I have no good explanation for it, but we haven’t been to Virginia Wineworks since the early days of this blog. I finally decided that I had to change this, so we pointed to Winery Assault Vehicle past First Colony Winery and decided to check out Michael Shaps’ current offerings. When we made our way to the tasting bar, we were informed about our tasting options: $5 for t Wineworks wines, $7 for the Shaps wines, or $10 for the whole shebang. As you might expect, we opted for the full tasting.
We started with one of the Wineworks box wines, the ’09 chard ($30 for the equivalent of 4 bottles). I love the idea of a local, quality box wine option for parties, camping, etc., and this wine struck me as perfect for a crowd. I noted some oak influence and plenty of apple on the nose and apple with a hint of vanilla/oak and pear on the palate. We then moved on to the Shaps ’08 chard ($24). This wine definitely had a bit more going on with it, and the oak influence was stronger, so I would want it to have more time and the right food pairing, but I found it to be really balanced. In addition to the vanilla/oak notes, I also noted apple and lemon and a fuller mouthfeel. The Wineworks box viognier ($30) was next. There was tone of honeysuckle which was joined by some soft peach on the palate. It was a solid wine, but I wasn’t loving it. The ’08 Shaps viognier ($20) was more my style. It was steel aged, but it spent some time on the skins which seemed to give it more body.
We then tried the ’10 Harris Creek White ($16), a white blend with 2.3% residual sugar. I noted rose and soft stone fruit on the palate and plenty of peach and tropical fruit note son the palate. The wine tasted sweeter than it smelled, and wasn’t really my thing. The Wineworks rosé ($14) then hit the glass to help us transition from whites to reds. This blend of cab franc, petit verdot, adn merlot was very fruity (berry) with a hint of black pepper and something that struck me as wood. It was fine, but I wanted more crispness and acid.
The reds began with the Wineworks ’10 merlot/malbec ($16). This was probably my favorite under the Wineworks label. I noted dark fruit with a hint of spice on the nose and lots of fruit (raspberry and blackberry) on the palate along with a tough of spice to balance it out. The Wineworks ’09 cabernet blend ($16), cab sauv and cab franc, was more tannic and less fruity. It may work better with food than it did on its own – the acid on the finish was particularly challenging to me. The Wineworks box cab franc ($30) came next. I was very fruity with a hint of black pepper on the finish. It wasn’t setting my world on fire, but it struck me as a good all purpose red that would, again, work well for a party. We then tasted the ’08 Shaps cab franc ($28). I had a lukewarm reaction to this wine, and it wasn’t particularly memorable. It was fine, and a bit softer than the box wine, but that’s about all I can say.
The ’08 Shaps merlot ($28) struck me as a solid wine that needs another year or two before it’s really ready for prime time since there were still some hefty tannins paired with a fair bit of fruit. The Shaps ’08 meritage ($40), a blend of 44% petit verdot, 33% merlot, and 23% cab franc) had some great layers of flavor with a solid acid backbone. I particularly liked the earthy, leather, and graphite notes from the petit verdot. Speaking of petit verdot, the ’09 Shaps was the next taste. This wine was still really tight, and it struck me as far too young, but I has a good acid structure with plenty of dark fruit flavors with a touch of earthiness. The final wine was the Shaps ’09 Raisin d’Etre ($25 for 375ml). This is a late harvest blend of 60% cab franc and 40% cab sauv. I noted black pepper and green notes on the nose with sweet raisin flavors.
All in all, I was happy with what I found. I gravitated towards the Shaps wines over the Wineworks offerings, but I was also impressed by the chard and cab franc boxes for parties and camping trips. Clearly I need to make sure we don’t wait so long to make a return visit next time. Help keep us honest and bug us if we wait this long again.
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