Celebrate National Cabernet Day with a Virginia Red

It’s National Cabernet Day! As if you needed another reason to pour a glass of this rich, robust red with your dinner tonight. It’s simply perfection with an array of dishes including steak, burgers, rosemary crusted lamb and blue cheeses; just to name a few.

Cabernet Sauvignon is revered as one of the most sought after wines in the world. Look no further than Bordeaux and Napa Valley and you will find a cult following for prestigious bottles produced in those regions. Cabernet Sauvignon is a cross of Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc. Other regions like Washington State and Australia are gaining momentum in the production of this classic grape. But what about Virginia?

Yes, you heard that right. Not only is Virginia coming into its own as a premiere wine destination. Winemakers in the Commonwealth are discovering that red wines, particularly Bordelais varietals, are doing exceptionally well, specifically in certain regions and microclimates.

Stephen Barnard, Keswick Vineyards
Keswick Winemaker Stephen Barnard sporting a Pokeman shirt for his daughter at the WCHV studios in Charlottesville.

Enter Keswick Vineyards and winemaker Stephen Barnard. I had an opportunity to sit down with Stephen this week for my latest episode of Crystal Palate’s Wine Country which airs on Saturday mornings at 8:30am on Cville 107.5 and 1260 WCHV in the Charlottesville area. We tasted the newly bottled 2014 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon.

I wish I had the opportunity to blind-test this gem, because quite frankly I don’t know if I would have guessed Virginia. For far too long, many wine consumers, even locals have had a rather negative perception of red wines grown in Virginia. My, oh my, have things changed! Investments in viticulture, technology, better management of disease pressures and older vines are finally bearing fruit for the modern Virginia wine scene. Wine critics around the world are taking notice.

Barnard only produces the Estate Cabernet Sauvignon in exceptional vintages. The first bottling dates back to 2007.

The 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon will be released to Keswick’s wine club just in time for the holidays. The 2013 is available to sample in the tasting room. It’s definitely worth taking a day trip this long holiday weekend to visit this wine lovers paradise. The outdoor patio is pet friendly for all of you dog lovers out there.

For my exclusive tasting notes and more information on the Keswick Vineyards 2014 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, visit my website www.crystalpalate.com 

While the clay-based soils in much of Central Virginia are more suitable for other red varietals and whites, it seems that Cabernet Sauvignon can succeed quite well when grown in rocky, shale and schist soils that are found in pockets throughout Central Virginia.

If you were one to write off Virginia reds years ago, I encourage you to come back and give it another try, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. There’s no doubt Thomas Jefferson is smiling down upon his beloved Virginia and raising his glass to a job well done.

A full list of my podcasts are available here.