I was very keen to visit Veritas. Andrew Hodson, the owner like myself is also an English Doctor. There is a long historical connection with physicians and wine. Amongst many examples is the founder of Penfolds in Australia by Dr Christopher Penfolds who was a member of the society of Apothecaries in London. For more information about this I strongly recommend reading ‘Wine & Medicine: An Enduring Historical Association‘
Andrew and Patricia bought the land at Veritas 23 years ago and have transformed it into one of the go to destinations in Virginia wine country. Alongside producing supreme quality wines they have onsite luxury accommodation, a lovely restaurant and manage events and weddings. It’s a magnificent property.
Emily Hodson, Winemaker, Veritas Winery
I was lucky enough to be hosted by Emily Hodson, winemaker and daughter of Andrew. It is very much a family run business. Emily’s brother George the general manager also popped in to say hello. We sat over lunch and tried a series of Veritas wines.
After the tasting, Emily took us to explore the land in her 4WD. This led us to the peak of the property at over 1000 feet and to panoramic views over to the blue mountains of the Appalachian range. The Appalachians stretch thousands of miles parallel to the East coast of the United States.
She showed us the Afton mountain gap. This is one of the few gaps in the mountain range which allows for a flow of wind. This helps decide the orientation of the vines on the hilltop. The air flow provides not only a cooling effect from the heat of the Virginian Summer, but also helps to suppress disease which would be prominent in the humid conditions. The Sauvignon Blanc vines were thriving in this environment.
Wines tasted- whites
Veritas Scintilla 2015 sparkling wine
100% Chardonnay Blanc de Blanc, dosage 7 g
Aged On lees 7 years. This was the First vintage
Brioche toasted almonds marzipan fresh apple and lemon crisp and refreshing.
Veritas Sauvignon Blanc 2021
Aromatic style, passion fruit. Reductive, cool ferment
Fresh some pyrazine
Grown at higher altitude and benefits from air flow through the Afton mountain gap
Veritas the momentarius collection 2019
Monticello white blend, no rules on what grapes to use or the vilification process
Petit manseng, chardonnay, viognier and sauvignon blanc.
Aromatic Sauvignon Blanc feels the most predominant. Nice balance.
Veritas the momentarius collection 2021
More restrained than 2021 and the petit manseng characteristics come through
Could not make a 2020 vintage as frost destroyed much of the crop in this part of Virginia
Wines tasted -reds
Veritas Cabernet Franc 2009
Bordeaux nose of cedar, tobacco and some aged character coming through, also effects of barrel hints of smoke and chocolate
Soft tannins nicely integrated, fruit dropped out
Initially slight Smokey and sulphurous but this blew off and complexity developed.
Veritas. Cabernet Franc Reserve 2017
As Benoit at Pollak had found the 2017 was a Great vintage. Emily’s description made me laugh out load!
‘As happy as it can be’
Delicious ripe cherry a fruit Bomb.
Pot pourri, floral, dry petals, and some dried herbs such as thyme really seductive nose, fabulous.
Veritas Cabernet 2021 franc
Plenty of fruit raspberries, nice balance of oak
More simple candied fruit but delicious easy drinking a bit more Pinot like
Veritas 3 2009
3 winemakers 3 vineyards 3 grapes a collaboration with Veritas, Pollak and King Family
A blend of 3 grapes Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet franc
Fruity fresh, lively, balanced with a Savoury salty mineral element. Chocolate pudding on the finish
Veritas Reserve 2019
Their Flagship wine
Can’t use ,vintners reserve, name due to name protection rights. I suggested Emily’s Reserve which went down well.
Violet chews, floral elements came through.
Veritas Petit Verdot 2019
Aromas of blueberry , Intense colour, deep ruby
Chunky dark thick skinned berries
A bit tight closed needs a decant nice rounded tannins, food wine, some violet notes
Lilies floral improved. Tried over the next few days whist in Washington DC and became more complex.
Veritas Petit Verdot 2017
Blueberry jam lots of delicious fruit a great top vintage clearly evident
Veritas Petit Manseng 2014
Dessert wine Great retention of acidity
Nuttiness slight oxidation 85g/l per litre sugar
Lovely complex most of candied pineapple and hazelnuts very ripe apples beeswax
Really well made, Jurancon like dessert wine
This tasting highlighted the potential in Virginia to establish some novel grape varieties such as Petit Manseng.
This grape in many ways is highly suited here. It ripens late leading to high sugar but retains its acidity
The thick skin helps with disease resistance and the high skin to pulp ratio intensifies flavours.
The 100% petit Verdot rarely found in the Old world seems to work here with the warmer climate.
It was interesting to try along with traditional varieties some more unusual wines such as dry Petit Manseng and 100% petit Verdot.
I managed to pick out some of Emily’s personal characteristics in the wines, such as the violet aromas from the Cabernet Franc and the blueberry in the 2009 Petit Verdot which has parcels of grapes grown on heavier clay soils.
It was also lovely to see the collaboration and friendliness between the winemakers exemplified here by the Veritas 3.
Matthieu Finot, Winemaker, King Family Vineyards
French winemaker Matthieu very kindly networked me in with local winemakers which facilitated my arrangements in Virginia.
I really like the way the winemakers join forces in the wine industry. This is something I have found throughout the world and is a joy to see. In so many walks of life people work against each other, more interested in bettering their own aims. Not so in the wine industry. It’s about sharing ideas, sharing innovations and helping the industry as a whole.
Matthieu was a shining example of this. He is from Northern Rhone and has a vineyard with his brother. He has worked in Bandol, Rhone and also Burgundy.
The wine industry is still relatively new here despite the planting of vines dating back hundreds of years by Thomas Jefferson at his Monticello estate. Matt is carrying on with developments and is planting Nebbiolo here. His favourite wines are Pinot and Syrah, but it’s too warm and wet here and the Clay soils don’t lend to those varieties Cabernet franc red does best being more resilient. The Soil is not right for Cabernet Sauvignon You can also do a lot with Cabernet Franc, such as Rose dessert wine, light style red and more full bodied red. It doesn’t have the acidity of the Loire and doesn’t show the methoxypyrazines shown in the old world. Matthieu wanted to produce a dry rose when he first came here. There was Some scepticism doing a dry rose now it’s the biggest seller.
Wines tasted, reds
King family Crose
100% merlot medium colour 1 day skin contact
Their biggest seller, Sold in cans too
Nice red fruits and balance
King family Petit manseng
I tried a dry petit manseng at Veritas too
High acidity, some honey and nutty notes and candied pineapple nicely crafted
Kings family vineyard Brut Blanc de Blanc 2015 100%Chardonnay
7 years ageing on Lees
Chalky Lemon apple crisp fresh
Kings family vineyard Viognier 2021
Watermelon apricot bitter finish
Not same oily texture as others. Harvested a little early so a fresher style
Kings family vineyard Chardonnay 2021
Barrel fermented with malolactic 25% new oak light citrus fruits fresh smokiness oak
Kings family vineyard mountain plains 2021
A blend of Chardonnay petit manseng and viognier, third each
Petit manseng does well in the Basque Country humid and clay in Jurançon
Works well here too maintain acidity and high brix. Very high acid good
18 months barrel, pineapple nuts some oxidation
Kings family vineyard Viognier Orange wine
Skin contact Viognier orange wine
Fermented like a red wine with punch down and malolactic
Very interesting complex nose Spicy nutmeg saffron orange, clove
Tannins but soft, served at room temperature fine but bitter tannins
Big wine interesting
Kings family vineyard Cab franc
Harvest early 12.3% wants fresh light style
Tuesday evening pizza night wine simple fresh light fruity
Bit savoury slightly vegetal
Kings family vineyard Meritage 2019
Flagship red which sells the most
18 Months in barrel
Merlot, petit Verdot, cab franc and Malbec blend
Needs time to develop slight bitter
Kings family vineyard Meritage 2008
Matthieu pulled something a bit older out of the cellar, Unfiltered wine
Showing some Bret horsiness with some fruit and good structure
Kings family vineyard Petit verdot 2019
Blue fruit, deep colour lots tannins full bodied
This tasting highlighted how well some varieties are doing here, such as viognier and petit verdot
I like the style of Cabernet Franc less pyrazined and more fruit forward which can be very green and herbaceous in places such as Chile and also Bordeaux but here seems to be a nice balance between new and old world. In the hands of gifted winemakers such as Matthieu it was also interesting to see the range of wines made and the embracing of new styles such as the viognier Orange wine.