on tuesday, march 1, my friend and i visited chateau morrisette in floyd, virginia. my friend, kimberly duty, is also in this class.
chateau morrisette was begun by nancy and william morrisette in 1978 as a hobby. the original location was in woolwine, virginia – the town after which the winery was originally named.
they started with two wines: the red trilogy and the white virginia riesling. red trilogy was named such because it was the combination of cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, and petit verdot grapes.
the morrisette’s son, david, studied viticulture at mississippi state. he brought home his dog, hans, who ended up having an incredible influence over the winery alongside david. david made small changes to the original wines produced by his parents – such as adding one more grape to each wine and putting hans on the bottle labels – which led to a 200% increase in sales.
in 1999, the morrisette family built what is now the winery building. it had previously been housed on the first floor of the original building on the site, while the family lived on the second floor. now, the original building has been turned into a restaurant.
the new winery building is the largest salvaged and reclaimed building in north america, with over 185,000 board feet of reclaimed wood from the st. marie and st. laurence waterways in michigan. wherever possible, wooden pegs were used for construction. otherwise, when required by building codes, metal joints were utilized. all of the rock from leveling the land was used to build the bar, the fireplace, and the outside of the restaurant. the 90 foot beam in the tasting room was transported from seattle. when it reached the bottom of the mountain upon which the winery was built, the truck carrying the beam was unable to make the sharp turns and the beam had to be cut in two places. kimberly and i found all of these architectural elements particularly interesting, as we are part of the college of architecture.
there are two crushers on the premises, with a bladder on the interior that pushes the grapes to the side of the tank to crush them. the red wines begin in the 10 ton tank for their first pressing before moving to the smaller crusher for their second pressing.
in the fermentation room, both stainless steel tanks and oak barrels are present. chateau morrisette mixes french, american, and hungarian oak barrels to achieve the desired effect for their wines.
chateau morrisette produces many unique wines; the five i will describe from the tasting are:
2014 chardonnay – $19
winery review: this 2014 yadkin valley chardonnay was harvested in mid-september and fermented in stainless steel to preserve purity and freshness. after alcoholic fermentation, this wine wasn’t allowed to proceed through malolactic fermentation in order to accentuate delicate notes of lemon oil and wildflowers. a small portion of the wine (30%) was then aged in old french oak casks for several months to subtly develop the wine. old french barrels were hand selected to contribute to subtle complexity without overtly extracting oak characteristics. in order to enhance the wine’s texture and body, this chardonnay was then aged sur lie for over six months. in the glass, a vibrant melody of citrus blossom is exhibited on the nose with hints of cantaloupe on the palate. this wine has excellent depth and finishes with lasting notes of a citron-mineral zest. enjoy with subtle flavors such as seared ahi tuna, grilled chicken breast, or dried apricots and pecans. enjoy now, but the wine will continue to evolve for the next several years.
my review: this wine smelled of citrus and flowers, with a taste reminiscent of the sourness of pink grapefruit. the finish was intricate, but my best guess as to how to describe it was a mint/herbal element.
2013 chardonnay reserve – $33
winery review: lemon meringue and zest are full within its first breath. a clean balance of toasted coconut and almonds, but not enough to overpower the crisp, butter-laced finish. 100% barrel fermented and aged chardonnay to enjoy with the likes of caesar salad, grilled pork chops, sharp cheddar cheese, or better yet – a traditional thanksgiving dinner. enjoy now, but the wine will continue to evolve over the next several years.
my review: this wine smelled of almost nothing, but i eventually detected a slight hint of grapefruit. i tasted a wine that was creamy and buttery, with an enjoyable nuttiness on the finish.
2015 vin gris – $19
winery review: this rosé is made through a method called saignée which translates to bleeding. a red wine gets all of its color and most of its flavor from contact with the skins during fermentation. in order to concentrate flavor, aroma, and color in our red wines, we increased the ratio of skins to juice on the red tanks by “bleeding” some rose colored juice off of our red tanks. the happy result of utilizing this technique is both a lively, refreshing rosé and increased concentration in our red wines. vin gris is an extremely versatile food wine. it can pair with cuisine from many different regions. if you’re in the mood for mexican, try it with beef or chicken tacos. if you’d like italian, pair it with a creamy risotto. if you want a simple meal at home, throw practically any vegetable, meat, or fish on the grill and you’ll likely find that it pairs well with vin gris. drink now and enjoy throughout 2016.
my review: this vin gris had a wonderful scent, full of hints of strawberries and honey. it tasted equally sweet, yet not in an overpowering manner. i tasted notes of berries.
2012 chambourcin – $19
winery review: immediate impact of dark cherries and cranberry dominate the palate, but there are also hints of raspberry and toasted sourdough on the soft, clean finish. a fresh, fruit forward wine and obviously great for pizza, but fresh grilled hamburgers and pasta with rich, tomato sauces would pair just as well. enjoy now through 2017 or longer.
my review: i smelled blackberry, cherry, oak, and a small hint of licorice in this wine. the taste were somewhat similar, with notes of berries, dark cherry, and a scent that was reminiscent of cigar smoke, but not quite as strong.
2012 archival 1 – $21
winery review: a vibrant bouquet of crushed rose petals and fresh roasted coffee give way to dark, black cherries and currants. rich caramel notes lingered into a well-structured finish balanced spice and clove. definitely a steak lover’s choice (medium rare, please), yet hearty enough to stand next to baked lasagna or gorgonzola mushroom risotto.
my review: cherry and pomegranate notes combined with a strong astringent scent. the taste was full of dark fruits and oak.