October Virginia Wine Chat with Michael Shaps

I’m a bit behind on writing up my post about this month’s VA Wine Chat which took place on the 15th. The guru wasn’t with me for this tasting as he was slinging drinks at the bar that evening. Our gracious host Frank came to us from the office of Michael Shaps and after a few technical glitches we had a great discussion about the featured wines and VA wine as a whole. Michael operates under both the Michael Shaps and Wineworks labels and on top pf making great wines in VA has been on the cutting edge of wine trends; first boxing several of his Wineworks varietals and now offering growler fills as well. It has been a while since the guru and I made it out to the Wineworks tasting room and at the time, we did our tasting steps from the crush pad in a warehouse. I hear they have recently built a great new space to keep up with their popularity and demand and I hope we have the chance to go back and see it soon. We enjoyed three wines during this tasting including a Petit Manseng, a Cabernet Franc and a Meritage.

2014 Petit Manseng: This is one of the perhaps lesser known varietals being grown in VA with many wineries using it as a mixing grape but I hope more start focusing more on it because there is a lot to love. This was a great wine to start out our tasting, it had a wonderful balance of acidity and some sweeter honey notes that hid the relatively high alcohol content (14.6%) of the wine well. I think was stood out the most for me was the rich mouth feel of the wine. For roughly $30 a bottle this wine drank at a much higher value for me. Michael said this was only his 3rd vintage of Petit Manseng, let;s hope he keeps ’em coming!

2013 Cabernet Franc: It is no secret that I an a fan of VA Cabernet Francs, I love how unique they are and the spice and pepper notes. This wine delivered on those expectations and was a nice medium bodied red, a beautiful garnet color in the glass with some tart raspberry notes. Michael expressed that this was aged 18-20 months in 50% new French oak but he might have liked it to have aged a bit longer in demand had not been an issue. This was another well priced wine at $28-30.

2010 Meritage: This Meritage is a blend of 40% Merlot, 24% Cab Franc, 12% Petit Verdot, 12% Malbec, 12% Cab Sauv. I have always joked that my super power is being able to detect whenever Petit Verdot is part of a blend, it has a very distinct flavor that stands out to me (not in a bad way, I love Petit Verdot). That being said, while I could still tell it was in this Meritage it didn’t overwhelm it for me the way a seemingly small 12% sometimes can. I think that’s because the Merlot that is the base of this bland brings such great earthy notes to the table that it does a good job of mellowing some of those Petit Verdot notes. There was a lot of dark fruit and herbal noted in this wine and at $50 a bottle it might not be for every day drinking but it would be great with a nice steak dinner.

It was another great VA wine chat and I’m looking forward to the next with Frank.