A Quick Stop at Barboursville

I think I first went to Barboursville in 2007 or 2008. While I haven’t been back to the winery since then, I have had their wine as it is so widely distributed — people bring it as gifts, you can find it on wine menus in restaurants. But today, two friends and I stopped in for a sampling, one was very interested in the Gold Medal-winning Vermentino for an upcoming party.

Barboursville adapted to the pandemic’s contactless serving system by implementing card–reading wine dispensers in their “Discovery Room.”

You walk up with your glass, plug in the card you purchased on entry, put your glass under the right tube and select the wine you want to taste. It quickly dispenses about an ounce or so into the glass for you to sample and enjoy.

We all went in different directions, with the friend who instigated the trip sampling the Vermentino. I went for the rose, a blend of Petite Sirah and Nebbiolo grapes. This was a nice dry rose, but I cannot overcome my disdain for Nebbiolo. It was good, but on a cool windy day, it just didn’t fit.

On to the Sauvignon Blanc. You may know how much I adore Sauvignon Blanc in general. This was a nice one, not quite as acidic as I typically enjoy. The woman helping us shared that they do make it in a New Zealand style. It had the hint of flowers to it and I enjoyed it. It wasn’t as crisp and bright as my favorites though.

I moved to reds next. I began with the Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Loved this one. Deep and full, tons of dark fruit to it. This is the epitome of the reds I like. I’d describe it as soft and luscious, fills your mouth up, and very drinkable. I was sad when my glass was empty.

My next wine was the Reserve Merlot. I used to hate and avoid Virginia Merlot. Walsh’s Russ Mountain changed that, and now I give every merlot a chance. While it was medium-bodied, it had a similar feel to it that I got from drinking the cab. No specific fruit stood out to me, but rather it was pleasantly drinkable and I quickly finished my taste. I actually spent the last taste on my card on this.

My fifth selection was the Cab Franc Reserve. I wasn’t as pleased with this one. I’m not sure whether I needed it to have more time or what, but it had this tannic sharpness at the end that I didn’t care for at all. This was my least favorite of the samples that day.

A friend shared samples from his card and I went after the Petite Sirah, which he said was fantastic. He was right. This was probably my #3 of the day, after the cab sauv and merlot. Although a medium-bodied wine I found a lot of depth to it. This was a real treat.

Wee moseyed on over to the Library Room for a seated tasting. My friends split a bottle of the Petite Sirah while I splurged on the Octagon Flight — a tasting of the 15, 16, 17 and 19 vintages. I say splurged because it was a $45 flight.

Octagon is a big award winner for them. It truly is their flagship wine and gets a ton of attention beyond Virginia. Each of these was lovely and aging very nicely. I’d say the ’19 was honestly my favorite, and I tend to love ’19 reds from all over Virginia. All of them are showing beautifully however, and worth the tasting. I may have been happier with a full glass as the small tasting pours went quickly, but the comparison was nice. It was self-guided with some notes on each year’s climate and the menu had notes on the various awards each wine won. It was quite overwhelming though, and the old-school tasting bar format would have been better for me to get a sense of what was actually going on in each wine and helped with what to look for in the taste. I’m starting to really miss that format.

All in all I enjoyed Barboursville wines and I’m glad I went back. The wine has very broad availability, in grocery stores and restaurants throughout Virginia and beyond. They may be the most recognizable Virginia wine brand because of the scale of production and overall quality of the wine. It’s really a well-run machine there as they manage a high volume of guests but have the staffing and facility to take care of everyone without crowds, backups, or issues. They run a tight ship.

So plan a stop there, enjoy the wine and the views. You’ll be glad you did!

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