Boxwood Winery: New Releases

Boxwood Vineyards
Boxwood is one of Virginia’s growing number of new wineries producing world class wines. Established some six years ago in historic Middleburg, by John Kent Cooke, son of the late Jack Kent Cooke, (entrepreneur, philanthropist and professional sports owner) Boxwood is now in its third vintage and is currently managed by Rachel Martin, John Kent Cooke’s daughter. The International Wine Review visited Boxwood in early May, 2010 and tasted its new 2008-2009 releases. Tasting notes and rating are provided below. First some background information on the winery.

The Boxwood Estate consists of 160 acres of which 16 acres are currently planted. The vineyard site was planned with the assistance of the talented viticulturist, Lucy Morton, and is tightly spaced with 2010 vines per acre on rocky granite and clay soils. A variety of clones and rootstocks of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Verdot and Malbec suitable for local conditions were carefully selected. The vineyard has good exposure to breezes which helps deal with Virginia’s hot and humid weather. Like Bordeaux, Virginia’s climate is unpredictable and vintage variation is the norm.

Wine making at Boxwood is in the capable hands of Canadian, Adam Mc Taggart, formerly with Malivoire Wine Company in Ontario. He has been assisted since 2006 by the renowned Bourdalaise wine consultant Stéphane Derenoncourt. Derenencourt has been introducing several changes in the vineyard and winery during bi-monthly visits to Virginia. These include the use of gravity, more gentle destermming, pigeage (punching downs of the cap, and delestage during fermentation. (Delestage introduces oxygen into the fermentation process to stabilize fruit and color and soften tannins).

Boxwood produces two Bordeaux blends, Topiary, which consists of Cabernet Franc Merlot, and Malbec and Boxwood, which contains Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petite Verdot. It also produces a rosé from Cabernet Franc. Total annual production is about 2,000 cases. 2008 saw a very wet and early spring, a cool and wet summer, dry and warm weather during harvest.

Boxwood is a young winery with great potential. They have passion, a commitment to quality, and the resources to produce great wine. What a welcome addition to the Virginia wine scene! We plan to follow their progress and encourage all of our readers to taste Boxwood wines and make an appointment to visit the winery the next time they plan to be in Middleburg.

Here are our tasting notes and ratings of Boxwood’s new releases and the current vintage.

Boxwood 2009 Rose’ Virginia ($12) 88

BoxwoodThis salmon pink Cabernet Franc rosé is fresh, crisp and delicious for summer drinking. It has crushed red fruit flavors with mineral notes on the palate, good acidity and a long dry finish. This is a pleasant easy-drinking wine offered at a good price. Fermented in stainless steel with lees contact.

Boxwood 2008 Topiary, Virginia ($25) 89

The 2008 Topiary is semi-opaque ruby in color and offers feral-like black and red fruit aromas on the nose. On the attack it is soft and silky with concentrated spicy herbal fruit on the palate reminiscent of a Chinon. Aged for 12 months in one-third new French barriques, and only recently bottled when tasted, the wine tastes young with firm, ripe tannins and will need the next 2-3 years to display its full potential.

Boxwood 2007 Topiary, Virginia ($25) 88

BoxwoodThe semi-opaque 2007 Topiary has a perfumed nose and a fruit forward spicy palate. It shows cedar, cassis, and minerals on the nose with flavors of black currant and dark plum with dark chocolate and earth notes. With more than two years in the bottle this Topiary shows less of the herbal Cabernet Franc character of the 2008 vintage. It finishes long with a blue fruit note and ripe, mature tannins.

Boxwood 2008 Boxwood, Virginia ($25) 90

BoxwoodThe 2008 Boxwood blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot exhibits a dark ruby color with an exotic nose of rich spice, dark plum, and pencil shavings. It’s young and layered with a nicely textured palate showing loam, black currant, and cocoa with mineral nuances. In contract to the 2007, this bottling has a decidedly red fruit character. It’s also silky smooth with round firm tannins and good acidity. This is a complex wine that is tasting well now but will improve with age.

Boxwood 2007 Boxwood, Virginia ($25) 90

The opaque ruby 2007 Boxwood is a blend of 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42% Merlot, and 16% Petit Verdot. It is fragrant with crushed blackberry fruit, graphite and cedar spice on the nose with a cassis note. It has a soft and velvet texture with nicely concentrated dark plum, mulberry and chocolate notes. The tannins are round and firm on a long, concentrated finish. Drinkable now, the wine can be expected to improve with another year or two of aging.

Boxwood wines are widely distributed in Northern VA and Washington, DC. For a list of restaurants and retailers where the wines are featured, consult the winery’s website or telephone: 540-687-8778

Mike Potashnik and Don Winkler