Cooper Vineyards (VA) Review
Address: 13372 Shannon Hill Rd. Louisa,Virginia 23226.
Phone Number: 540-894-5474
Tasting Hours: 11:00-5:00
Reviewer: Anthony Marocco
Review Date: 9/28/2013
Reviewer: Anthony Marocco
Cooper Vineyards first opened its doors in 1999, producing a whopping 250 cases of wine. During the last fifteen years, the winery has expanded production to almost 6,000 cases and has increased its property from 36 acres to 150 acres – 15 of which are covered with vines. Approximately half of winemaker Graham Bell’s wines are produced from estate-grown grapes with the rest being produced from grapes obtained from other nearby vineyards. Cooper Vineyards relies almost exclusively on Virginia Oak wine barrels and has finalized and opened their new Gold/Platinum LEED Certified tasting room and events facility. This gorgeous facility contains a 35 foot, curved, concrete tasting bar (think classy polished concrete), wood pellet fireplace for those winter months, wall to wall windows leading out to the wrap-around, covered deck, and gorgeous views of the vineyard and pond. There is even a private events space for up to 25 people and plenty of room for weddings and other festivities on the grounds. The green facility and grounds are chic, modern, classy and breathtaking.
My first tasting of Cooper wines was approximately four years ago. I was impressed by their 2009 Petit Verdot, as well as their cult classic Noche (Norton infused Port Style Dessert Wine). After a couple of years of absence, the early fall roads led me one particular weekend from Richmond to Cooper for an amazing tasting experience. When you pull up the road, you will be greeted by vines on both sides of the paved road that brings you to the parking lot lined with solar panels. When you enter the tasting room, the aforementioned gorgeous bar is straight ahead, while the windows perfectly frame the property’s rolling hills. You will ALWAYS be greeted with a smile and friendly hello, as the staff here is very friendly and eager to walk you through their special selections. On this particular weekend, we had the pleasure of having Judy lead our Reserve Tasting for a modest $10. The Reserve Tasting gave us the opportunity to taste twelve of their wines, including five of their dessert-style wines.
The highlights of the tasting included the 2012 Chardonel ($15), a hybrid of Seyval and Chardonnay, which exhibits bright qualities of ripe pear and citrus and a nice crisp acidity on the palate. Unable to taste the Viognier since it was, unfortunately, in very limited supply, we moved quickly to the reds. There were two standouts – the first, the Petit Verdot Reserve 2010 ($30) and the second, (love me or hate me) the Norton Reserve 2011 ($25). The Petit Verdot at Cooper contains about 14% Cabernet Sauvignon for balance and presents some toasty oak aromas leading to a supple palate filled with mocha and dark fruit. The body is very hefty, but shows some dusty tannins and a surprisingly delicate and silky smooth finish. Now many of you probably shook your head when I mentioned the word, “Norton.” I, myself, am not a huge fan of Norton, if at all, though now and then I come across a wine that surprises me. Cooper does an excellent job at masking this wines identity and provides a glimmer of hope for the often despised varietal. Candied fig and floral aromas lead to ripe dark fruit, plum, and hints of cola delivered across with fresh tannins and a soft finish.
Overall, Cooper selected some of the best varieties to grow in Virginia. Of course, I couldn’t conclude my experience without a pour of their Noche or Vida dessert wines. The Vida ($20) is their take on a late harvest ice wine. Graham froze several tons of Vidal Blanc and pressed out sweet rich peach and honey-laced aromas that converge with juicy nectarine and highlights of mandarine orange. Sweet but not overly acidity, this Vida finishes smooth with honey wrapped flavors that could put the icing on any angel food cake or flavor-seeking dessert. The last of the tasting was the Noche ($17), which is produced by infusing chocolate into their Norton dessert wine. An explosion of rich milk chocolate from start to finish as the palate adds coated flavors of dark berry and black cherry, while the finish leaves behind a coating similar to eating a slice of Chocolate Lava Cake lingering on and on. This is a true crowd pleaser and a delightful selection for those holiday gift ideas!
The tasting was fun and informative, and it was great to see how far Cooper has come along over the last couple of years. If you are craving a glass of good Virginia wine, this is a great Virginia wine country destination!