Chopin and Octagon at Barboursville: Wine and Music Pairing

Everyone talks about wine and food pairing. But what about wine and music pairing? We discovered this entirely new area of inquiry quite by accident yesterday. Luca Paschina, winemaker at Barboursville, invited us to a vertical tasting of the winery’s superb red blend Octagon. We tasted a decade of vintages from 1998 to 2008 accompanied by the music of Chopin, played by Ingolf Wunder, the 25 year old Austrian wunderkind who came in at the top of the 16th International Chopin Competition held in Warsaw last year.

The wine and music pairing was quite by accident. We arrived at Barboursville’s hall to taste wine at the same time Ingolf arrived to rehearse the concert he’s giving this evening at the winery, sponsored by the Chopin Foundation of the US. [The $150 thousand Yamaha grand had arrived from Carnegie Hall the day before.] We discussed wine and music, since Ingolf was interested in the report we recently published on Austrian wine and since we are interested in the recording of his music that Deutsch Grammophon will be releasing later this year.

Then we both settled down to our work, Ingolf playing Chopin and we tasting Octagon. We can report that the pairing was superb. The Chopin you can hear for yourself on YouTube. And we’re happy to report the wine matched the music in quality and character. Octagon is a predominantly Merlot – Cabernet Franc blend sourced from Barboursville’s best vineyard parcels and judiciously oaked before aging in bottle. The 2006 vintage, the current release, is incredibly good. Despite their New World origin, these wines are reminiscent of the Old World with their elegant, savory character. Chopin would have approved. Tasted blind, many would think the provenance of these wines to be Bordeaux. We’ll later be providing a full report on the vertical tasting on our website.

Inevitably, our descriptions of the wines were influenced by Ingar’s playing. We found ourselves describing the wines as being espressivo with a palate both legato and at times focoso. There were no disturbing staccato or capriccioso elements, but taken together the wines formed a rondo, with similar notes replayed across the years. [And please excuse the tortured use of these musical terms.]

Photo courtesy of

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5 Responses to Chopin and Octagon at Barboursville: Wine and Music Pairing

  1. Robert says:

    Chopin and Barboursvile lovers rejoice! Maestro Ingolf Wunder is playing at Montpelier, VA-DuPont Gallery on home of President James Madison this Sunday at 2:30. Barboursville wines will be served. This will be Ingolf Wunder’s only appearance on East Coast!

  2. Somersetva says:

    As a founder of "Chopin in Barboursville" I agree with your statement of extra synergy between classical music performed by world class artists and superb Barboursville wine. The sold out concert of Maestro Ingolf Wunder, the ONLY performance in the US, was a great example. Small venue, great wine, delicious hors d'oeuvres from "Palladio" restaurant and angelic music..No wonder James Madison described this area as "..Just a squirrel's jump from Heaven"
    Donald, please join us the last week in September for concert of splendid Magdalena Baczewska.
    Robert Joskowiak

  3. Donald says:

    Thanks for letting me know. When you have your 2011 Summer Concert dates set, please send to me. Don

    • Robert says:

      Hi Don,
      Sorry for late notice, but if you are free come and join us at Ingolf Wunder’s concert on February 1 at 2:30. You are welcome to watch Super Bowl with us afterwards. Barboursville wines included!



  4. Cortes de Cima says:

    At Cortes de Cima, in Alentejo, southern Portugal, we have been mixing wine and music for years, with our annual Summer Vineyard Concerts. Chopin, Mozart, Gershwin, Rossini, performed by musicians from the Royal Opera Copenhagen.
    Many of the songs have been uploaded to our YouTube channel here -

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