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‘For (Wine) Lovers’: Virginia brands top competition, La Grange coming to China

Posted on | October 17, 2012 | No Comments


Coming to China: A wine called La Grange from a place called Prince William County.

While that might sound like an attempt to leverage one of Australia’s top labels (Penfold’s Grange), with “la” twist on the country most associated with wine (France) and hints of British royalty (Prince William), this winery hails, in fact, from Virginia, is owned by Chinese company Beida Jade Bird and just sent its first shipment to China. From this story by Jeremy Borden in the Washington Post:

For the Winery at La Grange in Haymarket, the development of a Chinese market is somewhat fitting. The property with the French name is anchored by a historic 19th-century home (now a tasting room), and the winery was started by local investors in 2005 before being sold this year to Beida Jade Bird, a Chinese company with offices in the District that primarily focuses on international education.

Although the approximately 2,400 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot that the winery sent overseas in August won’t mean big profits, La Grange hopes it means getting in on the ground floor in a market expected to grow exponentially in the coming years….

You can get more details on La Grange winery here.

In related news, October saw the first Virginia Wine Summit, as wine critic Steven Spurrier led an early “Breakfast of Champions” tasting of seven pairings of local wines versus wines from other regions, including Bordeaux, Napa, Douro and Loire Valley, and one pairing of ciders. Virginia won five of eight bottle-to-bottle matches. You can find more details here.

Dave McIntyre of the Washington Post reported on Spurrier’s take on Virginian wine (full story here):

As for grape varieties, Spurrier endorsed viognier as Virginia’s “calling card for whites,” and cabernet franc and petit verdot as its strongest reds. “Petit verdot is almost a unique calling card for reds,” he said, repeating a favorite analogy, “because very few wine regions in the world make a varietal petit verdot.”

He also praised the “novelties,” nebbiolo and petit manseng, an aromatic white variety from southwestern France that can excel as either a dry or a sweet wine. “Take the Tarara 2010 Honah Lee white,” he said, singling out one of the 12 highest-scoring wines in this year’s Governor’s Cup competition. It’s a blend of viognier, petit manseng and roussanne. “That’s a blend no one in France would even consider,” Spurrier said. The idea of blending viognier with petit manseng is completely out of the question.” Except in Virginia.

But why does Spurrier prefer Virginia wines over those from California? “They are not flashy or over-extracted,” he said. “They call for a second glass. It’s not very often with some of those big, burly 15 1 / 2-[percent alcohol] wines from California that I even want half of the glass in front of me.”

For more, click here for a tasting report by critic and consultant Richard Leahy and here for a write-up by Jean Case of Early Mountain Vineyards.

As demonstrated by this contest, not to mention recent ones involving Chinese wines, there are more and more places from which we can find the good drop.

As for the title of this post, “For (Wine) Lovers”, that’s a take on the Virginia’s travel and tourism slogan.

Steven Spurrier (far right) at the Virginia Wine Summit



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