The SOMM Journal

December 2014/January 2015

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Page 35 of 119

36 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } DECEMBER/JANUARY 2014/2015 { event wrap-up } LOOK OUT, OREGON PINOT CAMP, Virginia is making its case to East Coasters for saving those frequent flyer miles and drinking closer to home. On October 21, Richmond's historic Jefferson Hotel played host to the Third Annual Virginia Wine Summit, a slate of seminars, dialogue and comparative tastings for nearly 300 winema- kers, sommeliers, beverage pros and wine writers. Following on the heels of Steven Spurrier and Oz Clarke, the 2014 keynoter was Ray Isle, Executive Wine Editor of Food & Wine magazine. Expert panelists included D.C.-based Master Sommeliers Kathy Morgan, Andy Myers and Jarad Slipp as well as MW Jay Youmans and writer/ educator/raconteur Anthony Giglio. In the preceding 36 hours, panelists went farm to fork with dinner at The Roosevelt— where James Beard nominee Chef Lee Gregory offers an all-Virginia wine list—and then guests explored the Blue Ridge region via Carter Mountain Orchard, Trump Winery and Michael Shaps Wineworks. An evening supper at Palladio Restaurant featured Barboursville Vineyards winemaker Luca Paschina's own venison carpaccio with his minerally 2013 Vermentino, and shaved white truffles paired with a sumptu- ous and bright double magnum of 2002 Nebbiolo Reserve. Kicking things off in the Summit's "Grand Tasting: Art of the Blend," we blindly compared four Virginia reds to highly-regarded West Coast and international counterparts, including the 2011 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Merlot (Napa Valley) and the 2009 Château La Croix du Casse (Pomerol). "I think Virginia is always going to be about red blends," said Youmans. "The fact that many of us had trouble distinguishing Virginia wines from four iconic wines around the world is a conclusion in itself. When you taste blind and remove preconceived notions, Virginia shows that there is world-class wine in this region." During his keynote, Isle addressed "this transformative moment in American wine." He added, "Virginia is making some astonishing wines that absolutely compete on the world stage, but I don't think you could've said that ten years ago." As we tasted Chef Jeremiah Langhorne's "Autumn in VA" salad with an aromatic and elegant Foggy Ride Cider, Isle remarked how Virginia is not beholden to centuries-old traditions, rather it's positioned for experimentation and finding great success in unconventional variet- ies. "If it works, make it," he said. "Petit Manseng, Viognier, Petit Verdot, Tannat—these give a lot of personality to Virginia." In the "Somm Might Say" session, Giglio highlighted Virginia's proper place at the table as D.C. and NYC sommeliers paired vittles with vino. "Its greatest wines show tex- ture, lower alcohol, subtlety and finesse that highlight the alchemy of food and wine," he said. And in the "Virginia Terroir" seminar, Dr. Tony Wolf, Professor of Viticulture at Virginia Tech, explained the region's variety of distinct climates (from maritime to continental) and soil characters (ranging from 1.2 million-year-old marine deposits along the Eastern Shore to 270 million-year-old clay and loam in the Piedmont). Tying it all together, noted Chatham Vineyards owner and winemaker John Wehner poured his crisp, expressive and briny 2013 Church Creek Steel Chardonnay and said, "That's why we pick on acid, not Brix." Wine has a history of underdog regions coming to the fore. The 2014 Virginia Wine Summit succeeded in demonstrating why Virginia is more than a rising star, it's a region ready for its close-up. Old Dominion, New Promise A REPORT FROM THE 3RD ANNUAL VIRGINIA WINE SUMMIT by Jason Tesauro / photos by Jay Paul The Summit's "Grand Tasting: Art of the Blend" at the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond. Panelist at the "It's All Relative" session at this year's Virginia Wine Summit (left to right): John T. Edge, author, Director of the Southern Foodways Alliance; Erin Scala, Beverage Director, Petit Pois and Fleurie, Charlottesville; Todd Thrasher, Sommelier and Partner, Eat Good Food Group, Alexandria; Neil Wavra, Sommelier, The Riverstead, Chilhowie, and co-founder of FABLE Hospitality. Barboursville Vineyards Winemaker/ GM Luca Paschina makes a point during the "True to Our Roots: Virginia Terroir" session. Left to right: Jennifer Knowles, Wine Director, The Jefferson Hotel, D.C.; Paschina; Dr. Tony Wolf, Professor of Viticulture, Virginia Tech; John Wehner, Winemaker/Proprietor, Chatham Vineyards; Jordan Harris, Winemaker/GM, Tarara Winery; Jarad Slipp, MS, Estate Director, RdV Vineyards; Jay Youmans, MW, Capital Wine School.

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