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The splendid wines of Virginia
By Bernard Lamb – London
(Originally appeared in Wine, Food & Friends, Issue #96, Winter 2010)
On the 10th June, the London Branch met at The Naval Club to taste 12 wines from Virginia, presented by Chris Parker. He is the founder and managing director of New Horizon Wines, specialising in Virginia wines. He was an excellent speaker and the wines were all of very high quality.
In 1607, Jamestown’s settlers had a rule that each household had to cultivate ten grape vines. Thomas Jefferson at Monticello tried to grow European varieties, but the real advances have been in the last 30 years. Today 160 wineries have about 3,000 acres between them, producing about 450,000 cases a year. They get excellent advice from the 25-year-old Enology Department of Virginia Tech, one of the top American agricultural colleges.
The next wine was the first pure petit verdot which most of us had tasted: Veritas Winery Petit Verdot 2008. It was delightful, deep black-purple, fully ripe, with soft tannins ($29). The last three wines were Bordeaux-type blends: Boxwood Winery Boxwood 2007(cabernet sauvignon, merlot, petit verdot; $27); Barboursville Vineyards Octagon 2005 (merlot, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc; $40) and Williamsburg Winery Adagio 2007 (40 percent merlot, 40 percent petit verdot, 20 percent cabernet franc; $65). The first two were excellent in all respects already, dark black-purple, very fruity and complex, with good ripe tannins, while the last had great potential but needed longer to mature.