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Posted at 9:30 AM ET, 01/13/2011

Wine: Virginia wines meet Jean-Georges' approval

By Dave McIntyre

Virginia wine has won another restaurant convert in the District. J&G Steakhouse, celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten's operation inside the W Hotel, has added several local wines to its list, according to General Manager Steve Uhr.

The recent additions include Boxwood Winery’s Topiary 2007 red blend and Thibaut-Janisson’s Blanc de Chardonnay sparkler by the glass, as well as Boxwood’s other blend (called simply Boxwood) in half bottles -- ideal for couples sharing a glass or two over an entree or for single diners who aren’t just staggering upstairs to their hotel room to sleep. Also added were viogniers from Kluge Estate Winery (the Albemarle label) and Barboursville Vineyards as well as Barboursville’s nebbiolo.

The Thibaut-Janisson sparkling wine, which was served at President Obama’s first state dinner in November 2009, replaces a 2006 vintage cuvee from Oregon’s Argyle winery, which wasn’t selling well, Uhr noted in an e-mail. Although the Argyle is quite good, “I don’t think people appreciated a domestic vintage sparkling,” Uhr wrote. The T-J is “doing well, and my staff really likes it -- always a good recipe for strong sales.”

The T-J (a nice abbreviation given the implied reference to Thomas Jefferson and his love of wines) has become a darling of the Washington restaurant scene, because it is both local and top quality. Winemaker Claude Thibaut is a native of Champagne, and his wines, while from Charlottesville, wear that pedigree with pride.

Uhr came to Washington three years ago to be the general manager at Zaytinya, which focuses on wines from Greece, Turkey and Lebanon to match its eastern Mediterranean cuisine. He then worked for several months at Blue Duck Tavern, where he began tasting local wines.

When he came on board at J&G, he took some of the staff to Barboursville winery for a field trip. “Of the wines we tasted that day, the viognier and the nebbiolo were the ones I enjoyed the most,” he said.

“We will continue to taste and find good matches of local wines for our list,” Uhr told me. “Local distributors will play a huge role in the success of Virginia wines. They need to continue to show my peers and I the best of what Virginia has to offer, confidently, and the wines will speak for themselves.”

Taking the LEED: Most folks won’t issue a press release until something actually happens, but Cooper Vineyards in Virginia is already crowing about the LEED platinum certification it expects to receive for its new tasting room. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and the certification rewards an eco-friendly “green” building. Platinum is the highest level of certification.

At a time when wineries are tripping all over themselves to demonstrate their love for the environment, Cooper Vineyards will be only the second U.S. winery to achieve LEED platinum certification, and the first on the East Coast.

Cooper’s new tasting room, under construction since last spring, uses rainwater collection and low-flow fixtures to reduce water usage by 40 percent, structurally insulated panels for the roof and walls, geothermal heating and cooling and low-voltage LED lighting along with solar panels. The tasting room is expected to open late this month or in February, with a grand opening scheduled for April 8, according to a press release from the Virginia Wine Board Marketing Office.

Owners Geoffrey Cooper and Jacque Hogge received financial assistance for the tasting room from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

According to the release, two other Virginia wineries -- Sunset Hills Vineyard and North Gate Vineyard, both in Purcellville in Loudoun County -- are in the process of obtaining LEED certification for their facilities.

By Dave McIntyre  | January 13, 2011; 9:30 AM ET
Categories:  Wine  | Tags:  Dave McIntyre  
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Hope they stocked up on the Kluge Viognier at the bankruptcy auction. It will be tough to offer that too much into the future!

Posted by: SRockville | January 13, 2011 12:35 PM | Report abuse

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