Walsh Winegrowing Society Feb 2023 Allocation

It was an amazing afternoon in the Garden Room at Walsh Family Wine.

Now that I have relocated to Charlottesville, WFW is a daunting 2 1/2 hour drive. But it’s well worth it. This club package did not disappoint in the slightest.

On arrival, we were offered a splash of something at the bar and told to wait in the Garden Room. I must have missed the memo – it didn’t register on me that the barrels and production were moving. This space is gorgeous – it has a farmhouse style that is at once sophisticated and comfortable. Clearly the long tables are for dinners and educational sessions, while the small seating is for tasting room overflow. Fantastic vibe.

Nate walked us through the three wines in the allocation.

First up, the Pet Nat Alta – made from Viognier and Gruner Veltliner. When poured, it really had a lot of pear in my opinion, and nice bubbles. Nate mentioned how Pet Nat tries to capture the essence of the cellar work with the aromatics and unfinished fermentation. This does that. I occasionally enjoy pet nat, but the somewhat yeasty flavors in them overwhelm me a bit – husband describes it as “tasting like beer.” It was a nice one, but I swapped this one so I could get four more merlot for good ole Favorite Brother-In-law.

Next up the Chenin Blanc. Wooohooo! More Va Chenin is hitting the market. You probably know how much I adore Arterra’s Chenin Blanc. Hazy Mountain now has a Chenin on their menu, and it’s actually pretty good too. Not sure any other Va Chenin sticks out to me. This one is solid. It’s their first bottling, with the vines hitting 5 years old when these grapes were picked in 2021. It has all that I like about Chenin – nice acidity, dry, apple comes through – I didn’t feel it was very fruity, but then I like that in white wine. This will be amazing on the deck or patio when June/July rolls around. If it stays in my basement that long :).

Finally, the star of the show. When I was checking out, a woman at the bar said, “Hey it’s my first time here — is the wine good? What did you get a glass of?” I asked her if she liked bold red and she said, “Doesn’t everybody?” 2020 Bethany Ridge Tannat.

Spoiler alert – Nate hinted that a year from now Walsh may well be simultaneously offering three tannats from three different vineyards. I think that is enough to make me move into the Garden Room.

The intensity of smell here is incredible. It just smells dark. I get a hint of the oak that softened this wine and rounded it out. My untrained silly nose gets something like plum out of this, and the taste is outta this world. The tasting notes speak of blueberry and raisin, and I can see that. That long finish with the drying out of the tongue due to tannins. Mmmmmmm. This is what I adore in red wine.

Nate always goes down interesting tangents during release. We had two great discussions around pruning and screwcaps versus corks. He suggested screwcaps for reds to drink within 5 years, otherwise corks. I think there is some disagreement about that, but he notes how expensive cork has become, and that 80% or more of wine sold in the US is drunk within 24 hours of purchase. Well, there you go!

Walsh prunes from now until Mother’s Day, teaching the vines how they want them to grow. They have 55 acres under vine, so yeah, about 4 months or so. That’s a ton of focused work. But if it brings us this kinda quality, give me a pair of shears and set me loose….

I ended up with a glass of the tannat and a margherita flatbread in the Garden Room scrolling instagram and avoiding my ride home. By the time others were wandering in, I had finished everything and it was time to head home. This really was out of sight.

All three wines in this package are from Bethany Ridge, and I guess it must be magic, because the wines are consistently incredible. We also adore the Sauvignon Blanc from Bethany Ridge, and I think some components of the epic What Will the Women Drink (now sold out) are from there.

So when you hit up Walsh, which really wins for vibe and eclectic nature and consistently great wine, make sure you sample the tannat, and raise a toast to Bethany Ridge.

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