Pick of the liter: Experts name favorites

So many wines, so little time. With wines from 20 local wineries filling local shelves and menus, choosing just the right one can be a daunting task. To make the chore (!) easier, we asked local experts to name three of their favorites.


Richard Leahy

East Coast editor of Vineyard and Winery, a wine industry services company that does trade shows, publications, and seminars.

Veritas Sauvignon Blanc 2004

"It combines the best of the New Zealand style with the best of the Loire Valley style," says Leahy, who describes this wine as "racy passionfruit, but very dry and refreshing."

Cardinal Point Cab Franc 2004

"A refreshing summertime red," he says. Its taste of juicy plum "calls out for Chinese food like mu shu."

Blenheim Petit Verdot 2002

Leahy describes this wine as "brooding and intense," with rich flavors such as "smoky, spicy, black plum."


Elaine Futhey

Wine buyer for C&O restaurant; co-host of the public access show Perfect Pairings,  which airs on Channel 13 Tuesdays at 10pm and Wednesdays at 2 and 6pm.

Veritas Sauvignon Blanc 2003

"They've not over-oaked it a lot," says Futhey. "The actual varietal comes through."

Afton Mountain Riesling 2003

Futhey says this "very clean" Riesling "starts sweet– with a bit of ripe pear and maybe a little zing of spice– and finishes dry back in the sides of your mouth."

Michael Shaps Viognier

This wine, made at King Family Vineyard, has a "really wonderful aroma of honeysuckle," says Futhey. "It's round, full-bodied, and really true to the varietal."


Christine Iezzi

Virginia Portfolio manager of Country Vintner, a fine wine wholesaler

Blenheim Star Series Chardonnay 2003

The Star Series, made by Blenheim vintner Brad McCarthy, is "not really Brad's style," says Iezzi, "but he's such a naturalist, he let it go through malo-lactic fermentation, which is what naturally occurred. It's a very buttery, full-flavored Chardonnay."

Kluge Estate SP 2002

 This sparkling wine is a "gorgeous example of what can be made not in Champagne (where anything called champagne must be made), but in that same delicate method," says Iezzi, who served it to a group of master sommeliers in Orlando. "They picked it as their favorite," she says.

Jefferson Vineyards Meritage 2002

 "Stunning, full bodied, and robust," she says of this red, which she calls a "traditional Bordeaux blend with a lushness that can stand toe-to-toe with wines from other countries." It's made for "heavier foods, foods that are tomato based," she adds.