In the minds of some, there are a few indisputable facts about wine vintages; Argue about them to your peril. One of our favorites has to be: It rained that year, so the wines will be unfavorable.
Sweeping generalizations are dangerous and fool-hardy. Inevitably, the next wine in your glass will be the one that proves the generalization an unworthy use of oxygen.
I tasted several of those wines the other day. Our 2011's. Generalizing critics may consider themselves duly warned.
Boxwood is gifted with both resources and dogged work ethics but for all our commitment, channeling, and mental concentration we have not learned how to control the weather. If it could be done, you can believe Adam could figure it out - he is handy and determined. But he has no choice - as yet - but to work with weather-related circumstances.
2011 was a gorgeous warm season. In the home stretch as we headed into harvest, we faced rain in Northern Virginia. Rachel and Adam did not waste time in re-strategizing the harvest as the forecast loomed wet in the those last two weeks: More hands, moving faster. Agonizing sorting. Long, back-breaking days in the vineyard, then just as long on the press pad and in the Chai. It is not just a turn of phrase: Blood, sweat, tears, and money and no shortage of all of it brought in the 2011 vintage. As harvest progressed and Adam came to understand the nature of the vintage as it arrived in house, there was caffeine, dark circles under eyes, and nothing but deadly serious expressions.
In the meantime, the phones were buzzing; Writers looking for harvest reports. It had rained - and so that logic goes - the vintage is in trouble. But in grape-producing, sometimes it does rain. One can't be surprised: Rain should not stump you or cause you to be frozen in your circumstances. We worry about what we can control - and when it comes to those things, we are unrelenting task-masters and it is understood that we accept the expense and obligation of managing such a year. Do what you have to do, after all, to make fine wine.
No doubt, 2011 presented challenges. Good ones; the kind which, in years ahead, will define Boxwood's legacy as a great winery. By our definition, being a top winery is not just about making great wines; It is also about what we overcame to produce great wines.
Last week, the first post-fermentation 2011 vintage tasting convened upon Stephane Derenoncourt's arrival on Boxwood.
The 2011 Rose's were tasted first: Both the wine destined for the all-Malbec Rose, and those for the blend. Once we tasted, we were all nodding and smiling broadly. A few days later we would be thrilled when we received word the Rose was definitely going to be submitted for the Governor's Cup. The 2011 Rose's are beautiful, bright, and unforgettable. Just stunning.
Admittedly, the smiling might have been sweetened by all the ominous industry chatter about the 2011 year across the United States. It feels good to know you have overcome. And even better when you're confident you're on top. All that work - for a harvest which had the quality of a silent emergency - paid off.
We want to correct the impression that it was not a good year for wine. In fact, it was tiring and trying at times but if you are determined beautiful wines can be made, have been made.
2011 is just one of those years that makes a winery, a fine winery. A lot of people can make delicious wines while the sun shines. I am proud to write it of Adam's group that they made magnificent wine while it poured. Youth, pragmatism, and patience are those intangible things in our bottles which step to the fore in a year such as this.
We are the most critical reviewers of our wines; as it should be. The tasting you see here was a rigorous commentary by perfectionist and never-heard-the-word-impossible types, much of which was conducted in silence. Like any connected team, we know once anothers' agreeable expressions: Rachel will nod, Stephane's eyes will grow a bit wider and then he will move to his notebook, John Cooke's brow will rise, and Adam will show no emotion. A few words will pass. This is our way. Decisions which change the life blood of a vintage are made in a tone barely louder than a light tapping on a table top with a pencil and with the cadence of a hymn. Organized, agreed palates and minds hold the reigns confidently.
2011 overwhelmingly meets the approval of a discerning group.
In case you can't believe it. In case you don't want to, we have been inviting others in to taste the young guns of 2011. We like objectivity as much as wine around here. And we are confident showing our wines - even in their infancy - will prove out the 2011 Virginia vintage as delicious and as perfect as any snowflake: An individual for certain, but also perfect and beautiful.
Virginia's 2011 vintage - managed well - is gorgeous and delicious. At Boxwood, we are confident and pleased.