There is a lot of excitement at Boxwood when consulting wine-maker Stephane Derenoncourt is on the property. Though these days begin as many others, with coffee in the tasting room at the Winery and conversations about how the growing season is progressing, the curiosity about the impressions of a wine-making legend on the vineyard and the wines in aging is palpable.
Stephane's presence on the property causes the Winery population to swell: Rachel and Adam are in-house daily but there are a half-dozen or more Boxwood staff and consultants on hand when Stephane has arrived.
The vineyard is generally the first order of discussion and review; the 2011 season is ten feet tall on our sixteen acres under vine.
The group headed into the vineyard early as temperatures were expected to approach ninety degrees by noon.
At first on mules and then on foot, a handful of remarkable types begin a systematic review of Boxwood's five Bordeaux varietals. In the Cabernet Franc rows from right to left, Lucie Morton, viticultural consultant to Boxwood, Adam McTaggaart, winemaker and vineyard manager, John Kent Cooke, owner and President, and Rachel Martin, Executive Vice President.
The Cabernet Franc, like all the varietals reviewed, is healthy, verdant, and lush. In order to concentrate the vine's effort and resources, some grapes will be pruned from the vines. This process is only beginning. Through the remainder of the growing season, those grape clusters deemed non-essential to world class wine making will be dropped to the center of the row and returned to the earth as compost.
Stephane's inspection of the vineyard begins with a quick toss of his ever-present notebook on to the soil as his vine-clippers emerge from his pocket.
He and Adam will inspect the fruit, the health of the vines, and discuss the method of pruning for each varietal. When Stephane is not on the property, they continue to consult and review regularly by phone and electronically.
Lucie Morton, renowned American viti-culturist, has consulted with Boxwood for nearly six years. This vineyard, as it is plotted and laid with vine, was her creation. Her continued involvement in Boxwood's future speaks to the longevity of all of Boxwood Winery's group: Committed to the long-term growth of one of Virginia's first premiere and world-class wineries. The first part of the endeavor is well on its way to accomplished at Boxwood and world-class longevity is the product of time and continued excellence. The group in these pictures will, without a doubt, be those who see that endeavor into a lasting reality for Virginia wine-making.
They are unassuming, humble, and congenial though the task before them has always been daunting. This is great team; their positive energy and chemistry drives Boxwood's culture of excellence.
There is the proof of their success (among many notable others): Their Decanter World Wide Wine Award next to the barrel sample beakers set up for the 2010 barrel review after the vineyard visit.
Adam lead the group through the tasting.
We tasted barrel examples of all the varietals of the 2010 vintage which is touted by Virginia wine pundits as being a vintage which will surpass in quality our famed 2007's. Without giving away the secrets in our glasses, we can say they may be on to something. But it will be a while before we can share these with you: Great wine takes time.
And meticulous care.
Not to mention the discerning, educated palates of its overseers.
We grow five red varietals on the Boxwood Estate. The group tasted and discussed our Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, and Malbec, largely by single varietal.
It could be a laborious process but there is always pleasant, lively discussion and it gives us time to talk over other happenings since Stephane's last visit.
Beyond tasting wines and talking business, this is a bit of quality time for the group as well which, in our estimation, is as important as anything else to making great wine.
Boxwood Winery is an all-hand's-in enterprise: Our President, John Kent Cooke tastes these wines shoulder-to-shoulder with the staff. Rachel has long kept as a policy that all winery staff will be kept abreast of the wines' progress. We can all speak to our vintages, we have known them intimately since birth.
This is a common site at our tastings: Stephane's pen poised above his notebook before the tasting glasses.
There is no more to tell you today. These wines will change, grow, react, and develop. While we watch them with a hawks eye we would be remiss to describe them to you now, before they mature and before they are blended. But, I will tell you it is difficult to retrain myself from typing the phrase, "world beaters".