Virginia Wines Impress DC Aficionados

By Posted on Nov 08 2010 | By

Private Tasting at Exclusive Club Earns High Marks

On November 3, my wife Jean and I were fortunate to join three of Virginia’s acclaimed winemakers as they traveled to one of the bastions of wine connoisseurs, an exclusive club in downtown Washington, DC with a history dating to the mid-1800s.

And get this.  They invited the vintners, not the other way around.

The Wine Guy in Paradise

The opportunity for the tasting serendipitously occurred several months earlier as I poured wine at a local festival.  During the afternoon, a gentleman and his wife stopped by our booth and tasted and commented favorably on the wines.  About an hour later, he returned and posed a question.  Would I be willing to facilitate a tasting at his club—where he was the food and beverage manager—that would involve our winemaker and two other legends in the industry?  After a five-second pause to consider the offer, I heartily agreed.

The club had been following the rising quality of Virginia wines and the commensurate media reviews it was garnering.  Fortuitously, the morning of the event Washington Post wine writer Dave McIntyre had written an article on the value of the state’s wines when compared with other producers worldwide, stating, “Why am I jazzed about local wines? Because the best of them are thrilling…” Indeed.

Within a few weeks, I had secured commitments from Jim Law, owner and winemaker at Linden Vineyards, Luca Paschina, winemaker at Barboursville Vineyards, and our own winemaker Jason Burrus at Rappahannock Cellars, to participate in the tasting.  On a rainy Wednesday evening, this elite trio gathered in the quiet dining room of the private club an hour prior to the event.  We were given a brief history of the establishment by one of the club’s senior members and extended an offer to tour their wine cellar.  Smiles of delight broke out on the faces of the Virginians.  But of course, we’d love to visit the sanctum sanctorum.

Jason Burrus with wife Natalia and son Maximilian

As expected, the cellar was cramped and a bit difficult to maneuver in, but with cause.  The wine repository held 13,000 bottles of nectar valued at over three quarters of a million dollars.

The club’s passion was Burgundy and Bordeaux but high-end wines from around the world were sleeping quietly in wooden cases and wine racks.  The urge to ask for a private tasting prior to our own event had to be stifled.  I was pleased our escort did not perform body searches as the group left the cellar.  If he had, we’d have understood.

By 6:45pm, some sixty members and guests were sipping their first wines of the evening, aperitifs from each winery.   Following the ice breaker, the winemakers addressed the group individually before adjourning to their respective tables to begin the evening tasting.  The wine list reflected quality across the board, including Linden’s ’06 and ’07 Hardscrabble Red, Barboursville’s ’06 Octagon and Rappahannock Cellars’ ’08 Cabernet Franc, among others.  A total of twelve different wines were poured.

Following the tasting, a sumptuous full buffet featuring filet mignon roast and Hake from the North Atlantic was served.  The manager later stated the members thought the tasting went great and that some superb wines had been poured.  The club is currently evaluating a selection of the offerings for its wine-by-the-glass program.

Once again, Virginia advanced its cause by having the opportunity to pour its wines for a group of influential and discerning wine lovers.

From left, Jason Burrus, Luca Paschina and Jim Law

Categories : WINE ARTICLES