5800 Wessex Hundred
APRIL – OCTOBER
NOVEMBER – MARCH
CALL TO CONFIRM:
OWNER: Patrick Duffeler
WINEMAKER: Matthew Meyer
LOCATION DESCRIPTION: This Hampton Roads winery does not have the typical remote country location. It is right around the corner from Colonial Williamsburg, so the surrounding area feels a little commercialized, it’s a tourist-attraction, but Williamsburg Winery has definitely capitalized on establishing itself in the right place. Their main building does give the feeling of being in a Colonial village, so that’s a nice touch.
TASTING ROOM DESCRIPTION: The tasting room was a bit underwhelming. I think they were attempting to recreate a colonial atmosphere, but it felt a bit forced and only half accomplished with sparse random decor. This is a huge building compared to most wineries, and near the tasting room is a great banquet room that was quite charming. I can picture all sorts of events being held in this grand space, but I hope they don’t peek into the bland tasting room and flaw the experience. There is a modest retail area with 28 wines to choose from and a few jams, sauces, accessories, blah, blah, blah.
DATE/WEATHER/TIME IN-TIME OUT: 3/9/2017 | 68⸰ | 11:20am-1:38pm. This time range includes lunch at the Gabriel Archer Tavern next door.
MY RIDE ALONG (My side-kick for this visit): Mike R. – He is a wine making hobbiest but … ahem … doesn’t drink wine? Of course, my question is how do you know if what you are making is any good? So, it’s time to get this guy educated. I have to say, he’s a pretty quick study.
TASTING FEES: $10 for 7 wines. No souvenir glass? No handshake? Nothing else? Good grief!
POURER: Michael. He was very passionate and knowledgeable but scripted. He’s got the perfect look to throw on some period garb, recite his spiel in Old English, and play the role of a Colonial historian, but he’s not into that kind of thing. Dude, relax!
THE TASTING: Um, we were limited to 7 samples because, according to the enlightened Michael, “they only allow 7 pours because of Virginia ABC laws”. I’m calling bullshit because if that is the case, then literally every other Virginia winery I’ve visited (and that’s no small number) is breaking that law. Dammit, Michael, RELAX and pour us a couple more. No? Bleh! No biggie, though, we had lunch next door and ordered 2 flights for another 8 samples. Wait… does that mean they, too, are breaking the law? I’m so confused.
|This represents a 1-5 scale with What the fuck? being the worst and Oh, hell yes! being the best.
The W-I-N-O tasting scale (the M is silent because who cares about the Ms?)
|[W] – What the fuck?
If I won’t drink it, it’s fucking bad because I’ll drink anything.
|[I] – I’ll pass.
Not good, but not dumped. That would be wasteful.
|[M] – Meh.
|[N] – Now we’re getting somewhere!
This is a goodie. I may have bought it, or it might not be worth the money, or I’ve already spent too much.
|[O] – Oh, hell yes!
I probably bought this one.
Here we go, the Williamsburg Winery wines – please remember, these are just my opinions …
|James River White
It’s a Sauvignon Blanc, but on some lower plane. I’m probably just being biased toward New Zealand, but really, no one should compete with them. If you like this one, please comment below and tell me why. Seriously, why?
*This one got a 2nd try in our wine flight at lunch, it’s still whatever, even with the salmon and broccoli quiche.
|Rating [M] Price $9.50|
|Wessex Hundred Rosé
Whoa, holy mother fuck! It literally smells like dog poo and ride-along Mike confirmed it. Now, just to be clear, I have never knowingly eaten dog poo, but I have to say that same flavor came through very slightly when I tasted it. Perhaps, there is a reason dogs eat their own poo because I didn’t actually dump the wine – apparently, it wasn’t that bad.
*I was a bit nervous to try this one again with lunch. The strawberries were still there, but there was much less poo. Maybe because it was aerated?
|Rating [I] Price $16|
|Midsummer Night’s White
Bleh to your acidic wine. I’m bored. Can we go eat? I think the dog poo fucked me up.
*This one also got a 2nd try and it was MUCH more floral and delightful. Is it because we were sitting outside in the beautiful 68⸰ sunshine with a slight breeze and even urine would have been delightful?
|Rating [M] Price $14|
Let me tell you something, these sons of bitches just redeemed themselves. Oh my gosh this is really good – it smells like candy and there is some definite strawberry happening in that glass. Thank god. I bought this.
|Rating [O] Price $9|
|Sensible Seafood Red
Have you ever stopped to enjoy the smell of NyQuil? No, because NyQuil is not delicious. Honestly, it’s a good thing that this wine tastes good. It’s very mildly spicy and chocolaty, so it compensates for the weird licorice-like mentholatum thing that happened up front. Oh, this wine benefits Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center’s programs, so go check it out.
|Rating [N] Price $10|
Pronounced tree-anon. Mike says it smells like oysters. I tend to agree but those oysters taste like blueberries so it’s … well, for $38 it’s whatever.
|Rating [M] Price $38|
Hallelujah chorus! I’m so thankful they didn’t screw up this wine. It’s a perfect blend of wine and unfermented raspberry juice. I don’t usually like Merlot but this is one I can get into. It’s not effervescent like you might expect, and it needs no food. Well, maybe chocolate.
|Rating [N] Price $19|
| Governor’s White
This was in our wine flight at lunch. It’s what I would expect for an off-dry Riesling. It’s safe. It’s predictable. It’s their best seller. It’s boring.
|Rating [M] Price $9.50|
|Two Shilling Red
I should drink more Zinfandel. I think it’s always had a reputation of being the cheap-boxed-wine varietal, but it really has come a long way. This one was like a little glass of raisins.
|Rating [N] Price $9.50|
|Barrel Aged Claret
It smells like crackers. No, not THAT kind of crackers … just because we’re on a Colonial plantation … geez, you guys are just wrong. It tastes better than a cracker of the wheat variety, and it’s probably higher than “M” but doesn’t quite deserve an “N”.
|Rating [M½] Price $19|
|Susan Constant Red
Kinda smells like caramel. Kinda tastes like smoke. Eh, whatever.
|Rating [M] Price $9.50|
|Arundell Cabernet Sauvignon
Sometimes I get caught in what I think a wine should taste like before I try it. Shame on me! This was one of those wines – surprisingly, it’s different from the Cab Sauv’s I’m used to. There are no tannins, no black pepper, and not much to smell, BUT this would make an amazing mulled wine because it did have a subtle cinnamon thing happening on the palette.
|Rating [N] Price $13|
SUMMARY: Supposedly, this is the biggest winery in Virginia. Their Governor’s White sells 150,000-180,000 bottles – excuse me? Yup! 150,000-180,000 bottles per year accounting for 30% of their sales. I’m blown away by this and have to chalk it up to its wide distribution including Trader Joe’s, and for god’s sake, Walmart. Although I was somewhat dissatisfied with a few of their wines, their prices are very affordable, possibly the lowest I’ve seen anywhere, so kudos for that. I’m also a bit disappointed that only 3 of their wines are estate grown, meaning 100% of only 3 grapes used were grown in their vineyard. The majority of their grapes are purchased elsewhere. They do have a lot of brand new trellises on the property, so I hope that means they’ll be growing a lot more of their own. Regardless of how unenthused I was with the wines, the overall experience was great and absolutely worth the trip. Their Gabriel Archer Tavern serves quality food and it’s charming. Perhaps, if I go back and try 7 different pours I’ll have a different review, but first I’ll have to convince Michael the pourer to let his friggin’ guard down.
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