Wine Reviews: Monticello

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 07-04-2020

Considering today is Independence Day in the United States, I thought it fitting to highlight some recent samples from the Commonwealth of Virginia.

I’ve been a big fan and follower of Virginia wine since I moved to Washington, DC, about 12 years ago. I’ve had the privilege to taste many wines from all over the Commonwealth, but this week I’m highlighting wines from the Monticello AVA. Carrying on Thomas Jefferson’s wine vision for this region, some 33 wineries call this area home. The region is centered around Charlottesville, stretching toward the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains. If you’re ever travelling in the Mid-Atlantic (one can dream of post-pandemic wines, can’t one?) and looking for a wine trail adventure, this is a great place to start.

Stinson Vineyards makes two super-reliable pink wines from Tannat and Mourvedre. I’ve been tasting these wines for years now, and Rachel Stinson’s 2019s are true to form – some of my favorite rosés from the Commonwealth. The three red blends stem from a webinar I attended on the French influence in Virginia wine, curated by a great Virginia wine writer and ambassador, Frank Morgan. Matthieu Finot of King Family, Damien Blanchon of Afton Mountain, and Benoit Pineau of Pollak are all Frenchmen doing exciting things in Virginia, and the state’s wine industry is lucky to have them.

These wines were all received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

2019 Stinson Vineyards Tannat Rosé USA, Virginia, Central Virginia, Monticello
SRP: $21
Light pink color. Aromas of peach, cantaloupe rind, white cherries, with chalk, sliced cucumber, white flowers and rose petals. Zippy and salty on the palate with punchy, tangy lemons, apricot, white peaches, Complex, pretty notes of mint, English cucumbers, chalk dust, lemon pith. Tangy, fresh finish with notes of talc, slate and minerals. Another great vintage of a perennially solid pink. (90 points IJB)

2019 Stinson Vineyards Mourvèdre Rosé USA, Virginia, Central Virginia, Monticello
SRP: $21
Medium strawberry color. Bouncy, boastful aromas of white peach, orange peel, with white and yellow flowers, white pepper, mint, sea salt – so inviting. Plump texture, delightful presence on the palate, with zippy acidity. Crisp but juicy fruit (yellow plums, white cherries, strawberries) with notes of mint, white pepper, sliced yellow bell pepper, white tea. There’s this rocky, mineral presence underneath. A phenomenal rosé at a crazy price. (91 points IJB)

2017 Afton Mountain Vineyards Tradition USA, Virginia, Central Virginia, Monticello
SRP: $50
Medium purple color. The nose shows tart blueberries, black currants, with graphite, smoky earth, eucalyptus and mint chocolate chips. Crisp on the palate with pleasantly bright acidity, moderate tannins, this is a vibrant, fresh style with tart currants and wild blueberries. Notes of graphite, cocoa, mesquite, roasted chestnut. A vibrant and exciting blend of 41% Merlot, 37% Petit Verdot, 22% Cabernet Sauvignon, aged two years in 25% new French oak. (90 points IJB)

2017 Pollak Vineyards Meritage ­ USA, Virginia, Central Virginia, Monticello
SRP: $40
Light purple color. Aromas show tart red and black currants, mixed with leather, cedar, menthol, and inviting notes of incense sticks and pepper. Full-bodied, medium acidity, smooth tannins, integrated nicely. Spicy red plum and cherry fruit, a zippy feel with notes of eucalyptus, mint, leather, roasted red pepper, roasted chestnut. Great to go now, but will hold well for a few years, too. 60% Cabernet Franc, 24% Merlot, 16% Petit Verdot. (87 points IJB)

2017 King Family Vineyards Mountain Plains USA, Virginia, Central Virginia, Monticello
SRP: $70
Medium purple color. Beautiful aromas of tangy cherries, plums, red and black currants, laced with complex notes of roasted herbs, clove, leather, vanilla and cocoa. Fresh and focused on the palate, this is well-built and solid with nice grip, but no harshness – the balance is lovely. Tangy currants, crunch plums, juicy wild cherries – generous fruit yet really fresh. Mixed with tobacco leaf, tilled soil, pine needles, clove, with integrated cocoa and cedar. Wow, this is expert Virginia Meritage that deserves a solid sleep in the cellar or a decant and a grilled steak. 43% Merlot, 37% Cabernet Franc, 20% Petit Verdot, aged in new French oak. (91 points IJB)

2017 Stinson Vineyards Tannat USA, Virginia, Central Virginia, Monticello
SRP: $36
Deep purple color. Aromas show deep currants and black cherries, with violets, tar, potting soil and graphite notes. Full-bodied with solid grip and moderate acidity – this is balanced really well. Tart black currants, roasted figs, plum, the fruit is juicy and tangy and laced with underlying graphite, tar, mineral, pine and cedar. The deep core of fruit blends so well with these earth, floral, spicy undertones. I’d love to see this in five years. All Tannat aged 27 months in 50% new French oak. (90 points IJB)

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