Land & Climate

A dynamic mosaic

Situated on the broad, rolling plateau and foothills of the Southwest Mountains in the Virginia Piedmont, running parallel with the Blue Ridge to the west, our 900 acres occupy soils of varying mixes of clay and alluvial calcareous deposits, with sloping exposures of even greater variety. In the temperate mid-Atlantic weather of our growing region, this estate presents the viticulturist with a dynamic mosaic of growing conditions. Some years favor one planting site for a given varietal, such as Cabernet Franc, and other years favor another in the same varietal. The resulting engagement with the vines is exceptionally active and verifies the truism that the human hand, learned, seasoned, and schooled by many previous vintages, must be incorporated in any conception of “terroir.”

People

A collaboration of broad expertise

Like this vineyard’s founding owner, Gianni Zonin, who assumed the leadership of his family’s long-established winemaking enterprise more than 50 years ago, I inherited a commitment to food and wine, and particularly to viticulture, as a family tradition as well as a cultural reality of everyday life in Piemonte, my home province in Italy. To grow up in the Nebbiolo and Barbera vineyards where my father consulted with many winegrowers, positioned not just my imagination and inspiration toward a career; it gave me a passionate respect for the majesty of what comes to us from the land. The estate of wine is a divine


Measuring sugar level prior to harvest.

gift without borders, linking humanity and our diverse cultural backgrounds to their most elemental and their most celebratory nourishment. I would not pursue any other employment. I was fortunate to be called by Dottore Gianni to Barboursville in 1990, where he had planted from scratch the first vineyards in Virginia in modern times, dedicated to the cultivation of European wine grapes, and where my task was to renew those vineyards and restore them to the path of producing the fine wines of great stature which Jefferson and he envisioned, on sight, within this “enchanted corner” in the Southwest Mountains of Piedmont Virginia. Ours is indeed an inspiring setting, for any knowledgeable viticulturist from northern Italy, and I found the transfer of my aspirations from Italy to Barboursville to be both natural and irreversible. Our perspective on the rôle of wine in life is drawn from a trust in the land and a humility in the exercise of our skills to elicit its finest fruits. Wine, we know, is grown in the vineyard because we are, too, and then shaped in those academies we call wineries to offer the most civilized expression of themselves. We embrace technical innovation with the least intervention in this process, consistent with developing the wine’s inherent varietal character and signature of place and time. Our taste, bred of centuries of European custom, is for wine of great companionability with food, of elegant expression throughout a meal and, ideally, of longevity in the cellar, with harmonious balance.

Here we explore the deeper story of what our terroir, together with our winemaking techniques, reveal as unexpected or rarely expressed dimensions in several internationally esteemed wine varietals. Some of these developments, like Octagon, were decades in the making; some, like Paxxito, our passito wine, reflect centuries of tradition applied in our climate. All continue to unfold with ever greater distinction.

Octagon

Octagon at the core

Octagon could have been a white wine. Named to celebrate the estate’s diverse connections with the legacy of Thomas Jefferson, symbolized in the central octagon drawing room in his design for Governor Barbour’s mansion, there was nothing in Jefferson’s confidence in Piedmont Virginia as a winegrowing region, to suggest that the ultimate wine of any vineyard would necessarily be red. This we were told by our own ground, even as we grow ever more pleased with our development of white varietals since the turn of the century.


Our founder Gianni Zonin, considering a vintage of Octagon, overlooking his vineyards at Barboursville.

Our pre-eminent wine therefore is red, because its consistent core varietals, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, happened to outshine all others in the qualities of a wine of such stature, sooner than everything else, and at a time - the earliest 1990s - when we were motivated to craft a small blend to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the estate. Those qualities include, in no particular rank, a recognized compatibility for blending with each other, not as a correction but as an illumination of each other’s strengths; a capability for development in bottle toward greater elegance and nuance over a long cellar life; an inherently graceful opulence of body and duration of finish; a many-layered dynamic range of red fruit and non-fruit aromas and flavors; and textural suavity, color intensity, and allure of earth proclaiming not merely a passion for fine dining, but a gracious dialogue with the senses.


Winemaker Luca Paschina with Octagon and then-Governor Warner at Governor's Cup honors in Richmond.

There is a clear regional analogy between Octagon and the wines of Pomerol, blending the same varietals, from comparable clay soils, seasonal conditions, and ripenings of sugars. However, our estate furnishes the ultimate shape of any Octagon vintage, which we always restrict to those years which give us superior lots of Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The final blend will almost always contain some element of Petit Verdot, which is our primary reason for cultivating this grape of deep color and tannic concentration; and in seasons where sites growing superior Cabernet Sauvignon achieve ideal ripening, from lower vigor soils, this varietal is also likely to play a part. Merlot and Cabernet Franc have been planted at the estate since 1976, while Merlot established itself in our vineyards as a standout varietal somewhat later than Cabernet Franc. By 1994 we were expanding Merlot into multiple vineyard sites, of carefully selected diversity in weather exposure. The great 1997 vintage repaid our Merlot planting program many times over, by giving technical guidance which has consistently yielded exceptional fruit characteristics, except only in the most difficult conditions. Our most recent, larger expansions of Merlot cultivation have identified even finer parcels, improved our standard in the harvest over all, and have enabled more of the highly selective Octagon to be produced.


The Octagon Cellar is open to the public and presents the biography of the wine's development in the estate's early years.

With this diversification in sites and in every season’s fruit, it is harder for a grape to get into Octagon, than any other wine in our region. The highly competitive selection process begins in the ground, in every growing season, and leads us to expect the unexpected in the variations each season will bring to these parcels. In this way the qualities of each site’s plantings are continuously re-evaluated, as a guide for future plantings and for selecting the Octagon of that vintage. No selection for the final blend is made without an extensive and repeated series of barrel tastings, from December through March, and that ultimate blend is then returned to barrel for aging into the following December. What is set aside, only by fortunate excess, will definitively shape the Reserve bottling in each of the varietals. In this way, Octagon may be a poacher of supply in these varietal Reserves, but the standard they achieve for themselves is always the highest possible.

Since our first vintage-dated bottling of Octagon in 2001, the wine has drawn positive comment from critical media in Europe, the United Kingdom and the United States. It was Michael Broadbent’s Tasting Note 308 for Decanter (02/2003), on the non-vintage Octagon Third Edition (1998), which gave the first widely circulated notice of what could be expected of this wine — “opaque core, impressive; ripe, full-bodied, and seriously good.” The wine’s experience in competitive blind tastings demonstrates this with a consistency acknowledged widely today, and has supported Vineyard & Winery Management magazine’s naming of winemaker Luca Paschina among the 20 Most Admired Winemakers in North America (Nov-Dec, 2014), his naming by the James Beard Foundation among the country’s 20 leading food and wine professionals in the same year, and his designation by the Italian Republic as a Commendatore in the Order of Merit in industry and culture.

2012

  • ​Gold Medal, Virginia Governor’s Cup competition 2015
  • Gold Medal, Critics Challenge competition 2015
  • Gold Medal, Sommeliers Challenge competition 2014
  • Gold Medal, Beverage Testing Institute 2014

2011  No vintage

2010

  • Platinum Medal, Best in Class Bordeaux Blend, 96 points Critics Challenge 2014
  • Gold Medal, Monticello Cup Competition 201
  • Gold Medal, San Francisco International 2013
  • Gold Medal, Winemaker Challenge San Diego 2013
  • Gold Medal, San Diego Wine Competition, 2013
  • Gold Medal, 92 points, Beverage Testing Institute 2013
  • Gold Medal, Virginia Governor’s Cup Competition 2014
  • 91 points, Wine Enthusiast 2013
  • 90 points, The Wine Advocate 2015 
  • 91 points, Wine Spectator 2015

2010 Anniversary Edition

  • Gold Medal, Texas Sommeliers Competition, 2015

2009

  • Platinum Medal, Sommeliers Challenge competition 2013
  • Governor’s Cup, Virginia 2013
  • Gold Medal, Beverage Testing Institute 2012
  • Gold Medal, Winemaker Challenge San Diego 2012
  • Gold Medal, Monticello Cup competition 2012
  • Gold Medal, Critics Challenge competition 2013
  • 90 points, The Wine Advocate 2015

2008

  • Gold Medal, Beverage Testing Institute 2012
  • 88 points, The Wine Advocate 2015

2007

  • Gold Medal, Best in Class Bordeaux Blend, Beverage Testing Institute 2011
  • Gold Medal, Best in Class Bordeaux Blend, Atlantic Seaboard competition, 2011
  • Gold Medal, Monticello Cup competition, 2011
  • Gold Medal, Sommeliers Challenge competition, 2011

2006

  • Monticello Cup, Virginia 2009
  • Gold Medal, Beverage Testing Institute 2009
  • 91 points, The Wine Advocate 2015

2005

  • Double Gold Medal, International Eastern competition, 2007
  • Gold Medal, “Best Red Wine,” Beverage Testing Institute 2007
  • Gold Medal, The Tasters Guild 2007
  • Gold Medal, Virginia State Fair 2007

2004

  • Monticello Cup, 2006
  • Gold Medal, Critics Challenge competition 2006

2003  No vintage

2002

  • Gold Medal, Atlantic Seaboard competition 2004

2001

  • Double Gold Medal, International Eastern competition 2003
  • Gold Medal, Best in Show, Atlantic Seaboard competition 2003
  • Gold Medal, Virginia State Fair, 2003
  • Gold Medal, Town Point (Norfolk) competition 2003
  • Gold Medal, Monticello Cup competition 2003
  • Gold Medal, Tasters Guild 2003

 

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Sauvignon Blanc

Securing Sauvignon Blanc

We credit the fundamental beauty of this varietal for our persistence with its original plantings, dating from 1984, which nevertheless yielded very variable satisfaction from vintage to vintage. No winelover willingly contemplates a parting with Sauvignon Blanc, but as winegrowers, we are interested in cultivating varietals which portray the virtues of our terroir at their best. 

By the 25th vintage we resolved to replace all of our original 5-acre plantings, if selections of greater adaptability to our land and climate could be discovered. Our viticulturist Fernando Franco and our consultant from the University of Bordeaux, Denis Dubourdieu, are to be credited with recommending a complete renovation in our Sauvignon Blanc  plantings. Fernando was dispatched to New Zealand in 2009, to meet with leading growers in the Marlborough district, where weather patterns resemble our own, and where Sauvignon Blanc has been dramatically successful. We cannot point to a more productive use of aircraft.


Fernando Franco in New Zealand, 2009

In Marlborough we identified 3 distinctive specimens of Sauvignon Blanc of high promise for our vineyards, and promptly planted 2.5 acres, with 5 more acres going into the ground in 2010. 2012 gave us our first, small vintage based entirely on the new plantings. At harvest we knew we had discovered the varietal character which had so tempted but eluded us, in the extraordinary complexity and concentration derived from these three superb selections. Again our preference for investigating multiple genetic profiles was rewarded by a weave of the most alluring aromatic layers of grapefruit, passion fruit and tart spice, fully validated on the palate. This relied on no exotic vinification methods, holding to our classic stainless steel fermentation, with cold pressing of one vineyard lot after 48 hours under refrigeration at 40º F to suppress oxidation. The lees were stirred every 10 days in tank, over approximately 6 months, and the wine was blended, not with Semillon as is widely customary in Bordeaux, but with slightly less than 5 percent Viognier, vinified in the same way. 


The brilliant new Sauvignon Blanc vineyard at harvest in 2012, undressed of netting guarding the aromatic clusters from birds and bees.

In 2013, Sauvignon Blanc secured its place in our plans for the future, for the first time since its arrival here three decades ago. The varietal is our third Reserve wine to achieve that designation through continuous development; the first was Cabernet Franc in 1999, the second Merlot, in 2008 -- the pillars of Octagon. The evolution of this estate will undoubtedly continue, in this unimpulsive way, with Sauvignon Blanc setting a standard for anything which may come hereafter.

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Nebbiolo

Travels in Nebbiolo

Skepticism toward New World cultivation of Nebbiolo, and ours in Piedmont Virginia in particular, has been shattered in disconnected but consistent bits. Two fundamental misimpressions, that Nebbiolo is a chauvinist for its original region of cultivation, and that it defies wine growing science, we have been happy to refute. The vine clearly thrives best on the Guyot trellising system adopted for it in Piemonte, and it demands patience in its evolution throughout the growing season, which is embedded in Piemontese tradition. In these characteristics Nebbiolo does benefit from a loyalty to its culture in our Piemontese winemaker, Luca Paschina, and in our founder from the Veneto, Gianni Zonin. It is only fair to say this grape flourishes here in material part because it is understood. But its molecular profile, not the place where it is grown, and our observance of sound technique, are what preserve the grape's signature.


Whenever possible, Luca attends the biennial Nebbiolo conference in Alba, center of viticulture in Piemonte and of his early education in wine.

It was not accident, then, which led our first vintage, the 1998 Nebbiolo Reserve, to win the only Gold Medal for this varietal at the San Francisco competition in 2002, as the 2005 vintage did again in 2009. Still, a skepticism persisted. Other wine competitions repeatedly awarded Gold Medals, but they were isolated events; and some courageous writers ventured to reverse their doubts in print, but in impermanent reviews. An important migration of the most esteemed grape in Italian viticulture continued to remain almost unperceived.

Finally, 2015 brought a confluence of acclaim for several of this estate's Nebbiolo vintages at once, portraying the very high consistency of the adaptability of our soils and our oenological techniques in producing Nebbiolo which is simply world class. It is unquestionably, dependably one of this estate's finest offerings.



Affirming the Chairman's Platinum Award for Nebbiolo Reserve 2012, at the Critics Challenge Wine Competition in 2015, critic Robert Whitley went beyond its 94 points to voice a generalization abundantly substantiated by prior history —

"America's finest Nebbiolo is made in Virginia. Indeed, the Barboursville Reserve Nebbiolo could give the finest Barolos a run for their money." (May 26, 2015)

In the next month (June 29, 2015), Robert Parker's famous online publication, The Wine Advocate, published for the first time in one place its own ratings of multiple vintages of the Nebbiolo Reserve, in this arresting sequence:

1998 - 91 points
2002 - 91 points
2008 - 91 points
2009 - 92 points
2010 - 89 points


Luca revisiting a Nebbiolo vineyard in Piemonte, the medieval town of La Morra on the horizon.

At 17 years off the vine, that first vintage withstands the most critical scrutiny, as a fine Nebbiolo is supposed to do. Indeed, what underwrote Robert Whitley's declaration on the 2012 vintage was precisely the same compliment — "This wine will benefit from additional cellar time, with peak maturity still five to eight years off."

Nebbiolo sets the standard of the continuum we hold in our sights for our very finest red wines, from Cabernet Franc to Cabernet Sauvignon to Petit Verdot to Merlot to Octagon. It sets a standard in patience and vigilance we extend to growing all our wines, but like all of them, it is not a success we did not expect. It is extraordinarily resilient in our growing conditions, as the sequence of its success over many vintages demonstrates. It is not a mystery grape, Piedmont Virginia is not a mystery growing region. Possibly our Nebbiolo Reserve has settled that.

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Viognier

Discovering more in Viognier

Although Viognier is grown in limited volume in several disparate viticultural regions of the world, the prototype of everyone’s expectations for the wine is set in and around Condrieu, in the northern Rhône Valley, where it is customarily fermented in oak barrels, passed through malolactic fermentation, and aged for 6 to 24 months in oak. A warm growing region emphasizes the fruit’s inherent melon-like, floral, and viscous qualities, which are naturally enriched further with these winemaking techniques. This is the style we, ourselves, adopted in our original vintages, and with success if resemblance to Condrieu is accepted as a guide. Indeed, the judges at the 1999 Virginia Governor’s Cup competition remarked privately to us, if our 1997 Cabernet Franc had not carried the day, the 1998 Viognier would have done. 


Viognier on the eve of harvest, to be picked in earliest daylight hours.

But after our first three vintages, we suspected we could discover more in our fruit than these methods allowed - more nuances in the aromatics, more refreshment on the palate - and with our restrained approach, we discovered several unexpected facets of this grape. This meant a shift to stainless steel, for fermentation; an avoidance of malolactic fermentation; and vitally important, a cool, 9-12 month aging and stirring on the lees in stainless steel. 

This approach affords a wine which is a more elegant, more diversified asset in the hands of any culinary enthusiast, than has traditionally been expected of Viognier, and 10 years of vitality in finer vintages. Now our Viognier is listed in fine restaurants from Copenhagen and London to Miami and Chicago, as sommeliers appreciate its unmasked, natural complexity. Its food-partnering range is expanded, even as its own character is better articulated; and it is a leading exponent of the style of our house.

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Vermentino

The flourishing adoption of Vermentino

In recent years, with the standout success of Viognier in our terroir, we have methodically searched for other candidates for adoption among the warm climate varietals of European viticulture. Our experiment with Vermentino, whose cultivation is concentrated in the Tyrrhenian Sea regions of Liguria, coastal Tuscany, and on the islands of Corsica and Sardinia, has been so successful that we are encouraged to pursue also Fiano, in the near future, which grows in Puglia, on the Adriatic Sea. The Gold Medal of the Sommeliers’ International Wine Competition in San Diego, for our third vintage, has also been most heartening.

Our Italian winemaker, Luca Paschina, revisited the Ligurian Vermentino vineyards he remembered from growing up an hour away in Piemonte. There, the vines are planted on very warm, south-facing terraces. Producing large berries of thick skins, resistant to rain, in loose clusters offering natural ventilation, Vermentino ripens consistently, within a wide range of seasonal growing conditions. The Ligurian model proved very adaptable to our comparably warm Virginia Piedmont.


A perfectly ripened cluster of Vermentino.

The grapes are fermented in stainless steel, avoiding malolactic fermentation, and the wine is aged in stainless steel only, with lees contact of no less than 7 to 8 months. Vermentino creates a wine of medium lightness of body, strategically poised between Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, yet with the lively middle palate of Sancerre and length recalling Chablis. Pale yellow, with tints of silvery green, it is a wine of floral brightness and inherent minerality, with traces of Pinot Grigio’s subtle salinity. 

We happily admit, our success with this varietal corresponds with a natural preference for one of the most quaffable dry white wines for seafood of Italian derivation. An aromatic bouillabaisse, a bowl of mussels or clams steamed in their juices with garlic and a crust of fresh bread, partner truly euphorically with Vermentino. 

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Cabernet Franc

Fathoming Cabernet Franc

Our contributions to the recognition of Cabernet Franc as a freestanding, unblended varietal for crafting fine wine, consistently share a spotlight of distinction with Octagon, the winery’s classic Bordeaux blend. If there were not an Octagon, and if Cabernet Franc were the only varietal grown at the estate, then a generalized distinction would come into much more clarifying relief: Cabernet Franc’s prestige as a red wine of suppleness, finesse, elegance and age-worthiness would be just that much more obvious, and this would be perceived to be a genuinely distinctive contribution of our terroir to the varietal’s reputation.

The estate took the lead in planting Cabernet Franc in Virginia in 1976, which revealed the varietal’s natural adaptability to our fluctuating climatic conditions, almost beyond comparison among red wine grapes. Nor was this adaptability unassisted by our famously temperate climate, for we found that certain vineyard blocks of Cabernet Franc will perform unpredictably better than others, in alternating growing seasons. Overall, moreover, we were discovering our weather patterns to be ideal for the balanced ripening of this varietal, raising it above its tendency in colder regions to exhibit green pepper as a signature of less ripeness, while avoiding the baked fruit effects of hotter regions. 


The traditional green harvest, in addition to subtle canopy reduction through the season, assists in concentrating the ripening of the remaining clusters.

In our first 16 vintages we, ourselves, adhered to custom in producing Cabernet Franc only as a grape for blending, primarily with Cabernet Sauvignon. With the excellent 1992 vintage we could no longer resist fermenting, aging, and bottling the wine by itself, and refocused our commitment to the grape. 

From the earliest 1990s, we launched upon a systematic expansion of cultivation, diversified both in site selection and in plant materials, which dwarfs that of every other Virginia vineyard in scale, consistency, and critical success, and at 24 acres in vine represents an above-average estate of its own, in size for this region. In 1993, we doubled our original 4 acres with new plant materials from Bordeaux selections, in an 8-acre expansion. Within the following decade, all of that new growth would be replanted on superior rootstock, with further diversification of selections. In 1994 we added 4.5 acres in another new site, and in 2000, 3 more, in 3 new selections from Bordeaux. In 2010, another 4 acres, in 2013, another 5. Repeatedly, our viticulturist Fernando Franco traveled to California and to St. Émilion, investigating plant selections closely with growers in both regions, while Professor of Oenology Denis Dubourdieu traveled from Bordeaux to consult with us on-site.


The red wines are all fermented in stainless steel tank, from which it is sometimes necessary to draw a sample.

With the watershed award of the first Virginia Governor’s Cup for Cabernet Franc in 1999, for our 1997 vintage, the whole region began to pursue this varietal with almost unanimous concentration. But the result of our commitments is a capability, through our range of seasonal conditions, to produce Cabernet Franc under its own varietal name, which is conspicuously welcomed by sommeliers besieged by the more numerous Bordeaux blends. From London to Rome, to Chicago to San Francisco, never forgetting our own region’s stellar Inn at Little Washington, where it is the House Red wine, the winery’s Cabernet Franc has found a niche for itself in restaurant lists of the highest discernment and respect for regional distinctiveness in wine. Fully a third of our friends cite “their” Cabernet Franc as their favorite among all our reds, and in competitions it is constantly vying only with Octagon for highest honors. There is no reason for this but the varietal’s commitment to be grown in our terroir, which we repay with the most assiduous and exuberant efforts of our own.

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Paxxito (Malvaxia)

Passito Tradition in Extradition


The wasp (above) breaks open the Moscato grape and the bee (below) impregnates the berry with yeast in extracting juice.

Paxxito was introduced with the 2001 vintage, after 25 years of persistently familiarizing ourselves with our vineyards’ support of wine grapes as diverse as riesling, orange muscat and white moscato, vidal blanc, malvasia, and gewürtztraminer. Equally importantly, it is the product of winemaking practices dating back to the poet Virgil, in the 5th century BC. Among our wines, several share the unanimity of Paxxito’s acceptance at wine competitions and in the critical press (detailed below), but none with the obvious intensity of delight that underwrites its acclaim. We are never disappointed to hear it described as the most beautiful wine we make.


Paxxito grapes raisinizing in natural air drying process.

Paxxito belongs to that traditional European class of wines, before the discovery of Port, which presents the highest natural concentration of extracted fruit, including original acidity and sugar, with the most intense aromas and palate, of the longest life expectancy in bottle. Part of what makes Paxxito all the more appealing to us as winemakers, and gratifying to the taster, is the palpable simplicity of its method of production, relying on the least interference of technology and the highest allowance of time and manual care in its vinification. The passito style, which we adopted in 2001, creates a dessert wine which is at least the equal in delicacy, suavity and power of those relying upon botrytis (“noble rot”) or freezing (eisswein or cryogenics). This is the natural style, for a growing region of unpredictable timing of late autumn frost or progress of rot, and with our Italian heritage it is also irresistibly embedded in the tradition of vin santo.

The grapes are harvested at optimum vitality, Moscato Ottonel and Vidal Blanc in roughly equal proportions. Moscato, for its famous, luscious aromas and flavors, and Vidal for its framing acidity, are left to dry on racks in their own dedicated farm shed at the estate, open to the air, for 3 to 4 months. In that extended period, the clusters are further hand-selected while the grapes raisinize, concentrating the sugars and acidity with which they were harvested, yielding three times less their potential volume.


Opulence of the passito grape pressing.

This extravagant inefficiency is rewarded at the grape press by the most extravagant opulence, of a gentle flow like honey lightly clouded, which is allowed to settle for a time in stainless steel tank, where fermentation will be triggered spontaneously by native yeasts with which the estate’s own bees have inoculated the berries, exactly as Virgil described in Georgics.

The fermenting wine is racked into very neutral small oak barriques, dedicated to this wine alone for as many as 10 or more previous vintages. There, fermentation rises and falls, for more than two years, as the more capable yeasts take over from inert yeasts in time. This extended lees enrichment contributes vital layers of complexity to the finished wine. At long last, the wine is bottled with slight filtration, as a vibrant, deep gold, presenting unrivaled opulence and length.

Between its first release and the current vintage, 2010, there were 9 vintages of Paxxito, with 2009 being skipped only because of abundance from previous years. Its consistency emerged in the hurricane year, 2003. Here is some of this wine’s critical history.


Winemaker Luca Paschina with Governor Tim Kaine, Governor’s Cup Gold in 2007, for 2005 vintage.

2001 vintage

  • Gold Medal, Virginia State Fair 2004
  • 5 stars, Michael Broadbent’s review in Decanter, 08/01/2009

2002

  • Gold Medal, Virginia Governor's Cup competition 2004
  • Gold Medal, Virginia Winegrowers Association (Atlantic Seaboard) 2004
  • Gold Medal, Monticello Cup competition 2004
  • Gold Medal, Los Angeles International Wine Competition 2004
  • “Top-Scoring Wine out of 80 by 2 clear points,” The Financial Times, Andrew Jefford report on London’s “Virginia Wine Experience,” 09/01/07

2003

  • Gold Medal, Virginia Governor’s Cup competition 2005

2004

  • Gold Medal, San Francisco International Wine Competition 2007
  • Gold Medal, Critics Challenge Wine Competition 2006

2005

  • Gold Medal, Virginia Governor’s Cup competition, 2007
  • 5 stars, Michael Broadbent’s review in Decanter, 08/01/09

2006

  • Double Gold Medal, San Francisco International Wine Competition 2011
  • 90 points, The Wine Advocate, 06/29/15

2007

  • Double Gold Medal & “Best in Class” over 99 wines,
  • San Francisco International Wine Competition, 2012
  • Gold Medal, 93 points, Beverage Testing Institute

2008

  • Gold Medal & “Best Virginia Dessert Wine,” Beverage Testing Institute, 2013
  • Gold Medal & Governor’s Case, Virginia Governor’s Cup, 2013
  • Gold Medal & Best in Class, Atlantic Seaboard competition
  • Gold Medal & Best of Show, San Francisco Chronicle competition, 2010
  • Gold Medal, Sommeliers Challenge Wine Competition, 2013
  • 93 points, The Wine Advocate, 06/29/15

2010

  • Platinum Medal, 94 points, Sommeliers Challenge, 2014
  • Gold Medal, Best Dessert Wine, Beverage Testing Institute 2015
  • Gold Medal, Texas Sommeliers Wine Competition, 2015
  • Gold Medal, San Diego International Wine Competition, 2014
  • 92 points, The Wine Advocate, 06/29/15

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