This past weekend I saddled up with a motley collection of industry professionals, budding wine enthusiasts, and those darn wine bloggers to take a great-grape ride on the Monticello wine trail. Good and bad news here, friends. Bad news first - of the 23 wineries on the Monticello wine trial we made appointments to visit only six of them. The good news - we have seventeen left to go, so Monticello wine trail, look out, you will see us again! Our first stop of the day was to Veritas Vineyard and Winery.
Veritas Vineyard and Winery is located in Afton, Virginia, and situated amidst beautiful surroundings at the foot of the wondrous Blue Ridge Mountains. Veritas is a family-run operation owned by Andrew and Patricia Hodson, who opened for business in June of 2002. Their daughter Emily, who recently won the Judges Choice Award in a national competition, shares the winemaking duties with her father. Let’s step into the tasting room, shall we?
The Veritas tasting room is beautifully designed, exuding elegance and luxury in a relaxing atmosphere. Tall ceilings, wooden floors, comfortable leather sofas and chairs, eating areas, a large fireplace, and a long tasting bar are some of the niceties offered to make your wine tasting experience and visit enjoyable. A trained and knowledgeable staff is on hand to answer any of your questions and to tell you all about Veritas Vineyard’s full spectrum of red and white wine selections.
We were greeted upon arrival by winemaker Emily Pelton and in-house sommelier Thomas Roberts. We were all led down to the barrel room to sample some of Emily’s developing wines. Barrel tasting is both enjoyable and enlightening, and is an excellent way to gauge where the ine is in its maturation process.
Barrel Tasting with Emily Pelton and Thomas Roberts
The following brief notes are from several of the barrel samples I thoroughly enjoyed. Although these wines are in their developmental stage, they reflect the care that went into them in the vineyard and winery. Our tasting began with a beautiful Sauvignon Blanc, which I found to be very attractive. This is a variety that I believe could do well here, but I do not run across too many (varietal) examples during my travels. Of the few local examples I have tasted, this is clearly one of the best, in that it is a nice wine with very good varietal character. This example is more Loire Valley - (Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé) like than the New Zealand-style many Sauvignon Blanc drinkers have become accustomed to. This is a wine of delicacy, with clean, fresh fruit, good acidity, and a smidgen of grassiness for added complexity. This wine is meant to be consumed young, so don’t be shy, pop the cork and enjoy upon release!
Tasting a little bubbly with winemaker Emily Pelton - Yum!
Also enjoyed were three barrel samples of Cabernet Franc from fruit harvested weeks apart. Time on the vine certainly makes a difference in flavor / aroma profile, as the first sample pulled displayed Cabernet Franc’s distinct violet and red berry aroma, while the second sample was more neutral, but had a fuller mouth feel. The third sample was more rounded and had desirable spice components and earthy nuances about it. Not sure what the final bottled result will be, but Emily has three good base wines to work with based on our tasting, and I look forward to the release of the 2008 Cabernet Franc wine(s).
We are smiling because we had a GREAT TIME at Veritas!
Another high quality red wine grape variety we enjoyed that is also generating a lot of excitement among Virginia wine lovers is Petit Verdot. This is a grape grown mainly in France’s Bordeaux region that is finding its legs here, so to speak. The sample we tasted displayed a gorgeous deep rich color and a pleasant fragrant and spicy character with good definition and structure. Not sure if this will be made into a varietal wine or not, but it sure would be nice if it is.
Barrels of fun (Yes, I mean that, literally)
Last but not least is the sweet ending. Veritas has a popular dessert selection named Othello, which is a blend of Tannat and Touriga Nacional. We had the opportunity to taste each wine on its own prior to blend, and it became quite apparent why they marry so well. One is rich and lush and full of boysenberry and blueberry flavors, yet teetering on the sweetness line of being cloying. The other has less flavor intensity, but more acidity, highlighted by baked fruit flavor components and pinches of cinnamon. Blended, I can see these two wines combining to create a hedonistic pleasure.
Enjoy wine and beautiful views
In closing, and I think I speak for the tasting group, we would like to thank Emily and Thomas for the enlightment, education, great wine, and good times. Every nose and palate in our tasting group unanimously agreed that Veritas Vineyard’s future releases are on their way to being solid Virginia wines. Congratulations on your 2008 vintage, Emily!
Info: Veritas Vineyard & Winery, 145 Saddleback Farm. Afton, Virginia 22920. 540.456.8000
Stay tuned friends ...Look for short summaries on other visits from our fun-filled weekend on the Monticello Wine Trail. Also, check out my previous visit to Veritas Vineyard here. And, be sure to see what Todd of Wine Compass has to say about the Monticello Wine Trail - CLICK HERE.
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