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#390718 - 02-14-2020 10:09:13 Virginia Winery Visit
Charlie Chadwick Offline

Registered: 12-15-2000 08:00:00
Posts: 1600
Loc: Charlottesville, Virginia
Pat and haven't been out to the Virginia wineries much since we moved to Charlottesville, so we decided to start changing that. Wednesday we trekked to Early Mountain Vineyards. I have to say that this was one of the most pleasant tasting room visits we have ever experienced.

There is obviously a lot of money in their facilities, but it appears to have been well spent. The tasting room in contiguous with a lovely dining room. There are three options for tasting. The first two are fairly standard: either a five wine tasting or an 8 wine tasting. The third is a choice of flights of their wines and some wines from other Virginia wineries. This is done in the dining room and you can order interesting small plates to share. We opted for the last option and chose two flights to share (bigger pours than at the tasting room bar) that gave us six of their wines and two from other wineries. We had the charcuterie platter with a baguette which was plenty for two of us for lunch. It was a beautifully composed platter. We took our time and had a lovely lunch.

The wines? First, a general observation. All the wines were very well made. Where they seemed to fall short was in the grapes which the winemaker worked with. Pat's observation was that they all seemed to have been harvested too early (i.e., not ripe). Second, (my continuing gripe with Virginia wines) they were overpriced for what I could spend for good wines from elsewhere. Some specific notes on the wines tasted follow. These are not as detailed as I might otherwise have done since we were enjoying ourselves and it was a lot of wines in a relatively short time.

2018 Veritas Sauvignon Blanc, Not grassy or tart at all. Green apples, nice. Picks up a bit of acidity with the food. "B/B+". I wouldn't rush to buy this, but I would happily drink it if you served it to me. Appears to have been discontinued at the winery, but $27 at retail. A bit much, but not totally unreasonable.

2017 Lightwell Survey "Goodbye Horses" Riesling. A dry Riesling. A classic nose with petrol notes. Good body. Some tropical fruit but seems a bit muted. "B". $25 at the winery.

2018 Early Mountain Quaker Run Chardonnay. Pineapple and oak on the nose... and for that matter on the palate. Good acidity. Got oakier with the food. Despite my aversion for oak in whites, this is actually well made, the oak does not overly intrude. But it seemed under ripe. "B". A complete pass at $42.

2017 Early Mountain Block Nine Pinot Gris. The first of two Pinot Gris bottlings. Sour apples, bit thin, picked up some body with the food. "B". Nothing special and no reason to buy at $34.

2018 Early Mountain Pinot Gris. Bright, simple, pleasant. "B". No price on the website, but I found a retail listing at $25.

2018 Early Mountain Chardonnay. Bright, bit grassy, apples, seemed thin, Better with food, but not a lot. "B-". No bargain at $32.

2017 Early Mountain Eluvium. The first of two reds. 72% Merlot/26% Petite Verdot/2% Cabernet Sauvignon. Better than I expected, but, hey, it's still Merlot! Soft, red fruited, short finish. It became a bit better with air. If you're looking for a cocktail red wine, you could do a lot worse. I bet they sell a lot of it. "B". But $55! Gimme a break! I can get Paloma in the mid $60's!

2018 Early Mountain Madison County Cabernet Franc. The pleasant surprise of the tasting. A pretty, floral nose. The fruit is soft, with floral notes, raspberry. Good acidity and balance. A moderate, pleasant finish. Develops a savory note with food. "B+". Fairly priced at $34. I say all this despite the fact that I am not a big Cab Franc fan.

Let me emphasize that I thought that all these wines were well made. But the grapes seemed to be the problem. Is that a problem with Virginia climate and soil? Or do we need better vineyard management? No idea. We'll keep trying out other wineries and see what we think.

I will now step away from the keyboard and wait for Boyce's response....


#390721 - 02-14-2020 18:33:39 Re: Virginia Winery Visit [Re: Charlie Chadwick]
Bob Davis Offline

Registered: 12-13-2000 08:00:00
Posts: 4709
Loc: Steeler Nation
Those are our thoughts as well on VA wines. All the reds we have tasted lacked concentration. They tend to be balance but not necessarily built to age. There's no compelling reason to buy them. We've found some whites that are good as well as some sparklers.

Try Gabriel Rousse (sp?) out near Trump.

#390733 - 02-17-2020 08:47:20 Went Early Mtn. As Well [Re: Charlie Chadwick]
Bob Davis Offline

Registered: 12-13-2000 08:00:00
Posts: 4709
Loc: Steeler Nation
We came to pretty much the same conclusions as you. The Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay were nice and the reds were well made but uninteresting. I swear the wineries around hear all use the same winemaker and recipes for their Cab Franc, Heritage, and other reds. Nothing distinctive about them. We've only come across 1-2 wineries in the area making flawed wines.

We tried a glass of their top of the wine red, Vow, which appears to be a blend. Again nice wine but for $65 a bottle I can find countless better places to spend my money.

I'm still of the opinion that the local wineries cater to immediate sales and consumption and if that keeps them in business, great.

But the small plates were pretty good. The tasting bar and restaurant were packed. We'd go again, get a glass of wine and order food except it's an hour away.


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