Wine Reviews: Loudoun County

Washington, DC, has become my adopted hometown. When I first moved here from New York about a dozen years ago, I spent one of my first weekend trips hiking around the Potomac River and tasting wines in the area around Leesburg, Virginia.

The wines I tasted were hit-and-miss, but I fell in love with the area, and have been trying to keep up with the wine scene since. Loudoun is full of beautiful spots, and with more and more quality wines coming out of this region, there is plenty to see and taste.

“DC’s Wine Country” (yes, they’ve trademarked that) dates back to 1981, when Lew Parker planted his first grapes at Willowcroft Farm. Now, there are more than 40 wineries in the county.

During a recent online tasting coordinated by Virginia wine guru Frank Morgan, I tasted through several wines from this Northern Virginia region. While many of the wines and wineries were familiar to me before, this tasting reminded me that I need to get back to Loudoun more often — there’s still so much to explore.

Casanel comes through with a sparkling Chardonnay, and I learned they also make a sparkling Norton that I now must try. Walsh Family makes some really good stuff, and I highly recommend tasting their wines if you get a chance. Their Viognier (notoriously fickle and frequently flabby) was one of the most vibrant Virginia iterations I’ve tasted in a long time. Breaux (another producer I really appreciate) has gotten a lot of praise over the years for their Meritage, Merlot and other reds — and for good reason. Lost Creek and 50 West were both new to me, and offer up some interesting red blends, especially 50 West’s Tannat/Petit Verdot-based blend, which I found fascinating. Lastly, I tasted a Merlot from Rocky & Co., and I found the wine very attractive. This Middleburg-based project seems like one I need to watch.

These wines were all received as trade samples and tasted sighted. 

wines2015 Casanel Vineyards Chardonnay White Spark – Casey’s CuveeUSA, Virginia, Middleburg
SRP: $60
Light yellow color. Nose of tart lime, quince, sour lemon, with some perfume and sea spray notes. Zippy and tart on the palate, brisk with light bubbles and flavors of lime and crunchy green apples. Slight nutty and bread notes. Fun, fresh stuff, I’d love this with oysters. Made from all estate-grown Chardonnay, aged 36 months on the lees. (87 points IJB)

2017 Walsh Family Wine ViognierUSA, Virginia, Northern Virginia, Loudoun County
SRP: $29
Light yellow color. Floral and bright (baby’s breath, spearmint, honeysuckle) over top of peaches, lime, apricot, a very lively and bright aromatic display for Viognier. Plump texture but the acidity frames the wine well, keeps it fresh. Creamy but crisp with yellow apple, juicy peach, limes. Complex notes of hay, honeycomb, chalk dust, white tea. Harmonious and vibrant, this is a seriously well-done Virginia Viognier. 13.5%, aged in old oak, a blend of fruit from Bethany Ridge and October One Vineyards. (89 points IJB)

2015 Breaux Vineyards MeritageUSA, Virginia, Northern Virginia, Loudoun County
SRP: $45
Light purple color. Nose shows tart red and black currants, smoky tobacco, charcoal, leather and anise – super complex nose. Medium+ bodied, velvety tannins but nice backbone of acidity. A good mix of red and black fruits (currants, cherries) rich fruit but a tart edge, and some minty, smoky, beefy, peppery notes. Also some toasted coconut and vanilla, but it’s woven in well. Balanced, vibrant, expressive this is a really well-done Virginia Meritage. Aging this 2-3 years would be a great call. 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Petit Verdot, 23% Cabernet Franc, 2% Malbec, aged 18 months in oak. 13.9% alcohol. (89 points IJB)

deterts2017 Rocky & Co. Wines Merlot Reserve “Deterts”  USA, Virginia, Northern Virginia, Middleburg
SRP: $49
Medium ruby color. Spicy and lively on the nose, with a kick of rose petals, clove, pepper and sage over top of red and black cherries. Medium-bodied (13.3%), built…

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