“We could, in the United States, make as great a variety of wines as are made in Europe, not exactly of the same kinds, but doubtless as good”.
- Thomas Jefferson
The original colonies were mandated by England to grow vinifera and to make wine. They failed miserably. Even Thomas Jefferson struggled for 30 years to grow vinifera, without success. After a great deal of hard work and experimentation that has all changed.
By invitation, I enjoyed another Virginia Wine Chat wine tasting with host Frank Morgan of Drink What You Like. This Virginia wine tasting featured three different wines from the Monticello AVA. Virginia is an exciting wine region, one I've grown fond of after visiting in 2011.
Jefferson’s vision has been realized by the success of 255 Virginia wineries. Virginia is now the fifth largest wine producing state in the United States. Quality is strong. Producing 500,000 cases annually, Virginia can't produce enough wine to meet demand.
The Virginia wine industry employs 4,700 people and contributes almost $750 million to the Virginia economy each year. Virginia is well on its way to becoming a world class wine producing region. It may have taken a couple hundred years for Virginia to reach this point, but they are now making wines I like and wines which should be coveted and collected.
Featuring Wines from the Monticello AVA
In 1984 the counties surrounding Monticello were designated the Monticello Viticultural Area (AVA), in recognition of the region’s distinguished and burgeoning wine industry. Today the parent organization of the Monticello Wine Trail, the Jeffersonian Wine Grape Growers’ Society, is an association of the largest concentration of wineries in Virginia, with 30 wineries within 25 miles of Charlottesville producing wines of national and international acclaim.
Tasting Notes #VAwinechat Wines of the Monticello AVA
1. Veritas Viognier 2013 Monticello AVA
Veritas is a family-owned and run farm winery nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Color: Pretty medium gold.
Nose: Toasty, pineapple, stone fruit, mineral edged.
Palate: Textured, silky, with weight mid-palate, stone fruit, lively, lingering finish.
Day two: Mineral fresh with stone fruit, lemon, mango skin and toast on the nose. Peach across the palate, with lemon, grassy note, nice viscous quality. Tasty.
Thoughts: A wonderful food wine. Pair with chicken, turkey, and fresh seafood. Recommended.
Blend: 95% Viognier, 5% Petite Manseng, barrel aged in neutral oak
Note: De-stemmed, short cold soak 9-14 hrs. Lot of acid from the Petit Manseng, early harvested for liveliness.
Closure: Screw cap
Winemaker: Emily Felton
Veritas Vineyard & Winery
151 Veritas Lane
Afton, VA 22920
tel: (540) 456-8000
fax: (540) 456-8483
Andrew & Patricia Hodson, Owners
2. Grace Estate Winery 2012 Cabernet Franc, Monticello AVA
All Grace Estate wines are made from grapes grown on site at Mount Juliet Farm in Crozet, Virginia. The vineyards are as old as 14th leaf, are planted on various soils, and are between elevations of 750-1,000 ft.
Nose: Smoky, cherry, brambly, bacon, red berry. After 40 minutes a hint of green olive juice.
Palate: Smooth, fluid, front palate focused, red berry, friendly smoky finish. After 30 minutes, fine tannin on gums. Lighter style red. Would be lovely with lightly seasoned steak (not grilled) or with a mixed green salad with pickled vegetables. Cigar might work well too.
Day two: Bakers chocolate, earth, cherry, holiday spice, raspberry nose. Fluid, almost creamy, fine tannin, dry cherry, bright red apple skin into the finish. Relaxed on day two, tannin and brightness more prevalent.
Thoughts: I would pair with seafood and pasta dishes with red sauce. Very good with black forest ham, pork belly or a BLT with thick cut bacon would be good too. Enjoy with food. Definitely a food wine. Recommended.
Blend: 90% Cabernet Franc, 10% Petit Verdot
Closure: Natural cork
Winemaker: Jake Busching
Grace Estate Winery
Mount Juliet Farm
5273 Mount Juliet Farm
Crozet, VA 22932
tel & fax: 434-823-5014
3. King Family Vineyards 2012 Meritage, Monticello AVA
King Family Vineyards is a family-owned and operated boutique winery located in Crozet, just fifteen minutes from Charlottesville at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Color: Dark ruby.
Nose: Cherry, leather, orange skin, chocolate.
Palate: Well done. Drinkable, medium body, balanced, dried cherry, good texture. Chocolate on the finish. Showing well after 45 minutes. Fine tannin on dry finish. At 50 minutes showing off, lovely in the mouth, fluid, silky, delicious.
Day two: My speed, dark fruit, tar, licorice, cinnamon spice on the nose. Candied, cherry-apple, silky smooth, creamy tannin, fresh finish.
Thoughts: Impressed. Crowd pleasing style. Craved beef Carpacio and Wagyu beef. Hit all my buttons. Strongly Recommended.
Blend: Meritage 42% Merlot 27% CabFran 25% Petit Verdot and 6% Malbec -
Closure: Natural Cork
10K cases total production
Winemaker: Matthieu Finot since 2003
King Family Vineyards
6550 Roseland Farm
Crozet, Virginia 22932
tel: (434) 823-7800
fax: (434) 823-7801
David and Ellen King, Proprietors
Virginia Wine Resources:
- Monticello Wine Trail: www.monticellowinetrail.org
- Virginia Wine www.virginiawine.org
- Visit Monticello www.monticello.org
- Dreaming of Virginia Wine
Virginia wine country should be on every wine enthusiast must visit list. It goes without saying that when you see a Virginia wine, you should buy it. These wines would be wonderful wines to show off and enjoy at your Thanksgiving and Holiday meals.