The Next Wine You Need to Try
You’ll never guess where it’s from.
RdV Vineyards’ two blends, the Cabernet Sauvignon-dominant Lost Mountain and Merlot-dominant Rendezvous
Photos by Dorothea Hunter Sönne
When two Naples wine aficionados come "thisclose" to incorrectly guessing that an American wine is a first-growth Bordeaux (before changing their mind and delivering the right answer), that’s a huge deal. When a table of French wine experts do the same—and two offer to help the American vineyard’s owner with his blends each year free of charge—it stops you in your tracks.
Three guesses as to where the grapes are grown, plucked by hand and fermented. Napa? No. Sonoma? Nah. Willamette Valley? Nope.
Virginia, an hour’s drive from D.C. (which is actually one of the country’s oldest wine regions, as Thomas Jefferson famously planted vines there).
If there’s any premium wine you splurge on this year, make one of RdV Vineyards’ two blends your pick. Lost Mountain is a strong, Cabernet Sauvignon-dominant wine resembling wines from Bordeaux’s left bank, and Rendezvous is a softer, Merlot-heavy mix that would fit in amongst Bordeaux’s right bank.
According to the estate director, Jarad Slipp, who came to town for the Naples Winter Wine Festival and stopped by The Continental to host a tasting, the secret to their success for the roughly 2,200 cases per year they produce is the Lost Mountain, their granite hill in the Blue Ridge Mountains (hence the wine’s name)—and that they let nature run its course. “We only add yeast to our tanks, nothing else; we don’t muck around,” he says.
Jarad Slipp, RdV’s estate director, hosted a tasting in Naples before attending the Naples Winter Wine Festival as representative of RdV and master sommelier for the event.
Slipp, a master sommelier and a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, is one of only a handful of people in the entire world to hold both distinctions. (For the two blends, by the way, he generally suggests “animal on a grill—steak, quail, duck, you name it.” But he's the first to acknowledge it’s really up to you what you want to eat with them.) He and the winery’s owner, Rutger de Vink, carry an earnest authenticity to what they do. A youthful ex-Marine, de Vink apprenticed on the West Coast in addition to several places in France—RdV is a play on his name and also the French shorthand for “rendezvous." Stemming from de Vink, it’s clear to the entire team that the focus should always be on taste and not on the return on investment.
If you happen to be in D.C. sometime soon, a visit to the winery is an easy way to experience the whole enchilada. “We actually lose money on the $50 per person tours because we are NOT a place where you fight through three people to get to the bar holding an etched glass with our logo for a swill of Chardonnay,” Slipp says. “We limit the number of people on tours and personally guide visitors through our grounds—and we pour our wines.”
The latter alone makes it worth anyone’s while.
Local outlets carrying RdV Vineyards’ vintages: A Nichols Worth of Wine, Bay Colony Golf Club, Bleu Provence, Grey Oaks Country Club, Jimmy P’s Charred, Sea Salt and The Capital Grille
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