stuff at the top, but still some crap at the bottom. You can find really bad wine from California, Oregon, Washington, France, Italy, etc. And overpriced wine, too. The price argument doesn't hold water, even if the Piedmont clay does.

Speaking of that clay - no one's planting there anymore. The clay soils afflicted some early efforts, but the growers figured that out and have looked for better sites - especially hillsides. Linden, Glen Manor, Chester Gap, Fox Meadow, Hillsborough, RdV, - especially RdV - all have impressive hillside vineyards with steep slopes. I can't speak to all their soils or their viticulture practices, but the sites give them an advantage.

As for changing weather patterns along the I-66 corridor, those fronts and storms are often short-lived, and they don't usually spread over large areas. Growers are looking at those weather patterns for areas that are least affected, or best able to cope. New viticulture practices help ripen grapes too. Of course, this year's apocalyptic September was an exception (one hopes!). Please read my weekly wine blog post on All We Can Eat tomorrow for thoughts on how this harvest may play out.

Vines don't mildew or grey-rot - grapes do. (Well, primarily the grapes.) And these can be controlled by changing viticulture practices. If you look at Linden's newer vineyards, or Glen Manor's, or RdV's or Hillsborough, you don't see the lyre trellising system or the sprawl of the Geneva Double Curtain that makes a vineyard look like a jungle. I'm not saying these systems never produce good wines, but vertical shoot positioning on well-chosen rootstocks in densely planted vineyards will give an advantage, especially in eliminating green, vegetal flavors. This is controversial, primarily because people have invested in the other way and it ain't cheap to replant - again, see my Maryland article in tomorrow's Food section for the story of one established winery that chose to start over.

As for value - I had an email exchange today with a blogger who lives in Santa Barbara County. He mentioned that he recently had a Virginia viognier and cab franc that impressed him, and he was applauding "Regional Wine Week" (which is this week on DrinkLocalWine.com). Yet I thought of how he has some wonderful local wines to enjoy - artisanal, small production wines from Santa Ynez or Santa Maria valleys that probably are not available here in the East - and probably are rather pricey. We have something exciting here; we're in this at the beginning, where Napa was in the 60s or Burgundy in the 1500s (and we have plumbing!).

No one's suggesting we should drink only local wines. Just that we shouldn't count them out. In addition to my essay on Why Regional Wine Matters, quoted above, I hope you'll read Jeff Siegel's on "7 Things You Should Know About Regional Wine."

Cheers,
Dave

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#12 DonRocks

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Posted 12 October 2011 - 06:50 PM

and "locachug" sounds a little too much like the bikers at the MD wine festival swilling the bottles of Basignani riesling.

That's exactly why I like it (I actually don't like it, but it's funny in a goofy, redneck sort of way and removes all "preciousness" from the name) - it's more cadence than anything else.

Awesome post, btw - nice article, too.

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#13 Joe H

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Posted 12 October 2011 - 10:16 PM

RdV:

http://www.jancisrob...a201109122.html for an interesting video which includes a tour of both the vineyards and the cellar.

Their website: http://rdvvineyards.com/

This is not open to the public; it is by appointment only. To join their mailing list: https://www.rdvwines...FTOKEN=16363893

#14 DanCole42

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Posted 17 October 2011 - 10:31 AM

Strongly disagree with this comment.

Yeah, I'm not sure why I wrote that. I love VA wine. 6/7 pairings at my dinner at Ashby Inn were from VA, and all of them were phenomenal.

Maybe I meant that they're often not superior, but there are plenty that are? Who knows what I mean when I write these things.
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#15 Choirgirl21

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Posted 21 October 2011 - 12:27 PM

Don - You wanted Maryland? You got it! In tomorrow's Post.

Really appreciate your comments here.

And the article was excellent. I always ask people who are new to Black Ankle how they heard about us. Last Saturday we were packed, and there were quite a few who decided to come by as a direct result of reading your article.

(Although there's a part of me that resents you - my bad shoulder is still aching from having to restock the entire wine wall at the end of the day ;) ).

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#16 dmwine

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Posted 23 October 2011 - 11:35 AM

Really appreciate your comments here.

And the article was excellent. I always ask people who are new to Black Ankle how they heard about us. Last Saturday we were packed, and there were quite a few who decided to come by as a direct result of reading your article.

(Although there's a part of me that resents you - my bad shoulder is still aching from having to restock the entire wine wall at the end of the day ;) ).

Sorry about your shoulder!

One anecdote I didn't fit into the story: I visited Black Ankle's tasting room on Oct 1. It was a fairly busy Saturday, and I stood at the bar and did the regular tourist tasting anonymously. Whoever took care of me (I didn't get her name) was excellent and very knowledgeable about the wines. At one point, a young 20-something couple arrived and began the tasting next to me. When the server began explaining the first wine, the young woman asked, "Where is the fruit from?" This of course launched the discussion into the story of how BAV was Md's first fully estate winery and that they use only fruit they grow themselves. I thought it striking that the customer was concerned about this enough to ask. A fair amount of "Maryland wine" is not made with Maryland grapes - which may not matter to most people, though in my opinion it should be disclosed to consumers who think they are buying local wine. And of course, using only grapes they grow gives winemakers more control over the entire process and quality.

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#17 DonRocks

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Posted 23 October 2011 - 12:03 PM

A fair amount of "Maryland wine" is not made with Maryland grapes - which may not matter to most people, though in my opinion it should be disclosed to consumers who think they are buying local wine. And of course, using only grapes they grow gives winemakers more control over the entire process and quality.

Dave

The terroirist in me has always found this legal loophole disturbing - if it doesn't matter in which state (AVA, region, vineyard, siege, etc.) the grapes are grown, then how could it possibly matter where the wine is fermented, aged, bottled, etc.? I suppose there could be an argument that "any wine made by the brutish hands of Helen Turley, or within the confines of Chateau Margaux, is going to be special, no matter where the grapes came from (or what the grapes are)," but the labeling still seems incredibly deceptive to me.

Maybe this is a plug-in law that applies to other consumable goods? ("If the cheese is made in Wisconsin, then it's Wisconsin cheese, even if the cows are pastured in Minnesota," "If the widget is assembled in South Dakota, then it doesn't matter where the metal was forged," "If the book was written in Granada, then it doesn't matter if the author was educated at Oxford," I'm sorry, I'm having a philosophical moment.)

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#18 Choirgirl21

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Posted 24 October 2011 - 10:09 AM

. Whoever took care of me (I didn't get her name) was excellent and very knowledgeable about the wines.

Darn, I didn't work that day so I can't pretend it was me. ;)

I agree that the source of the grapes vs. the labeling can be deceptive. What shocked me was when I asked at a particular MD winery and the person pouring our wines couldn't really answer our question. Most places have been forthcoming when I ask, and I don't think she was trying to withhold information, I think she really just didn't know. She may have been new though.

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#19 Keithstg

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Posted 24 October 2011 - 12:03 PM

The terroirist in me has always found this legal loophole disturbing - if it doesn't matter in which state (AVA, region, vineyard, siege, etc.) the grapes are grown, then how could it possibly matter where the wine is fermented, aged, bottled, etc.? I suppose there could be an argument that "any wine made by the brutish hands of Helen Turley, or within the confines of Chateau Margaux, is going to be special, no matter where the grapes came from (or what the grapes are)," but the labeling still seems incredibly deceptive to me.

Maybe this is a plug-in law that applies to other consumable goods? ("If the cheese is made in Wisconsin, then it's Wisconsin cheese, even if the cows are pastured in Minnesota," "If the widget is assembled in South Dakota, then it doesn't matter where the metal was forged," "If the book was written in Granada, then it doesn't matter if the author was educated at Oxford," I'm sorry, I'm having a philosophical moment.)


This is a plug-in law to some extent - for example, many clothiers cut and nearly fully produce garmets in China or India, then send to Italy for "assembly", allowing them to utilize a "Made in Italy" label, although precious little work was performed in Italy other than sewing on said label... :angry:

#20 Josh Radigan

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 12:25 PM

The terroirist in me has always found this legal loophole disturbing - if it doesn't matter in which state (AVA, region, vineyard, siege, etc.) the grapes are grown, then how could it possibly matter where the wine is fermented, aged, bottled, etc.? I suppose there could be an argument that "any wine made by the brutish hands of Helen Turley, or within the confines of Chateau Margaux, is going to be special, no matter where the grapes came from (or what the grapes are)," but the labeling still seems incredibly deceptive to me.

Maybe this is a plug-in law that applies to other consumable goods? ("If the cheese is made in Wisconsin, then it's Wisconsin cheese, even if the cows are pastured in Minnesota," "If the widget is assembled in South Dakota, then it doesn't matter where the metal was forged," "If the book was written in Granada, then it doesn't matter if the author was educated at Oxford," I'm sorry, I'm having a philosophical moment.)

I believe if my memory serves me correctly that the first vinatge of Tarrara's Long Bomb Red wine was actually made from grapes that were produced in Washington State and shipped to VA. I am not sure if they still continue with that tradition.

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#21 dmwine

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Posted 27 October 2011 - 03:00 PM

I believe if my memory serves me correctly that the first vinatge of Tarrara's Long Bomb Red wine was actually made from grapes that were produced in Washington State and shipped to VA. I am not sure if they still continue with that tradition.

I'm not sure about the original Long Bomb, but Jordan Harris, the engaging young Canadian winemaker who joined Tarara in 2007, has insisted that the winery use only Virginia fruit. His other changes include screwcaps for all wines and vineyard-designated blends instead of labeling by grape variety. Thus he has the Neveah White or Neveah Red blends (the vineyard name following in the winery tradition of spelling things backwards).

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#22 Josh Radigan

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Posted 27 October 2011 - 04:05 PM

I'm not sure about the original Long Bomb, but Jordan Harris, the engaging young Canadian winemaker who joined Tarara in 2007, has insisted that the winery use only Virginia fruit. His other changes include screwcaps for all wines and vineyard-designated blends instead of labeling by grape variety. Thus he has the Neveah White or Neveah Red blends (the vineyard name following in the winery tradition of spelling things backwards).

http://www.tarara.com/LongBombEd1

looks like they initially did due to a poor yield with fruit, at least the first edition Long Bomb. Not sure after that year.

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#23 Joe H

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Posted 27 October 2011 - 08:55 PM

Although Walla Walla and Middleburg look like opposite ends of the earth I really believe there is an analogy here for VA wine. In the early/mid 1990's Walla Walla had five or six wineries with Leonetti and Woodward Canyon leading the pack. My wife and I still wear sweatshirts that we bought from L'Ecole 41 then. I also have a couple of bottles of their '94 Apogee that I still haven't opened.

Today RdV, Hillsborough, Glen Manor and Chateau O'Brien are leading the Va pack in much the same way. RdV is an incredible wine just as Leonetti was then. Today there may be 130+ wineries in the Walla Walla area. Virginia is growing in much the same way. I only wish more people reading this could jump into a car tomorrow and, with the incredible Fall colors, get lost in the Loudoun county countryside. (Peak weekend: RIGHT NOW!!!!) Bluemont, Hillsborough, Chateau O'Brien, Linden and many, many others: we are lucky to live here. Take advantage. Our wine is about to take the first step onto a national stage.

Yes, I'm a chauvinist but some of this is really, really good stuff. In one of the most beauitful settings on Earth. At its prettiest RIGHT NOW.

Pick up the phone or shout down the hall: go, this weekend, right now! The colors are at their peak. Grapes, too.

#24 Jeff White

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Posted 29 October 2011 - 07:11 AM

Although Walla Walla and Middleburg look like opposite ends of the earth I really believe there is an analogy here for VA wine. In the early/mid 1990's Walla Walla had five or six wineries with Leonetti and Woodward Canyon leading the pack. My wife and I still wear sweatshirts that we bought from L'Ecole 41 then. I also have a couple of bottles of their '94 Apogee that I still haven't opened.

Today RdV, Hillsborough, Glen Manor and Chateau O'Brien are leading the Va pack in much the same way. RdV is an incredible wine just as Leonetti was then. Today there may be 130+ wineries in the Walla Walla area. Virginia is growing in much the same way. I only wish more people reading this could jump into a car tomorrow and, with the incredible Fall colors, get lost in the Loudoun county countryside. (Peak weekend: RIGHT NOW!!!!) Bluemont, Hillsborough, Chateau O'Brien, Linden and many, many others: we are lucky to live here. Take advantage. Our wine is about to take the first step onto a national stage.

Yes, I'm a chauvinist but some of this is really, really good stuff. In one of the most beauitful settings on Earth. At its prettiest RIGHT NOW.

Pick up the phone or shout down the hall: go, this weekend, right now! The colors are at their peak. Grapes, too.

White :)




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