Winter Blending and Bottling Notes Give Nod to 2019 Reserves Including a Merlot in Class of its Own
Even with the vineyards dormant, the Williamsburg Winery is bustling this winter with the typical buzz surrounding blending and bottling. It’s one of the busiest periods at the winery topped only by harvest time.
Currently Winemaker Matthew Meyer is at work filtering the Petit Verdot Reserve, the Merlot Reserve, the Gabriel Archer Reserve and the Trianon in preparation for bottling.
The 2019 Adagio was bottled on Jan. 14 and guests at the winery’s four-course Adagio vertical dinner on Jan. 28 will get to sample that special blend. The dinner will also feature the 2015 and 2017 reserves. The 2019 Adagio won’t be for sale until October 2022.
After the 2019 reserves are bottled, Meyer will begin blending and bottling the 2020 reds, including the Virginia Appellation and the Wine Club blends. The 2021 reds will be moved from tanks to barrels.
“Once we get everything bottled, it slows down and we can focus on other things,” Meyer said.
Meyer anticipates outstanding reserves given 2019 was such an optimum year for growing grapes in Virginia.
“These are beautiful wines, extraordinary,” he said. “They are going to be some of the best reserves we’ve had as 2019 was such a great year and they’re going to spend almost two years in the barrel.”
The ideal vintage depends on ample precipitation in the spring and minimal rain from early August until harvest in October. It helps if the summer isn’t oppressively hot, which allows the grapes to remain on the vines longer to mature. The lack of heat prevents the grapes from getting sugar ripe before they are physiologically ripe.
“That’s exactly what we got in 2019,” said Kenny Bumbaco, Retail and Tasting Room Sales Manager at the Williamsburg Winery. “Whereas in 2017, we had a wet spring, but it was very hot, and we had grapes that ended up becoming almost raisins on the vine.”
In addition to quality of grapes, the quantity of the grapes from 2019 was also impressive, and that combination is unusual, Meyer said.
“Usually if you have quality, you don’t have quantity,” he said. “We had both. I believe the 2019 vintage to be the best I have experienced in Virginia in my tenure here.”
Meyer believes the 2019 Merlot Reserve will create its own spectacle, noting, “it’s probably the best Merlot Reserve in the history of the company.”
While it’s too early to forecast what 2022 holds, Meyer said, he’s pleased with the recent cold spell.
“The temperatures now help with the controlling the bug population,” he said. “But right now, it’s too early to make any real predictions.”