Grape(s): Cabernet Franc
Localization: Machipongo, Virginia, USA
Tasting notes: On the nose, there are blended aromatics of spice, cedar, and clove from the Petit Verdot and herbal notes from the Cabernet Franc. This wine is lush and ripe with prominent berry flavors of raspberry, cherry, and a touch of cranberry. There is fresh acidity and bright minerality on the mid-palate to frame this full-bodied Franc. Pliant tannins add to its well-rounded structure.
The Domain: Since 1999, more than twenty acres of high-density (1,740 vines per acre) French vinifera varietals have been planted. They are Merlot (clone 181 and 3 on rootstock 101-14 and 3309), Chardonnay (French Dijon clones 95/96 and 76, and California Clones 4 and 5 on 3309 rootstocks), Cabernet Franc (clone 214 on 101-14 rootstock), Cabernet Sauvignon (clone 337 on 101-14 rootstock) and Petit Verdot (clone 400 on 101-14 rootstock). The vineyards are cane pruned during the winter months to balance the vines and limit yields to less than 4 tons per acre thereby concentrating wine flavors. The grapes are hand-picked and sorted before pressing to ensure the highest quality of the juice. Grapes not vinified at the winery are sold to other wineries in Virginia.
The land at Chatham, which overlooks Church Creek, was patented in 1640. The Federal-period brick house, Chatham, was built in 1818 by Major Scarborough Pitts and named for William Pitt, the Earl of Chatham and friend of the American Revolution. The historic outbuildings, barns, and two early 1900s homes on the property have been renovated in recent years. Chatham Farm has been a working farm for four centuries.
The winery was constructed in 2005 and currently has a production capacity of 3,000 to 5,000 cases annually. Winemaking equipment includes a computerized Europress 2200 liter, a Zickler-Rauch de-stemmer/crusher A-12, French and Virginia oak cooperage, and stainless steel fermenters with dimpled glycol cooling jackets custom-made in Italy. The temperature in the winery is maintained at 50 degrees year-round. A retail tasting room is located in the winery.
Future plans include the relocation and restoration of an 1890s farmhouse adjoining the winery to serve as a tasting room and special events facility.