Coming off a great showing at the Monticello Cup Wine Competition here in Virginia, Jake Busching, GM and winemaker of Pollak Vineyards granted me an interview talking about his wines that won at “The Cup”
1. AW: Congratulations on the win at the Monticello Cup! You had four wines place in the competition with the 08 Petite Verdot winning overall, Meritage 07 receiving gold, and the 08 Merlot and 09 Viognier winning Silver. With these representing three different vintages, how much did vintage variation play in the distinction of these wines.
JB: “Vintage is always key to the portrait perceived by the consumer. Especially with our red wines, time plays an integral part in both softening and sensorial profile. Each year being distinct, brings varietal diversity to our program as well. In 2008, for instance the tannins were soft and the fruit very juicy and bright whereas 2007 was all about heat induced ripeness and rugged mouthfeel. Vintage is one of the great things about winegrowing in Virginia; It gives us something to marvel at in a vertical of 3-5 years. Those wines will all be very different and unique.”
2. AW: This was a competition of your “direct peers”. How do you feel these wines would hold up on the national/international scale?
JB: “We enter our reds in International competitions and do quite well. We recently received a gold medal in California with our Merlot, meaning, we beat out a lot of CA and other worldly competition to place. Virginia wine is on its way to the international stage; Viognier, Petit Verdot, Cab Franc, and Merlot are all excellent wines in our region.”
3. AW: I would assume that you go into a competition expecting to win, but were these the results you expected?
JB: “Truthfully, I assume nothing. Every competition is different and the palates of the judges are as varied as our vintages can be. We attempt to craft high quality wines. Pollak Vineyards is the most vital vineyard I have ever worked with. The land is very expressive in the fruit and the intensity carries over into the wine. I love to win acclaim for the wine. My heart and soul goes into winegrowing and a little nod from discerning palates is always nice.”
4. AW: As a continuation of question #3, of the wines you submitted, did you expect to win overall with the 2008 Petite Verdot?
JB: “Not at all. The PV 08 is an infant of a wine. Having just gone into bottle in February, it is still very tight and to my thinking, a bit numb. It is expressive now but in 6-10 months this wine is going to start unveiling itself. PV is a curious wine to make and even more bizarre to pair with food. Which makes it all the more fun. Having this medal hanging on it is going to make it disappear from our tasting room very quickly. I hope people give it time to become the wine it is meant to be.”
5. AW: Some winemakers have said that PV will take the reigns as VA’s red grape and surpass the quality that Cab Franc has shown. Do you think this to be the case?
JB: “PV is too unique to become our flagship wine. I think of it more as a cult following wine. People either love it or hate it. Petit Verdot is more of a little brother to Cab Franc or an unruly cousin maybe. It has a long way to go to get to the refined place Cab Franc can find here in parts of VA.”
6. AW: With the up and down start to the 2010 growing season, how is the vintage shaping up?
JB: “My standard answer to this question is “Ask me in December”. Beyond that, the vineyard is off to a great start and a touch ahead of where we were this time last year. I am ever hopeful, of course…”.