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4th August
written by The Chronicler

The annual Wine Bloggers’ Conference was held in Charlottesville, Virginia this year where Virginia Wine rolled out the red carpet to showcase the wine of Virginia in the hopes of elevating the perception and status of Virginia’s wine and wine tourism.  Although the post conference reviews of Virginia wine by my fellow wine bloggers have been varied, my verdict is that Virginia offers some fantastic Viognier, a few well done wines of other varietals, and a lovely getaway for those on the East Coast.

On Day 2 of the conference, we piled into buses, not knowing to which two or three vineyards each one was bound.  Our bus took us to White Hall and King Family Vineyards both in the Monticello AVA (American Viticultural Area).  Once we arrived at White Hall Vineyards, we were lead to the tasting room and offered several white and red wines.  The two standouts were the 2010 Viognier and the 2009 Touriga.  White Hall’s Viognier is a very good representation of VA Viognier: floral aromas, crisp with notes of peach, apricot, honeysuckle, and citrus.  Touriga is a varietal most often grown in Portugal, but this VA Touriga caught my attention.  It is a nice new world counterpart to the Tourigas of Portugal, as it is more fruit forward than an earthier, rustic Portugese Touriga.

After spending an hour or two (I had no sense of time the entire weekend) at White Hall, we headed to King Family Vineyards.  On our way to there, we were told the story behind the vineyard by owner, David King.  King, like me, is a recovering attorney who, unlike me,  made a ton of money in the savings and loan business.  He and his family wanted to retreat to the country where they could raise horses, so they bought a bunch of land in Crozet, VA and moved there from Texas.  They lived a quiet life until one day when a viticutural student at UVA came knocking on their door, offering to buy some of their land for a vineyard.  King refused the offer, but the plan sounded so good that he set out to start his own vineyard, now known as King Family Vineyards.

As we ate lunch inside, huge picture windows displayed the picturesque King Family Vineyard with rolling acres of vines.  We tasted King Family wines—including their fantastic 2010 Viognier—and chatted with their fabulous Frenchman winemaker, Matthieu Finot, over lunch.

After lunch, we retreated to the cellar for a vertical tasting of King Family Meritage—future release, 2009, 2007, and 2001 vintages.  Meritage is a Merlot dominated Bordeaux style blend.  Matthieu created a blend that balances between the old world style of Bordeaux and the super fruit new world style of Napa.  As the wine ages, the tannins soften and the fruit becomes more dominant.  I enjoyed the 2007 vintage best.  Unfortunately, the 2001 (made before Mattheiu became winemaker) was past its prime.  I think the Meritage would really be a noteworthy wine, if it aged in the barrel longer, but with a fair retail price of $26.95, I would drink it again.

All in all, there is some good wine to be had in Virginia, and the beautiful landscape of the vineyards offers a nice retreat to those traveling from the DC area or other reasonable distances on the East Coast.  If Virginia wineries continue to improve upon the quality of their wine, then the wine will speak for itself to elevate the perception and reputation of Virginia wine.

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