Grapevine & Vintner Profile, Wining & Dining

Governor McAulliffe Announces Virginia Wine’s Governor’s Case and 2014 Governor’s Cup

An energetic Virginia Governor Terry McAulliffe presided over the Virginia Wineries Association (VWA) annual gala.  While Williamsburg Winery’s 2010 Adagio, a blended red wine, garnered the top award – the Governor’s Cup – nine other wineries contributed gold medal winning wines to round out the Governor’s case.

The historic ball room of the John Marshall Hotel was converted into a high end Virginia wine tasting room featuring each of the gold medal winning wines being sampled by winemakers.  Grapevine was privileged to garner an invitation to this private industry event.

In his remarks at the event, Governor McAulliffe said, “It is no secret the Commonwealth’s wine industry has experienced tremendous growth both in quantity and quality in recent years.  Such growth has an enormous impact on Virginia in terms of economic development and job creation.  The Virginia’s Governor’s Cup, now recognized as one of the nation’s most stringent competitions, helps raise awareness of the world class wines grown and blended right here in the Commonwealth”.

Williamsburg Winery’s 2010 Adagio is a blend of 42% Cabernet Franc, 30% Merlot and 28% Petit Verdot.  A true Virginia blend the Cabernet Franc was grown by Benevino Vineyards in Winchester, half of the Merlot was estate grown in Williamsburg with the other half grown by Breaux Vineyards in Purcellville, the Petit Verdot was 100% Williamsburg estate fruit.

The wine is aged in French, American and Hungarian oak barrels with 43% of the barrels being new oak.  The newer oak provides strong tannic backbone to the wine while the older barrels (1, 2, and 3 year old) help round the tannins on the finish.

Deep and dark in the glass, the 2010 Adagio has a nose filled with dark fruit.  The attack highlights blackberry and blueberry notes.  The mid-palate is most expansive with smooth tannins, molasses, dates and cinnamon. The finish lingers likely with a nutty undercurrent.  This wine has matured nicely and has great flavor integration.

According to Matthew Meyer, vice president and winemaker of the Williamsburg Winery, “Adagio, from the Italian ad agio, or ‘at ease’, is a musical term indicating the tempo of a composition that is meant to be slow and stately, so named in honor of the extraordinary depth, elegance and grace of this wine.”

With its jammy fruit and earthy undercurrents the 2010 Adagio is a very food friendly wine.  Suggested pairings include hearty, savory flavored main dishes such as herb crusted rack of lamb or Angus tenderloin medallions with black truffles.

Any wine made in 2008 or after and is from 100 percent Virginia fruit was eligible to be entered in the Governor’s Cup competition.  In total 410 of the best Virginia wines were presented to a world class judging panel.  After two rounds of judging over the course of 13 days, each wine receives a score.

Jay Youmans, one of only 31 Masters of Wine (MW) in the United States, directed the competition.  Youmans who is also a Certified Wine Educator and the owner of the Capital Wine School said, “The new format for the Virginia Governor’s Cup will make it one of the preeminent competitions in the U.S. today. It will become the benchmark with which all other wine shows will be measured, not simply because of the quality of the judges or the rigorous selection process, but because of the critical feedback given to each participating winery.  The competition will send notice to the industry that Virginia is serious about producing high-quality wines”.

Twenty wines earned scores resulting in Gold Medals.  Nine of the twenty were from the Monticello American Viticultural Area (AVA) located around Charlottesville.  Interestingly, many of the other Gold Medalists were either from Loudoun County or were made from grapes grown in Loudoun County.   The 12 wines with the highest scores are identified as the Governor’s Cup Case® [including our friend and fellow Old Town Crier Columnist Doug Fabbioli].  The wine with the highest score is the 2014 Governor’s Cup Winner.

The 2013 Governors Cup winner Barboursville Vineyards had three wines included in the Governors case.  Our highlight was the 2010 Octagon – a Bordeaux style blend (60% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot) that features interwoven ripe berries and earthiness.  A touch tannic now it will age nicely over the next three to seven years.

The aforementioned Doug Fabbioli was in great sprits at the Gala as his winery Fabbioli Cellars received two Gold Medals.  Their 2011 Tannat is actually a blend of 76% Tannat, 19% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot.  Deep and dark in the glass, the nose is complex with layered aromas of smoke, raspberry and spice.  The expansive mid-palate exposes pomegranate, plum and vanilla.

Orange County’s Horton Vineyards Gold Medal winning 2010 Tannat (100% Tannat) is a chewy full bodied earthy wine with dark stone fruit on the mid-palate.  Aged in both new and neutral French barrels, winemaker Mike Heny has created a balanced wine with a strong tannic backbone and a long spicy finish.

Winemaker Matthieu Finot has done it again as King Family Vineyards 2011 Meritage received a gold medal.   For the third time in as many years, King Family Meritage is a part of the Governors Case®.  The 2011 vintage includes 49% Merlot, 30% Petit Verdot, 15% Cabernet Franc and 6% Malbec.  The nose is filled with cherry, blueberry and notes of cocoa.  The Merlot contribution is evident on the nice round attack.  The long vanilla accented finish includes a strong raspberry component

With an even blend of 37.5% Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, the balance ofSunset Hills Vineyard 2010 Mosaic includes 18.75% Cabernet Franc and 6.25% Petit Verdot.  The multilayered nose on this wine includes dark elements like, tar, tobacco and blackberry.  The mid-palate is surprisingly fruity with licorice and smoke.  Finish lingers nicely with elements of baked bread or toast.

For the first time in this writer’s memory a new, yet to be opened winery has landed in the Governor’s Case.  Two Twisted Posts Winery’s 2012 Chardonnay from Purcellville received the only white wine Gold medal in the competition.  This full bodied Chardonnay was aged on the lees which help to absorb oxygen, assisting in maintaining a slow and controlled oxidation during maturation.  In addition, the youth of the winery resulted in the use of 100% new oak barrels for aging adding an unexpected layer of rich complexity to the wine.

Matthew Meyer, Governor Terry McAuliffe, Patrick Duffeler II, Patrick Duffeler of Williamsburg Winery.   Credit: Jay Paul Photography
Matthew Meyer, Governor Terry McAuliffe, Patrick Duffeler II, Patrick Duffeler of Williamsburg Winery.
Credit: Jay Paul Photography

Virginia wine is one of the most vibrant sectors of the state’s agricultural interests.  In 1979, there were only six wineries in Virginia; today there are over 250.  The Commonwealth boasts over 3,000 acres planted to wine grapes.  As one who has been engaged in the industry for over a decade, I encourage everyone to “Discover their Local Crush” by visiting a Virginia winery and tasting the quality.

Written by: Neil Williamson


Neil Williamson is the Chairman of The Virginia Wine Club Tasting Panel and the Editor of The Virginia Wine Journal.  He can be reached at

The Governor’s Case
Williamsburg Winery           2010 Adagio – Governor’s Cup Winner

Barboursville Vineyard –           2008 Malvaxia Passito,  2010 Nebbiolo Reserve, 2010 Octagon

Barren Ridge Vineyard          2009 Meritage

Fabbioli Cellars                       2011 Tannat

Horton Vineyards                     2010 Tannat

King Family Vineyards            2011 Meritage

 North Gate Vineyard                 2011 Meritage

 Sunset Hills Vineyard –             2010 Mosaic

Two Twisted Post Winery –       2012 Chardonnay

0.00 avg. rating (0% score) - 0 votes