Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus (or at Least Some Good Wine)   2 comments

Marilyn & Jackie 2It may be a little bit too early for Christmas, but I feel as though I have been given a very nice gift.

A couple of years back, Jancis Robinson wrote about a wine revolution occurring here on the East Coast of the U.S. in the state of Virgina, home to and burial place of T Jeff– an 18th century French Wine Geek, who also happened to pen Declaration of Independence and served as our young nation’s third president– yeah, THAT Thomas Jefferson.  Jefferson, an avid gardener, planted Bordeaux varietals in Monticello, but it appears he was never able to produce enough grapes to make any wine there.  Given that I am writing this on the eve of Independence Day, as well as the 187th anniversary of T Jeff’s passing, it seemed an appropriate time to speak out about Virginia wine.

Now, Virginia is not the first place you would think to produce wine.  First off, it’s generally quite warm which results in early ripening (and often over-ripening) of the fruit.  But the real problem is rainfall which in wet vintages dilutes the fruit and can promote the growth of molds and mildew– none of which are good ingredients if you want to make a tasty wine.  But a few winemakers, and one in particular, seem to have figured it out by placing his vineyards at higher elevations on soils with a base of drainage-friendly fractured granite underneath.

About 1 hour’s drive west of Washington D.C., stands RDV Vineyards, a small property with a mere 16 acres of vines planted.  Located in Delaplane, Virginia, this operation with a very dedicated staff will become a standard-bearer for high quality East Coast wine and in time world-class wine.  Given its short history– I believe the first vintage to be released was the 2006– the rise of the quality of the wines produced here is remarkable. 

ProprietorRutger de Vink, Rutger de Vink (in case you were wondering where the winery got its name), has set out to create a world-class wine that can hang in the same stratosphere with the finest Bordeaux and California wines.  There is no question that his wines express their sense of place, even if Bordeaux  is the inspiration.  The winery produces a “mere” two offerings a year, a Right Bank style merlot-dominated fruitier wine, which in marketed as Rendezvous, and a Left Bank style cabernet-dominated more structured one previously known simply as RDV.  Right Bank and Left Bank, and the letters R and L now play prominently in the marketing of the wines.  In vinous genuflection to the French inspiration, starting with the 2009 vintage, the two wines are called Rendezvous and Lost Mountain.

The tasting room, a well-appointed, airy and modern space, is the perfect place to quietly ponder the beauty of these wines.   Recently, I opened the 2008 RDV (renamed Lost Mountain for the 2009 vintage) and was impressed by the level of restraint this wine exhibited– good concentration of flavors and fruit, certainly, but balanced by tannins resulting in an elegant wine.  And as good as the 2008s are, the improvement in the 2009s– the first RDV wines benefitting from the expertise of Eric Boissenot, wine consultant to 4 of Bordeaux’s 5 first growths– is readily apparent.  The 2009 Lost Mountain is a wine that, while drinkable now, has yet to really stretch its legs out.  Still as the wine opened up it released a magical perfume.  The wine has an insistent finish that Ms. R and I can’t wait to experience again.  The folks at RDV will know her as the sun goddess since she managed to keep the rain away while we were there…

Having also tried the 2008 Rendezvous which, to be honest, seemed a bit over extracted or over baked and almost coffee-like, I was pleasantly surprised by the 2009 Rendezvous which has a more solid core of fruit without appearing to be too New World.  The folks at the winery will tell you that the Rendezvous is for more immediate drinking and that the Lost Mountain is for long-term aging.  While I cannot disagree with that advice, I would put it a little differently: Although it does not have the same presence as the Lost Mountain, the 2009 Rendezvous has its own fleshy elegance, playing the role of Marilyn Monroe to the Lost Mountain’s Jacqueline Kennedy, if you know what I mean. 

Let’s cut to the chase here– the 2009s are the ones to get your hands on.  But to do so, you will need to visit the winery since the internet allocation is sold out.  Visit, if you can– you will not be disappointed.  Oh, and don’t be thrown off by the $40 per person fee for the tour, tasting and light food parings.  It is worth it.

Which brings us to the bottom line– in absolute terms, these wines are not inexpensive.  The 2009 vintages of Lost Mountain and Rendezvous, are sold for $88 and $75, respectively.  The pricing for the 2010s, which are to be released in September 2013, are $95 and $75, respectively.  But relative to Napa wines of comparable quality, there is value there.  There may come a time when we may look back on these early RDV vintages and sigh at what great values these wines were “Way Back When”…

Sybarite Sauvage 4 Star Rating System:

RDV2008 Rendezvous Rated **1/2

2009 Rendezvous Rated ***

2008 RDV Rated ***

2009 Lost Mountain Rated ***1/2

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Posted July 3, 2013 by Sybarite Sauvage in Food-Wine-Love

2 responses to “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus (or at Least Some Good Wine)

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  1. Welcome back!!!! And it is great to have you in my neck of the woods!

    • Thank you so very much!

      I know that it has been a while, but I hope to be able to start writing again. There is just so much that has happened and is happening in my life these days that it has been difficult to focus on this blog.

      But I really do appreciate your support!

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