winery visit – barboursville vineyards.

on saturday, january 30, my friend and i visited barboursville vineyards for a tasting and facility tour.  kimberly duty, the friend with whom i visited the winery, is also in this class – friends who share a love for wine are the best kind.

although we completed the tasting before we received the tour, i will discuss the facility and grounds before i review the wines i tasted.  the first phase of the tour began in the tasting room, during which we learned about the history of the grounds, the barbour family, and the current owners of the vineyard, the pascina family.  the vineyard’s founder, james barbour, was friends with thomas jefferson and became interested in politics at the age of 23.  james built the grounds to include what would later come to be called the 1814 barbour mansion ruins, the palladio restaurant, the 1804 inn, the library 1821, and the winery.

the new owner, luca pascina, is very hands-on in his management of the property and wines.  he requires 95 percent of the grapes for the barboursville wines to be grown on the property – shipping the other five percent of the pinot noir grapes needed for his wines from the barboursville sister vineyard in lombardy, italy called tenuta II bosco.  before any wine can be bottled, luca tastes it to decide if it is good enough to stand on its own or if it requires a mixture with another wine to meet the standards to which he holds the vineyard.  because of luca’s knowledge and skill in the world of viticulture, barboursville vineyard is the most awarded vineyard in the state of virginia.

for the next portion of the tour, we moved to the octagon room.  here is stored luca’s pride and joy – the octagon wine.  a three litre bottle of octagon wine can cost up to $510.  a mix of merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet blanc, and petit verdot,  this wine is the most expensive of those produced by barboursville.  it is the first production to be stored in new barrels that luca sources from two specific forests in france, where a single tree is grown for 100 years before being made into only four barrels.  after the octagon wine has been aged in the barrels, they can be used to store and age the lower quality red wines for eight to nine years in a room that is 70 degrees.  as is common, barboursville ages white wines in metal tanks in a room that is kept at a chilly 50 degrees.  the tour concluded by walking through the rooms where the wooden barrels and metal tanks are held for aging.

the tasting was separated into five stations, at which anywhere from three to six wines were poured.  i will list all wines that we tasted before going into detail about some of my favorites.

at the first station, we tasted the following wines:

brut – $24.99

brut rose – $24.99

pinot grigio 2014 – $14.99

chardonnay 2014 – $13.99

sauvignon blanc reserve 2014 – $19.99

vermentino reserve 2014 – $22.99


at the second station, we tasted:

viognier reserve 2014 – $21.99

chardonnay reserve 2015 – $15.99

vintage rose 2014 – $14.99

riesling 2014 – $12.99


at the third station, we tasted:

barbera reserve 2014 – $21.99

sangiovese reserve 2014 – $21.99

petit syrah 2013 – $24.99

merlot 2013 – $14.99


at the fourth station, we tasted:

cabernet sauvignon 2014 – $14.99

cabernet franc reserve 2013 – $24.99

petit verdot reserve 2012 – $31.99


at the fifth station, we tasted:

cabernet blanc – $9.99

rosato – $9.99

phileo – $16.99

paxxito 2010 (previously malvaxia) – $31.99


my reviews of my favorite wines are below, as well as the descriptions provided by the barboursville staff about each one.  i also included the octagon 2010 ($69.99) in my review – of which i bought a half glass after hearing its praises all afternoon.


brut rose – $24.99

winery review: bottle-fermented with 100% pinot noir in the northwest of italy.  this collaboration of winemakers from tenuta II bosco and barboursville vineyards results in an exclusive expression of a classic viticultural vision.

my review: this wine had both fruit smells and flavors to it, followed by a dry, crisp finish that left the mouth with a tangy acidity.  the freshness and lightness of the rose was complimented by the bubbliness of its champagne body.


chardonnay reserve 2015 – $15.99

winery review: barrel fermented and then aged in oak for five months, the wine is exploding with rich, complex flavors of quince and vanilla.  a balanced acidity is well proportioned with the generous body; bottle aging is suggested to experience the finest from this exceptional vintage.

my review: scents of peach and vanilla spices were the first things i noticed about this wine.  it leaves a robust and toasty finish on the tongue, reminiscent of a malbec.


sangiovese reserve 2014 – $21.99

winery review: the king of tuscan viticulture, gentle and refined, with plenty of cherry and plum aromas that are well integrated with a lingering finish and a round structure.

my review: this was my favorite wine from the tasting, as it brought back happy memories of my summer in florence and working wine tastings throughout tuscany.  it smelled of fruits, especially black cherries, and was so rich that i couldn’t wait to taste it.  the perfect combination of spices, dark fruits, and tartness, this wine was incredible.


merlot 2013 – $14.99

winery review: limited oak aging, offering supply berry flavors with distinctive tones of butterscotch and raspberry.  has medium body and extremely soft tannins.

my review: hints of caramel and raspberry, with a soft, mellow taste when it reaches the sides of your tongue.  smooth finish.


octagon 2010 (14th edition) – $69.99

winery review: the most honored virginia wine from a great vintage.  with little rain at harvest, this wine enjoyed ideal growing conditions.  a scarlet gem of a harmonious blend of merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, and petit verdot; black cherry and berry notes precede a palate rich in mulled spices and sweet majoram.  hold a few years to experience one of the finest american wines of 2010.

medals: california critics challenge best in class, 96 points; seven gold medals

my review: the richness of this wine was immediately present in its scent.  possessing hints of blackberry and allspice, the bouquet could only be superseded by the taste.  well worth its impressive price tag, this wine tasted like bits of dark chocolate, caramel swirls, and a delicious blend of dark berries and fruits.