I also made my first visit to Briede Family Vineyards today. This very small winery (only about 1,000 cases annually) is located just to the north of Winchester. The winery name is pronounced “Brie Day” (that was my first question). I enjoyed tasting their Sparkling Winchester and Marquette at the Shenandoah Valley Wine Trail Cup event on Friday night. Although they do produce a small amount of vinifera such as Cabernet Franc and Tannat, their main focus is on hybrid grapes.
Loretta, their owner, guided me through their portfolio. The 2020 Sparkling Winchester is 100% Cayuga, made in the traditional Champagne method. The first disgorgement was zero dosage with lovely yeast aromas and a very bright finish. We had a lively discussion about Cayuga. Including the sparkling, they have 5 different styles available and have a Sauternes-style dessert version in barrel that will be bottled next month. The fruit and acid profile reminded me somewhat of Chardonnay, which is why it worked so well for bubbles. The skin contact version (Agathosune 2022) was also intriguing.
On the red wine side, the Marquette, a Pinot Noir-driven hybrid that is very popular in Vermont, Minnesota, and other places with a short growing season was very tasty at the Cup event. It hasn’t officially been released at the winery yet. They were offering both 2020 and 2022 vintages of Arandell. This hybrid grape was developed by Virginia Tech and Cornell. Briede was the first winery in the U.S. to produce a commercial version of this grape. The 2020 version was very complex with a red fruit nose and earth/spice finish that drank very much like Cabernet Franc.
They also produce La Crescent, a white hybrid grape that has done very well in the Midwest. I took a bottle home although I hadn’t tried it. It was a really informative visit featuring some delicious wines made with less traditional hybrids (for Virginia). Nate Walsh makes their wines.
By Kenny Bumbaco
Briedé Sparkling Winchester 2020
Perspective by Dave McIntyre
January 11, 2024 at 1:00 p.m. EST
Shenandoah Valley, Va., $53
Yes, we’re talking champagne prices here for what is essentially a novelty wine, but what a delicious novelty it is! This is made from cayuga, a hybrid grape developed in Geneva, N.Y., during the 1940s. In this sparkling version, made in the traditional champagne method of second fermentation in the bottle, it resembles riesling or grüner veltliner, with scents of white flowers and lemon curd. It’s dry with a minerally, chalky palate-cleansing texture that will leave you with a smile, ready for the next sip. ABV: 11.6 percent. BW: 900 grams (Heavy).
Prices are approximate. For availability, check Wine.com, Wine-searcher.com and the websites and social media feeds of the wineries, importers, distributors, and your favorite local wine store. You can also ask your local retailer to order wines from the distributors listed. Have wine questions for Dave McIntyre? Send them to Food@washpost.com.
★ Good: The wine delivers what it promises at a fair price. If it says chardonnay, it tastes like chardonnay.
★★ Excellent: A wine with character and added interest. May elevate your eyebrows at the first sip.
★★★ Extraordinary: An exciting wine that stands out from others in its class. Fist-pumping, table-thumping good.
★★★★ Sublime: Otherworldly. May have you thinking, “So this is what they were talking about.”
Since the Shenandoah Cup Awards Event we’ve seen several excellent reviews on our wines, along with other outstanding wines produced in the Shenandoah AVA. While we are especially thrilled with the attention given to Briedé wines, we are also very proud of the recognition being given to the AVA as a whole.
World Renowned Wine Critic Julia Harding of JancisRobinson.com
We are thrilled to have recently had three of our wines reviewed by renowned, international wine writer and critic, Julia Harding. Julia is the senior editor and staff writer for JancisRobinson.com (website of the world-renowned wine critic of the same name), and she is co-author, with José Vouillamoz and Jancis Robinson, of the multi award-winning Wine Grapes – a complete guide to 1,368 grape varieties including their origins and flavors.
In reviewing three Briedé Family Vineyards wines, Ms. Harding notes:
Briedé 2020 Sparkling Winchester - made from Cayuga White, a complex hybrid released in New York in 1972, traditional method, aged three years on the lees, dosage just 2 g/l. pH 3.15.
“The citrus, herbal and green-fruits aroma dominates the nose so that the yeasty autolytic character is subtle. It was quite frothy when first poured but settled down in the glass to a fine mousse and a much more obvious toasty character. There’s a slight sweet-sour impression on the finish even though the residual sweetness is so low. Packed with fruit but it’s in balance with the traditional method complexity from the yeast lees. Impressive for a hybrid variety, which has benefited from being take seriously in the winery, with the investment needed for long lees ageing.”
Score – 16.5 (Distinguished, 17 = Superior)
Briedé Soleil d’Ouest 2022 – made from La Crescent, a cold-hardy hybrid bred in Minnesota in 1988 and released in 2022. Cool fermentation and aged in stainless steel.
“Intense, ripe tropical fruits on the nose with a hint of roses giving it a floral aspect, smells a little like Gewürztraminer. Ripe on the palate too, highly scented, with a citrus freshness balancing those tropical fruit flavours and rose-petal notes. Much higher acidity than on a Gewürz, which makes this easy and refreshing. Really nicely made to bring out all the attributes of this variety to give a refreshing yet flavourful white with intensity and surprising length. I can imagine this variety might also be good in a blend as it is quite intense.”
Score – 16 (Distiguished)
Briedé Marquette 2022 – a complex hybrid created in 1989 in Minnesota, aged 9 months in French oak.
“Lightish cherry red and vibrant cherry and strawberry fruit on the nose. Just slightly herbal and delicately floral – nicely so. Light-bodied with lively red fruits and very gentle tannins. Fresh and refreshing. A really nice surprise with no really obvious hybrid notes except perhaps at the very end when there is something strawberry like. Excellent freshness on the finish. Juicy and mouth-watering.
Score – 16 (Distinguished)
Note: Jancis Robinson OBE, ComMA, MW is a British wine critic, journalist and wine writer. She currently writes a weekly column for the Financial Times, and writes for her website JancisRobinson.com, updated daily. She has also provided advice for the wine cellar of Queen Elizabeth II.
In addtion, Sparkling Winchester has caught the attention of some pretty well-known wine writers recently:
Washington Post Wine Writer Dave McIntyre
On Sparkling Winchester 2020 – “…what a delicious novelty it is! …it resembles Riesling or grüner veltliner, with scents of white flowers and lemon curd. It’s dry with a minerally, chalky palate-cleansing texture that will leave you with a smile, ready for the next sip. ”
Behind the Cork™ – Marc Kirkpatrick
“From the Shenandoah Valley AVA, here is a wonderful sparkling wine! On the nose, this Briedé Sparkling Winchester has notes of green apples, pears, and a bit of yeast. On the palate its bubbles are consistent and small with nice complexity and a lengthy finish... This is a unique Shenandoah Valley sparkling wine that’s perfect as this week’s Behind the Cork™ Wine of the Week. Cheers!”
Now and Zin – Randy Fuller
“2020 Briedé Sparkling Winchester Brut has a yellow straw color with a huge helping of white foam, which dissipates quickly to a frizzante appearance. It is wild while it's there, though. The nose offers beautiful aromas of green apples and apricots under an overlay of yeasty toast. The palate has a boatload of acidity and yeasty flavors of apples, and pears. Fun and tasty, too”.