In February I wondered aloud why the shortage of sparkling sauce
at Loudoun's wineries. As I should have known, local wine leaders were a few steps ahead of me.
In late March three local bottles of bubbly showed superbly at the fifth annual sparkling wine blind tasting organized by Virginia wine blogger Frank Morgan. Tarara Winery just north of Leesburg hosted the showcase in its first arrival in Northern Virginia.
Greenhill Winery of Middleburg's Blanc de Blanc, Stone Tower Estate Winery of Leesburg's Wild Boar Blanc de Blanc and the local Boneyard Bad to the Bone Bubbles, all made of chardonnay, were among the ballyhooed crowd-pleasers. In addition to seven sparklers from Virginia, Morgan included two champagnes and bubbly from California and Canada.
Through an aggregated group ranking among the 10 judges, the top five wines ranked as follows: first, Trump Blanc de Blanc of Charlottesville; second, Greenhill's Blanc de Blanc; third, Stone Tower's 2009 Wild Boar; fourth Boneyard Bubbles; and a tie for fifth between Flat Rock Cellars of Canada and Roederer L'Ermitage 2004 from California.
“Overall, the most surprising result was the Thibaut-Janisson did not finish in the top three,” said Morgan, who operates the blog DrinkWhatYouLike.wordpress.com
. “The Thibaut is so well made – beautiful bright gold color, frothy mousse, perfectly fine bead of bubbles, fresh green apple, dough, and saline notes.”
Claude Thibaut and Manuel Janisson's sparkling wine operation out of Charlottesville is revered as one of the top producers of Virginia bubbles alongside Trump. Thus, the group results speak volumes to the quality of the local pours from Greenhill, Stone Tower and Boneyard.
“The (local) wines stood out very well against some of the great wines from all over the world,” said Jordan Harris, the winemaker for Boneyard and Tarara.
It's important to note that while a few of the sparklers may be donning a Loudoun County label, that doesn't necessarily mean they were produced with Loudoun grapes or at the winery listed on the label.
When asked why he organizes the tasting, Morgan remarked that it's all about community.
“I'm an advocate of building communities of like-minded people – in this case, Virginia wine enthusiasts,” Morgan said. “I also organize the event to bring awareness to Virginia's sparkling wines, which I am quite fond of, and to see where Virginia's sparkling wines stack up against other benchmark sparkling wines from other more notable regions.”
The tasting came at the forefront of what promises to be a formidable spring and summer for Virginia sparklers, bolstered by the crackerjack showing at Morgan's contest.
In addition to the aforementioned local sippers, Breaux Vineyards will soon release its first bubbly -- a dry, 100 percent vidal blanc made of estate-grown fruit -- and Cana Vineyards in Middleburg offers a blanc de blanc, as well.
Check out recent Wine Wednesdays below:
-"Record year for Loudoun wine at Governor’s Cup" -- March 5
-"Wine Wednesday: Give me the gas!" -- Feb. 5
-"Outside the vineyard" -- Jan. 1