During a recent visit to wineries in the Charlottesville area, we decided to pay a visit to Veritas Vineyard and Winery. “Spacious” and “palatial” might be apt descriptors for the Veritas grounds and facility, and on a fall afternoon, the view can be described as stunning. However, we were interested in wine, and we sidled up to the tasting bar to record our critiques of current pours.
It had been quite a while since we visited Veritas, so we were anxious to sample all of Veritas’ current releases. As always, lunch was in the car, so an appropriate wine pairing was also in the back of our minds. Fourteen wines were up for tasting—as this can be quite daunting, we decided to share tastings. Paul skillfully reviewed the white wines, and he sometimes offered me a sip from his glass. We do tend to have different tastes in white wines; I like full-bodied whites, but Paul likes fruity sippers. Therefore, I was not shocked to see him place a “star” next to the 2007 Chardonnay. Why? It was done in stainless steel (a Paul favorite), and of fered citrusy flavors with a crisp, clean finish that would win over any Chardonnay hater. However, we both concurred on the 2007 Viognier. A sniff of this one conjures images of Hawaii and other tropical destinations—floral nose with ripe tropical fruit flavors were accompanied by a lovely honeyed texture. Not surprisingly, this Viognier spends 2/3 of its rest period on French oak with the remainder in stainless steel. This one seemed to satisfy both of our preferences—a full bodied wine packed with fruit flavors. Pay attention to the 2006 Petit Manseng, too. Petit Manseng is becoming the Petit Verdot of white wines in Virginia. Petit Manseng is a little-known varietal grown in France but is fast becoming a flagship varietal in Virginia. The Veritas offering presents a coconut nose and flavors with a creamy mouth feel; this lush offering is destined to be a crowd pleaser.
So on to the reds, and it was my turn to do the tasting. (I did offer short sips to Paul when I wanted his input!) By far, the gold star favorite was the 2006 Cabernet Franc Reserve. A seductive dark berry nose then gave way to a presentation of cherries and black currants in the mouth. I also observed some peppery characteristics with a lengthier finish. Paul’s own favorite was the 2006 Vintner’s Reserve. He appreciated its garnet color and spicy/caramel nose. He noted mixed berry flavors and silky tannins that made this one an easy wine to drink.
So what did we pair with lunch? With honeyed ham and fruit salad in the cooler, we went with the 2007 Viognier. Adirondack chairs offered comfortable seating to enjoy fall colors and a comfortable breeze. Shutterbug Paul captured many photographs of the scenery, and the wine and food provided a perfect accompaniment to a natural fall symphony of sight and sound.
On the wine trail in October? Remember, October is Virginia Wine Month. Visit Veritas Vineyard and Winery and mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you!
The Fall issue of Edible Chesapeake is currently available at your local Whole Foods market, and be sure to pick up a copy. Our latest article for Liquid Assets is an article about fruit wines produced from Virginia wineries. We focused on winemakers who use fruit grown in Virginia either estate grown or from other farms in the area. As always, it was educational and rewarding to be able to chat with winemakers about winemaking and this time about fruit wines. Fruit wines seem to belong in a time gone by when everyone’s grandma made hooch from fruit grown in the backyard. However, making fruit wine is serious business, and Virginia winemakers are producing premium fruit wines that could grace any dinner party.
Be sure to pick up a copy of Edible Chesapeake and visit Virginia wineries that make fruit wines. After all, it is Virginia wine month. Of course, mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you!
This past weekend we took advantage of a long weekend to visit Oakencroft Winery. As readers may know, Oakencroft Winery will close its doors on December 31, and the Virginia wine community will lose yet another pioneer in the Virginia wine making industry. For us, Oakencroft was always on the “must visit” list while visiting the Charlottesville area. In fact, Oakencroft was our “eat lunch” winery, and we looked forward to sharing a bottle of award-wining wine and relaxing beside the pond filled with ducks and geese. We repeated this ritual one last time.
With gold stars in hand, we entered the busy tasting room to sample the current releases. Of the whites, Paul favored the 2006 Seyval Blanc with its citrusy nose and flavors. I detected a subtle flinty characteristic too. Crisp with a bright acidity, the 2006 Seyval Blanc is always an Oakencroft favorite and wines numerous awards. My own gold-star favorite was the 2007 Viognier with its floral and peach notes; I noted some toasted nuts on the nose as well. Fuller bodied, this one offered rewards of tropical fruit flavors with some mineral on the finish. Not to be outdone was the 2007 Chardonnay—aged mostly in stainless steel, this crisp wine delivers a vibrant acidity that would pair quite well with cheese, picnic fare, a simple chicken dinner but can also be appreciated on its own.
Of the reds, the 2006 Petit Verdot still earns gold for me. Dark fruit and violets on the nose with plum and spice in the mouth make this one a natural with a favorite meat dish but be sure to add a side of roasted veggies! Paul’s own favorite was the 2006 Merlot Reserve. Dense color suggested a full-bodied wine. Paul, ever the Merlot fan, noted that the 2006 Merlot Reserve favored plum and raspberry characteristics.
So for lunch we decided to share a bottle of the 2007 Viognier with honey ham and soft cheeses. We lingered over the pond teeming with friendly ducks and geese, and we toasted Felicia Rogan who, as Virginia first female winery owner, produced memorable wines and moments at Oakencroft.
We will fondly remember Oakencroft Winery, and we made sure to purchase several age-worthy wines so that we can enjoy Oakencroft’s wines long after their doors close. Be sure to visit Oakencroft Winery before the end of the year, and do mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.
The Food section of Wednesday’s edition of the Washington Post featured an article by expert Dave McIntyre entitled, “Local Vintners Are Trying to Grow Respect”. I’ll just briefly summarize here—according to McIntyre, local winemakers are making high-quality wines that can now compete with the likes of Napa. The downside? According to McIntyre, it’s availability. He does mention price but notes that even there, quality Virginia wines are priced on par with counterparts produced from California. His suggestion? Ask for locally produced wines at restaurants and wine shops. Perfect advise to follow during October which is Virginia Wine Month.
I should also mention that Dave McIntyre reviewed three Virginia wines, all of which earned a rating of “excellent”. These include the Linden Vineyards Hardscrabble Chardonnay 2005, the Michael Shaps Petit Verdot 2005, and the Kluge Estate SP Rose 2004.
So how have you celebrated Virginia Wine Month? I dined at a local restaurant, Chef Geoff’s, and ordered a glass of Barboursville’s Rosado, a nice rose that paired nicely with a salad. Chef Geoff’s also offers Barboursville’s heralded Viognier; though not sold by the glass, a bottle of this one could be shared with friends over crab cakes. Of course, wine bars are the craze now, and a newer one, Enology, on Wisconsin Avenue offers a menu dedicated to domestic wines including Virginia wines. I recently sipped on a glass of White Hall’s Petit Manseng while there with friends.
So celebrate Virginia Wine Month! (This is Virginia Wine Time, and we approve of this message!)
This past weekend, we took advantage of a lovely early autumn weekend to visit Bluemont Vineyard. Located in Loudon County and at an elevation of 1000 feet on an eastern slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the winery offers one of the grandest views of mountains and sunny horizons. The facility itself is quite expansive and designed to optimize appreciation of these breathtaking landscapes. However, wine is why we decided to visit Bluemont Vineyard, and our discerning palates made their way to the tasting room for a sample of Bluemont’s current releases.
On tap for tasting were five wines including two white wines, two red wines, and one dessert wine. My immediate favorite was the 2007 Viognier dubbed, “the Goat”. (I’m not quite sure why these wines are given animal names.) This was a very nice dry wine fermented mostly in stainless steel with some time on oak. Crisp and clean, this Viognier would pair quite nicely with any seafood or poultry dishes. Paul favored the 2007 Merlot, (or The Ram) and he likened this one to a lighter-style Chianti destined for a pizza or pasta dish. However, our gold star was reserved for both the 2006 and 2007 Norton (the Pig). We were treated to a personal tasting of these releases by owner and winemaker, Bob Rupy. Like Jenni McCloud of Chrysalis, Bob is truly excited about Norton’s future as a flagship varietal for Virginia, and these offerings certainly support his cause. In particular, the 2006 Norton offered a fruity nose with lots of juicy berry fruit in the mouth. Fuller bodied than the Merlot, the 2006 Norton should pair quite well with Bambi or Lambchop. Though the 2007 offered similar characteristics, the 2006 had the benefit of an extra year in bottle and thus maturity.
After our tasting, we opted to sip a glass of the 2007 Viognier, and this we did as we enjoyed the sounds of a live band and panoramic mountain views. We also chatted further with Bob Rupy who is excited about Bluemont Vineyard’s future. Weekend entertainment, nice wine, and an eclectic offering of meats and cheeses bring in local crowds that fill the ample facility decorated in a cozy country motif. We look forward to a return to Bluemont Vineyard to sample upcoming releases. Consider a visit to Bluemont Vineyard during Virginia Wine Month, and mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.
As summer finally transitions to fall and harvests begin in earnest in the area, it’s time to celebrate Virginia Wine Month! In fact, this year is the 20th anniversary of Virginia Wine Month, and there is much to celebrate. Twenty years ago, it might have been almost impossible to imagine that over 130 wineries would one day call Virginia home. Virginia is now one of the top wine-producing regions in the country, and winemakers from such renowned areas as California and France have come to Virginia to contribute to this ongoing success story. It’s no wonder that Virginia wines continue to place well in national and international competitions.
Looking for ways to celebrate Virginia Wine Month? Consider visiting Virginia wineries this month. Find out if local wine shops are tasting Virginia wineries. Ask your favorite restaurants if they pour Virginia wines, and order them if they do. The Virginia Tourism Corporation can offer many other ideas—just click the links below:
Click here to learn more about state-wide festivals and events.
Click here to see a video about Luca Paschina, the general manager and winemaker of Barboursville Vineyards.
Click here to see 20 getaway ideas in celebration of Virginia Wine Month.
Make a point to celebrate Virginia Wine Month in October. And whether you’re tasting Virginia wines at a winery, wine shop, or restaurant mention that Virginia Wine Time suggested that you try Virginia wines!