RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe [Feb 24, 2015] awarded the Virginia Wineries Association’s (VWA) 2015 Governor’s Cup to Muse Vineyards for their 2009 Clio, a Bordeaux-style blended red wine. The Governor’s Cup was awarded at the VWA’s Governor’s Cup Gala held at the John Marshall Hotel. This is the first Governor’s Cup for Muse Vineyard, based in the Town of Woodstock in Shenandoah County.
Speaking at the Governor’s Cup awards ceremony, Governor McAuliffe said, “I am honored to present this year’s award to Muse Vineyards for their 2009 Clio. Robert Muse and his wife, Sally Cowal, embody the entrepreneurial spirit of Virginia winemakers: a vision for excellence, a relish for hard work in the vineyard, and an aptitude for risk and experimentation. Thomas Jefferson would be proud of Robert and Sally’s efforts and I congratulate them for winning the 2015 Governor’s Cup.”
Muse Vineyard’s Clio is a blend of 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc, 25% Merlot, and 25% Petit Verdot. Winemaker Robert Muse, in consultation with Matthieu Finot of King Family Vineyards in Crozet, employed a non-interventionist approach to the fermentation, an option made possible by optimally ripe grapes from the 2009 vintage. Following de-stemming and a light crush, the Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc were fermented separately with daily punch-downs. The wine was racked directly into 50% new and 50% neutral French oak barrels where it aged for three years before its bottling. The winemaker’s tasting notes on the 2009 Clio are as follows: Deep burgundy in color, this classically-styled Bordeaux blend presents a lovely complex nose with notes of ripe cherry, vanilla, black tea, nutmeg and leather. The wine is wide and steady on the palate with a fine tannin structure, balance and length. Decanted, it continues to open beautifully for at least an hour. It will mature nicely for five or more years.
“The 2009 Clio is one of the first wines we produced from our vineyard,” said Robert Muse. “This wine is grown and produced solely at our estate. It is something that speaks to the geology of the Shenandoah Valley, to the weather unique to our land and to the methods employed in our vineyard. It is that local element and authentic nature of winemaking that excites my wife, Sally, and me. We are glad others enjoy the fruits from this effort, and we are honored to be recognized among those that have won this award before us.”
The 2015 Virginia Governor’s Cup Competition was conducted over four weeks of preliminary tastings, held at the Capital Wine School in Washington, D.C. in January. The final round of tastings was held at The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond in early February. The Governor’s Cup award winner and the other 11 wines that make up the 2015 Governor’s Cup Case, are the top 12 highest scoring wines chosen from 390 entries of both red and white wines, from 94 wineries.
In addition to Muse Vineyards’ 2009 Clio, the other 11 wines in the 2015 Governor’s Cup Case are:
· Cactocin Creek Winery – 2012 Meritage
· Cross Keys Vineyards – 2013 Touriga
· Delfosse Vineyards & Winery – 2013 Petit Verdot
· Jefferson Vineyards – 2010 Meritage
· King Family Vineyards – 2012 Meritage
· Michael Shaps – 2012 Tannat
· Michael Shaps – 2012 Raisin d’Etre White
· Narmada Winery – 2010 Yash-Vir,
· North Gate Vineyard – 2012 Meritage
· Rockbridge Vineyard – 2010 V d’Or
· Vint Hill Craft Winery – 2012 Petit Verdot
This year’s results are notable for a wide geographic scope of winners, as well as diversity of the wines themselves. For example, three wines from the 2015 Governor’s Cup Case hail from the Shenandoah Valley, four from Northern Virginia, and five from the Central Virginia area. The wide spectrum of wines include Bordeaux blended reds, Petit Verdot, a Touriga, a Petit Manseng, two white blends, a dessert wine, and a Tannat.
Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore commented, “This year’s Virginia’s Governor’s Cup wine competition results illustrate that Virginia has a deep bench with regard to its wine industry. We are seeing world-class wines being produced in many areas across the Commonwealth and with a large variety of wines. This success is measured by the highest caliber of wine judges, including the likes of internationally-acclaimed wine expert Steven Spurrier. Indeed, it’s an exciting time to be a grape grower, wine maker, and wine consumer in Virginia.”
The Governor’s Cup competition, revamped in 2011, is a result of a partnership among the gubernatorial-appointed Virginia Wine Board, the Virginia Vineyards Association, and the VWA, which owns and manages the competition. Any wine made from 100% Virginia fruit was eligible for the competition, while ciders and fruit wines had their own category and medalists. All entries included an affidavit with a certification of 100% Virginia fruit and vineyard particulars, including grower names and location, as well as information on alcohol, acidity or basicity (pH), and residual sugar.
Wine included in the 2015 Governor’s Cup Case will be used by the Virginia Wine Board Marketing Office for marketing purposes in Virginia, across the country, and around the world. A number of cases will be shipped to select wine media, promoting Virginia wines to a larger national and international audience. The award-winning wines will be used for education purposes at Virginia winemaker roundtable discussions to improve overall quality of Virginia wines. Governor’s Cup Case wines will also be used by Governor McAuliffe on select domestic and international marketing missions and other events designed to promote Virginia wine and winery tourism.
Jay Youmans, one of only of 35 Masters of Wine in the U.S., directed the competition. Youmans, who is also a Certified Wine Educator and the owner and educational director of the Capital Wine School, recruited wine judges from the professional wine buying and wine media community. A list of the judges along with their bios can be found at http://www.virginiawine.org/governors-cup .
A native of Southern Arizona, Muse Vineyards’ owner and winemaker Robert Muse’s commitment to quality wine stems from his travels to wine regions around the world and a fascination to produce world class wines at his vineyard in the Shenandoah Valley. The Shenandoah Valley is rich in history and has participated in each phase of the progress of the United States from colony to country, from division to reunification generating a solid cultural sense of place. Its soils, topography and climate constitute an equally solid physical environment for grapevines. Together, they make a singular place suited to the production of truly exceptional wines. Muse’s principal role as winemaker is to grow grapes that do justice to the Shenandoah Valley, as an appellation with the potential to rival any in the world.
Virginia currently ranks fifth in the number of wineries in the nation with more than 250. Virginia is also the nation’s fifth largest wine grape producers. According to a 2012 economic impact study, the Virginia wine industry employs more than 4,700 people and contributes almost $750 million to the Virginia economy on an annual basis. For more information about the Virginia wine industry, please visit the Virginia Wine Board Marketing Office’s website at http://www.virginiawine.org  or call 804-344-8200.
For interviews and photo requests, please contact Annette Boyd at 802.402.1896 or Annette.Boyd@Virginiawine.org . For a complete list of previous Governor’s Cup winners and information about the Virginia wine industry, please visit http://www.virginiawine.org/governors-cup/awards/  or call the Virginia Wine Marketing Office at 804.344.8200.