Piedmont Vineyards

Washington Post Critic Likes VA Chardonnays!

Yes, it’s true! As many readers may know, the Washington Post’s Wednesday edition always includes a section for food and wine. Post wine critic, Ben Giliberti, posted an article this past Wednesday that recommended New World wines as Old World counterparts. Virginia Chardonnays appeared on his list of alternatives! Of course, we at Virginia Wine Time already knew this but to have this fact confirmed by a renowned wine critic made our day! We concluded a long time ago that the superior Virginia wineries must at least be able to produce a quality Chardonnay and a quality Cabernet Franc. Our blog entries provide testimony to this fact—most Virginia wineries do indeed produce excellent wines from these varietals. In fact, our recent visit to Piedmont Winery not only proved our point but also supported Giliberti’s recommendation. Read on to find out more!

The last time we visited Piedmont, we were told that new releases would be available for tasting in September. We marked our calendars in anticipation, and we returned last weekend for an update. Of course, the Chardonnays shined brightly! Piedmont always produces quality Chardonnays, and the latest releases lived up to that tradition. In particular, we enjoyed the 2005 Native Yeast Chardonnay. Now, we must admit that we enjoyed a bottle of the 2002 Native Yeast Chardonnay the night before with seafood. Did the 2005 Native Yeast live up to its older sibling? Absolutely. In fact, Paul is not a Chardonnay fan, but he fell in love with the 2005 release. John Fitter, winemaker, informed us that the 2005 was fermented in older barrels; the result was a Chardonnay rich with pectin fruit aromas and flavors supplemented by a soothing honey texture. Though oaked, this Chardonnay did not present the vanilla/nutty/woodsy characteristics associated with an oak-aged Chardonnay. We purchased a bottle for lunch. What did we have for lunch? Leftovers from the previous night’s seafood feast—baked fish with herbs and roasted almonds, crab cakes, and seasoned rice. The pairing was superb!

We must note that the red wines also shined at Piedmont. In particular, the Cabernet Franc was truly noteworthy.; John Fitter was quite pleased with this first production of Cabernet Franc at Piedmont, and we understood the reason—lovely raspberry flavors with hints of spice that are characteristic of the Franc varietal dazzled the senses. Wondering what to serve with Thanksgiving turkey? Give this one a try. However, act soon—Piedmont only produced 48 cases of the Cabernet Franc, and we doubt stocks will last long. They hope to release this Cab Franc to the public in the coming weeks. Also try the Cabernet Sauvignon—another nice red from Piedmont that demands a place on the wine rack. Nice dark cherry and plum characteristics describe this 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, and we had a glass of this one with dark chocolates and blue cheese. That steak dinner is just mooing for this Cabernet!

Our trip to Piedmont confirmed what we already knew before we read the Post article. Virginia wineries do indeed make high-quality Chardonnays. Piedmont took a step further—Virginia wineries make high-quality Chardonnays and dynamite Cabs! Taste for you yourselves! If you visit Piedmont, tell them you read about them on the Virginia Wine Time blog.

Village Winery

Before going to Tarara for Saturday’s jazz concert, we stopped at Village Winery to accomplish two tasks: a) to complete our Loudoun Wine Trail passport, and b) to sample Village Winery’s latest releases. Of course, we also enjoy catching up with Kent Mars, owner and winemaker.

The busy tasting room was a good indication that Village Winery’s popularity continues to increase. Once the room cleared a bit we were able to do a tasting and to talk with Kent about the new and upcoming wines at Village. New on the list was the Apple wine, and this unique fruit wine has a distinct chardonnay nose. While tempted to believe that this would be a sweeter wine, Village’s Apple wine was actually dry. Another unique fruit wine was the Elderberry wine with its enticing honeysuckle aroma. Warren commented that this wine would complement roasted poultry; Kent suggested a pairing with chocolate desserts. Paul was eager to sample the 2004 Merlot, and we were both pleased at how well this Merlot evolved since the last time we tasted it. Nice, dark cherry flavors now reveal themselves in the mouth, and we enjoyed a glass of the Merlot as we chatted with Kent. (Don’t miss the 2005 Cabernet Franc and the Cabernet Franc Merlot blend!)

Kent apprised us of this year’s developments, and he was very enthusiastic about the 2006 crop. Drought-like conditions produced bountiful fruit this summer; in fact, we were able to observe the rich crop of red wine grapes as we drove up to the tasting room. Kent will also be harvesting Petit Verdot this year, and Viognier will also be a future offering at Village Winery. Though currently producing about 1000 cases of wine, a tour of the barrel room revealed more barrels in anticipation of increased production in coming years. We cannot wait to report on these exciting developments at Village Winery.

Before leaving we turned in our Loudoun Wine Trail books and Kent presented us with signature Loudon County Wine Trail corkscrews. We also purchased a bottle of the Elderberry Wine and the 2004 Merlot.. We promised Kent that we’d return to tour the vineyards, and Kent promised to give us a taste of the grapes right off the vine. We can’t wait! And a big THANK YOU to Kent for the bottle of 2004 Cabernet Franc.

If you haven’t had a chance to visit Village Winery, you simply must. Kent is very friendly and more then willing to talk about the wines and the wine industry. We always enjoy our visits to Village Winery. And of course if you do visit Village Winery, tell them you read about them on the Virginia Wine Time blog.

Sounds of Summer

Labor day weekend traditionally marks the end of the summer, and this past weekend gave us clues that autumn was on the way. After Ernesto’s wind and rain, a cool evening breeze suggested fall’s inevitable arrival. We wanted to savor summer’s last throes, and what better way to cling to summer’s warm memories than an outdoor concert with a nice bottle of wine. Tarara Winery hosts its Sounds of Summer concert series, and the series continues into September. On tap for September 2 was the smooth jazz sound of Tyris, a jazz band from Chicago. We arranged to meet friends at the concert including our fellow wine bloggers, Dezel and Niki (from Virginia Vine Spot), and a trip to Whole Foods filled our picnic basket with wine-friendly goodies. We could not think of a better way to say goody-bye to summer!

We were all fortunate to meet with John, a sales consultant at Tarara, before we began our tasting. John seemed very excited to meet four wine bloggers at one event; of course, we were very excited to sample Tarara’s latest releases. Keri allowed us to sample all of Tarara’s offerings that included their reserve wines. In the meantime, we were joined by two more friends, Michael and David. The six of us compared notes and selected three of our favorite wines to enjoy with dinner and jazz. These included the 2003 Meritage, the 2004 Cabernet Franc, and the 2005 Charval.

So what foods did we all bring along? Well, lots of food! The Meritage, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, paired quite well with muffaletta-style sandwiches, cocoa cardona cheese, and blackberries. Barbeque ribs and beans married Cabernet Franc, and we swore it was a match made in heaven. Refreshing Charval seemed more comfortable with spicy grilled chicken and fruit. The time seemed to fly, and before we knew it the stars were out and the crickets began to accompany the easy-listening sounds of Tyris.

Friends, food, and wine–the best way to say farewell to summer! We had a great time and look forward to returning to Tarara soon.

If you visit Tarara Winery in the future, be sure to tell them you read about them on The Virginia Wine Time Blog.