The SOMM Journal

October/November 2014

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32 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2014 { virginia wine country } Q&A ON A HOT JULY SATURDAY, RUTGER DE VINK GREETS a small gathering of visitors on the lawn of his self-named RdV Vineyards winery in Delaplane, Virginia. He wears clothes designed for sweaty labor—a short-sleeve cotton shirt only partially tucked into matching khaki cargo shorts. A jagged cut on his thumb has left blood stains on his shirt-tail where he hurriedly wiped it, the only first-aid available out in the vineyard. De Vink has been working all morning, helping his team with the summer thinning, cutting unwanted shoots and leaves away and setting the stage for the grapes to ripen. De Vink, a former Marine who holds MBA from Northwestern University, got into the world of wine with the vision of escaping the telecom business he embraced in the 1990s, ditching the desk and the suit, and working with his hands. He happened upon Lewis Perdue's book The Wrath of Grapes and was fascinated by the story of Lucie Morton, a whistleblower who first alerted the U.S. wine industry to problems with the AxR1 rootstock. Realizing that she lived locally in Virginia, de Vink consulted with Morton about his desire to learn about vine-growing and winemaking, and she pointed him in the direction of Jim Law of Linden Vineyards, also in Virginia. De Vink was two days into his 2001 appren - ticeship at Linden when he says he found his calling. "I've never had any formal schooling in viticulture or winemaking, but much of learning for me has been about tasting and asking many, many questions when I go to other wineries." De Vink followed this stint at Linden by working vintages at Château Cheval Blanc in Saint-Émilion, Ramey Wine Cellars in Sonoma, and Château Lagrange in Saint-Julien. It was time for de Vink to find his own vineyard site and start making wine. De Vink's time at Cheval Blanc turned out to be most fortuitous, for it was here that he met a fellow Dutchman, Kees van Leeuwen, Cheval Blanc's viticulturalist. Van Leeuwen, hav - ing studied the soils of the world's greatest vineyards, determined that having soil with low water-holding capacity seemed to be the universal factor to great terroir. Van Leeuwen agreed to help de Vink find such a place in the United States, and one of the places they explored was the rolling slopes of Delaplane, Virginia, about 50 miles west of Washington, D.C. With its hillsides composed of thin gravelly topsoil over deep granite, de Vink had found his land. De Vink's crew harvested and fermented the first grapes in 2008. This team included Jean- Philippe Roby, Professor of Viticulture at Bordeaux Sciences Agro, who sent a sample of Cabernet Sauvignon from three-year-old vines to a "friend in Bordeaux." This friend was Eric Boissenot, consulting winemaker for four of the five Bordeaux first growths: Latour, Margaux, Mouton, and Lafite. Finding it to be a most remarkable "vin de terroir," even with such young vines, Boissenot informed de Vink that he would consult on the winemaking and has done so each year since. RdV is the only wine in the United States to enjoy his expertise. For de Vink, the goal is to be not the best Virginia wine, but a wine that belongs on the table with the Bordeaux wines that mentored him, and indeed, any of the world's great wines. RdV Vineyards A DUTCH-BORN BUSINESSMAN AND ERIC BOISSENOT CREATE AN AMERICAN FIRST GROWTH story and photos by David Denton Rutger de Vink in the vines of his Virginia winery, RdV. Rural bliss in Delaplane, Virginia at RdV Vineyards. RdV makes two wines each vintage from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. Rendezvous tends to be Merlot-focused, while their top cuvée, Lost Mountain, is always at least 70% Cabernet Sauvignon. Wines spend 18 to 20 months in French oak barrels, about 70% new. Rendezvous retails for $75 per bottle. Lost Mountain retails for $95 per bottle.

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