The King Family Vineyards 2007 Meritage has won the coveted 2010 Virginia Governor’s Cup award for red wine. Selected from more than 200 entries representing all of the appellations in the Commonwealth, King Family Vineyards 2007 Meritage is a blend of 56% Merlot, 20% Petit Verdot, 16% Cabernet Franc, and 8% Malbec.
The Governor’s Cup (red wine division) took place in January. Gold medal winning wines were eligible to compete for the Cup; judges knew the vintages and the varietal class or blend, but the identity of the wines was unknown. This writer was a judge in the competition, and during the final Cup round, identified one of the four meritage (red Bordeaux blend) wines as the standout of the gold medals; it was in fact this wine that other judges also agreed was the best of the lot, the King Family ‘07 meritage. The Virginia white wines will be judged later this year and announced in conjunction with October Virginia Wine Month.
“When I make wine I put my heart and soul into making wine and sometimes in competitions you don’t get the result you expect. So it is really nice to get this kind of recognition,” said winemaker Matthieu Finot. “It really is so flattering because there were other really good wines that entered the competition. What is important also is to stay humble and work hard because every vintage presents a new challenge. Even though I feel great receiving this award, I am always pushing and working hard to make the best wine I can every year.”
“We could not have done this without our winemaker, Matthieu Finot and our entire staff at King Family Vineyards. It is an honor and a privilege to receive this award, and it is a testament to the dedication, hard work and talent of our entire team, ” said Ellen King, owner, King Family Vineyards.
“It is truly an honor to be recognized by your peers. We are always trying to make the best wines we can, and we’re glad to know people are enjoying them,” said David King, owner, King Family Vineyards. It was a big night for King Family Vineyards; David King was also given the Virginia Wine Industry Person of the Year award by the Virginia Wine Board. A big part of his earning this award was his volunteer work on the Virginia Wine Board helping to create the new legal state distribution entity to allow Virginia wineries to self-distribute. But with his characteristic humility, King remarked “This award isn’t about me, it’s about all of you as an industry.”
A family-owned and operated boutique winery located in Crozet, the King Family Vineyards specializes in small productions of ultra-premium wine that showcase the remarkable qualities of nearly 100% estate grown fruit. Founded in 1998, the winery’s first vintage was only 500 cases. Today, the winery produces approximately 5,000 cases of wine per year.
Tasting the King Family 2007 Meritage
Like most of the top award-winning Virginia meritage wines, the King Family ‘07 meritage has about 60% merlot as the dominant varietal. Cabernet franc is also a strong component, which is typical. Where this wine differs from the varietal ratios prior to 2005, is that petit verdot component is higher than the cabernet franc (20% to 16%). Also, 8% malbec is included. Malbec has a tight cluster and rots easily in this humid climate; only in warm, dry vintages like ‘07 can a reliable crop be produced, and it’s inclusion in this wine helps differentiate it from other fine meritage wines that nevertheless fell short of this.
The bouquet is subtle but complex, with elements of cherry, cedar, spice, and smoke. On the palate, the wine is elegant with well-integrated flavor elements but fine, smooth, long-lasting tannins, and exotic spice elements likely brought in by the malbec and petit verdot. Oak and fruit flavors are well-balanced. While many ‘07 wines are a bit low in acid, juicy and forward, this wine drinks like a fine classified growth from Bordeaux’s Left Bank. You might dispute this due to the 58% merlot base, but the tannic punch of the petit verdot and the exotic sandlewood spice of the malbec recall something like Chateau Pichon Comtesse de Lalande, a Grand Cru Classe from Pauillac (Pichon uses about 5% petit verdot, one of the highest ratios of the great chateaux, which is said to add spice and perfume). For fans of classic Bordeaux elegance, this is a great New World version with a Virginia twist in the grape ratios, that drinks like a classified growth but at a fraction of the price. For fans of Virginia wine, this is a great benchmark that unlike many of the ‘07 reds, will age gracefully for years.
For a complete list of winners and further information about events, tours and tastings, please visit the Virginia Wine Marketing Office’s website at www.virginiawine.org or call 1‐804‐344‐8200. View an earlier post on this blog for complete medal results in the red division of the 2010 Virginia Governor’s Cup