Notes From the Winemaker - June 20th, 2013


 Octagon in our barrel aging cellar.

Vintage after vintage, since 1995, we have been delighted by the most strenuous annual competition, between our renowned Bordeaux blend, Octagon, and the varietal which beats at its heart, Cabernet Franc. In every competition these wines enter, there is a constant element of suspense as to which will edge out the other in the jury's decision. Often, no more than a single point separates these wines in critical rankings, and many of our friends follow both wines with happily divided sympathies. 

The San Francisco International Wine Competition has just announced the awarding of its Gold Medal to the Cabernet Franc Reserve 2011, and to Octagon 2010. 2010 was a famously superior vintage in Virginia, and this bottling of Octagon has already won the Gold Medal of this year's Monticello Cup competition. To prosper equally in the much tougher competition in San Francisco is very gratifying. 

2011 was equally famously not a superior growing season, and for the Cabernet Franc Reserve from that year to emerge with a Gold Medal from the competition in San Francisco, reflects long experience with this varietal's pace of ripening under our techniques. We always plan for small yields, both to enable sufficient ripening for harvest before mid-Fall, as well as to benefit from any fuller development of age-worthiness in an ideal growing season. In 2011 we were able to pick before the weather turned very rainy in early September. As previously reported, there will be no Octagon 2011, given the blend's requirement of grapes structured by a superior season. This beautiful Cabernet Franc, although not structured for extended aging but endowed with all the character of its lineage, will go on sale in our Tasting Room on August 1st, the day we release Octagon 2009. Which is the happier use of the day, we leave to you to decide. 

5 new acres of Cabernet Franc this Spring, planted in our elevated Goodlow Mountain site. Octagon 2009 won the Virginia Governor's Cup, the Gold Medal of the Monticello Cup, the Gold Medal of Beverage Testing Institute in Chicago ("Best Virginia Red Wine"), and of the Winemakers Challenge and the Critics Challenge, along with the Platinum Medal of the Sommeliers Challenge in California. This wine reminds us that even we can be surprised by the generosity of this vineyard. But now we have the 2011 vintage of Cabernet Franc Reserve, to exemplify Virgil's advice in the Georgics - "Fortunate is the man who knows the causes of things."