What is it with the Greeks and their wine? This is the second Greek-American winery I’ve been to this month, and maybe the 4th this year – and just in Virginia. But even in an area known for its winery trails, Doukénie really stood out.
Doukénie is mid-to-large-sized by Virginia standards; they own or manage 55 acres under vine and produce 5,000 cases/year. They are also one of the older wineries in the area, having been founded in the late 1980s by a heart doctor (obviously he understood early on that a glass a day is healthy for you). The family history is very cool; that doctor is the grandson of a Greek emigrant named Doukénie, and it was Doukénie’s daughter Hope (now in her 90s) who nudged her son to plant grapes. In fact, Hope still bakes baklava for guests.
While I’ve never seen an ugly winery, Doukénie is especially amazing. They have a wonderful pond outside next to the deck. Let’s just say there’s a reason they are a perennial contender for Virginia’s favorite tasting room. It’s a shame it was raining because I would have loved to sit outside, although at least my friends and I had the benefit of having the place to ourselves.
My group was early so we were showered with attention by our tasting associate. Doukénie’s tasting sheets have tasting notes, but she preferred to ask what “You” think you taste first rather than lead you with what “they” say. Their wines trended towards dry & medium-bodied, although that seems to change slightly year-to-year.
What I tried:
2015 Pinot Gris: Bright, some apple notes. Petty good
2014 Chardonnay: Definitely a summer-themed drink; light bodied with lime notes.
2015 Mandolin white blend (named after grandma Doukénie’s actual mandolin): Grassy & melon flavors. Blend of Traminette and Vidal. This is the closest they have to a semi-sweet, although it was still only barely that.
2014 Merlot: Medium bodied, strong plumb notes and a very nice finish.
2014 Zeus: This is perhaps their signature wine, and the blend changes year-to-year. Last year was my favorite vintage since it had a lot of Tannat, but this blend had only a splash of it. But I still enjoyed it.
2014 Sangiovese: This was actually a members wine, but with a little bit of schmoozing (OK – begging) we got a sample. Typically these wines are light bodied, but they added some Petit Syrah and Tannat to give it body & structure. Seriously, this blew me away. Great advertisement for membership in their wine club!
2014 Vintner’s Reserve (red blend): Soft, green pepper on the nose, medium to full bodied and good complexity. Very good!
2014 Cab Sav: Soft, light to medium bodied. Liked it but after the last several it didn’t stand out.
Hope’s Legacy: Desert wine with raspberry notes, but too sweet for me.
One last thing about the tasting notes. Our server had perhaps the best tasting description ever, saying “This wine pairs well with Gilmore Girls”. I swear, my two friends just LOST IT. But I’ll just take it on her word that this is true!