For all our readers we will now be bringing you two regular weekly full profiles from the 11 & and upcoming 12th editions of Wine behind the label with our ratings. This should give you an excellent idea of what you can enjoy when purchasing a full guide. Here Kathleen Burk assesses the Barboursville Vineyards project in Virginia.
Barboursville Vineyards (Monticello)
Founded in 1976 by Gianni Zonin, whose family had been winemakers in Italy for 150 years, this is undeniably one of the top vineyards in Virginia, a leader in replacing hybrid grapes with vinifera varieties and the producer of wines of high quality. With 172 acres of vines, it produces a wide range of varietals, including Italian varieties such as Nebbiolo and Vermentino, as well as Virginia’s two ‘signature’ grapes, Viognier and Cabernet Franc. It also produces a notably delicious dessert wine called Malvaxia, with 50% each of the American hybrid Vidal for its acidity and 50% Muscato Ottonelle for its fragrance. It is also worth knowing that the estate complex includes a notably excellent restaurant, Palladio.
Under the leadership of Luca Paschina, winemaker for over 20 years, Barboursville has concentrated massive effort on their vineyards, from the soil to trellis to canopy to grape clones. This has ensured very high quality grapes for Paschina to use in producing the wine. In making the Viognier Reserve, he uses no oak but ferments on the lees for up to a year, stirring every fortnight; with the aid of the great acidity, the wine is crisp and aromatic with very good ageing potential. They produced their first Vermentino in 2010. The Vineyard Nebbiolo Reserve is tannic in the front but on the journey to the back palate it develops a silkiness, with good fruit and lots of minerality. The Cabernet Franc Reserve has a wonderfully balanced structure, integrated fruit and minerals, and an endless finish; it is gaining an increasingly high reputation in Great Britain, as well as in the US. Octagon, made only in exceptional years and akin to a Right Bank claret, in 2009 was led by the Merlot grape, but included low percentages of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot; the 2012 contains no Cabernet Sauvignon. (KB)
Cabernet Franc Reserve ★★★★ £D
Octagon ★★★ £E
Nebbiolo Reserve ★★ £D
Viognier Reserve ★★★ £D
Malvaxia Reserve Passito ★★ £D
Ownership and Contact
17655 Winery Road, Barboursville 22923
To find out more about the wines of Virginia you can check out our background guide here
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