Blenheim Vineyards 2008 viognier (Monticello, Virginia)
My favorite line in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre happens at the moment Jane is about to return to Thornfield to see if her love, Mr. Rochester, is still there. She wonders if they might be able to rekindle their relationship after years of separation and hardship. She arrives in town and has the chance to inquire of his whereabouts at the inn. Instead, she chooses to walk the distance to Thornfield and find out for herself, rather than seek instant gratification at the tavern. Why did she draw out her curiosity? And more importantly, why didn't she return sooner?
Because "to prolong doubt was to prolong hope."
Such a poignant line that explains in just a few words why we sometimes wait to face something we know could bring disappointment, because we want to keep a glimmer of hope alive that perhaps-- just perhaps-- there will be no disappointment, but joy.
This Blenheim viognier sat in the back of my fridge for about 4 years. It always called, but I never answered. Blenheim Vineyards was founded in 1999 by Dave Matthews; he bought the historic Blenheim farm (speckled with buildings that date back to the 1700s), planted vines, and built an eco-friendly winery. When celebrities buy wineries and start making wine, often the results don't live up to the glory of the founders; and this was the reason I never opened that bottle. I wanted it to be good, and so to avoid disappointment I simply never tried it.
To prolong doubt is to prolong hope.
Some of the properties in the area are as famous as the celebrities. A bit about Blenheim: This is an old farm with several structures that date back to the 1700s and 1800s. The property may house the oldest structure in Albemarle County (an old "claim" house-- circa 1735-- originally built to stake a claim to the land) and is protected on the National Register of Historic Places.
In the 1840s the old Blenheim farm house burnt down-- just as Jane's beloved Thornfield mansion had. Soon after, a congressman purchased the land and built today's Blenheim farmhouse. Dave Matthews purchased this property in 1999; he and William Johnson designed and finished the winery in 2000. The winery is temperature-regulated by its position in a hillside, it was built from re-purposed wood, and the structure is lit by natural light most of the year. They use screw cap closures for the wines, and this viognier was aged in both oak and steel.
So my bottle of viognier aged for years behind some mustard and a jar of brandied cherries. There it would have stayed until recently: I had friends over for dinner, and a wine I paired with a particular course was corked. I raced to the fridge to see what comparable white I had that might be cold, and that's when I saw the Blenheim. I smiled a mischievous grin-- your time of judgement has come, Blenheim! Prolonging doubt and prolonging hope melt away when I have 8 friends in the next room with empty glasses. The brandied cherries got pushed back into the space the Blenheim had occupied, and with a twist of the cap I got the wine served just before the course arrived.
The wine was awesome. I'm sad I didn't buy more of it, and I'm sad I waited all those years to try it.
Lay, K. Edward. (2000) The Architecture of Jefferson County. Virginia: The University Press of Virginia.