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Ok, this is a blatant, deceptive, non-truth in labeling practice.   One of my 2008, 2009, and 2010 New Year’s Resolutions was to be more creative.  I missed the mark in the previous years so I’m at it again.

The real title of this post is ‘My List of Virgnia’s Top 20 Wines.

A couple of weeks ago the semi-anonymous duo at Swirl, Sip, Snark posted an article about a ‘green’ Cab Franc from Old House Vineyards that resulted in a robust exchange of comments – one of which was from Tarara winemaker Jordan Harris.  In his comment, Jordan suggested that a group of us share a list of our favorite Virginia wines.

As with most ‘Top anything’ lists, this of my top 20 Virginia wineries of course subjective, and based on my ‘current’ preferences (and memory limitations). I should add a disclaimer to note I have not tasted every wine from Virginia, but have tasted wine from over 100 of our wineries so this list is reasonably representative.

Never one to follow directions all that well, I’m going to countdown my Top 10 first, then provide the other ten without assigning a ranking.

10. – Mountfair 2007 Composition (Monticello AVA) – A delicious blend of 60% Cab Sauv, 35% Merlot, and 5% Petit Verdot.
9. – Keswick 2008 Consensus (Monticello AVA) – Another great example of potential of Virginia red blends.  This wine won the inaugural Virginia-vs.-Colorado taste-off last year.
8. – Veritas 2009 Sauvignon Blanc Reserve (Monticello AVA) – I had this during a media tour of Central Virginia with The First Lady, and this wine stole the day for me!  In terms of freshness and purity of fruit, one of the very best examples of Virginia Sauvignon Blanc (only rivaled by Glen Manor Sauvignon Blanc).
7. – Kluge 2007 SP Blanc de Blanc (corner of bankruptcy and bad decisions blvd.) – One of my all time favorite sparkling wines. Sadly, with Kluge’s demise, we won’t have any future vintages to enjoy.
6. – Chester Gap 2009 Viognier Reserve (Fauquier County) – One of the very few oaked Viogniers that I like.  This is a great example of Virginia Viognier from one of the state’s most underrated gems.  This could be the only winery I’ve visited that I liked every wine on the tasting list.
5. – Breaux 2002 Merlot (Loudoun County) – Perhaps Virginia’s best example of Merlot.
4. – Linden 2005 (and 2006) Petit Verdot (Fauquier County) – Jim knows Virginia. Jim knows grape growing and agriculture. Jim knows Petit Verdot. Jim does great Virginia Petit Verdot – perhaps the best single varietal example in the state (although with all of the excellent contenders now available, this is changing).
3. – Linden 2005 (et. al.) Hardscrabble (Fauquier County)
2. – Glen Manor 2007 Hodder Hill (Shenandoah Valley AVA, barely)  One of the best red blends in Virginia.  Jeff White has mad winemaking skills!

In the absence of the time and technical skills to embed a drum roll sound clip here, below is my #1 most favorite Virginia wine:

1. – 1988 Montdomaine Heritage (Monticello AVA) – Without a doubt the best Virginia wine I’ve ever had.  Absolutely excellent!  Aside from the liveliness of this 23 year old, I appreciated the alcohol level of just 12.5%.  Hat tip to Jim Raper for sharing this beauty with us.

Identifying my top 10 Virginia wines were easy, but ranking wines 11 through 20 proved more difficult because I wasn’t able to clearly justify differences in ranking that far down my preference scale.  I did initially rank the wines below, but wasn’t really sure why wine #13 was better than wine #14, or wine #18 was any better than wine #20.  Wines 11 through 20 represent wines that I really like – a couple perhaps a little more than others – but overall I like them fairly the same. (this is basically a copout too)

In no particular order (11 thru 20)…
North Gate 2008 Petit Verdot (Loudoun County)
Gadino Cellars 2009 Viognier (Rappahannock County)
Jefferson Vineyards 2009 Viognier (Monticello AVA)
DuCard 2009 Petit Verdot (Madison County area)
Hume 2008 Detour
Chatham Vineyards 2009 Steel Fermented Chardonnay (Eastern Shore AVA)
Boxwood 2009 Rosé (Loudoun County)
Linden Vineyards 2007 Hardscrabble Chardonnay (Fauquier County)
Chrysalis Vineyards 2009 Albarino (Loudoun County) – Wish we had more of this in Virginia.
Breaux Vineyards 2007 Viognier (Loudoun County)

I look forward to reading everyone else’s Virginia wine rankings!


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