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Did you know that Virginia is the birthplace of American wine? And the word “charcuterie” comes from the French words “meat cooked”. It’s also the wine drinker’s best friend! And when paired with the right wines, a well-curated charcuterie board becomes a masterpiece. Light to medium-bodied wines with firm structure and light acidity help to cut through the fatty and creamy texture of the meat and cheese.
I’m sitting inside the barrel room at Boxwood Winery, a contemporary yet elegant winery in Middleburg, Virginia. Located south of the Potomac River, this winery sits on 165 acres of land owned by John Kent Cook, the former owner and president of the NFL Washington Redskins. The campaign to establish Middleburg as an AVA was actually spearheaded by Cook’s daughter, Rachel Martin in 2006. The Boxwood sustainable vineyards occupy 26.5 acres, and are planted with traditional Bordeaux varietals, predominately Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc & Sauvignon Blanc. Now let’s talk about the wines! All the red blends I tasted are 100% estate grown, affordable ($35 or less a bottle) and highly rated by James Suckling:
1) Boxwood Estate Trellis 2016 and 2018: a medium bodied red wine made from Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot, this wine was aged in French oak barrels for 12 months with old and new barrels. Fruity, earthy with a long finish, both vintages paired nicely with the cheese, salami, dried fruit, jjam and nuts.
2) Boxwood Estate Topiary 2016 and 2018: a blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot, this earthy, peppery wine was aged in French oak barrels for twelve months. The spicy notes really hits the palate nicely with the blue cheese!
Drive 50 miles west of Washington, DC, and you’ll arrive in the heart of horse country: Middleburg, Virginia. The area has a rich history including many homes, buildings and restaurant dating pre-Civil War. However, the AVA was founded much later in 2012 to include 30+ wineries. Situated on a picturesque hillside, I’m sitting at Cana Vineyards, nominated for Virginia Winery of the Year four years in a row. If you’re outside of the Virginia area, you may not recognize this brand since distribution are limited outside of the state. If you’re accustomed to Napa wines, the price point for a Bordeaux blend here is 3-5X less here. My personal favorite is their flagship wine, Le Mariage, a Bordeaux-style blend anchored by Petit Verdot. Cana Vineyards has gone through a rebranding over the years so scroll right to see the new vs older labels. In total, I tasted 11 wines at 11am... never to early for wine tasting right?!
How cute are these petite red bottles?! These 4 oz bottles are perfect if you like to curate your own tasting and pour accordingly. The four red wines I tasted are aged in French oak barrels. Each full-bodied, complex and sips smoothly throughout.
Not the cheapest wine in VA, but certainly the best in Middleburg! It’s so good that Michelle Obama hosted a wine tasting with friends here in 2014. Behind me is the “thank you” letter from the former First Lady to David Greenhill, owner of Greenhill Vineyards who purchased the 128-acre property that was formerly Swedenburg Estate Winery, one of Virginia’s first wineries. The farm was first established in 1762 when the Virginia colony was under British rule.