Friday, October 04, 2013

Fabbioli Cellars Tre Sorelle 2008 (VA)

Fabbiloi Cellars is among my favorite Virginia wineries. And Doug Fabbioli is a fascinating character within the Virginia wine scene. I am always looking to see what Doug is up to when I can. He is one of the most imaginative and inquisitive wine minds on the east coast.

Doug believes in sustainability. He also grows foods to compliment his wines. If you buy one of his white wines, especially in spring, he’ll implore you to buy the asparagus they grow to have with it. It’s not about the money. He doesn’t grow enough of it to make that much money from the vegetable. But he wants you to experience how the terrior can be tasted in different aspects of the different things grown on the farm. It’s an incredibly small thing, but its big point. Think about what you are eating. Find the taste in more than just the wine. See how the two compliment each other. Few wineries in North America put that kind of thinking into their customer experience.

Doug was attending Syracuse University for Production Management when he took a part-time job helping a friend plant and run a vineyard. “This was a very exciting time for me but I knew that we all needed to learn a lot” Doug says. This realization sent Doug and his wife to be Colleen to Sonoma Valley in Northern California for their next chapter.
Doug was employed in the wine cellar at Buena Vista Winery in the Carneros district. Over the ten years of his employment, Doug had a chance to work with many fine winemakers including the legendary Andre Tchelicheff. He continued his education in both enology and viticulture at U.C. Davis and Santa Rosa Junior College. Doug was becoming an accomplished home winemaker while he continued to work and learn as a professional. He had been the assistant Winemaker for 3 years when he heard the calling to return to the East Coast.
Doug accepted the winemaker position at Tarara in Lucketts, VA in 1997 and brought his wife Colleen and sons Matthew and Sam to start a new chapter in the fledgling Virginia wine industry. “My time at Tarara gave me a chance to find out just what my capabilities are. As much as I knew, I found out how much more there was to learn. Even though I get recognition of success through gold medals and awards, I am humbled by the thought that the best wine is not achievable, but a journey of constant effort and learning.”

In 2000, Doug was giving some guidance to Windham to improve quality and productivity in both the vineyard and cellar. This effort increased greatly when in 2001, Doug left Tarara and became the Vintner for Windham. The goal of balance in the vineyards has led to changing some trellising systems causing both quality and quantity increases. In 2002, Doug’s efforts were rewarded as Windham won its first gold medal along with numerous other honors of gold, silver and bronze. Not long after, Doug’s passion for wine brought him to his latest endeavor of owning his own winery and operating Fabbioli Cellars with his wife Colleen. They own a 12 acre vineyard and are strongly known for their red wines and have numerous awards across the board.
Tre Sorelle means Three Sisters in Italian. And indeed, the grapes in this wine are sisters of a kind. This is a dry red blend of 65% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 15% Petite Verdot. They are among the noble grapes of France, and three of the five found in many of the great blends of Bordeaux. So, I get the whole sisters thing,

The wine itself was big, deep, and rich. Almost California in inspiration. But obviously, Doug was channeling Italy when he named it. If I had to say, it’s a unique wine. Sort of like the Italy via California. Big deep beautiful flavors of dark cherry plum, blackberry, and cassis in a dark red wine. Nice expression of fruit up front, with very nice acidity and lovely tannins for a wonderful, well balanced wine.
This was a deep lovely wine that was shared with me by friend David Jackson, a wine connoisseur. I was most grateful for the experience. He first introduced me to Fabbioli Cellars (we shared an incredible Tannat), and I have been a big fan ever since.

After this fabulous red blend, I remain 100% convinced that Doug Fabbioli continues to be a leader in winemaking on the east coast.