jparrott Posted August 21, 2005 Share Posted August 21, 2005 So I woke up this morning (after being a good little citizen and not poisoning myself too much at a magnum party last night), and WTOP was blaring about how the Virginia Wine Festival, the annual overheated, debauched ridiculousness that, amazingly, provides the VA wine industry with a significant portion of their yearly revenue. I thought to myself, I hadn't given my palate a workout in awhile. I do occasionally have to taste 100-150 wines in a day for somewhat "professional" reasons, so it helps to be in practice. And I had nothing else to do. So I went and paid my twenty-two bucks, and soldiered through. Guys, I think it's not too self-serving for me to say, honestly, most of this stuff doesn't move the needle. Sure, the wines are cleaner than they used to be (though an alarmingly high number of them still are not). But there's no there there. No real differentiation in terroir, no interesting aromatics that allow you to remember the wine fondly, etc., etc. The best wines of most of the producers are just vapid fruit. And as too many of you have heard me pontificate, fruit is overrated. But there are a couple of new farms doing some strikingly good work. Delfosse Vineyards, a brand-new operation (first vintage 2004) owned by a family straight out of Joe Dressner's book, is making the absolute most out of a plot about 20 miles south of Charlottesville. The 2004 Chardonnay (20% viognier) is strikingly floral (not a shock), with integrated wood and fresh, fine-grained acidity. It was the best wooded chardonnay I tasted all day, and one of the best wines, even for this wood-hater. The Cuvee Laurent (60% Chambourcin, 30% Cabernet Franc, 10% Merlot) is the best Chambourcin-based wine I've ever had. Sweet fruit, sure, but an underlying, honest, um, well, balance, complexity, and structure. Not just a curiosity. And the 2004 Cabernet Franc could very well be straight out of Joe Dressner's world. A dead ringer for good-vintage village Bourgueil. The kind of wine for which the tasting note is a check mark. Lovely. Hillsborough Vineyard, in Purcellville, VA, is making blended red wines that show a judiciousness rarely seen in our local vineyards. The 2003 Garnet, a roughly equal blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, is fleshy and bright, with fresh fruit acidity that says "sure, I'm from the New World, but you should care." Tannins are velvety, but not from a wooden sheen, but from some real class. The 2003 Ruby, a blend of Tannat, Touriga Nacional, and Petite Verdot, is not as strappingly tannic, nor as cloyingly black-fruited as its raw materials suggest. Again, judiciousness is the watch-word, and the acidity is stimulating and refreshing. The young, engaging winemaker, Kerem Baki, is earnest and understanding of what he can do to make his wines distinctive, but still natural. Neither of these farms have normal distribution channels, at least yet. But both are well worth visiting, tasting, and purchasing, at least a little bit. Two families, both taking the right view of their soils and terroirs and letting the business come to them. There's no higher form of vigneron, and when they get it right like these guys, they deserve to be supported. Crap show. Few crachoirs--it was a wonder I never accidentally hit someone's white pants whilst I found a bare spot on the ground to spit. Lots of crap wine. Don't go unless you've got nothing to do. That's what you have me for. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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