February and March are usually quiet time in a winery. The wine from the previous year's harvest is aging and winemakers existence is primarily about caring and feeding last year's vintage. That makes this time of the year the perfect time for award ceremonies. The two big ones in Virginia are the Governor's Cup and the Virginia Vineyards Association Grower of the Year.
The first award, The Virginia Vineyards Association Grower of the Year went to Len Thompson of Amherst Vineyards. Len has been growing vines in Virginia since 1989 and has won many accolades for the wines produced from his grapes. From the announcement:
"Len Thompson is one of the unheralded heroes behind the success of the Virginia Vineyards Association. For as long as I can remember he has donated freely of his time to support the association and the wine industry. He helps other growers and aspiring growers while producing grapes that have been utilized in wines that have won awards in international competitions," said J. Rock Stephens, chairman, Virginia Wine Board.
An independent grower, Thompson has been an extremely active member of the VVA for over a decade. He has served in many capacities at the VVA, including two terms as vice president, two terms as treasurer, one term as secretary and a term as communications chair. Retiredfrom the VVA board, Thompson, who is also an employee of Rockbridge Vineyards,continues to serve the wine industry as aboard member of the Virginia WineriesAssociation - he is currently serving as vice president.
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.
Parker has devoted extensive personal time as an active proponent of the growth and vitality of the Virginia wine industry. He has addressed legislative issues, such as direct shipping; and provided leadership on many levels, serving as a past president and treasurer of the Virginia Wineries Association, a member of the Virginia Winegrowers Advisory Board, and founding member of the Loudoun Wineries Association. He has served Virginia’s interest at the national level as a member of the Executive Committee and Treasurer of Wine America.
I am a big fan of the innovative marketing campaigns that Planet Bordeaux has put together, but their mot recent one has been my favorite, and it is coming to a close today.
The campaign is called "My Bordeaux Wine is..." and it consists of videos submitted by winemakers in Bordeaux talking about what makes their wine special. More than 20 videos have been submitted and they have garnered thousands of votes.
You can view and vote for the videos on the Planet Bordeaux Facebook Page. But, remember, voting ends today, so vote quickly!
Some quick thoughts on the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux tasting in Washington DC last night:
I know this is a strange question to ask when it is 18 degrees Fahrenheit, but I think rosé wine in Virginia is under-appreciated. Virginia winemakers, for the most part, have done a great job following in the footsteps of their brethren in Provence and Bordeaux by producing rosés that are fruity and acidity without being syrupy or sugary.
Achieving that delicate balance between acidity and structure while making a refreshing wine that does not remind people of a wine cooler is a challenge. But, it is a challenge that dozen of Virginia winemakers have managed to meet, in a relatively short period of time.
2012 was a hot dry year in Virginia, which should produce beautiful rosés. I think to coincide with the release of the 2012 rosés, which usually happens sometime in May, we should have a #varosé day. A day where Virginia Wine fans can open new rosé from their favorite winery and tell the world how great it is?
What do you all think, and does anyone have a date in mind?
We've written about this before, but it is worth repeating because the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux is coming to DC on Thursday!
Tickets must be purchased in advance from the Pearson's Wine & Spirits website. The reviews of the 2010 vintage from the tastings in Texas, San Francisco, and Los Angeles have been overwhelmingly positive - confirming what I have known about the 2010 vintage all along.
If you love Bordeaux, you must attend this event!
I got really excited after reading about this wine truck from th good people at SIMI Winery. I love the idea of starting a wine food truck. Essentially, I want a wine bar on wheels, serving different wines every day along with cheese and meat plates.
So, I reached out to the Virginia ABC to ask how that could be done. This is the answer I received:
I have been asked to respond to your inquiry about a “Wine Bar Food Truck.” Unfortunately no license would be issued for such a venture. Licenses are issued for the sale, service and consumption of alcoholic beverages at retail locations with a fixed address.
Judging from my Facebook feed a lot of you are starting to prep for the Virginia Wine Country Half Marathon. Well, what better way to get started then the Vintage Crystal 1k Wine Walk sponsored by the great people at the Washington Wine Academy.
This is an indoor walk through the Crystal City Shops with 20 stops to try different wines selected by the Washington Wine Academy. The walk is this Saturday and Sunday (January 12th and 13th) from 1:00 to 7:00 and it starts in the Crystal City Shops at 2200 Crystal Drive and finishes up on the 12th floor of 251 18th Street in Arlington.
Admission is $43.50, which includes 20 Tasting Tickets and a T-Shirt. Tickets are available for purchase at the Washington Wine Academy (Saturday is nearly sold out).
Image from the Washington Wine Academy Facebook Page, used with permission.
If you live in the DC area, and need more than wine to survive, the TruckToMe app is a must have. Available for the iPhone (iOS 6.1 required), this app is beautiful in its simplicity.
TruckToMe tracks the Twitter accounts of more than 100 food trucks in the DC area and maps their location throughout the day - including when they shutdown for the day.
So, at any given time you can tell which food trucks are open for business and how close to you. A beautiful, simple, app.
One of the best wine bar's in the DC area, The Screwtop Wine Bar, launched a Bordeaux flight today and one of the wines featured is Jean-Luc Thunevin's Bad Boy!
Labeled by Robert Parker as the best wine Thunevin has ever produced it is one my favorite affordable right bank wines from the 2009 vintage.
If you get a chance, get over to Screwtop and check it out.
Editor's Note: The Wine App of the Week feature has been on hiatus for a while, but there are now more than 700 wine apps on the iTunes App Store and more than 400 wine-related apps on the Android store. Hopefully, we can help point out the good apps, and steer you away from the bad
WinePoynt uses artificial intelligence and localization features to help it's users select the best wine for them. The app itself is excellent and has received kudos from all over the web. However, starting in January it will get even better by incorporating social media features.
From their press release:
“Before this version, if a user wanted to see what their friends shared about a wine in WinePoynt, they would have to go to their Facebook page and now they never have to leave the application,” Chris Taylor, president of WinePoynt, said. “With this latest release, WinePoynt users can also see what others are saying about the wines they drink, not just the people they already know.”
Users can now thumb through widgets to explore what others rate and add to their lists. WinePoynt’s personalized wine experience extends the functionality into a community context. Now, if a user is looking at a wine that someone else rated 4 stars and wrote a note about, they can also see how well WinePoynt thinks they would enjoy the same wine. All of this user submitted information is updated in real time, allowing anyone who is engaged in the social area to see their wine ratings, and what others are saying about those particular wines.
WinePoynt rolls several apps into a single one. It has a built in wine locator, a wine selector and integration with your social media platforms. I allows you to find a wine at a local store or restaurant, see how other users have rated the wine, rate the wine yourself, and share that wine with your friends.
The rating and reviewing sections of the app are very intuitive and easy to use. The app experience is enjoyable and it is easy to share your reviews.
The location features of the app are somewhat limited in this area. There are national agreements in place with Target, Costco, Fridays, Carrabba's, Bonefish and more than three dozen other shops and restaurant chains. But, there are no local restaurants represented. That still leaves you with hundreds of choices on Virginia.
Overall, this is a great app, and if you are a restaurant in the Northern Virginia area I recommend reaching out to WinePoynt to find out how to get your wine list added to their app.
For more information the good people at WinePoynt have released a video showing how to use their app.
CellarBlog favorite, and owner of Domaine de Chevalier, Olivier Bernard has been tapped to replace Sylvia Cazes as President of the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux (UGCB).
Olivier is a great choice. Not only will he continue the work that Sylvie Cazes started, but I think he will also increase the social media presence of the UGCB - an area where they have been lacking. Domaine de Chevalier is very active on Twitter and does a good job of interacting with their fans.
The press release sent out by the UGCB:
Bordeaux, December 18, 2012 – The board of the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux met on the 18th of December and thanked Sylvie Cazes warmly for her accomplishments during her four years as President of the organization.
Sylvie Cazes increased the number of tastings abroad with members of the UGCB and innovated by introducing such new markets as Brazil and India. She also focused her attention directly on consumers. Thanks to her impetus, the Week-end des Grands Crus now attracts some 1,800 wine enthusiasts from around the world to Bordeaux, and the number of events organized abroad in conjunction with wine importers and distributors has increased significantly. Today the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux offers their 134 members the opportunity to take part in more than 80 international events a year, attended by some 35,000 trade professionals and journalists as well as 11,000 consumers.
The members of the board unanimously elected Olivier Bernard to succeed Sylvie Cazes as president. This well-known figure from the Pessac-Léognan appellation, where he manages the family estate, Domaine de Chevalier, is also the Managing Director of the family firm Financière Bernard (Lucien Bernard, Millesima, Sobovi, Wine&Co, etc.). Said M. Bernard, "At a time when the success of the Bordeaux great growths calls for a strong involvement from their owners, I am honored and highly motivated to take on this new responsibility and devote a great deal of energy to it. I intend to work closely with the Union's employees on behalf of all our members. Our grands crus must work more closely with the Bordeaux négociants and envisage a stronger commitment from the region's top estates during UGCB missions."
The election of the UGC's new president illustrates the priority of member winegrowers to find the right balance between new constraints brought about by increased media interest in the grands crus, the wine trade, consumers, and respect for the cultural heritage and traditions of the great wines of Bordeaux.
“On a ramassé au début des choses intéressantes, puis il y a eu ensuite beaucoup de pluie qui a fait déraper le millésime. Cela manquait d’ampleur, il n’y a jamais eu la bonne concentration”, a expliqué Pierre Lurton. Avant d’ajouter : “Une marque comme Yquem doit savoir ne pas faire un millésime. [...] Pour l’image d’un des plus grands vins blancs du monde, pour maintenir Yquem dans l’histoire, il était raisonnable de ne pas en faire” en 2012 – comme en 1952, en 1972 et en 1992, d’ailleurs… y aurait-il une malédiction des 20 ans?
2012 will be remembered as a complicated year which often placed considerable strain on the nerves of growers in the region. Spring started warm and dry, and then ended with rain... Two months of summer without a drop of rain, botrytis that had trouble getting started, and very localized storms... Thesomewhat sluggish noble rot meant that the harvests required extreme patience. In many cases they did not start until October, and were interrupted by spells of rain. Luckily, the last days of the harvests saw an unexpected return of the sun.
By the end of the autumn, the wine’s characteristics are starting to emerge... The sweet wines of 2012 have a striking aromatic purity. The wines do not rely on power, impressing instead with finesse, delicacy, smoothness and a freshness that augurs well for the wines’ long-term balance, with a style that ismore ethereal than in recent years. And which should delight wine lovers…
This is incredible news! The Union des Grand Crus de Bordeaux (UGCB) is returning to the DC area this January!
It has been over a decade since the Union des Grand Crus de Bordeaux (UGC) has been in Washington DC. We are happy to announce that we will be hosting this one of a kind Grand Bordeaux Tasting.
From Bordeaux connoisseurs to wine lovers we have a very exclusive and exciting evening with over 100 of the top Grand Crus Chateaux of Bordeaux. This will be a rare opportunity to talk to the winemakers and owners of the top Grand Crus Chateaux, while being one of the first to taste the highly acclaimed 2010 vintage. The event date is Thursday, January 24, 2013 from 5-8pm and it will be held at the Willard Intercontinental Grand Ballroom
Like wine, Christmas is celebrated the world over. So, from all of us at CellarBlog we wish you a Joyeux Noel, Nollaig Shona Dhuit, Buone Feste Natalizie, Froehliche Weihnachten, Feliz Navidad, Feliz Natal, Boas Festas e Feliz Ano Novo, Gun Tso Sun Tan'Gung Haw Sun, Kung His Hsin Nien bing Chu Shen Tan, Glædelig Jul, Shub Naya Baras, and Merry Christmas!