Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Time for LOVE By The Glass: Virginia Wine & Dine Month

It's that time of the year again. Yes Tax time; but also Virginia Wine & Dine Month, a collaboration between the Virginia Tourism Corporation and Virginia Wine Marketing Board. The theme for March is "LOVE By the Glass", where restaurants and wine retailers in the Commonwealth are encouraged to feature Virginia wines. Nearly 300 such entities have agreed to participate, and why not. There are over 230 wineries in Virginia making the state the fifth largest producer in the U.S.

Like a majority of old world wines, Virginia wines are bonded to the culinary experience. To see an example, take a look at our video pairing wine and food at Potomac Point Winery. And according to Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore, "This is a perfect match of the two." He explains further, "each year we see more restaurants and wine shops across Virginia choosing to promote Virginia wines. We hope this year's March Virginia Wine & Dine Month will spur additional interest from new trade partners. We continue to get positive feedback about the growing interest in Virginia wines and its vibrant culinary community. "

To find a sample of the participating restaurants as well as travel packages, visit the official LOVE By the Glass page. And since we favor videos, check out the latest For the LOVE of Travel webisode.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Where Did All the Gold Medal White Wines Go?

There's been a few comments in the twittersphere noting that Viognier, and for that matter, all white wines are under-performing in the Virginia Governor's Cup Competition. For a little background, in the past, white wines and red wines had their own competition, but starting in 2012 the revamped Governor's Cup combined the two and included new requirements that the wines be sourced from 100% Virginia fruit. In 2012, two white wines were awarded Gold medals; the Tarara Vineyard & Winery Honah Lee White Blend and the White Hall Vineyards Gewurztraminer. On the other hand, ten red wines were awarded Gold medals, including the Governor's Cup Winner Glen Manor Vineyards Hodder Hill. There was also a sparkling wine Gold medal - the Trump Winery Kluge SP Blanc de Blanc. In the 2013 competition, white wines fared even worse as the Virginia Wineworks Michael Shaps Chardonnay was the only white Gold medalist. Along with the Trump Winery Sparkling Rose, the remaining wines were red, including the Governor's Cup winning Barboursville Vineyards 2009 Octagon.  

There results are significant since, in 2011, the Virginia Wine Marketing Board designated Viognier as the Commonwealth's "signature grape". If Viognier is the state's future, why isn't it preforming better in the competition? Let's start by looking at the entrees.  In 2013, over 400 wines were submitted in which I do not have the actual breakdown between red, white, sparkling, or ciders. However, I did compute the medal winners in which there were approximately 109 white wines, 243 red wines, and 10 ciders or sparklers. Out of the 109 white wines, 23 were 100% Viognier - thus the grape accounted for 21.1 % of white medalists and 6.4% of all medalists.  In comparison, 32 single varietal Chardonnay wines were awarded medals resulting in 29.4% and 8.9% of white and overall medalists respectively. On the other hand, there were 41 wines labelled as Meritage that medalled, and of these, 9 or 22% were award gold medals.  Not a bad showing.

What does the above analysis mean? I don't know - maybe this entire exercise is statistically meaningless. It does show that there's defiantly some awfully good Meritage being produced in the state and that Virginia Chardonnay is just as good (or better) than Virginia Viognier?  Yes, there were more than  twice as much red wines entered than white wines (assuming the ratio of medalists equals the ratio of submitted); but this doesn't help us statistically. The question remains, why did only one white wine win a Gold Medal. Some people on Twitter noticed the absence of some major Viognier players such as Pearmund CellarsChrysalis Vineyards, and Chester Gap Cellars - but I don't think their entry would change the results significantly.

In the case of Viognier, maybe there is just not enough fruit being grown in the state. Only a third of the state's wineries even produce a Viognier wine. The past few years have also witnessed unseasonable weather patterns that may have affected Viognier grapes more than others. Or, is Viognier just too fickle in the vineyard. Maybe consistent, year over year, quality or quantity is difficult. In any event, this may help explain Viognier's absence, but not necessarily Chardonnay or other white wines.

Or perhaps, as many have suggested, Virginia is a red wine state. Bordeaux reds seem to work, whether its both cabernets, Merlot, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. Add Syrah and Tannat and Virginia looks solidly Red. Obviously, a two year sample is too short to provide a definitive analysis, but it does suggest a pattern.

That being said, I don't think it invalidates Viognier being named the Commonwealth's signature grape. We all know there is very nice Viognier being produced in state and as a marketing campaign, the grape can differentiate Virginia  from other regions. We all know the Governor's reference to Napa versus Virginia, but do we really think Virginia Meritage would compete against Napa reds in the marketplace. Some perhaps, but generally no. On the other hand, can Virginia Viognier compete against California or Washington? My answer would be affirmative.  What do yo think? 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Governor McDonnell Announces Barboursville Vineyards Awarded 2013 Governor’s Cup ~ 2009 “Octagon

February 21, 2013

RICHMONDGovernor Bob McDonnell, who championed major changes to the Virginia Governor's Cup competition in 2011 that made it one of the most stringent and comprehensive wine competitions in the United States, awarded the 2013 Virginia Wineries Association’s Governor's Cup to Barboursville Vineyards’ 2009 Octagon 12th Edition. By winning this year’s Governor’s Cup, Barboursville becomes the first Virginia winery to win the award four times. Barboursville also won in 1992 (1988 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve), 1999 (1997 Cabernet Franc), and 2007 (1998 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve). The Governor’s Cup award announcement was made Thursday evening at the Virginia Wineries Association’s Governor’s Cup Gala.

Speaking at the Governor’s Cup awards, Governor McDonnell said, “I congratulate Luca Paschina, the Zonin family, and the entire Barboursville team for winning this year’s Governor’s Cup for their 2009 Octagon, one of Virginia’s most iconic red wines. Luca’s Octagon wines are personal favorites of mine, and I know this award winning 12th Edition will make the Virginia wine industry proud now and in the years to come. I also commend the winemakers of the other distinguished wines that comprise this year’s Governor’s Cup Case. I am confident that wine aficionados and enthusiasts alike will take notice of Octagon and the other impressive offerings in this case. The advancements in Virginia winemaking are on display in every bottle we have here tonight and the stringent requirements of the Governor’s Cup competition ensure that Virginia wines receiving medals have been through the most demanding evaluation process."

Barboursville’s award-winning Octagon is a Meritage-style blend of the winery’s best Bordeaux varietals. The wine is made only in top vintage years. The 2009 vintage is comprised of 70% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, 10% Petit Verdot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine’s tasting notes are as follows: It has a deep garnet color, with aromas of chocolate, red berries, cranberries, gaining further depth with tar, spice and a touch of forest floor. Dry yet somewhat fruity, medium to full body with a long finish of tannins. A wonderfully structured old world style red blend.

"It has been a pleasure and a reward to follow the evolution of the 2009 vintage of Octagon. Since harvest I took notice of its promising characters, and I was not shy to share with many that it was destined to be among the best wines I will ever produce in my life," said Luca Paschina, Barboursville’s General Manager and Winemaker. “The Virginia Governor’s Cup award is an honor and further validates the character of a wine that has already won 90 points at Wine Enthusiast, the Gold Medal of the Beverage Testing Institute in Chicago, of the Winemaker’s Challenge and Critics Challenge in California, and the Platinum Medal of the Sommelier Challenge, also in California."
The 2013 Virginia Governor’s Cup Competition was conducted over two weeks of tasting. The preliminary tastings were held over ten days at the Capital Wine School in Washington DC, while the final round of tastings was held at the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond. The Governor's Cup award winner was selected from the 2013 Governor's Cup Case, the top 12 scoring wines of the competition, which were selected from 377 entries of both red and white wines, from 93 wineries.

In addition to Barboursville’s 2009 Octagon, the other 11 wines (along with varietal descriptions as appropriate) forming the Governor’s Cup Case include:

·         Cooper Vineyards – 2010 Petite Verdot Reserve
·         King Family Vineyards – 2010 Meritage
·         Lovingston Winery – 2009 Josie’s Knoll Estate Reserve (Meritage)
·         Philip Carter Winery – 2010 Cleve (Petite Verdot, Tannat)
·         Pollak Vineyards – 2009 Cabernet Franc Reserve
·         Potomac Point Vineyard and Winery – 2010 Richland Reserve Heritage (Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tannat, Petite Verdot
·         Rappahannock Cellars – 2010 Meritage
·         RdV Vineyards – 2010 Rendevous (Meritage)
·         RdV Vineyards – 2010 Lost Mountain (Meritage)
·         Sunset Hills Vineyard – 2010 Mosaic (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot)
·         Trump Winery – 2008 Sparkling Rose (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir)

At least 10 cases of each wine included in the Governor’s Cup Case will be used by the Virginia Wine Board Marketing Office for marketing purposes. A number of cases will be shipped to select wine media, promoting Virginia wines to a larger national and international audience. The award winning wines will be used for educational purposes at Virginia winemaker roundtable discussions to improve overall quality of Virginia wines. Governor’s Cup Case wines will also be used by Governor McDonnell on select domestic and international marketing missions and other events designed to promote Virginia wine and winery tourism.

The Governor’s Cup competition, revamped in 2011 at the request of Governor McDonnell, is a result of a partnership among the gubernatorial-appointed Virginia Wine Board (VWB), the Virginia Wineries Association (VWA), which owns and manages the competition, and the Virginia Vineyards Association (VVA). Any wine made from 100% Virginia fruit was eligible for the competition, while ciders and fruit wines had their own category and medalists. All entries included an affidavit with a certification of 100% Virginia fruit and vineyard particulars, including grower names and location, as well as information on alcohol, acidity or basicity (pH), and residual sugar.

        Jay Youmans, one of only of 30 Masters of Wine (MW) in the U.S., directed the competition. Youmans, who is also a Certified Wine Educator (CWE) and the owner and educational director of the Capital Wine School in Washington, DC, recruited wine judges from the professional wine buying and wine media community. The judges were compensated for their time for a rigorous schedule of judging to ensure the competition maintained the highest level of professional evaluation. There were 45 judges in the preliminary round and 15 judges in the final round. A list of the judges along with their bios can be found at http://www.virginiawine.org/governors-cup

One of the most important aspects of the revised competition is the educational component of the judging. After the competition, regional forums for the winemakers will be held with the judging director. Notes with the judges’ blind comments will be shared with individual winemakers, so that they will get direct feedback on how their wines were received.

Barboursville Vineyards is located in the Monticello American Viticulture Area of Central Virginia, in and around the Charlottesville region. The historic Virginia winery is located on the estate of James Barbour, former Governor of Virginia, in Barboursville. The winery was founded in 1976 by Gianni Zonin, a prominent Italian winemaker whose family has roots in Italian viticulture going back to 1821. The Zonin Group is based in Vicenza, Italy. Barboursville is Zonin's sole American venture.

Sales of Virginia wine reached a record high in fiscal year 2012 with more than 485,000 cases, or more than 5.8 million bottles, sold. Virginia currently ranks fifth in the number of wineries in the nation with 230. Virginia is also the nation’s fifth largest wine grape producer. According to a recently released economic impact study, the Virginia wine industry employs more than 4,700 and contributes almost $750 million to the Virginia economy on an annual basis.

For a complete list of previous Governor’s Cup winners and further information about the Virginia wine industry, events, tours and tastings, please visit the Virginia Wine Marketing Office http://www.virginiawine.org/ or call 804-344-8200.


Media Contact: 
Karen Batalo

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

VWA Announces Gold Medalists in the 2013 Governor’s Cup®

We've been slow to publish this press release courtesy of the Virginia Wine Marketing Office.  One of the Gold medal winners is Potomac Point Winery and their Richland Reserve Heritage which we featured in a video last year in Pairing Wine and Food with Potomac Point Winery. (See entire video below.)  Congratulations to all the winners.
Richmond, Va. (Feb. 14, 2013) - Twenty Virginia wines have been awarded gold medals in the Virginia Wineries Association’s 2013 Governor’s Cup® Virginia Wine competition, which was held over a four week period.  2013 marks the 31st year of the competition, though it was revamped in 2012 to become one of the most stringent and thorough wine competitions in the country.

The gold medalists from this year’s Governor’s Cup were selected from 377 entries of both red and white wines, from 93 wineries.  The top 12 scoring wines, which comprise the Governor’s Cup Case, showcases the state’s top wines. The top scoring wine of the competition is awarded the Governor’s Cup.

The Governor’s Cup Case boosts the visibility of the state’s highest-scoring wines by inviting judges with national and even international stature. This year’s esteemed panel of judges had the difficult task of ranking each wine based on a unified scoring system. Of the 20 gold medals, 18 were awarded to red wines and one was awarded to a white wine and one to a sparkling wine.

There are several theories as to why the red wines dominated the competition. One theory is because of the timing of the competition, when few whites are available. Red blends dominated the field with ten gold medals, followed by eight Meritages, five Cabernet Francs, two Petit Verdots, and one Cabernet Sauvignon.  The remaining two gold medals were awarded to a Chardonnay and a sparkling wine. See the table below for complete details.

Any wine made from 100% Virginia fruit is eligible for the Governor’s Cup Competition. (Ciders and fruit wines have their own category and medals.) Entries must include an affidavit with a certification of 100% Virginia fruit and vineyard particulars, including grower names and location, as well as information on alcohol, acidity or basicity (pH), and residual sugar.

The rapid growth of Virginia’s vibrant wine industry has made it one of the fastest growing agricultural sectors in the state.  In 1979, there were only six wineries in Virginia. Today, there are over 230 wineries in Virginia, and 380 vineyards that cultivate over 3,000 acres of grapes. The state’s wine industry’s growth is escalating as fast as the state’s advancements in wine quality and reputation.

The winner of the 2013 Virginia Governor’s Cup will be announced in a week at the start of the Virginia Wine Expo on Thursday, 2/21. For more information and a complete list of awards, visit the Virginia Wine Marketing Office’s website at http://www.virginiawine.org or call 1‐804‐344‐8200.

2013 Virginia Governor’s Cup Gold Medal Winners