Virginia Viognier – A Tasting. Part Two Of Two

Following on from my previous post, this is the second part of my Virginia Viognier tasting.


Barboursville Vineyards Viognier

Barboursville Vineyards Viognier

General Tasting Notes:

No oak, but they leave this one in contact with the lees (dead yeast cells) in order to give the wine added complexity. Medium in body, the standard Viognier notes of peach and apricot are certainly there, backed a little sourdough and a decent amount of acidity; to give the Barboursville Viognier a mellow roundness, which according to the winery will improve with 3-5 years of bottle age.

Recommended Food Pairing: The winery recommends a scaloppini of Venison in a butter-lemon-thyme sauce.

Case Production: 1,350

Retail: $22

Winemaker Bio: Luca Paschina is the third generation winemaker from Piedmont, Italy. He graduated from the Winemaking Institute in Alba in 1982, and has been involved in winemaking and grape growing in Italy, Switzerland, Spain, West Germany (1989), Napa Valley, and the Finger Lakes. He finally settled in Virginia in 1990. 


Cooper Vineyards Viognier

Cooper Vineyards Viognier

General Tasting Notes: Subdued on the nose, but with bright citrus immediately on the palate, giving way to tropical fruit, dried apricot, and a little nutmeg. A tad fuller in body than the Barbourville, and lingers on the palate for a little longer.

Recommended Food Pairing: Light seafood dishes, such as crab cakes or tilapia with mango salsa. Also soft ripened cheeses.

Case Production: 268

Retail: $23

Winemaker Bio: Graham Bell first started working in the Virginia Wine industry with Montdomaine Cellars in 1990. His emphasis on careful, patient fruit handling and ability to be flexible in his treatment of different varietals have been integral to the development of the Cooper Vineyards portfolio.

Delaplane Cellars Maggie’s Vineyard Viognier

Delaplane Cellars Maggie's Vineyard Viognier


General Tasting Notes: A complete contrast to the last two, the Delaplane is much more expressive and vibrant once it hits your tongue. The nose doesn’t do it justice! Fully-ripened peach, pear and subtle baking spices; the palate showing more of the same, with a certain bready-nuttiness. Also seems to have a little more sweetness than the rest, but not overly done or cloying. A truly beautiful wine.

Recommended Food Pairing: The wine should pair well with Asian foods as well as other spicier dishes.

Case Production: 145

Retail: $24

Winemaker Bio: Originally from Long Island, NY, Jim Dolphin spent most of his adult life in Richmond, Virginia where he enjoyed a successful career as C.F.O. of a large, publicly held R.E.I.T. His home winemaking hobby turned into an obsession and Jim enrolled in The UC Davis certificate program for winemaking. In 2007, Jim and his wife, Betsy, bought a 32 acre property in Delaplane, Virginia where they planted an initial 7 acre vineyard (11,000 vines) devoted primarily to red Bordeaux varieties plus some Petit Manseng and a miniscule amount of Tannat. The winery also sources grapes from seven other Virginia vineyards.

The Conclusion

Barboursville Vineyards Cork


I can’t tell a lie, I went into this tasting with very low expectations.
Anytime I’m asked about wine from outside what you would consider the “usual” wine producing regions of California, Washington, Oregon, and even New York, I’m always a little wary. Maybe my view has been more than a little skewed by all the Florida wines I’ve tasted!
Whilst I did have a few favorites amongst the bunch (Horton Vineyards, Delaplane Cellars and Blenheim Vineyards) there wasn’t a single dog in the whole lineup. In a blind-tasting, I guarantee you that someone who might normally turn their nose up at these types of wines would be in for a mighty shock!

It really seems that Virginia really is making a decent attempt at developing a credible wine industry for itself, and if the 6 bottles I sampled were anything to go by, they seem to be moving in the right direction. Of course over the coming years, the real test will be how well the wines sell away from their home turf. However If they keep pursuing the quality of their Viognier, I think they’ll do just fine!


Wine tasting mission control.


  • July 18, 2011


    Two comments. I agree that Virginia wines can be extremely spotty in quality, but the Viogner grape is one that seems to do very well in the region in the hands of a talented winemaker. Keswick Vineyards also produces some beautiful viogners.

    Anda side note, Luca Paschina is a man.

  • July 19, 2011

    Kris Chislett

    I’ll keep my eyes out for the Keswick.
    Thanks for the clarification on Luca! I have no idea how I managed to make he a she! Change has been been made. Thanks for the comments!

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