Luca Paschina, the talented winemaker at Barboursville Vineyards north of Charlottesville, has long argued that Virginia needs an iconic wine that is consistently good across vintages and can age well. Such a wine is necessary for Virginia to earn a reputation as a truly world-class wine region, he says. Paschina has offered his Octagon, a Merlot-based Bordeaux blend, as such an icon. Other wineries are aiming as high with their top cuvées, but Octagon has a head start if only because Paschina has been making longer than most.
Barboursville is now ready to make a statement about the age-worthiness of its wines. In July, the winery opened Library 1821 (named for the year James Barbour took residency in the mansion designed for him by Thomas Jefferson) for weekend visitors to enjoy selected older wines from the winery’s cellar. And in August, Barboursville made older vintages of Octagon, Nebbiolo, Cabernet Franc and Malvaxia (a passito-style dessert wine) available for sale online.
I’ve been fortunate to enjoy some retrospective tastings at Barboursville over the years. Octagon, the Nebbiolo Reserve and Viognier Reserve age impressively well, remaining fresh while developing complexity and additional character over time. The Malvaxia develops an exotic richness as it mellows. Virginia wine fans are in for a treat.