RdV Vineyards, Virginia’s most heralded new winery last year, will release its second vintage on April 10. If you weren’t able to purchase any of the inaugural 2008s before they sold out, there’s good news: The 2009 production of the top two wines is about double the previous year’s, as more vines entered production.
There are also some changes, at least on the labeling. The premiere wine last year was simply called “RdV,” in the manor of major Bordeaux chateaux. This year, it will be called “Lost Mountain,” the name of the hillside where the winery and vineyards are located near Delaplane, just off Interstate 66.
“People got a little confused, looking at wine lists and seeing RdV RdV,” said Rutger de Vink, the man behind the initials and the winery. “Using the Lost Mountain name will emphasize our connection to our terroir.”
The Lost Mountain will still sell for $88 a bottle, the same price that sent eyebrows soaring with the RdV 2008. But after terrific reviews by Jancis Robinson and excited chatter on Internet bulletin boards, the RdV quickly sold out.
Rendezvous, RdV’s second label, will sell for $75 with the 2009 vintage, up from $55.
I tasted both of the 2009s a year ago, when I visited RdV as the 2010s were being blended by de Vink’s Bordeaux consultant, Eric Boissenot. I felt they were even better than the excellent debut vintage, with the 2010s showing even more improvement. The 2008 Rendezvous needed some time in a decanter to shake off its youthful awkwardness, but the 2009, at least back then, was more polished and harmonious.
For the 2008s, de Vink sold a third wine, which he calls “Friends and Family'” for about $25. This wine will be devoted to philanthropic causes and to its namesake purposes with the 2009 vintage, de Vink told me.
With the new vintage release, the winery will also be initiating a new Ambassadors program. Customers who purchase at least six bottles a year will be given guaranteed access to the wines upon release as well as priority access to winery events such as tastings, dinners, etc. And those events will feature other Virginia wines as well, de Vink said, instead of Champagne and Bordeaux.
“We want to show the best Virginia can do,” he said.
In addition to filling me in on the details of the new vintage release, de Vink told me he recently blended his 2011 cuvées with Boissenot and his vineyard consultant, Jean-Philippe Roby. RdV struggled with the rainy 2011 harvest as did other Virginia wineries, and production will be considerably lower than in previous years, de Vink said. But he still will release a top wine, the Lost Mountain, as well as a Rendezvous, while other wineries have chosen to “declassify” and not release wines under their top labels.
RdV was hit by hail in July last year, which already damaged the crop before the rainy harvest further reduced yields.
“We have good wine, just not as much as we’d like,” de Vink says.
De Vink realizes the 2011 vintage will be the first real test of his winemaking skill under adverse harvest conditions. It will be two years before the public gets a chance to evaluate that, and in the meantime we will have his stellar 2009s and 2010s to enjoy.