Posts Tagged With: barboursville

Kickin’ it old school!

My friend Greg invited me over to his house yesterday for a little geek fest over some old vintage Virginia wines. He was opening a ‘97, ’99 and ’02 Barboursville Cabernet Sauvignon with the ’99 being a Reserve. In the spirit of opening old Virginia wine, I took over a recent discovery in my cellar, a 1984 Rapidan River Riesling.

1984 Rapidan River Riesling

We started with the Riesling, which was tasting better than I thought it would, but still not that great and definitely past it’s prime. The cool part about this Riesling, besides the fact that it’s an ’84 from VA, but it was also made about 10 miles from where I grew up, 7 years after I was born. The cork showed some seepage and was really loose when I pulled it out, and although old, I think the darker golden color of the wine was due to an influx of air over time. All that being said, this was a textbook example of gasoline, diesel fuel aromas on an aged Riesling with hints of burnt sugar (caramel). Unfortunately most of the fruit was gone on the palate, hints of apricot and honey did show up for a second, but were quickly dissipated by the watery finish. All in all, better than I expected for an old wine made from a grape that doesn’t thrive here in the state.

1997, 1999 & 2002 Barboursville Cabernet Sauvignon (99 was Reserve)

On to the Cabernets….

We started with the ’97 which was tasting good but unfortunately seems a bit past it’s peak. Not a whole lot of fruit left, the nose showed aromas of cedar, anise, cocoa and a hint of funk. The palate had a nice dose of cranberry, baking spice, tobacco leaf and leather accompanied by a smooth medium body. The finish was really short, faded away soon after swallowing. Impressive for a 13 year old Cab from Virginia.

More impressive was the ’99 Reserve, still showing notes of dark fruit both on the nose and palate. Specifically, heavy doses of black cherry interlaced with leather shop aromas. The taste buds were picking up flavors of blackberry, spice box, cedar, pine and red clay. Tannins were still present in this guy, showing a nice velvety texture. I think the ’99 isn’t past it’s prime but it’s definitely on the downhill slope.

The 2002 had a great nose of red currant, and raspberry with a bit of sweet cedar and eucalyptus. Sounding great right? Well on the palate I got cork taint, boo! It was subtle at first but for me it definitely built up over the course of the glass and by the end of it, all I could taste was musty newspapers. The group didn’t agree with me completely but thought something might have been a bit off. Oh well, you can’t win ’em all.

I think the ’99 Reserve was the winner for me, as well as everybody else. It was definitely a fun time – tasting some old Virginia wine. Some good, some bad, as is the case when opening older vintages, you never know what you’re going to get.


We also opened an ’81 Richter Riesling that I’ll review on a separate post.

Categories: virginia wine, wine review | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Virginia Wine Making Headway on The National Scale

There is a great article on the Virginia Business Magazine’s website today detailing the growing presence on Virginia Wine on the national scale.  What a great way to kick off the 20th Anniversary of VA Wine Month!


Here are a few of the highlights – (my comments to each are in blue) Click the article link above to read it in its entirety.

“At restaurant Tru in Chicago husband and wife chefs Rick Tramonto and Gale Gand preside over one of the nation’s most innovative kitchens. The wine list alone tempts patrons with 1,700 labels from venerable producers throughout the world. So why would Chad Ellegood, the restaurant’s wine director, be striding through the dining room clutching a bottle of Barboursville Vineyards 2006 Reserve Viognier from upstart Virginia?

Tru has been offering a 10-course dining experience called the “Sommelier Collection” at the prix fixe of $350 per person, including tax and tip. One of the lineups featured in this special program begins with the Barboursville Viognier. It’s served with a grape gelee topped with a crab and cucumber salad. The meal moves on to nine other courses anchored by ultrapremium wines such as a French Meursault, Italian Brunello and German Traminer Trockenbeerenauslese”

This is great to see Virginia wines being offered on restaurant wine lists outside of the state, especially at James Beard Award winning restaurant in a dining mecca like Chicago.  Barboursville is quite large on the VA wine scale as far as case production goes so I hope to see some of the smaller wineries reaching out across state lines in the future. I realize that this is not in the best interest for in the short term though as it reduces profit margins for the smaller wineries, but in the long term, it will bring more business and recognition to the state.

“These days, insiders describe the industry as “distinctive” and “understated.” Yet the label some people yearn for is “blockbuster.” To get there, they say Virginia and its winemakers need more production, marketing and distribution. Plus, they need to make the price point more accessible. Not everyone is willing to pay the going rate of $20 to $45 for one of the better bottles of Virginia wine.” 

The price-point is where I feel a lot of Virginia wineries get hurt. Production costs are higher due to the small production of most of the wineries and without established reputation it hard to stomach the usually doubled or tripled price points of similar quality wines from around the world.  This is not to say that a good percentage of wineries are charging what I feel is proper pricing for their wines, but a lot of wineries get away with over pricing their product to customers willing to pay for locally produced goods.

“Many of Virginia’s longtime winemakers agree. “We are a provincial, regional industry and always have been, but now there are some big players and people are focused on competition, global competition,” says Jim Law, the owner-winemaker of Linden Vineyards in Northern Virginia’s Fauquier County. “So far, it’s been easy to sell Virginia wine to Virginians, but we will soon saturate that local, patriotic market, and we won’t be able to sell wines just because they are from Virginia. We’ll sell wines because they are of high quality.””

Well said!

“Reports about Virginia wines in influential publications have been kinder recently, after some rocky decades. The watershed tribute to Virginia winemaking that appeared in the New York Times in 2000 — written by the late Times staffer and gourmand R.W. “Johnny” Apple Jr. — reflected the critical skepticism of the 1980s and ‘90s.  The headline read, “Jefferson Gets His Wish: At Last, a Decent Bottle of Virginia Wine.”

Then came Virginia’s anointment last year by Travel & Leisure magazine. Wine and spirits editor Bruce Schoenfeld gave the state’s industry a big boost by including it, along with regions in Italy, Spain, Chile and New Zealand, as one of the world’s up-and-coming wine destinations. “Until recently,” he wrote, “I’d felt that [Virginia] had been trading on the grape-growing reputation of noted wine lover Thomas Jefferson for 200 years without producing anything worthy of mention. Then a single bottle convinced me that Virginia was ready for consideration.” That bottle was a Barboursville 1999 Nebbiolo. Schoenfeld later in the article also praised the Linden 1999 Hardscrabble Chardonnay.”

In the short 5 years that I have been drinking Virginia, I have seen a dramatic improvement in the quality across the board. So I can only imagine, what kind of changes people are realizing that have been following the Virginia wine industry for 15-20 years.  

So in the spirit of VA Wine Month, get out and experience Virginia wines, find you favorites and buy it up! For out of state folks, a good percentage of the Virginia wineries now ship out of state so there are no excuses. That is unless you are in one of those states that cannot be shipped too. L


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Wine Blogging Wednesday #48 – Back to your roots! – Happy 4th B-day!!

This Wednesday WBW celebrates its 4th birthday and befittingly the founder of WBW (Lenn Thompson) has selected the topic for this month, Back to your roots. For #48 Lenn wanted us take a trip down memory lane and find the wine that started our journey into the wine world, re-taste it and of course right about it, then and now.


I had a hard time with this one, first because I forgot about it (not the first time) and second because I really can’t pinpoint my “Ah Ha” moment with wine to a single bottle.  So I veered off topic slightly here, but my magic bottle is more like a magic experience.  I had heard of this magic thing called “wine tasting”, where you could visit a winery, taste their wines, talk about them with the winemaker perhaps and see exactly where the grapes came from that provided the juice for your glass of wine.  I was in disbelief but soon found out that this was in actuality happening all over the state and all over the world. So with my in-laws and my wife we proceeded West to the Monticello region of Virginia to partake in some wine tasting.


On that day we visited one of the largest and probably the most celebrated winery in Virginia, Barboursville Vineyards. It opened my eyes completely to the scene of “wine enthusing” and I have been hooked ever since.  An addict for information, I was amazed at all that I could learn about who, what, when and where when it came to what I was drinking.


So at the time I didn’t take notes, so I don’t have anything to compare notes to, but I did drink a Merlot while I was there, and I luckily happened to have a bottle in my cellar from a visit a few months ago. If I did have notes, I am sure they would have been something like this: “um, it’s red, tastes pretty good, I like it” or something to that effect. Haha


My notes on the current 2006 Barboursville Merlot

Color – Garnet

Nose – Blackberry, cherry, vanilla, leather, tomato paste

Taste – Blueberry, cherry cola, kale, black peppercorn

Mouthfeel – medium body, decent amount of acidity, smooth tannins

Finish – Medium to long in length with thyme and cherry tomato and clove flavors lingering on the palate 

This was a great Merlot in a world that has been harsh to the varietal lately.  Barboursville produces a very approachable version, that is definitely ready to drink now but could hang around for a few more years if you can resist temptation.  Fruit forward but not in your face, with good vegetal and herb notes providing complexity and depth not often found in a Merlot costing $14.99 from Virginia.


So Happy Birthday WBW!!



Categories: $10-$20, virginia wine, Wine Blogging Wednesday, wine review | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments