Hot off the press, news from a friend at the Virginia Wine Board. The 2021 Virginia Governor’s Cup is in the books, done virtually March 10. Twenty-two experts, led by Jay Youmans, one of only 53 Masters of Wine in the U.S., examined 544 entries in a blind review over a four-week period. After the judging, 96 scored at least 90 points, winning gold. The selections are submitted, not randomly chosen. They are each winemaker’s best effort containing 100 percent Virginia fruit. I chose “fruit” because this year’s contest included cider, a new category. Best in show for cider was Lost Boy Cider’s Comeback Kid, derived from Shenandoah Valley apples. A puff piece shows CK in 12-oz. cans. Lost Boy makes a wide variety of “dry” fruit ciders. These just came on my screen, and to date, I have not tried any. I will review a couple and inform readers shortly.
The Governor’s Cup went to Barboursville Vineyard 2015 Paxxito. You may recall I recently revisited the Governor’s Cup 2020 winner, 868 Estate Vidal Passito 2017. This style may eventually become the signature from the region if the skein continues. Based on the 2020 winner’s success, those who enjoy Pacciti should jump on purchase. The 868 sold out in short order, as did the others in the Governor’s Cup case. Barboursville placed three winners at the 2021 event.
The balance of 11 winners with the best scores in the 2121 case are: Barboursville Vineyards Octagon 2016, consistently rated 89-90 since 2010; the 2016 around $53 gets 90 McD points. I have seen two ads under $40. Owned by Italian producer Zonin, the estate contains much of the brickwork of the original Thomas Jefferson-designed estate mansion. There is also an informative museum and a restaurant worth enjoying on site. Next are Barboursville Vineyards Vermentino Reserve 2019; Bluestone Vineyard Petit Manseng 2019; Breaux Vineyards Meritage 2016 and their Nebbiolo 2016; Carriage House Wineworks Petit Verdot 2019; R.A.H. Wine Company Series 1 2017; King Family Vineyards Mountain Plains 2017; and Michael Shaps Wineworks Meritage 2015, available from winery $50. Schaps is a reputable Burgundian winemaker and proprietor as well. Rounding out the case are Trump Winery Brut Reserve 2014 (this win should confirm for most that it was indeed a blind tasting), and Veritas Winery Petit Verdot 2017.
According to the excellent advisory sent to me by Rachel Nugent, additional details about the Governor’s Cup competition, a complete list of previous winners, and information about the Virginia wine industry can be found at virginiawine.org/governors-cup. Those interested can access the site. While searching for pricing and availability, I found it noteworthy that the internet manipulators and book burners had listed the Trump wine links intermixed with those of Tarnished Truth Bourbon and The Bitter Truth Kentucky Whiskey.
Maybe an overnight or two to the region are a possibility. Bud break in the vineyards is soon, always lovely. Here are two sites worth reviewing to make plans: virginia.org/winetrails and vawineinmypocket.com/wineries. A brief reminder – those who haven’t visited Delaware’s wineries, please do so and support our local growers; start here: delawarewinetrails.com. The operators are wonderful to visitors, and all are well within striking distance of our readership. Please call ahead; the restrictions our illustrious leaders have put in place have caused limited opportunity in too many cases. Those who have time and wish to visit Virginia should keep in mind that several of the wine regions (AVAs) are loaded with famous American historical sites for a fine BOGO opportunity. Normally, plenty of accommodations are available. As seasoned citizen travelers are aware, visiting Monday-Thursday is most effective.
Plan ahead for the upcoming holidays. Our local stores do a fine job of stocking a wide range of product. Try to decide on your menu. When you visit most local stores, if you have your menu and a decent idea of the basic parameters of your guests’ normal choice of wines, one of the friendly clerks will be able to provide you with recommendations that can satisfy a broad spectrum. Shopping now will allow you to try a few selections, then return for those which fit your purposes. If you are doing a large party, I recommend having a few choices instead of one “extra special” expensive label. Choice is usually good … unless you are assigned hand-washing the stemware.