The TasteCamp interviews continue today with John Witherspoon, a blogger I met last fall at the 2008 Wine Bloggers Conference. He publishes Anything Wine from his home in Richmond, Virginia, and it's a highly appropriate name for him. When he's not blogging, he manages a local wine shop and helps with cellar rat and winemaking duties at his in-laws' winery in Virginia, Woodland Vineyard.
John also achieved his Certified Specialist of Wine certification earlier this year.
Was this your first time to Long Island wine country?
Had you ever had any Long Island wines before? And if so, what was your impression of them?
I had had several. Last year at the Wine Bloggers Conference I had the opportunity to taste a few and was most impressed by the cabernet francs that I tasted.
Also more recently, I was sent some wines from Macari Vineyards and although they were quaffable, I was more impressed by their offerings during TasteCamp.
After tasting a larger sampling of the wines being produced on Long Island, what is your impression now?
I was impressed by the overall quality of the wine and the number of vineyards that are working to achieve or have already achieved sustainable viticulture practices.
An interesting observation that had was that when I didn't like a wine that I tasted this weekend, it had similar aromatic and taste faults to those that I sometimes find in Virginia wines. Specifically slightly oxidized notes, chemical/metallic aftertaste and the over use of oak.
What grape or variety, in general, impressed you the most?
What grape or variety, in general, underwhelmed you the most?
Merlot! I am sure that most of you who know me and know what I like would think that my answer to these last two questions would be cabernet franc. But merlot both amazed and disappointed me on this trip.
At its worst, it was thin and unexciting with metallic off-notes. The best merlots I tried were layered and full bodied with a combination of West Coast “power” and Bordeaux-like elegance.
Was there a winery or tour stop that stands out in your mind as the "best"?
The lunch at Shinn vineyards was amazing. Relaxed, full of great food, and wonderful wines that paired well with the fresh food. Shinn's barrel sample of 2007 Cabernet Franc was one of the best wines I tasted all weekend.
If you had to pick one, what would your wine of the weekend be?
As in question #6 above, the Shinn Estates 2007 Cabernet Franc barrel sample was amazing, the Wolffer Estate Premier Cru 2004 Merlot was also a winner for me.
On the lighter side, the Channing Daughters Cabernet Franc Rose was polished, full of fruit and had slate-like minerality. I guess I can't pick one!