Last Saturday evening Vine Spot saddled up and headed to a much frequented destination - Loudoun County, to partake in what would be an enjoyable, entertaining and educational Wine Barrel Tasting event at Waterford Vineyards. Vine Spot has written about, and paid several visits to this young, yet mature winery, located in the historic town of Waterford in the past, so we were eager to taste what the future holds for one of our favorite Loudoun wineries.
To our delight, this tasting event combined a barrel tasting with a vertical tasting (hooray!!), and as winemaker Mark Fedor put it, was a “hybrid tasting event” of sorts. Gracious owners, Lori and Jim Corcoran were present to greet guests and get everyone situated and ready to taste through Waterford’s collection of hand crafted and developing wines. Winemakers, Mark and Vicki Fedor, hosted the event and told everyone a little about themselves and what attracted them to the wine business and the promise they see in the growth and maturation of Virginia wines. Following some table chat with new and old friends, Lori, Jim and staff started with the evening’s first flights, while Mark and Vicki fielded questions from the tasting group and discussed their goal for each vintage and how variables such as climate, fruit selection, etc., influenced the techniques they used to reach the desired end result – very cool and interesting stuff friends!
Tasting Sheet and Dezel's favorite purple pen!
The reason behind calling this a barrel / vertical tasting combined or hybrid tasting if you will, is because we were tasting through Waterford Vineyard's developing wines right out of the barrel or tank, and tasting Waterford Vineyard’s wines going back as early as their first vintage of 2002. The flights were set up according to varietal/vintage, and note, that the 2006 vintages are the developing wines (not released). The flights tasted were as follows:
Tank Chardonnay, Neutral French Oak Chardonnay, American Oak Chardonnay – All 2006,
Vintners Reserve Chardonnay 2004, Vintners Reserve Chardonnay 2005
Viognier 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006 (North Gate Vineyard)
Cabernet Franc 2003, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006
Merlot 2006, Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, Meritage 2002, Meritage 2005, Meritage (test 1 & test 2) 2006
Seyval Blanc 200, Seyval Blanc 2005, Traminette 2006
Mark Fedor discussing Waterford wines
So lets talk about these flights friends – Flight one featured the Chardonnays and the 2004 stole the show. Dezel had a few bottles of this wine upon and after its release and it was one of the finest and elegant Chardonnays of the 2004 Virginia vintage. The Vintners Reserve 2004 offers tree and citrus fruit aromas with toastiness that carries over to the palate with a nice full mouth feel. Dezel learned from Mark, that this vintage was vinified from 20 year old Chardonnay vines and to Dezel’s dismay and many others, this farm, like others may be sold off to a company for development; thus the 2004 might be the last we taste of those mature vines – if so, it went out with a bang! Let that not take away from the 2005 bottling however, which is lighter than the 2004 in body, but shows a nice integration of tree and tropical fruit with a touch of toastiness. This wine is done in a more crisp style and should be sought out by you (Virginia) Chardonnay lovers. The 2006 vintages are still developing wines, which the winemakers will adjust to get the perfect balance, harmony and chardonnay style they are after. We look forward to tasting the final product, since we had a chance to taste all 3 of the 2006 developing wines.
Flight two featured Virginia’s flagship white wine; you guessed it, Viognier. As aromatic and beautiful as this wine can be in general, it is a wine that does not age particularly well and begs to be consumed in its youth. This could somewhat be tasted on up to the 2005, which is definitely in its prime, offering apricot and melon aromas with concentrated fruit flavors and hints of spice with good balance and a nice lingering finish. The 2006 Viognier fruit is from the North Gate Vineyard, which is Mark and Vicki’s vineyard and in the future will serve as Waterford’s reserve wines and will be labeled as North Gate Vineyard. The 2006 was still a developing wine that Dezel would describe as interesting, but not suited to the typical Viognier aroma or flavor profile; tasters later learned that the winemakers experimented a little with this vintage and Dezel, as well as the other tasters are curious to see what lies in store for the 2006 vintage.
Moving to flight three, we tasted through Virginia’s flagship red wine; did you guess it correctly again friends? I know, some of you are torn between Norton and Cabernet Franc, but Dezel was referring to none other than Cabernet Franc – the proud prince of Chinon! Let us move right to the 2006, as everyone loved this developing wine as she lay. It is reminiscent of the fresh, clean and fruit forward style found in the Loire Valley – village of Chinon. The newly released, Cabernet Franc 2005 is done in a slightly larger style and offers dark cherry, subtle berry, peppery and smokiness on the taste with ripe to firm tannins. This wine has a small percentage of Malbec added, which may explain its firm backbone. Tip – let this one breathe, it softens and opens up very nicely. Interesting to note that Malbec is used to soften the tannins in Cabernet Sauvignon (Bordeaux) based wines, but when added to a typically soft and fruity Cabernet Franc, it can add an expressive tannic structure.
As we moved to flight four, Dezel could be found chatting more with friendly table mates as everyone was fully participating and sharing their aroma and flavor finds. The fun in this is, one person might detect peach, another green apple, and someone else apricot and in the end everyone may be correct in their assessment of the wine. Both of the developing Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon wines received 2 thumbs up in their early stages; maturity will serve these promising wines well. It will be interesting to see if the winemakers bottle either on their own or use them solely for the Meritage blend. For those who are curious about the term Meritage, as I was early on, it is an American blended wine made from traditional Bordeaux grape varieties. Meritage is a registered name here in the USA and to be designated as such the winemaker has to use 2 or more Bordeaux grape varieties in the blend and adhere to several other rules to influence quality. Waterford recently (March 24th) released their Meritage 2005 and words that came to mind were complex, nice integration, medium bodied and good up front fruit with a lingering finish. Dezel suggest trying this selection and letting us know what words come to mind to describe this tasty red blend.
Last but not least, the sweet ending – flight five. We made it friends! The released, Seyval Blanc 2005, which Dezel has had on several picnic and patio occasions is a wonderful spring or summer time pleaser loaded with zest, zing and fresh citrus fruit flavors, with a slight sprinkling of sweetness. It comes in an attractive 375ML blue tinted bottle and for $12 is a good value. The developing 2006 Seyval Blanc appears to be consistent with the 2005 and currently advertised to be slightly sweeter, but not noticeable on the taste. The Traminette 2006, still developing, is a beautifully floral scented wine – the scent fully typifies a lovely Loudoun spring day while walking through a garden. In its developmental stage, this wine has good fruit potential with moderate sweetness and I look for the acidity to really make this a nice and refreshing sipping
drinking wine. This is a wine Dezel looks forward to connecting with when it is ready for release.
Waterford Vineyards Wine Makers – Mark and Vicki Fedor
In closing friends, Waterford Vineyards barrel tasting was a fun filled and educational wine event, that winemakers, Mark and Vicki Fedor did a great job hosting. Also, on hand for the event was Vine Spots pal, the Virginia Patriot, who makes one heck of a dipping oil (olive oil based),which can be purchased at the winery. I encourage readers to secure a Virginia Wineries 2007 book or visit your favorite wineries web site and check for such events and make plans to attend. Spring time is here friends and the serene pond, tall shady trees and leisurely surroundings at Waterford Vineyards has picnic written all over it! When you visit this winery be sure to let the friendly staff know you read about them on Virginia Vine Spot.
PS… Be sure to say 'hello' to Corky for Dezel and ask about the Malbec!
Happy Sipping and Thanks for your support !