Thursday, July 28, 2011

Virginia Winery Visit: WBC 11 Bus Visits Flying Fox Vineyard

Part of the magic of the Wine Bloggers’ Conference is the mystery bus tour. You load onto a bus for a trip to two or three wineries and vineyards never quite knowing where you’re going until you are underway. At WBC11 in Charlottesville, Green Dragon and I took what surely must have been the best tour of all visiting three standout Virginia wineries.

As we got underway, we learned that we were headed to Nelson County, which has only one stoplight, but 10 wineries and at least three breweries. It’s all part of the effort to build the “agri-tainment” industry.We were getting a chance to visit a small, medium and large winery.

Our first stop was the Flying Fox Vineyard tasting room. in Afton. This is a micro-sized tasting room that has a stated limit of 15 persons – but it packs a lot of luscious flavor into its friendly confines. The winery is family run, by Lynn Davis and Rich Evans, and has 6.5 acres of vineyard. This is small production winemaking at its best.

We started the tasting with two Viogniers, a 2009 from the Shenandoah Valley AVA and a 2010 from the
Monticello AVA. The Shenandoah had beautiful citrus flavor notes and a dry finish. Surprisingly the 2010 was a bit mellower and had a smidge more residual sugar. The growing season was very hot and the grapes were harvested early.

Viognier is Virginia’s signature grape and the state’s best can stand proudly with the top whites in the US.

Flying Fox taught us an important lesson about Virginia wine: You will be surprised by the high quality of Virginia reds.

We then moved into a vertical flight of Petit Verdot. The Petit Verdot I’ve tasted has mostly been used as a blending wine, with 5% here and 7% there. The 2006 Monticello Petit Verdot flipped the tables with a blend of 75% Petit Verdot and 25% Merlot. It was a true eye-opener with rich mouthfeel with a smooth approach and mellow finish. This was one of the standout wines of the trip and we bought a bottle of this.****+

Continuing on we moved to the 2007 Petit Verdot***, which I judged to be earthier than the ‘06. While still a delight, it was ranked below the other two PV. The finale for the vertical tasting was the 2008 100% Petit Verdot. This is barrel-aged for two years. This had a bit more firmness and a captivating sour cherry flavor. This is also a winner.****

On the tasting sheet two additional wines were listed as “and if time permits…” Well, I was going to be sure that time did indeed permit. since they were two small production Cabernet Francs. The first was the 2007 Shenandoah Valley Cab Franc with 88% Cab Franc and 12% Petit Verdot. The grapes for this vintage came from Lynn’s sister’s vineyard when a contract fell through right before harvest. The grapes were smaller
berries on small clusters. 195 cases were produced. The wine is a pure expression of Cab Franc with no bite whatsoever. ****+

The 2008 Monticello Cabernet Franc is estate grown with 90% Cab Franc and 10% Petit Verdot. This had more tannins and more noticeable pepper than the ‘07, but is indeed awesome. ****

We finished with a bonus tasting of Flying Fox Red, a red blend geared for the sweeter palate.

Flying Fox is a great experience for wine lovers. You'll be rewarded with well made boutique wine and stunning scenery.

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