A few weeks ago, I had the privilege to volunteer for the Virginia Wines Governor’s Cup judging. Each year, wineries from around the state of Virginia submit their wines to be judged. Winners can receive medals (Gold for 90 points and above, Silver for 80-89 points), and ultimately, a winner is crowned. This year, over 400 wines were submitted for review.
I wish I could say that I was a judge for this competition, but alas, I was only a volunteer helping one Sunday. Perhaps one day though! I did get a great peek behind the curtain (literally, there was a curtain dividing the room) to see how the judging was run. Jay Youmans, a Master of Wine who runs Capital Wine School where I obtained my certification, is the head judge and coordinator for the judging. While he did not taste the wines himself, he oversaw the whole shebang, and ensured each wine’s scores were properly recorded, judges were lined up, you name it. Oh, and scrubs like me were around to pour wines.
During the initial judging, held at Capital Wine School, involved 14 straight days of tastings, eight hours per day. Six judges tasted around 36 wines each day (Six flights, of six glasses each, typically). Try to imagine the amount of bottles and glasses used during this event. It was wild. After these tastings concluded, the top 120 wines (if memory serves) were sent off to a final tasting in Richmond, VA to determine to top wines.
Oh, you want to know the winner?!? Drumroll, please…
Barboursville Vineyards is located in northern Albemarle County, VA. It’s just a short drive from my childhood home in fact. I couldn’t be any happier for Barboursville Vineyards. They’re great people making great wines. Octagon is a right bank Bordeaux blend, which means it’s predominantly merlot, but cabernet sauvignon and other red grapes are typically blended in. Previous bottles of Octagon I’ve had remind me of mocha, leather, and a little cedar. They have always been delicious.
Octagon isn’t cheap – about $50.00 per bottle these days. They recently raised the price from around $35 per bottle. If you get a chance to try it, do so. And I’ve heard from Barboursville’s viticuturalist Fernando Franco, just hang on for the 2010 coming out next year. He says it will be their best yet.
Cheers to Virginia Wine, and cheers to Albemarle County.