I have a special affection for Veritas, as it’s the spot of my first overnight trip in Charlottesville. It was my 40th birthday and my present to myself was to stay at their B&B down the road – The Farmhouse. Needless to say, it was a pretty awesome birthday. Do the dinner – it’s worth it!
This time I arranged a tour. My guide was George Hodson, a member of the clan that runs the place. His parents founded Veritas in 1999, way before Virginia wine tourism was even a thing. Now, at 15K cases/year Veritas is one of the larger producers in the area. But it’s still a family run operation, with all three kids working various roles including that of Veritas’ head wine maker.
Since I’m all about dirt we started my visit with a tour of Veritas’ 60 acre vineyard (another 30 acres are offsite). Standing at the top of the hill I could quickly see this location is exceptionally suited for vinifera. Nearby Rockfish Gap gives their vines excellent airflow, and with an elevation between 700-1400 feet they are less susceptible to frost damage. Since good fruit is always the basis of good wine, this was a positive indicator of things to come.
Veritas tends to be traditional in the grapes they grow & styles of wines, but they weren’t trying to duplicate France or – even worse – California. I found plenty French grapes and some hybrids (hello Chambourcin and Traminette), but no Cabernet Sauvignon. Oddly enough this was a plus for me, because too many Virginia wineries plant grapes that simply aren’t suited to our terroir. That said, Emily Pelton – one of Virginia’s few lady winemakers – is also the winemaker at Flying Fox down the road, where she gets to showcase her experimental side.
We did a return trip to the tasting room to try some of Emily’s wines. I liked all of them, but they definitely saved the best ones for last. What I had:
2018 Sauvignon Blanc: Good acid; green apples notes and some tartness
2017 Viognier: Unlike a lot of Viogniers this was not overly floral. 5 months neutral oak. Noticeable body & mouthfeel.
2017 Harlequin (Chardonnay): Some butter, a touch of oak, apple notes.
2014 Petit Manseng (Petit Manseng dessert wine): Dry & heavy on the tongue, 14.2% alcohol.
White Star (white blend): You could tell based on the nose this had some Traminette; easy drinking wine.
2018 Rose: Beautiful pink color! I’m a sucker for Roses that ‘look’ like how I think a Rose should look.
2017 Cabernet Franc: Soft and (relatively) mild; only a little bit of spice. But no tobacco or bell pepper notes, which I find many places tend to overemphasize. Definitely a well-made Cab Franc.
2017 Claret (Bordeaux blend): 8 months in oak; black fruit with some tannin.
2016 Vintner’s Reserve: Now we’re talking! Petit Verdot heavy; as a PV fan you can excuse me if I savored this longer than my previous servings. Restrained tannins; the mouthfeel spread out nicely. This was my favorite of the bunch…until…
2016 Petit Verdot: 16 months French Oak. To me this is the quintessential Virginia grape, so forgive me if my love of the Vintner’s Reserve was quickly displaced.
Red Star: Blend but heavy on the Chambourcin; another easy drinking red.
Othello’s port-style: Malbec and Tannat, which I found an unusual blend but they played well together. Not alcohol-y but still bold while retaining the fruitiness. Definitely one of the nicer ports I’ve had in a while (PS – Tannat is up there with PV for favorite grapes).
Last but not least was their Kenmar Ice-style wine, where the grapes are flash-frozen. I enjoyed it – especially since I don’t often get to try many in this area.
Not tried this time was their kitchen or an outdoor concert – maybe next time?