This was the first month I participated in the Virginia Wine Chat, a monthly virtual gathering to discuss the wines, winemakers, wineries and regions of Virginia. September's edition focused on wines from the Monticello AVA and was the first winemaker panel discussion focused on one Virginia wine region. Emily Pelton (winemaker, Veritas Vineyard), Jake Busching (winemaker, Grace Estate Winery), and Matthieu Finot (winemaker, King Family Vineyards) discussed their backgrounds, their vineyards and the Monticello AVA. We tasted one wine from each of their wineries, received as samples from the wineries. Consumers and other interested parties could also purchase the wines from the Virginia Wine Club. The Monticello AVA, established in 1984 is an American Viticultural Area (AVA) located in the central Piedmont region of the Commonwealth of Virginia, the heart of which is Charlottesville, and covers 1,250 square miles over four counties. It is named for Monticello, the historic home of Thomas Jefferson, located near the center of the area.
Veritas 2013 Viognier: 95% Viognier, 5% Petit Manseng; fermented in stainless steel, aged in neutral oak; light yellow color; peach, white floral and light citrus aromas; honeyed stone fruit into a citrusy finish; luscious mouthfeel with a nice acid backbone and lingering finish; 13% ABV; 1100 cases made; twist-off closure; SRP $24. This is Viognier made right.
King Family 2012 Meritage: 42% Merlot, 27% Cab Franc, 25% Petit Verdot, 6% Malbec; aged 18 months in French oak; transparent medium ruby red; smoky, peppery dark plum aroma; cassis, green pepper, dark plum, spice and dark cherry flavors; medium mouthfeel with balanced acidity; 13.5% ABV; cork closure; SRP $31. I'm not always a fan of Meritage, but this was very well-done.
Grace Estate 2012 Cabernet Franc: 90% Cab Franc, 10% Petit Verdot; transparent dark ruby red color; smoky prunes and tobacco aromas; tart red cherry, pepper, and bright red fruit flavors; light bodied with lots of acidity and pucker of tannins on the finish; 13% ABV; 303 cases produced; cork closure; SRP $23.
Having lived in Virginia about 8 years ago and tasting wine from the state on occasion, I will confess my surprise at the quality of the wines. Perhaps vines are maturing, winemakers adapting to the region, or proper grapes being cultivated, but the improvement is noticeable and appreciated. This tasting made me feel more comfortable about buying a Virginia wine in the future.
The September Virginia Wine Chat was presented by Drink What You Like, the Virginia Marketing Office, and The Virginia Wine Club. Follow the #VAWineChat hashtag to join the discussion via Twitter when it next returns.
Wines were provided for tasting purposes - all opinions are my own.
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