We weren’t actually going to go to Mountfair Vineyards on this trip. It’s not that we didn’t want to try their wines, it was that we had a chance to get a sneak preview of other vineyards that wouldn’t be open again for some time. As it turns out, Moss Vineyard, the second not-yet-open winery scheduled on our tour, just didn’t happen. The road was washed out, and there was no way were were going to make it. We actually turned around with the intention of heading back to White Hall to let them know about the road, then realized we could actually make it through to Mountfair.
Mountfair is a modest looking place. It’s nice, but it’s not a hoity-toity kind of place. We instantly loved it! As we walked into a once-again-packed tasting room, the rain had broken and it was getting somewhat pleasant outside. Inside, it felt like Cheers. By this third winery on the tour, we had been tasting with practically everyone in the tasting room. We bellied up to the long tasting bar, and were greeted by the winemaker and owner, Fritz Repich, who had glasses out before we even finished settling in. He was a great person to taste with: not only did he (obviously) know a lot about the wines, but his enthusiasm and overall friendliness made this feel like a second home.
They were, tragically, out of the Wooloomooloo. I say tragically because I’ve been reading about this wine on twitter for months, and I am dying to try it. It has it’s own hashtag, for heaven’s sake. Is there any other VA wine has it’s own hashtag? Every time someone tweets “Popped a bottle of #wooloomooloo,” there a bazillion replies about how jealous everyone is. I have no idea when the next vintage comes out, though I know Fritz told me–I just didn’t get it written down. They’re also sold out of their Engagement.
The thing about Mountfair is that they want to do what they do very well. They produce small amounts, as few as 100 cases of some wines, with care. Everything here is a Bordeaux style, and Fritz clearly would rather produce small amounts of wine he’s proud of in a style he loves than a lot of wine that’s just okay. I really admire that.
As we chatted, he poured us some 2008 Belated ($25). This is 60% Merlot, 30% Cab Franc, and 10% Petit Verdot. The nose has tobacco, some black pepper, and deep red fruits, mostly cherry. You can taste the Petit Verdot red fruits here, too, despite it being a small percent; but, they’re really well balanced wit the oak. I also got tack room on the palette, and I mean that in a good way: old and well-loved leather, hay, and general earthiness.
Next up was the 2008 Indigenous ($25). This is 100% estate-grown grapes, half Petit Verdot and half Cab Franc. The swirl showed a royal color, it was gorgeous. Lots of smoke on the nose and palette, and again the red fruit, this time more pronounced. Strawberry and some lavender registered for me. Overall, this was what I’d call an earthy wine, and was probably my favorite of the wines here. I could drink this alone, because I like big reds that make me think, but it would stand up to most foods. I didn’t write down a specific pairing.
The first single varietal was the 2009 Merlot ($20). As reds go, Merlot is generally just kind of “meh” for me. This one is a blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cab Frac. Lots of plum and vanilla on the nose, with a hint of green pepper and tobacco. This was surprisingly fruit forward while still being nice and dry, with notes of black cherry, green pepper, and some leather, all of which lingered nicely to the medium finish. This wold go well with any kind of BBQ, from grilled chicken to seared London Broil. It was a very solid Merlot, and better than many I’ve had in the same price point. It didn’t knock my socks off, but then again, few Merlots have that effect on me.
The last wine was the 2009 Cabernet Franc ($20). I’m a general fan of a well-produced Cab Franc. This had a lighter nose than I was expecting, and didn’t have as much of the green pepper as the Merlot, which was weird since that’s a characteristic I normally associate with Cab Franc (and yes, I know that debate about whether it should be there or not, but I LIKE that flavor in my Cabs Franc, thank you). I didn’t get a lot else on this wine, really. It was a solid, drinkable Cab Franc at a reasonable price, but I preferred the Merlot, which is just plain odd for me.
While we were tasting, Fritz rounded up the winery’s social media guru, Jacqueline Pullman, and we got to talk twitter and marketing, as well as wine tours and tasting. If you get a chance to pick her brain next time you visit, you really should. And, make sure you follow them on twitter. She’s fun and informative. We ended up in the caravan to glass House together, and she as one of the wonderful folks waiting on the other side of that wash out to make sure the rest of us got through alright.
Overall, I was really surprised by Mountfair. It’s this little secret winery that isn’t really a secret. Everyone who’s in the VA wine scene seems to know about (and own) several bottles, and from what I’ve seen and read everyone is excited about what they’re doing; but, the place is so unpretentious and welcoming it’s almost a surprise to get wine instead of beer. While I like Veritas, Pollak, and several others in the area, this is a welcome change of pace. It feels and tastes artisanal, and like you’ve found this little spot that’s your very own–where everybody knows your name.
So, up to this point, I do have to say I feel like the “Rah Rah” squad for this wine trail. Honestly, and I’ll admit surprisingly, nothing sucked. And there are wineries that do–I have a running list of “only if you’re making really sweet sangria out of it” and another list of “Never, under any circumstances” places and wines. There are some at all the vineyards on the trail that don’t blow my skirt up, and that I wouldn’t take home. But, unlike other trips, I didn’t have anything that ended with the tasting note “horse shit and acetone.” For which I am profoundly grateful, especially after the coconut-turned-lipstick incident. It took me days to get rid of that taste!
- Grab Your Life Jacket, And Triple A Card, We’re Going Wine Tasting! (eclecticedibles.wordpress.com)
- Quatro Verdot at White Hall Vineyards! (eclecticedibles.wordpress.com)
- Get an “Official” Taste of Spring on The Appellation Trail (cvilleuncorked.com)
- They’ve Got an Egg! And another Winery! (eclecticedibles.wordpress.com)
- 2011 Virginia Wine Expo (thegoodwineguru.com)
- Afton Mountain “Grapes Don’t Grow in Ugly Places” (cvilleuncorked.com)