Dave McIntyre Awarded 2014 Monteith Trophy

Jul 25

Dave McIntyre, Washington Post wine columnist and co-founder of DrinkLocalWine (disclosure: I am also a Board member and Dave wrote the foreword to my book Beyond Jefferson’s Vines) was awarded the 2014 Monteith Trophy this week by the Atlantic Seaboard Wine Association. The award is presented “to individuals or organizations that have performed exceptional contributions to the development and sustainability of the American wine industry…”

Gordon Murchie, president emeritus of the ASWA, presented McIntyre with the trophy, citing his frequent writings supporting local and regional wines as well as co-founding the non-profit advocacy organization Drink Local Wine.

View this content on Dave McIntyre's website

ASWA President Carl Brandhorst (left) and President Emeritus Gordon Murchie (right) present the Monteith Trophy to Dave McIntyre – photo by Michael Birchenall

Three Original Wines and a Twitter Tasting Hosted by Le Metro Wine Underground

Jul 25

I was invited by fellow Virginia wine blogger Dezel Quillen (myvinespot.com) to join a twitter tasting of carefully selected wines from around the country but not from the West Coast. As reported by Washington Post wine columnist and this year’s recipient of the Monteith Wine Trophy Dave McIntyre, the tasting theme was titled “From Sea to Shining Sea” and was hosted and wines selected by Aaron Epstein, a wine writer based in San Diego who partnered with Tina Morey, a Certified Sommelier of Protocol Wine Studio. Together they created a subscription service for direct-order wine called Le Metro Wine Underground that ships six carefully selected wines monthly.  

The theme for July These tastings took place Tuesday evenings in July. I was impressed when I read the list, since I was familiar with every winery featured except for La Garagista in Vermont. I was also impressed that some of these wineries make non-vinifera (European) wines but still have a strong following due to high quality and consistency.

I brought the two rose/light red wine selections to a dinner with wine friends this last Tuesday but due to technical difficulties, couldn’t log onto Twitter. However, I made careful notes and there was no wine left over.

Last week was the first wine of the month, which was a “petillant naturel”, or sparkling wine whose fermentation finished in the bottle but was not champagne method. This was made by La Garagista Farm and Winery in Vermont.

This was most definitely one of the most original and bold wines I’ve ever had, but as with pornography, original and bold on paper is one thing but how you experience it depends on which end of the…but I digress.

The grape is brianna, a Swenson hybrid that is cold-hardy and also known for a strong grapey foxiness much like the white version of concord (similar to white grape juice from the niagara grape). due to native American grapes in its genes. While half of the grapes were destemmed and immediately pressed, while the other half were left to sit on the skins for 24 hours. With early-picked chardonnay and pinot noir, I could understand this, but with a very assertively grapey variety like brianna, this made a wine with a bouquet and taste the opposite of subtle and delicate. If I were making sparkling wine from brianna, I would process it to extract as few skin phenols as possible.

The wine was also fermented with native yeast, and the grapes were farmed by “organic conversion to biodynamic”. The native yeast character mixed with the assertively grapey varietal character to create a wine of much complexity. A chef friend commented that it tasted more like a Belgian wheat beer with a fruit flavoring than a standard sparkling wine, and he had a good point.

“Boldly original” leaves it up to you to decide it you’d like to try it yourself based on the above description. I think this wine (like many sparklers) will be best after 3 years of age when the yeast and fruit can integrate and mellow.

People who follow the Texas wine scene frequently acknowledge Kim McPherson as the most talented winemaker who knows how to blend Mediterrenean varieties into world-class wines in the Texas climate.

His McPherson “Les Copains” dry rose from Rhone varieties is one of the best dry roses I’ve ever had. The blend is 55% cinsault, 30% mourvedre and 15% viognier, Texas-grown and produced.

The color is medium-dark pink, the label is carefully Old World in style, and the wine is brilliant, with aromas and flavors of sour cherry, fine acidity and lingering fresh finish. The wine is full-flavored and dry but elegant and due to the high acid shows best with food.

Last in the first two weeks was Wollersheim Winery’s “Domaine du Sac” Lake Wisconsin AVA estate bottled 2013 blend of foch and leon millot. The vineyard & winery were founded by Agoston Haraszthy of Buena Vista fame in Sonoma, California but before he packed it in to follow the Gold Rush, he had established Wollersheim Vineyards on its present site above the Wisconsin River in a southwest-facing location.

Current proprietor Philippe Coquard (son-in-law of late owner Bob Wollersheim) has an estate mostly planted to the old French hybrid marechal foch but has added leon millot, St. Pippin and also buys lots of New York seyval blanc.

He makes a number of labels of wine based on foch, and this Domaine du Sac is made from the oldest vines from the best part of the vineyard, blended with the aromatic leon millot. The wine is aged in French and American oak.

The color is medium-deep ruby, and the aromatics are complex and changed every minute. At first there were ripe floral and fragrant cherry notes, and then the oak aromas emerged with vanilla and smoky coconut. The wine is fruity but dry with minimal wine tannins, but the oak adds some tannins and lots of smoky complexity.

Again, this wine is way too young at this point, typical for any top-of-the-line estate red and should age at least until fall 2015, but is very stylish and well-made for an old red hybrid blend.

I’m looking forward to trying a cabernet franc from Creekside Cellars in Colorado and hopefully a Finger Lakes riesling, always welcome here.  some other fun and original wines later this month. For more information on Le Metro Wine, visit lemetrowine.com.

Wine Writers, Bloggers Invited to TasteCamp 2014 in Hudson River Valley

Jul 24

July 1, 2014 (Hudson River Valley, New York) – Drink Local Wine, the organization whose goal is to bring greater attention to regional wines, announces a partnership withTasteCamp, an annual event that immerses writers and bloggers in a new-to-them wine region. TasteCamp 2014 will take place in the Hudson River Valley October 10-12, 2014 and be the kickoff event for Drink Local Wine Week 2014.

“DLW and TasteCamp have had very similar missions from the very beginning,” said Michael Wangbickler, President of the Board of Directors for Drink Local Wine. “With the decision not to hold a Drink Local Wine Conference this year, it made sense for us to partner with TasteCamp for this year’s event. It provides us with the opportunity to continue our focus of highlighting local wine and supporting a great event.”

Founded in 2009 by Lenn Thompson, executive editor of New York Cork Report,TasteCamp invites influential drinks writers and bloggers on a weekend-long immersive experience in a specific wine region. The annual event has generated significant media attention for the areas in which it has taken place, offering emerging wine regions an opportunity to present their wines to a passionate outside audience, and an opportunity to shine a different light on local wine production and create new conversations with local winemakers. After the inaugural year in Long Island wine country, TasteCamp has taken place in the Finger Lakes, Niagara (both Canadian and New York sides), Virginia, and Quebec.

“I’m quite thrilled to have DLW involved in TasteCamp this year,” said Lenn Thompson. “While the objective of TasteCamp has been more focused than that of Drink Local Wine, the ultimate goals have been the same: to bring greater attention to wines outside of the biggest and most recognized regions. This will help DLW extend its reach and allowTasteCamp to gain a wider audience.”

TasteCamp 2014 will take place in the Hudson River Valley of New York state, and will include winery and distillery tours, local wine and food pairing, and optional dairy tour and cheese tasting. Hudson Valley Wine Country is the title sponsor for the event.

“The winemakers, distillers and cidermakers of the region are thrilled that the first combinedTaste Camp/DLW destination is the Hudson Valley,” said Carlo DeVito, co-owner of Hudson-Chatham Winery and president of the Hudson Valley Wine Country. “As the birthplace of American wine, where we have the oldest continuously functioning winery and the oldest continuously producing vineyard in America, it is an affirmation of all the hard work this region has done to create a quality farm beverage culture in the backyard of New York City.”

TasteCamp 2014 will be the kickoff to the 2014 Drink Local Wine Week (formally known as Regional Wine Week). Drink Local Wine Week is an annual event that recruits and encourages bloggers and wine columnists to write something about their local wines. It is the original activity on which Drink Local Wine was founded, and continues to this day to increase attention for local wines among both the wine trade and consumers.

TasteCamp is an event for the trade and media. Space is limited, but those interested in attending TasteCamp 2014 may visit www.tastecamp.com or www.drinklocalwine.com to register or find out more information.

Parties interested in sponsorship opportunities should contact Carlo DeVito atcddevito2@aol.com.

Disclaimer: Lenn Thompson is also a member of the Drink Local Wine board of directors.

Drink Local Wine is an organization founded on the principal that there are great wines to be found everywhere, not just in the best known regions. A non-profit organization, the DLW mission is to promote the wines of these lesser known regions throughout the United States and Canada.  The brainchild of Dave McIntyre of the Washington Post and Jeff Siegel, who writes the Wine Curmudgeon blog, the organization holds events highlighting local wine and hosts Drink Local Wine Week, when bloggers and writers from across the continent write special pieces about their favorite local wines.

Adventure Farm Vineyard Debuts with Stylish Wines

Jul 22

Adventure Farm on Earlysville Road (you can see their vineyard from CHO) recently opened its winery tasting room, but is actually a multi-faceted working farm dating to 1950 that raises cattle and sells some of it from the tasting room.

The cozy tasting room, sitting at the edge of a pond and with a shady outdoor wine garden, seems a Shangri-La being almost walking distance to the CHO runway, and feels a world away from Forest Lakes Shopping Center and Rt. 29.

The branding of Adventure Farm’s 60 year-old history is featured on its wine labels, which show color photos from when the farm began. Whites include a chardonnay and a viognier, with a very juicy yet dry and quaffable summertime red, called “Gigi’s blend” after the young woman (now 89) who came to the farm with her new husband in 1950, featuring a photo of this charming lass smiling and sitting on a rail fence.

Adventure Farm’s wines are made by industry veteran Michael Shaps, and three of his signature red wines are for sale there. My favorite is the 2010 cabernet sauvignon, which is actually exclusively sourced from Adventure Farm’s own vineyard, designated as the single vineyard on the label. The wine was rich but surprisingly smooth and round with soft tannins and juicy black currant fruit, though with lots of vanilla and coconut on the nose.


Wines of the Week 7/20/14

Adventure Farm Gigi’s Red Blend 2012: A wonderfully juicy, dry and drinkable 50/50 blend of chambourcin and cabernet franc. The nose is seductively juicy with bramblefruit, and just enough tannin from the cabernet franc for balance and structure. The perfect red for summertime slightly chilled, full of flavor and very versatile. www.adventurefarm.net

Cooper Vineyards Chardonel 2013: This wine proves there’s no reason for “grape racism.” This hardy, prolific hybrid from Cornell University is 50% chardonnay, the rest from French hybrids, but on the palate there’s no way you can tell it’s not chardonnay. This wine has a delicate citrus nose with the pleasing fat mid-palate of chardonnay, ending with fresh pleasant pinot blanc-like lemon cream. A most excellent summer white especially for seafood, kind of like a ramped-up pinot grigio crossed with steel chardonnay. www.coopervineyards.com

Lovingston Winery Seyval Blanc 2013: This is another wine that proves there’s no reason for “grape racism.” South African winemaker Riaan Rossouw has been excelling with this old French white hybrid for years; this is probably his best yet. If you like the dry tang of Marlborough sauvignon blanc but don’t like the “cat pee”, this is the wine for you. On the nose, loads of ripe, fresh pink grapefruit set your palate salivating. On the palate, the pink grapefruit is followed by ripe passion fruit, and lots of zesty citrus acidity. Probably the best all-around summertime dry white wine from Virginia. www.lovingstonwinery.com

Virginia Grappa from Montdomaine Now in ABC Stores

Jul 16

After a long, uphill struggle, the first commercial, craft distilled, Virginia Grappa now appears on ABC store shelves. Montdomaine Grappa is pot-distilled from single vineyard, old-vine Chardonnay at The Montdomaine Farm Distillery in southern Albemarle County.

Montdomaine proprietor and licensed distiller Michael Bowles explains the grappa is best served well chilled, and, in a proper grappa glass (see photo). “We call it the “GHOST of the GRAPE”, says Bowles.


A taste of this grappa revealed delicate aromas of chamomile, pear and apple. The spirit was quite smooth, with pear and apple flavors and a fresh finish.

Virginia ABC code for this product is 53o94. A list ofABC stores offering Montdomaine Virginia Grappa: Alexandria: 119 and 358; Ashburn: 73; Aquia: 35; Charlottesville: 185
and 202; Falls Church: 76; Fredricksburg: 121; Mclean: 267; Richmond: 36o; Vienna: 231 and 219.