Notes From the Winemaker - February 13th, 2012


The very happy crush of plaudits from the wine competitions in San Francisco and San Diego arrived in time for proper note to be made in our Annual Newsletter for 2012, which we offer to you for advance viewing prior to distribution in late February. But, news from the World Wine Challenge competition at Chicago's Beverage Testing Institute arrived too late for the proper development in context which you deserve. In brief, Octagon XI Edition (2008) won the Gold Medal for the 4th vintage in a row, with a 92-Point "Exceptional" rating. (If we have to be boring, this is the way to do it). But also at 90 Points or above were our Viognier Reserve 2010, lately Best-in-Class in San Diego, Petit Verdot Reserve 2009 for the second vintage in a row, and Barbera Reserve 2010, one of the winery's most beloved wines and a very clear indication of what to expect of our larger 2010 reds as they are released.

Topping them all, we were frankly not surprised to findMalvaxia Passito 2007 awarded 93 Points and, like Octagon 2008, an "Exceptional" Gold Medal. The 2006 vintage had won the Double Gold Medal in San Francisco, and 2007 was a superb vintage. In the opinion of many, a purely beautiful wine, Malvaxia Passito has rewarded its painstaking and time-consumingly traditional methods with Gold Medals ever since its introduction in the 2001 vintage (which I celebrated at the Governor's Cup reception with Governor Kaine, in Richmond in 2006). Because the category of dessert or post-dessert wine is so seldom discussed, the Malvaxia Passito's consistent character has played an almost neglected rôle in the perception of Virginia's viticultural vitality, but the British critical establishment has been effusively unrestrained in its praise. 

Jancis Robinson, Editor of The Oxford Companion to Wine and author of Vines, Grapes & Wines, tasting the current 2006 vintage here last July wrote, "Really exciting, tangy sweet orange wine about which I wrote 'Whoof!' Pungent and zesty while retaining the dried citrus peel flavours. Great stuff." Michael Broadbent, the most eminent writer in wine for the past 50 years, wrote in Decanter in 2010 of the 2001 vintage, "The colour was a brilliantly rich gold; its grapey nose reminded me of honey and apricots; very sweet, of course, aromatic, with a slightly raisiny flavour and excellent acidity. It outshone, though only just, the 2005: amber gold; exotic Muscat grapiness, apricots again and a whiff of caramel. Not as sweet as the hot vintage of 2001 and with more of a bite. Both 5-Star." Writing in The Financial Times [London] in 2007, Andrew Jefford (The New France) wrote of the 2004 vintage, "My top-scoring wine of the [American] tasting ... magnificently complex scents of white peach, hawthorn blossom and vanilla, and luscious, comely flavours which retain that aromatic power." 

Between now and March 19th I am opening the winery's library of past vintages to celebrate this new recognition for Malvaxia Passito. Available at our winery only, not through our web store or other merchants, collector's editions will be available at special discounts of 5 percent off any 3-5 bottles, and 10 percent off 6 or more bottles. The price differences in the list have to do only with maturity of the wine for immediate drinking, not with quality. Each vintage is distinctive in character, with the 2003 vintage being the most like a vin santo in its darker, more intense amber and aromatics, but all vintages fall within the parameters of the Tasting Comments above, and represent a beautiful opportunity for further aging, as in the case of vintage Port. For my own young children, I have reserved supplies from these vintages. We can't be sure of making this exact offer again, but early vintages will naturally be available by the bottle at Palladio Restaurant and at our Barrel Tasting weekends, from time to time. Please do not hesitate to telephone the Tasting Room, (540) 832-3824, to make arrangements for the shipping of the wines where permitted by law, if you cannot visit us before March 19th. 

As you take the time to explore the Newsletter in this advance presentation, I wish I could raise a glass of Malvaxia Passito with you, to your long enjoyment of these vintages, and to your wonderful acceptance of our wines.

Vintage 2001 50.00Vintage 2005 40.00Vintage 2002 50.00Vintage 2006 30.00Vintage 2003 45.00Vintage 2007 30.00Vintage 2004 45.00

All bottles 375 ml

Cordialmente ~

Photos Courtesy NPG and Daniel Schwartz Photography