Frank Britt, Lynchburg businessman and the original publisher of the Virginia Wine Lover, passed away at the age of 67 on May 23rd at Duke University Hospital in his sleep after undergoing surgery for knee replacements. Described by WSET Channel 13 of Lynchburg as a “well-known pillar of the community”, Britt was dapper, dashing and an enthusiastic supporter and promoter of Virginia wine.
Originally from Tarboro NC, Frank was a marketing professional. He became a member of the Alliance Francaise through studies at the Sorbonne in Paris, then attended Virginia Commonwealth University with a major in marketing and advertising, graduating in 1964. In 1981 he started Working at Britt Marketing & Public Relations, In 2005, he began publishing the Virginia Wine Lover, a free subscription newsletter which he later sold.
According to friend Neil Temple of Fairfax Station, “Frank was a great ambassador for Virginia wine. The very definition of Bon Vivant. He will be missed.”
New Book on Virginia Wine From an Owner’s Perspective
Stephen Mackey, founder of Notaviva Winery in northwestern Loudoun County, has just published Dream, Build, Believe, a very detailed and personal story of the intensity and sacrifice involved in starting a new Virginia vineyard and winery. Published by Mascot books, Dream, Build, Believe is in hardback and is over 400 pages. Notaviva is the first winery to pair wine with music.
Current Tasting Notes from Glen Manor Vineyards
On a surprisingly cool wet day in late May I stopped at Glen Manor Vineyards south of Front Royal and was pleasantly surprised to see about eight cars in the parking lot at 4:00 p.m. Despite the temperature of about 60F, several couples were seated outside enjoying the view and the wine.
Proprietor Jeff White has already established himself as a first-rank Virginia wine producer, but never rests on his laurels, and continues to experiment. He has just planted nebbiolo so we’ll look forward to that Piedmontese departure from his red Bordeaux line-up.
2015 Sauvignon Blanc
A “sauvage” nose of gooseberry and wet stone, classically Loire Valley-like. On the palate, electric acidity, tart, with lots of lively lemon/lime and green apple flavors. A great food wine for summer, still young and drinks like a ’16. 13.8% alc. isn’t “hot”. Can still age another year.
2016 Sauvignon Blanc
This will be released this summer when the 2015 is sold out. Nicely different from the ’15, this one is reminiscent of Bordeaux blanc with broad, yellow apple and greengauge fruit, much like a dry Rheingau riesling. On the palate, it is broad, round and smooth, with no heat despite over 14% alc. Good acidity but gentle and rounded. Nice contrast to the ’15, equally good but different style.
2015 Moralis Rose
A topnotch, original and fascinating rose, it has all four of the red Bordeaux grapes that Jeff grows; mostly merlot and cabernet franc. Pale pink color in a Provencal style. Nose: fragrant white and red cherries, watermelon and strawberry. Palate: broad, dry but juicy, vibrant, some fragrant red fruits but delicate. 14.1% alc. but again not “hot.” Very elegant; was barrel fermented in neutral oak with lees stirring giving it more complexity than most roses.
2014 Vin Rouge
This is Jeff’s “fruit-forward” dry red, and it’s very good and also dry. 62% cabernet sauvignon, 16% cabernet franc, 12% merlot, 10% petit verdot, similar cab-dominant ratio to the signature Hodder Hill blend. Nose: lovely fragrances of ripe red cassis, oak, vanilla, black cherry. Palate: smooth but not flabby, lots of cassis, red cherry and plum with a nice mocha finish. Stylish, easy to like but very poised, ready to drink. Unfiltered.
**2014 Cabernet Franc
An excellent 100% varietal wine from three one-acre blocks. Nose: classic-plus varietal style. Black cherry aromas with lots of fragrance and spice notes plus well-balanced oak; exotic but elegant. Palate: very intense flavor and rich texture; a “velvet hammer” of ripe black fruit, oak and spice, plush and finishes like velvet. Two stars: in the top league of varietal cabernet francs. $35 is a reasonable price for this.
2013 Hodder Hill (67% cabernet sauvignon, 28% merlot, 5% petit verdot).
Nose: ripe, fat black fruits and some cinnamon and baking spices. Palate: almost lean compared to the nose, firm but appropriate cabernet tannins and red cassis flavors, this wine is still evolving but you can enjoy with decanting, and with red meat. Anyone who likes classic Haut Medoc from Bordeaux will appreciate this. Can easily last another seven years.Thomas Jefferson would be proud.
2013 Raphaes (18.6% residual sugar, 12.6% alc.)
This is Jeff’s late harvest/dessert petit manseng. The “Raphaes” name is an anagram for both his parents’ first names. Nose: ripe, luscious pineapple and mango fruit. On the palate it’s sweet and juicy, with acid in the background and not as sharp as you often get with this variety in this style (it was harvested in November). It’s a big wine, and from deliberate oxidation, it drinks like it was a decade old, without losing any fruitiness. The wine took eight months to ferment, and is great with desserts, cheese or “hot” spice dishes.