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Octagon 2009 Wins Gov Cup 2013

gov cup 2013

l to r: VA Secretary of Agriculture Todd Haywood, Governor Bob McDonnell, Luca Paschina, First Lady Maureen McDonnell. Photo courtesy of Virginia Wine Marketing Board.

The 2013 Virginia Wineries Association’s Governor’s Cup was awarded to Barboursville Vineyards’ 2009 Octagon 12th Edition on Thursday, February 21, at the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond. Barboursville is the first Virginia winery to win the award four times. Governor Bob McDonnell, who championed major changes to the Virginia Governor’s Cup competition in 2011 that made it one of the most stringent and comprehensive wine competitions in the United States, made the presentation to Luca Paschina, Barboursville’s General Manager and Winemaker.

Barboursville Vineyards Octagon

Barboursville Vineyards Octagon takes the Governor’s Cup 2013. Photo courtesy of Barboursville Vineyards.

“It has been a pleasure and a reward to follow the evolution of the 2009 vintage of Octagon.  Since harvest I took notice of its promising characters, and I was not shy to share with many that it was destined to be among the best wines I will ever produce in my life,” said Paschina.

“The Virginia Governor’s Cup award is an honor and further validates the character of a wine that has already won 90 points at Wine Enthusiast, the Gold Medal of the Beverage Testing Institute in Chicago, of the Winemaker’s Challenge and Critics Challenge in California, and the Platinum Medal of the Sommelier Challenge, also in California.”

Richard Leahy reports, “Luca Paschina praised his vineyard manager Fernando Franco and winemaker, and urged Virginia wine industry members to plant more acres of winegrapes.”

Richard had the rare opportunity of tasting the next vintage, Octagon 2010, from barrel with Luca, which he describes in detail in his book, Beyond Jefferson’s Vines. “I’m immediately struck by two things: the depth of fruit and the smoothness of the tannins compared to twenty years ago, when the top wine was a reserve cabernet sauvignon that always seemed to have a bit of an edge to it and didn’t have this kind of opulent fruit.”

Barboursville’s Octagon is a Meritage-style blend of the winery’s best Bordeaux varietals, made only in top vintage years.  The 2009 vintage is comprised of 70% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, 10% Petit Verdot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon.

The winery’s tasting notes indicate:  It has a deep garnet color, with aromas of chocolate, red berries, cranberries, gaining further depth with tar, spice and a touch of forest floor. Dry yet somewhat fruity, medium to full body with a long finish of tannins. A wonderfully structured old world style red blend. 

Dave McIntyre interviewed Paschina by phone last week: “‘It’s not the most soft, polished and smooth wine,’ Paschina [said]. ‘I don’t fine it or do micro-oxygenation’ – a popular winemaking technique that softens a wine’s tannins – ‘so the wine is a bit more assertive at a younger age and takes a bit longer to show well. It does really well at table with food, but in a wine competition it comes off as aggressive.'”

Barboursville also won in 1992 (1988 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve), 1999 (1997 Cabernet Franc), and 2007 (1998 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve).

Somewhat disappointingly, Paschina announced to his newsletter subscribers, “All excellent wines have an optimal release date. For this Octagon we envisioned two years of bottle age before release. On schedule, we will be presenting it this August, with more precise announcement of the date to follow. In the meantime, we are pouring the excellent 2008 vintage (also a Gold Medal at the Beverage Testing Institute) in our Tasting Room.” It’s reported that the wine will be released at its schedled price of $50 a bottle, and will not see an increase because of this outstanding win.

Octagon's cellar is state-of-the-art. Photo courtesy of Barboursville Vineyards.

Octagon’s cellar is state-of-the-art. Photo courtesy of Barboursville Vineyards.

Barboursville Vineyards is located just north of Charlottesville, in the Monticello AVA, on the historic estate of James Barbour. Barbour was a politician as were his ancestors, dating back to the time of Thomas Jefferson. It was Jefferson who actually designed the manor house, and it is the core of the manor house that lends Octagon its name. Built around a grand, eight-sided center room, the wings of the mansion extended out from its heart. It’s easy to visualize Octagon as the heart of the estate, as well as the heart of Luca Paschina’s passion for winemaking in Virginia.

Hailing from Italy’s Piemonte region (yes, that’s “Piedmont” in English), Luca retains his Italian flair even after spending more than two decades here in the Virginia Piedmont. Engaging, modest, and with a great sense of humor, Paschina speaks about his wines as if they were favorite children, with Octagon perhaps being the most cherished among equals.

The estate’s roots lie in Italy as well. The Zonin family, holders of acreage in seven regions in Italy ranging from the Veneto down to Sicily, made this their first, and thus far only, investment in the U.S. It must have taken an incredible amount of vision and dedication to strike out in 1976 and attempt to make Thomas Jefferson’s dream of high quality Virginia-made wine a reality at this former tobacco plantation. Gianni Zonin, founder of Barboursville Vineyards and a 6th generation member of the great wine family, has seen this dream reach fruition at Barboursville Vineyards.

Gov Mansion Virginia vineyard

First Lady Maureen McDonnell and Luca Paschina collaborated to plant vines at the Governor’s Mansion in Richmond.

Speaking at the Governor’s Cup awards, Governor McDonnell said, “As Virginia’s wine industry grows in standing and collect accolades from around the world, it means more tourism and more jobs here in the Commonwealth. Shining the light on Virginia’s wineries is another way we can promote this homegrown industry that creates jobs for Virginians. I congratulate Luca Paschina, the Zonin family, and the entire Barboursville team for winning this year’s Governor’s Cup for their 2009 Octagon, one of Virginia’s most iconic red wines.  Luca’s Octagon wines are personal favorites of mine, and I know this award winning 12th Edition will make the Virginia wine industry proud now and in the years to come.”

He continued, “I also commend the winemakers of the other distinguished wines that comprise this year’s Governor’s Cup Case.  I am confident that wine aficionados and enthusiasts alike will take notice of Octagon and the other impressive offerings in this case.  The advancements in Virginia winemaking are on display in every bottle we have here tonight and the stringent requirements of the Governor’s Cup competition ensure that Virginia wines receiving medals have been through the most demanding evaluation process.”

For a complete list of previous Governor’s Cup winners and further information about the Virginia wine industry, events, tours and tastings, please visit the Virginia Wine  Marketing Office or call 804-344-8200. See our related story (coming soon!).

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