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Tasting the Best of Virginia, Early Mountain Vineyards via #VAWinechat @earlymountain


30th Edition of #VAWinechat 

On 25 June 2015 I participated in another fun #VAwinechat twitter wine tasting featuring Early Mountain Vineyards of Madison, Virginia.

My friend Frank Morgan of Drink What You Like is the host of #VAWinechat. He started Virginia Wine Chat to bring wine bloggers and consumers together via a virtual gathering to discuss the wines, winemakers, wineries and regions of Virginia. I have been fortunate to participate in several Virginia Wine Chat wine tastings. Quality is strong in Virginia. Thank you Frank for the invitation and thank you Early Mountain Vineyards for sharing your lovely wines.

A conversation with Early Mountain Vineyards
​Twitter: @earlymountain
Follow the twitter discussion #VAWineChat​

(L to R) Frank Morgan, Jonathan Hollerith, Ben Jordan. 

Frank Morgan hosted the wine tasting with Early Mountain Vineyards' new Winemaker Ben Jordan and exiting Vineyard Manager and Winemaker Jonathan Hollerith. Ben Jordan is from Virginia and officially becomes the new winemaker this week. Jonathan Hollerith, who grew up in Virginia and the Virginia wine industry, is from a winemaking family. 

Over the years Jonathan has traveled to Germany to help his grandfather make wine. A UC Davis graduate, Jonathan has decided to move to Germany to take over the family winery. Of note, his dad was an important pioneer in the foundation of the Virginia wine industry.

Best of luck Jonathan and Ben!

Early Mountain Vineyards is located in the heart of the central Virginia wine trail, a short 25 minute drive from Charlottesville, Virginia, and not far from Washington, DC or Richmond, Virginia.

Early Mountain Vineyard
6109 Wolftown-Hood Road, Madison, VA 22727


Tasting Notes

Ben and Jonathan along with Frank, led us through a tasting of three Early Mountain Vineyards wines: The 2014 Rosé, 2014 Pinot Gris, and 2013 Foothills Red. 


1. 2014 Early Mountain Vineyards Rosé

*Note: Used native yeast. Mostly intentional rose', with 15% saginee added for body.

Color: Pale, shiny orange-pink. Wedding wine.
Nose: Pretty. delicate peach blossom.
Palate: Layered. Light on palate, nice tingle on tongue, creaminess, elegant, watermelon candy and chocolate? (basil?) on the dry finish. Well done. Big like. Terrific finish.

Day two: Creamy strawberry, lemon background, slate on the nose. The palate was textured, medium body, smooth, watermelon, cherry, focused mid-palate, fresh, grassy finish with lingering watermelon, herbal tang reminded me of chocolate. Went down easy on a very hot summer afternoon. So did the perspiration down my back.

Thoughts: Lovely wine. Perfect for a hot summer day or evening. Pair with diverse foods, brunch, salads, chicken and pork. Your friends will enjoy sharing this wine. Recommended/Strongly Recommended.


Blend: 75% Merlot, 20% Malbec, 2% Cab Sauv, 2% Cab Franc, 1% Syrah
ABV: 11.5%
RS: 0.3%
Closure: Screw Cap
Cases Produced: 640
SRP: $22
Sample provided by the winery


2. 2014 Early Mountain Vineyards Pinot Gris

*Note: I'm not a big Pinot Gris drinker, however, this wine was so well done I would make an exception for this wine. Surprised and impressed. Excellent wine. 

*Note: Both Ben and Jonathan agreed that Pinot Gris is the most underrated/under appreciated grape in Virginia. I agree completely. 

Color: Straw, green highlights.
Nose: Focused, vanilla, lemon, mineral, pear skin.
Palate: Crisp, tingle on tongue, focused to mid-palate, citrus, lime zest, green apple, dry, textured, lively finish. Hanging out with lemon on the finish. Lovely.

Day two: On the nose was fresh lemon slate, almost steely, focused. Awesome drinking on a hot day. Creamy smooth, lemon custard, salinity at front, herbal tang in the middle, dry on the cheeks, white grapefruit and lemon rind into the finish. Lovely, lovely wine. So my speed. 

Thoughts: Wow - fantastic white wine. Held up in the fridge over three days and still delivered a lot of tasty refreshment. Thinking mussels, scallops, sushi, sashimi, oysters and green salad. Or go with something salty like fried chicken. Strongly Recommended.


Malolactic with fermentation, inoculated malolactic starter with native yeast.
Block1: Wild fermented in stainless.
Block9: Fermented w/ 58W3.
A few wild fermented barrels and partial malolactic fermentation.

Blend: 100% Pinot Gris
Closure: Screw Cap
ABV: 12.5%
RS: 0.2%
Cases Produced: 500
SRP: $24
Sample provided by winery


3. 2013 Early Mountain Vineyards Foothills Red

*Note: The winery has this wine available under both cork and screw cap. Purchase with screw cap for drink me now buyers or with cork for cellaring. First time I've observed this option.

*Note: Spontaneous fermentation (Wild Yeast), pulled back on extraction. Had the goal to capture elegance, and lightness of body.

Color: Plum.
Nose: Spicy sweet, stewed plums, root beer barrel candy, cherry candy, clove, focused, lavender, herbal note, intriguing nose.
Palate: Smooth wine, gently dry, cherry/plum, spicy, medium body, focused to front, gentle finish with chocolate, pepper and red fruit. Exotic wine. Unexpected treat.

Day two:  Spicy sweet nose with plum, cherry, tar. Drank soft and round, with ripe plum and cherry, gentle tannin, spicy black tea, a note of chocolate on the fruity finish. Fresh drinking.

Thoughts: Drank young and fruity and remained tasty over three days. Think burgers and ribs on the grill. I am curious how this young wine will age. Recommended.

*Note: Foothills spent 12 months in barrel (35% new French oak) and was blended January 2015.


Blend: Merlot 64%, Cabernet Franc 36%
Closure: Natural Cork
ABV: 12.5%
Cases Produced: 438
SRP: $27
Sample provided by winery

About Early Mountain Vineyards 

Owner Jean Case is an actively engaged philanthropist and investor; and a pioneer in the world of interactive technologies. Jean spent more than two decades as an executive in the private sector, where she led marketing and branding efforts for AOL, before she and her husband, Steve Case, created the Case Foundation in 1997.

A 30-year Virginia resident, Jean believes strongly in the potential for the state to be among the world’s top wine regions. Jean and Steve opened Early Mountain Vineyards in 2012 to showcase their passion for the best wine and food that Virginia has to offer.


About Virginia Wine

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.

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.
Virginia Wine Resources:

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 home.


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