I didn't truly expect to find world-class wine in Virginia. Good wine? Probably. A beautiful country and a great time visiting a friend? Absolutely. In a year filled with extraordinary dessert wine experience, I would not have expected that a Virginian Petit Manseng would be one of the most memorable. But it was.
The wine is liquid gold, done in the style of Southwest France's Jurancon. It has been described as the 'apricots of the gods with the soul of raspberries." One of the few dessert wines that blends the complexity of fine Sauternes with the delicate character of Eiswein. It slides across the tongue like a sword cutting snow and then reveals absolute beauty beneath.
Raepheus is not only the finest wine made in Virginia. It is quite possible the best dessert wine made in the United States.
Glen Manor Vineyards is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains and the views are stunning. More importantly, the terroir and climate of the vineyards provide a freshness and acidity that doesn't exist in most other Virginia wines. Steep slopes and high elevations are also keys to the success.
For five generations and over 100 years, the family has owned the property. It was not an easy life and for a long time the family operated as subsistence farmers. In 1995, the realization came that less fertile land is ideal for vineyards.
I visited the humble tasting room. I saw the beautiful property. I also saw the hands and faces of the owners and winemakers. Glen Manor Vineyards is truly what many wineries pretend to be; a wine made in the vineyard. That isn't easy, but it is kind of righteous.
What ever else the winery may be, they made the 2013 Raepheus. One of my most memorable wines of 2017.
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