Moss Vineyards: Newest on the “Appellation” Trail

Jun 07

The latest addition to the “Appellation Trail” in northwest Albemarle County is Moss Vineyard on Rt. 810 close to Nortonsville, within shouting distance of Greene County.

Proprietor Barry Moss is (still) a full-time architect, and the elegantly appointed winery and tasting room reflect these talents. A smooth but not polished white stone tasting bar has chairs instead of stools, and a long table looks out onto a stunning view of the vineyard beyond and the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance.

Moss grows viognier and red Bordeaux varieties (the two cabernets, merlot and petit verdot) and buys only barbera which he uses in his rose. The six year old vines have been producing since the great 2010 vintage.

Soils are thin with decomposed granite, excellent for both viognier and cabernet sauvignon, and the wines show this. The viognier is still in bottle shock but has a tautness and rich texture that promises a full-bodied, rich (but not flabby) wine when it fleshes out. The cabernet sauvignon shows real site-specific character, with racy red fruits (almost a maraschino cherry quality) and fine smooth tannins.

Barry says he is planting more cabernet sauvignon because what he has already is showing so well in his wines. Moral of the story: the French could have told us when lots of people put in lots of cabernet sauvignon in the 1980s and 90s, that it wouldn’t work where it was mostly planted, on heavy clay soils of the Piedmont. But on thin granitic soils, cabernet excels, and Moss Vineyards is proof.

Tasting Notes

Moss Viognier 2012: Nose: subtle, hard to determine (bottle shock), but hints of yeast and pear. Palate: tightly wound, focused peach/pear fruit, and nice depth on the palate but needs a few more months to flesh out.

Moss Rose 2012: a 33% blend each of merlot, cabernet franc and barbera. Pale in color, very classic as in a Provencal dry rose; elegant and dry, with a subtle fruitiness. Will probably develop more flavors over the next few months.

Moss Vino Rosso 2010/11: a 50/50 blend of excellent and mediocre vintages actually makes a well-balanced and stylish wine. Nose: black fruits and clean flinty earthiness, with dried cherries. On the palate, dried cherry flavors dominate, substantial texture and surprisingly elegant for a blend of 2 very different vintages. Is drinking well now.

Moss Vino Rosso 2012: 75% cabernet sauvignon with 24% cabernet franc and a small amount each of petit verdot and merlot, this wine shows the potential of cabernet from this site. Nose: bright red cherries and currants, with fennel; complex and fascinating. Palate: smooth and sexy, reminiscent of a Margaux. Creamy texture, well-integrated, oak in the background.Flavors are closed, the wine will be better next fall/winter but worth waiting for. My favorite of the tasting.

Moss Cabernet Franc 2012: This wine is reduced and needs a lot of decanting and air to bring it around. This wine also shows that the other cabernet is the better grape for this site.

Moss Architectura Reserva 2012: A similar blend to the basic 2012 Rosso, this wine is cabernet sauvignon-based with six months of aging in French oak, and made from a cellar selection of the best lots. Nose: young and tight but with some obvious Brettanomyces (barnyard), and lots of bright red cherry. On the palate, cherry/red currant fruits are up front, finishing with the leather of brett a bit heavy. A complex wine for aging, esp. for those who prefer the taste recommendations of Robert Parker.

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