At Ease with the 2017 Adagio
Harmony and notes.
Structure and range.
Depth and balance.
Body and variety.
There’s a reason the very terms used in music can be used to describe our most important moments of life, a person we love, or a wine we so thoroughly enjoy.
Music makes us feel. Perfect harmonies make us yearn for encores. Striking the right tone makes us want to do it over and over again.
It should come as no surprise, then, that there’s also a reason that here, at The Williamsburg Winery, we’ve named our boldest and most complex wine after a classic musical term and the timing of its latest release comes now, during the annual Virginia Wine Month celebration.
This month, The Williamsburg Winery was delighted to release its 2017 Adagio, the first of this signature bold, red blend to come out since the 2015 vintage.
If you’ve been a fan of The Williamsburg Winery, or Virginia wine, Adagio may not be new to you. The winery began making Adagio in 2006, and the 2010 vintage won the 2014 Virginia Governor’s Cup, besting more than 400 wines from 95 other wineries from around the state.
But if you haven’t experienced Adagio, and if you only know its name and not the story behind it, you may wonder what any of this has to do with music.
In a word…everything.
From Italian ‘ad agio,’ Adagio means 'at ease' and is a musical term indicating the tempo of a composition that is meant to be slow and stately.
Created in the Virginia style (more on that later), Adagio showcases the charm and elegance of the Old World in perfect harmony with the adventurous spirit and freedom of the new.
Settle in, get yourself at ease, and enjoy the story of Adagio.
When guests visit Wessex Hundred, that is exactly how the founding family of The Williamsburg Winery wanted people to feel.
Pulling onto the farm, just off the beaten path of Colonial Williamsburg, and tucked into a sprawling landscape surrounded by thousands of trees, many planted by the winery’s founder himself over the last three decades, most visitors claim to feel the pace of life slow down.
Passing line after line of vines, worries about life wash away.
The speed limit throughout the farm slows, and so do you.
You become more present. You see things. You savor more. You embrace the melody and pace of the moment.
That is Adagio.
Even the bottle, one that is heavier empty than the average one is full, forces you to slow down. To savor. To focus.
Crafted in the Virginia Style
Made as the biggest and boldest of each vintage, Adagio doesn’t fit any particular formula.
It’s Virginia style at its best.
What does Virginia style mean?
Well that, too, has a lot do with music.
If you think about wine from around the world through the lens of music, you could describe West Coast wine like rock and roll.
It’s bold, often daringly so, and tends to be higher in alcohol content.
The wines of Europe are crafted more like a classical piece.
The alcohol content often isn’t as high, the wines not as extracted, and there is a more delicate and complex interplay of fruit and non-fruit tones.
Here in Virginia, many have said that its style is a balance of the two.
Music isn’t always better because it’s louder.
It’s better when its free. When it doesn’t follow the rules, or a specific recipe, but rather is crafted to tell a specific story at a specific time for a specific place.
Virginia style is that balance. It’s our story. For our place.
From Farm to Glass, Tasting and Growing Notes
The 2017 Adagio is a wonderful reflection of a great vintage, said winemaker Matthew Meyer.
"It is richly complex with many layers."
That complexity is evident in the balance between the dark fruits of figs and dates along with the red fruits of raspberry and dark cherry.
Taste closely, and you’ll likely also note hints of blueberry, rhubarb and cassis.
A balance of the Old World comes in, timed perfectly, with its earthy character, along with some cocoa, black olive and black pepper.
The tannins are gripping, but approachable, and the oak is wonderfully partnered with all the many nuances.
“I find this to be an exceptionally well-balanced wine that will age magnificently over the next decade or more,” Meyer said – all because of the strong foundation of the grapes harvested in the 2017 vintage.
A mild winter and a warmer spring created the perfect conditions for an early bud break for the 2017 vintage that make up this latest release of Adagio. The summer months were a bit warmer and not having as much rain that year helped to create an abundance of grapes. The humidity seemed to be a bit less as well – shocking in Virginia, we know – and led into a fall with mild to warm air.
“Overall, 2017 was the best vintage I have experienced in Virginia,” Meyer said.
Blending and Aging
A 100% Virginia wine, the 2017 Adagio is 37% Tannat and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon from Mt. Juliet Vineyard, as well as 33% Petit Verdot from the Wessex Hundred and Mount Fair.
Petit Verdot, one of the world-class varietals grown throughout the Commonwealth, has historically been featured prominently in the Adagio blend and this vintage is no different. What is different however, is how significant of a role Tannat has played in the 2017 vintage.
Tannat, a red wine varietal that hails from Southwest France, is one of the most exciting and intriguing varietals in all of Virginia. Winemakers like it for is dark color and intense flavor that is uniquely balanced by a fresh acidity – not a very common combination.
“I like Tannat because of its depth and intensity,” Meyer said. “We like it so much that we decided to plant two acres of it here at Wessex Hundred for the first time ever earlier this spring. Tannat has the potential to be a very important varietal for our industry.”
Blending the Tannat with nearly equal amounts of Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon was about timing. Like an orchestra, each comes in and plays an important note at just the right time.
Meyer fermented the Tannat in stainless steel for five days. The Cabernet Sauvignon was cold soaked for nine days then fermented in stainless steel for seven days. The Wessex Hundred Petit Verdot was cold soaked for three days then fermented in stainless steel for seven days, and the Mount Fair Petit Verdot was fermented in half-ton macro bins for six days.
The aging dance of this blend took place inside 52% new French Oak, 9% 2nd Year French Oak and 39% 3rd Year French oak
All 812 cases of the 2017 Adagio were bottled on July 17, 2019 and are available now to enjoy…as you please, at ease.