Got family and friends that are wine lovers? Searching for the perfect gift? Look no further. Here are four brilliant ideas for how to choose local wine for the holidays, and while these gifts would be great for friends and family here in the Old Dominion, they would work even better as gifts for people who live far away. Give them to everyone on your list who lives in California, France, Australia, any place in the world where people think they know wine.
Because what we Virginia wine lovers need to do is spread the word and spread the wealth. Here then is my 2008 list of Virginia Wine Gift Ideas:
Don’t call it Champagne
Virginia sparkling wine is really hot right now, with new producers joining old hands. I’ve written about this subject before, so I won’t go through the long list of wineries making great bubbly. But if you are looking for a fantastic, celebratory, local wine for the holidays and New Year, look no further than Thibaut-Janisson and Kluge. TJ is relatively new to the scene, while Kluge has been specializing in bubbles for a bit longer. Both wines are made by Champagne experts, bringing old world knowledge to bear on our native fruit.
Another great way to spread Virginia wine love is to follow the ABC (CM) dictum: Anything But Chardonnay (or Cabernet or Merlot). There are some very interesting experiments going on in our state with out-of-the-way grapes, and while not all of them are going to be successful, it’s the journey that matters. Try these fantastic oddball Virginia wines: Keswick Vineyards’ crisp version of the Spanish Verdejo, Delfosse’s plump and juicy homage to the Argentinean staple Malbec, or the funky Pinotage from Lovingston, a South African favorite finding new life in Virginia.
Virginia is for Viognier lovers
Viognier is Virginia’s signature grape, from the double V alliteration to the mouthful of apricot and honey. Oak-aged Viognier can be big enough to compete with any California Chardonnay; when aged in steel it can be delicately aromatic and nuanced. Almost everyone in the state makes one, but I especially recommend the Jefferson Viognier. Not only is it crisp and delicious, with acidity and minerality balancing the fruit, but it comes in a beautiful, gift-ready bottle, a replica of the personalized bottles that once belonged to Mr. Thomas Jefferson himself.
There are many great Virginia wines, more than I mention here, but two epitomize the best our state has to offer: The Linden Hardscrabble Chardonnay and the Barboursville Octagon. Superb wines year after year, both are the best of their kind from two wineries that, in different ways, are second to none. Both live up to the world-class wines they emulate—Linden the white wines of Burgundy, Octagon the reds of Bordeaux—while reflecting what is unique about their Virginia origins. Both wines also age very well, gaining complexity as the years go by. Linden and Barboursville have been at it a long time, 23 years and 32 years respectively, and they represent the past, present and future of Virginia wine. Linden is a small winery run by a long-haired naturalist, Barboursville is a professional operation owned by one of Italy’s biggest winemaking dynasties. Two very different wineries achieving the same goal: killer wine. Perfect bottles to send to the far corners of the globe.