Saturday, June 23, 2012

Enter the Octagon

For a while now, there has been one wine that has been showcased as the best of the best that Virginia makes - Barboursville's Octagon. And with good reason. The blend changes every year based on the quality of the season and the grapes at hand. Still, it remains a true Bordeaux-style blend consisting of the Noble Grapes of the region. Of all the vintages I have tried, every Octagon has had characteristically smoothness packed with flavors of cassis, plumb and dark chocolate.

Octagon has become a showcase wine because of its quality vintage after vintage. Imagine the pleasure people get once they realize that while Barboursville's Octagon is a great Virginia wine, it is by no means in a league of its own. Indeed, as Virginia's wine industry continues to grow, more and more high-quality, if less well-known, Bordeaux blends are being made.

Take, for example, Anghel. It is a side project of Rappahannock Cellars' winemaker Jason Burrus, which alone should tell you something. Named in honor of his wife, every year Jason sources grapes from thought the state - getting his hands on the best ones available - and blending them to his exacting standards. One year, it may be a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Another year, like the 2008 vintage, it may be a 50/50 blend of Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. In essence, Anghel gives on of Virginia's great winemakers the ability to work with the best fruit and develop a signature product. The 2008 is extremely smooth with big red cherries, raspberries, cedar, vanilla and spice on the palette. Just to be smooth, the tannic structure gives way to even more smoothness on the long finish.

There are many, many other quality Bordeaux blends available from throughout the state - Cobbler Mountain's Meritage and Fabbioli Cellars Tre Sorele are two that come immediately to mind - and there are many more I have not yet tried.

Yes, The Octagon s good, and quite deserving of its reputation. However, someone's whole knowledge of Virginia's high quality blends shouldn't begin and end there. With so many other great blends being produced, that jus wouldn't b fair to any wine drinker.

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