Virginia’s wine renaissance is being led by a few enterprising individuals, namely Rutger de Vink, the owner of RdV Vineyards. Inspired by the Grand Vins of Bordeaux, Rutger enlisted the aid of University of Bordeaux viticulturist Jean-Philippe Roby to find land that could produce a true “vin de terroir.” In 2004, Rutger found just what he was looking for 50 miles west of Washington, in the Middleburg appellation of Virginia, one of the rockiest regions in the state. Here, the thin and gravelly topsoils skim the granite surface, underneath are deep layers of clay. The vines thrive in this environment and much like the vineyards in Bordeaux, are planted on the hillside slopes of the estate.
The team at RdV reads likes a “who’s who” of Old Word and New World expertise. Vineyard consultants Alfred Cass, Ph.D. and Daniel Roberts analyzed and mapped the entire estate to identify which parcels were best suited to each varietal. In total, the vineyards span 16 acres – divided into eleven distinct parcels – and are planted to Cabernet Sauvignon (40%), Merlot (40%), Petit Verdot (12%) and Cabernet Franc (8%). Winemaker Joshua Granier works closely with Eric Boissenot, an oenologist who blends four out of the five first-growth Bordeaux wines.
The two estate wines, Lost Mountain and Rendezvous are made exclusively with estate fruit. The hand-picked clusters are stored for 24 hours in a refrigerated room and are triple sorted before they’re transferred via gravity into temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The size of each tank is matched to its vineyard block and fermentation and extraction procedures are customized based on vintage characteristics. In the spring following harvest, the individual wines are blended to form Lost Mountain and Rendezvous. Each wine is aged for approximately 18 months in new French oak and after bottling, mature for an additional 6-8 months before release.
|Thomas Jefferson, a native Virginian and a ”man of the soil,” was also an avid viticulturist who dreamed of creating a ”great American wine based on a French model.”
Today, Jefferson’s vision is a reality at RdV. Bordeaux grapes, planted on a granite hillside, have produced world-class wines that marry the elegance of Bordeaux with the bold spirit of California.