Sunday, July 12, 2009

DC's Wine Country Wine Festival Notes

Just back from the trade tasting at Whitehall Manor in beautiful Bluemont, VA just across the mountain from us in Loudoun County. Props to the Loudoun Convention & Visitors Association for organizing this trade-only tasting on Sunday afternoon before the Wine Festival opened to the general public.

Here are some brief notes on what I tasted, and I only tasted about 40 wines. I did not attend the outdoor festival where the wineries were pouring everything that they make. The trade tasting was about 40 wines from perhaps 10 wineries who sell to the trade as well as retail to the general public.

There were some hits and misses. You would think that for a trade-only tasting for those of us who buy and sell wine on a regular basis, that the wines would be carefully selected so that there were no misses. Not so. This tasting confirmed for me once again that there is a sea of bad wine being made in Virginia and that you must taste each wine before you buy it, with a few exceptions.

I tasted two horrible Merlots and one Cabernet Franc that was so green that the Bell pepper flavor just leaped off of it. This was a 2007 Cab Franc and 2007 was the dream vintage in Virginia. If you couldn't make good wine in '07, you can't make good wine. What happens to these people in a tough year?

Viognier is supposed to our grape here in Virginia and I tasted three that I haven't tasted in a year or more. One was so-so, one had so much sulfur on the nose that the fruit couldn't even penetrate it, and the big name, big-priced one, well it had been doctored to death by the winemaker. Full ML and tons of oak are not my idea of a good time with Viognier. As I was tasting this wine, the winery rep was giving me the spiel about how he really liked his unoaked Chardonnay that sees no ML. How about leaving your beautiful Viognier fruit alone too?

Here are some notes about wines worth tasting.

Both the Bordeaux blends from The Boxwood Winery in Middleburg are outstanding. The Merlot-heavy Topiary is fairly feminine and ready to drink now. The Cabernet Sauvignon-based Boxwood needs more time. Both are structurally sound and I'm planning to bring them in house.

Doug Fabbioli's rosé of Sangiovese called Rosa Luna is utterly delicious. Go visit Doug over in Lucketts, grab a bottle of this and just enjoy life. I won't be adding this to our list this year because we've already selected our single rosé for the year, but it will be a candidate next year. Why, oh why, won't customers buy rosé??? We already sell Doug's Cab Franc, stunning Chambourcin, and Raspberry Merlot. You should definitely try his Tre Sorelle blend as well.

The Syrah from Tarara, co-fermented with Viognier in the Rhône manner, is worth seeking out. Hopefully I will add this to the list.

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