Although a bit delayed this is third in the series of posts from my Northern VA wine country weekend a couple of weeks ago. The plan for the day was to go hiking but we woke to pouring down rain so we pulled out the map to see what other wineries we wanted to visit. We decided to take the long way home and go West towards Harrisonburg before starting back East towards home. The decision was made around Cross Key’s Vineyards, a fairly new VA winery that is kind of out of the way (for us).
I had seen Cross Key’s Vineyards in some VA wine press and been to their website and was amazed at the pictures of their Napa like tasting room and winery. In my research on their site they definitely have a recipe for good wines, a South African wine maker (with years of VA wine experience) with 2 French wine making consultants and 29 acres of well established vines. Well as with any good recipe, things can fall short in the execution and the final result is not what you expected. While I did enjoy a couple of the wines that we tasted, the wine I liked the most was fairly overpriced at $26. The rest of the wines were fairly thin and non-descript although tasting was rather hard since our pours were very small. That was another point of frustration with the winery, although our tasting was “comped” (in part) the pours were tiny, one sip worth, and if I had paid the $5 (for 6 wines) I would’ve been even more frustrated than I was. You might have noticed the “in part” statement above. When we saddled up to the bar they asked us to pay and we let them know we were industry and after a bit of weirdness they said our tasting would be comped and we would get 15% off our wine. As we started to taste one of the tasting room associates came back over and said only the main 6 wines would be comped but if we wanted the two reserve wines we would have to pay the extra $2 per person per taste for those. I was in complete disbelief! First that they are charging $2 per taste and second that they would charge industry for tasting. That turned me off so much, it really didn’t set a good tone for the experience. And one of the wines I really wanted to try because it was a Pinot Noir, and I haven’t tasted one from Virginia. Wow, a fellow industry member who writes a blog and manages a wine shop wants to try a wine that may possibly be the only one in the state, “that’ll be two dollars please”. No thanks! I know this rant really has nothing to do with the wine itself, but in my mind the lack of respect for people that can help build your brand is a big problem.
Cross Keys Wine Highlights –
2008 Fiore ($16.50) – (Rose from Cab Franc) – pomegranate and strawberry and although only 1.1% residual sugar a bit too sweet for me and probably would’ve guessed closer to 3%.
2006 Meritage ($26) (45% Cab Franc, 55% Petite Verdot; 15 mos. In 50/50 new/used French Oak) – full bodied with spice and black pepper, layered with boysenberry, red currant and dusty tannins
I would have hoped to have caught with the owner or one of the wine makers at Cross Keys but apparently no one was on site at the time of our visit.
Next up we decided to hit one of Virginia favorites, Pollak Vineyards and were excited that Jake Busching (wine maker and vineyard manager) was able to come down to the tasting room and chat with us as we tasted through their wines. Check back to a previous post for more of the background on Pollak Vineyards.
As usual we liked almost everything Pollak had to offer, my only dislikes were both the Chardonnay’s which I thought were over oaked, and just not my style. Although I didn’t like the Chard’s, the wines are all crafted with precision that is obvious in every sip. Jake really has a handle on what needs to be done to make great Virginia wine and is in touch, literally, with everything that is happening in the vineyard as well as the winery.
Pollak Vineyards Wine Highlights –
2008 Durant White – blend predominately Viognier – tart apple, pear and apricot with touchs of honeydew melon and crisp mineral finish
2007 Cabernet Franc – spicy with raspberry and red currant and hints of mint and fresh cocoa with tight leathery tannins
2006 Meritage – rich with boysenberry and dark chocolate, touches of baking spices and tar with a finish of black cherry
Thanks to Jake for the tour and the special tastes down in the barrel room, great to see ya!