The Tasting Panel magazine

April 2011

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Some Virginia Gold Medal Winners Keswick Vineyards 2009 Caber- net Franc ($21.95) With vibrant aromas of black pepper, black currant and strawberry jam, this Keswick wine is followed by subtle spice and a soft tannin frame. Afton Mountain Vineyard 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon ($25) Very French in style, Afton’s Cabernet Sauvignon brings out aromas of chocolate and toasted caramel. It opens up quickly on the palate with intense dark fruits and ends with a nice, crisp finish. Fox Meadow Winery 2008 Red Meritage ($29) The winner of the Governor’s Cup, this blend of 50% Cabernet Franc and 50% Merlot hits the nose quickly with concen- trated aromas of fig, dark cherry, blackberry and raspberry. Similar flavors follow, but oak pleasantly reveals itself during the finish. Cooper Vineayrds owner Geoff Cooper and his daughter Rebecca. Cooper earned a gold medal in the 2011 Virginia Governor’s Cup for red wine for its varietal Norton. Vineyards, Barboursville and Pollak Vineyards are carving out nice niches with Petit Verdots that are earthy and peppery. Afton Mountain Vineyards is the only Virginia brand growing Sangiovese and Gewürztraminer. Virginia winemakers are also attempting some unusual dessert wines. Pollak Vineyards, in the Monticello region, makes Mille Fleurs, a blend of eau-de-vie and late-harvest Viognier. King Family Vineyards makes 7, a Porto-style Merlot fortified with brandy and aged in retired Woodford Reserve barrels. Virginia Real Meanwhile, vineyards such as Horton Vineyards, Cooper Vineyards, La Grange and Weston Farm are trying to bring back Virginia’s native grape, Norton. Geoffrey Cooper, President of Cooper, says that Norton has a lot of potential. “Norton is being planted across the country, but it does not have universal appeal,” Cooper notes. “With exuber- ant fruit up front, Norton is Virginia’s Zinfandel. It’s not going to be Cabernet Sauvignon.” Back at Barboursville Vineyards, Italian winemaker Luca Paschina is pick- ing up where Rausse left off. Paschina’s Octagon—a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot—has won numerous awards and shows Virginia’s grape-growing diversity. But most importantly, he says, “it has helped show the world how great Virginia can be.” Just like Rausse did so many years ago. Cooper Vineyards 2008 Norton ($22) It’s amazing to think this varietal once represented the best in American wine. The long-forgot- ten grape shows great promise in this Cooper vintage, with brilliant aromas of dark cherry, blackberry and anise, followed by a well-bal- anced finish. Barboursville Vineyards 2008 Petit Verdot Reserve ($25) This lovely 100-percent Petit Verdot makes us wonder why there are not more varietal Petit Verdots on the market—and whether Virginia can make this grape its own, as Oregon did with Pinot Noir. This very elegant wine meets the eye with a deep purple and gives the nose wonderful sensations of blueberry, coconut and chocolate. Medium-bodied, it has a smooth apple and mineral finish. april 201 1 / the tasting panel / 105

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