RdV Vineyards just won another vote in its effort to become known as “Virginia’s First Growth.” Jancis Robinson, who keynoted the recent Wine Bloggers Conference in Charlottesville, wrote about RdV and its founder, Rutger de Vink, in her Saturday column in the Financial Times, saying de Vink’s wines “are already looking thrillingly good” and “stand a good chance of putting the state on the world wine map.” She gave her highest ratings – 18 of 20 points – to the RdV 2009 and 2010 (both of which are not yet released), describing the 2009 as “sort of a Margaux!” with “Great build,” and the 2010 as “Sweet and seductive. Monumental and enormous.” Those are not descriptions often written about Virginia wines.
(Robinson posted this video of her tour around the RdV vineyards with de Vink in his truck. You can get a sense of his character and his quest by the way she lingers on his hat on the dash and the dreamcatcher dangling from the mirror.)
Robinson also had high praise for wines from Barboursville and Linden, as well as several other wineries, including Ankida Ridge (a “new and exciting producer”). In fact, she published tasting notes of 50 Virginia wines scoring 15 or higher on her website, though these are available only to subscribers of her Purple Pages. While she seemed underwhelmed by Virginia viognier (praising Breaux, Barboursville and Blenheim for theirs), she praised the state’s “enthusiastic winemakers” for not being afraid to make sweet wines, and said “All the wines were sound and well made.”
The praise for RdV will likely garner the most attention from the wine world. RdV Vineyards launched its first wines, the 2008 RdV and Rendezvous, last spring at the eye-catching prices of $88 and $55, respectively. The winery does not have a tasting room and is not open to unannounced visitors, but last week de Vink announced that he would welcome small groups for pre-arranged tours and tastings.
“After visiting several wineries across the US (and beyond) this year, we realized that the winery tours that we favored were one-on-one visits. Visits where the winemaker explained his or her philosophy and showed how this philosophy translated into care of the fruit, appreciation for the land and beautiful wines,” the winery said in an e-mail to subscribers signed by “The RdV Team.”
“Our tours will be limited to one group at a time and will be led by either Rutger or our cellar master, Joshua [Grainer]. Tours will begin with a comprehensive tour of our vineyard, winery and underground cave and culminate with a tasting of both RdV and Rendezvous. Throughout the tour, guests will be given a unique chance to learn about our winemaking philosophy, sample our wines and see our site firsthand. We have also allocated wines for purchase on site.” Dinners or private events may also be scheduled.
This won’t be your typical winery visit. A tour will cost $40 per person. Having visited RdV several times and walked the vineyards on my own and with Rutger and Joshua, I can say the tour will be worth the fee for those interested in learning how top-quality wine is made and how an upstart winery in the heart of Virginia’s horse country can make one of the world’s leading wine critics think of Margaux when tasting its wines.