2022 Best of Show

Cross Keys Blanc de Noir

“When we first laid eyes on the beautiful rolling hills we now call CrossKeys Vineyards, it was nothing more than a thick forest. After crossing the fence which divided the land from the road, we saw the vision of the vineyard come to life.” This aspiration on the winery’s website saw its fulfillment in the 2022 Atlantic Seaboard Wine Competition as CrossKeys Blanc de Noir 2019 took Best of Show from a field of 409 wines produced along the US East Coast.

CrossKeys Vineyards and Estate Blanc de Noir 2019 boasts an aroma of red fruit with a hint of almond. Sweet peach and apple flavors are enhanced by lively acidity and balanced with creaminess developed through barrel aging.

In an area not yet associated with fine sparkling wines, CrossKeys crafted this year’s winner from vines almost 20 years old. “Blanc de Noir” in French means “white from black.” As in Champagne, CrossKeys extracted white juice from 100% Pinot Noir grapes which was fermented, then aged, in barrel for 6-8 months before bottling.

The secondary fermentation which created the fine mousse (bubbles) followed the traditional champagne method as well. “At bottling, sugar and fresh yeast were added and the bottles quickly sealed so the wine ferments a second time, in bottle,” according to a winery spokesperson.
In the 18 months that followed, the riddling process caused the solids to fall out and the wine developed its sparkle. The spent yeast released a creamy flavor and enhanced the mouthfeel. The solids were then expelled through disgourgement and the final sugar level was completed through CrossKeys’ propriatery liqueur d’expédition, a mixture of wine and sugar that determines how sweet the finished wine will be, in this case 1% residual sugar. In a French sparkler, this would be called “off-dry.”

CrossKeys Vineyards and Estate is a repeat winner in the ASWA Wine Competition. The winery’s Fiore Rose´ took home Best of Show in 2018 in a field of over 400 entries. CrossKeys is owned by the Bakhtiar family, and is located in Mount Crawford, VA, in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley. “The two gold crossed keys are an old symbol of hospitality, excellence, and a place of prestige. The keys embody our goal of producing exquisite wines, delicious food, fabulous events, but most of all they are a daily reminder that we are here to provide an excellent experience for every guest that walks through our doors,” a spokesperson for the family relates.