Saturday, December 3, 2011

Talk Soil to Me: A Tasting Visit of Glen Manor Vin Rouge

Tasting a wine first then  visiting the winery is second.  Why? I think it’s more civilized that way.  I’ll never forget listening to a wine blogger go on about if she does not like a wine, she’ll film herself pouring the bottle down the drain and then proceed to post it.

I’ll write about the wine if:  1) I like it and 2) If it is varietally correct and 3) It makes me think.  Number 3 may sound odd but this very topic came up when someone asked my favourite wine.  I don’t technically have faves, but I am partial to those wines that indeed make me think:  of a past boyfriend, my grandmother’s house at Christmas, that Hawaiian pizza after that crazy party…  It’s all about the memory association.  But of course before that association, I’m seeing, smelling and tasting the wine’s story.  I’ve tasted many a wine and I’ve also had the training to know good wine from not so good, so if I report negatively on a small winery’s mediocre wine, I’m doing no one any good.  But when I find a wine that gets the pistons firing and before I realize it I’m on memory lane and half the bottle is missing, that’s quite the exciting bottle.

A wine’s story comprises quite a lot.  It tells me, believe it or not, about the farmer, vineyard manager, winemaker and everyone else who had a hand in producing this bottle of wine.  Jeff White is the current winemaker of Glen Manor Vineyards and The Virginia Commonwealth recognizes the entire property as a Century Farm with a history of four generations of family farmers / winemakers.  Talk about a story.

What I’ve noticed about Glen Manor is that they are soil conscious and cognizant of what will grow properly with each soil composition, elevation, sun exposure in relation to the “glen” effect from the nearby mountain range, and natural rain runoff.  Mix in the classic Bordeaux varietals and without even tasting the wine we can figure out what the wine will taste like.  But let’s do taste.

Glen Manor Vin Rouge 2008 Virginia
When tasting wine, the majority of all sensations will come from our sense of smell.  The palate merely confirms what you smell.  Then your brain tells you if you like it or not and how much to drink.
Pour, sniff once, twice, then swirl, swirl, swirl.  Let’s see if what I’m smelling and tasting is actually in the wine:
53% Cabernet Sauvignon:  The juicy scent of blackberry, dusty rocks and the unmistakable pencil graphite, sweet vanilla, acid
33% Petit Verdot:  Alcohol--a little biting, exotic spices, violet finish, chocolate?, a little meaty, tannins
7% Cabernet Franc:  Slightly vegetal—green pepper
7% Merlot:  Coffee notes, juicy mouth feel, crayon

The only “issue” I’m finding with the Vin Rouge is the mid palate is somewhat thin.  What I mean is this:  When the wine hits my mouth, there is an explosion of flavor, then it’s as if it all drops off for a brief moment, then it returns with a long finish.  Wine is a living liquid, constantly changing, evolving: opening.  Sometimes during its life cycle the wine will “go to sleep” (call it natural preservation,) especially if it has the ability to age, which I do believe this does.

Again, a vigneron who understands the value of planting thick-skinned grapes that resist rot, those that ripen later or flower earlier, and those that resist frost and damp soil.  This way, weather variations are easily negotiated.  Couple this with the right soil, and you have a varietally correct wine.

I purchased the Vin Rouge from a small shop in Fredericksburg, The Virginia Wine Experience.  A tiny bit of a thing, Bethany, spent a lot of time with me, discussing her favourite Virginia wines and why.  If you’re in the area do go, it’s well worth the time.