A cavernous and dimly lit exhibit hall at the Greater Richmond Convention Center was the site last night of the Sun Trust Governor’s Cup Grand Tasting, where Keswick Vineyards was crowned the overall Governer’s Cup winner.
There were far fewer wineries and tasters last night than will be at the rest of the weekend’s massive main event, but those present were treated not only to many of the medal winners, but to rare wines brought in just for the evening. Standouts among those special wines were the Barboursville 1998 Cabernet Franc and the King Family 2002 Merlot, the latter made by former King Family winemaker Michael Shaps. Tasting Shaps’ current wines next to his ’02 Merlot was enlightening, the massive tannins and oak that dominate his wines when young having sunk into the seven-year-old model, leaving a wine dominated by pure, steely fruit.
The Charlottesville-centered Monticello AVA came out on top, winning 12 of 22 overall gold medals and a well deserved lifetime achievement award for Felicia Warburg Rogan. After the Governor’s Cup trophy was handed to Keswick owner Al Schornberg, winemaker Stephan Barnard headed back to their by-then crowded table, smiling gamely at the repeated cries of “Can I taste the award winner?” And taste the Cabernet Sauvignon we did in quantities that had more than a few people staggering off four hours after the thing had started. The winning wine was not as powerful or showy as some, but it was structured, balanced, and very well made.