The Gabriel Archer Reserve Celebrates its 30th Anniversary - The Williamsburg Winery

The Gabriel Archer Reserve Celebrates its 30th Anniversary

Whites wines came first at The Williamsburg Winery. Then reds with the making of the Gabriel Archer Reserve — a blend that made a bold statement when it was introduced in 1991.

That makes this a milestone year with Jan. 22, 2021, marking the 30th anniversary of the inaugural release of the Gabriel Archer Reserve, among the first Bordeaux-style blends produced in the Commonwealth.

A three-pack of the 2017 Gabriel Archer Reserve for $90 will commemorate the occasion. That price is available at The Williamsburg Winery Shop and online from Jan. 22-24, 2021.

The Williamsburg Winery founder Patrick Duffeler recalls the buzz behind the first vintage after he entered it in the auction at the Chesapeake Bay Wine Classic.

“People were fighting to try to get the first case,” he says. “It had an impact. It had an impact from the marketing point of view and an impact from a lot of fine restaurants in Richmond. It was very popular.”

The blend is distinguished by its ruby garnet color and a beautiful balance of fruit and earthy notes complemented by a hint of oak and chewy tannins.

Duffeler shares this thinking 30 years ago: “My concept was to look at some serious red wines and be inspired by them. That’s how I came up with the idea of the Gabriel Archer Reserve.”

Naming the wine for Gabriel Archer was an easy decision. Capt. Gabriel Archer was among the early explorers who founded English America. He wanted to locate the early settlement at the mouth of a creek on a piece of land called Archer’s Hope. His rival, Capt. John Smith, overruled him in favor of Jamestown Island. Today Archer’s Hope is part of Wessex Hundred.

Duffeler intended to elevate the status of Virginia wine with the Gabriel Archer Reserve — introducing a Bordeaux-style wine was integral for the state to evolve into a serious contender in order to one day compete with burgeoning global leaders California and France.

The Gabriel Archer Reserve also makes a statement about the longevity of The Williamsburg Winery. Back in 1991, the Commonwealth was home to 43 wineries. Today, the number has ballooned to roughly 300. The Williamsburg Winery, in its infancy in the ’90s, has reached a maturity that few wineries in the state can match. Duffeler has been the trailblazer for every phase, applying a thoughtfulness to each evolution.

What hasn’t changed — each bottle of the Gabriel Archer Reserve then and now offers this simple sentiment — “Enjoy life!”

The 2017 Gabriel Archer Reserve is an old-world style wine offers many layers of black and red cherries, raspberries, strawberries and blueberries, which then go into a more aged fruit of figs, prunes and dates. Next to the fruit are some black olives, truffles, a touch of the forest floor and a hint of graphite. Behind these layers is a soft spice note of cinnamon/nutmeg. The oak is well structured with the fruit and earth notes. The tannins are big but approachable. Overall, the wine is very well balanced with a lot of old-world charm.

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