This past weekend we attended the Virginia Wine Showcase held at the Dulles Expo Center. While more established wineries were represented at the Showcase, our intent was to sample wines either from newer Virginia wineries or from more distant wineries that are difficult for us to visit. Included at the Showcase were other venders that offered food, arts and crafts. (However, our focus was wine!)
We made a quick scan of the expo and then began to settle on wineries stations to visit. Our first visit was to newbie Rosemont Vineyard and Winery
located in LaCrosse, and this was also the most promising of the newer wineries represented at the event. In fact, Rosemont’s tasting room officially opened in November. Winemaker Justin Rosemont has been bottling some excellent wines. Rosemont’s crisp Traminette with its notes of peach and spice compared favorably to a Gewurztraminer, and it earned my gold star for best white wine on the menu. Of the reds, my own favorite was the 06 Cabernet Sauvignon with its dark cherry and plum characteristics. Eighteen months on French oak provides both body and longevity. Paul was torn between the 06 Merlot (0f course) and the Cabernet Franc. When pressed for a decision, he declared the Cabernet Franc to be his winner. “Cherry” and “pepper” were characteristics that Paul noted with this one. Paul also thought that the finish was lengthier yet “silky”. For those looking for a lighter red wine, then Paul suggests the 06 Merlot as an option. Justin Rosemont did chat with us, and we learned that he was trained in California; his return to Virginia was to continue a 150-year family history of farming. We think Justin is off to a great start. We also noticed that he is not afraid to think outside of the box, and his dessert wines prove the point. Rosemont’s LaCrosse, produced from LaCrosse grape, has quickly become a signature wine. LaCrosse is a hybrid from the seyval blanc family and is slightly sweet. For those wanting to sample wine made from a real North American native, try Blackridge Red made from the Catawba grape. Packed with a grapey nose and bright berry flavors, this dessert wine should be quite popular with a favorite Southern dessert.
Another first sample for us was White Fences
. This vineyard and winery is located in the Northern Neck of Virginia; these wines tended to be lighter-bodied. The Meteor Bright White with its floral nose and pineapple flavors was slightly sweet and was best appreciated with the spicy peanuts provided by the tasting associate. A unique offering was the Meteor Midnight Red. This dessert wine is made from chambourcin grapes and presents intense blackberry flavors with a touch of sweetness.
We were pleased to pay another visit to the New Kent
tasting station. Paul sampled the Merlot and declared it to be a Chianti-style, lighter bodied red wine. The Chardonnay Reserve, my own favorite from the last Showcase, was sold out; however, I did appreciate the unique and versatile White Norton with its strawberry nose. New Kent’s spacious tasting room and facility is still relatively new, and we briefly chatted with managing partner Pete Johns. Pete filled us in on New Kent’s successes with the Chardonnay Reserve, Vidal Blanc, and White Norton qualifying as the winery’s top sellers.
Readers may recall our favorable impressions of Sugarleaf Vineyards
. Needless to say, when we caught sight of Lauren Taylor at the tasting booth, we knew that we had to say hello. We also opted for a tasting of Sugarleaf’s quality wines. Be sure to try both the 07 Vidal Blanc and the excellent 07 Petit Manseng; however, my own favorite remains the 06 Cabernet Sauvignon. A full-bodied offering packed with dark fruit characteristics, this one is an age-worthy keeper.
Fruit wine lovers should enjoy Bright Meadows Farm Vineyard
. Though in operation since 2001, we had never visited the winery, and we did not neglect a chance to sample their fruit wines. The Halifax Red presents yet another true Native American grape, the Concord grape. Dry and bold, there is no doubt that this one is indeed King Concord. Paul enjoyed the Apple wine made from a blend of apples that provided an array of apple characteristics.
So what other wines made our all-star list? From Rebec Vineyard, we preferred the Riesling. Davis Valley Winery presented a blend of hybrids (chardonnel, vidal blanc, and seyval blanc) in its White that should prove to be a crowd pleaser for the summer time. We’ve reviewed Cooper Vineyards’ Norton, and the 2006 Norton is still one of my favorite Virginia Nortons. And finally, Cabernet Franc lovers may want to try the current offering by First Colony.
And so ended our trip to the winter edition of the Virginia Wine Showcase. For the record, we do pick and choose what to taste and how much to taste. For those who wish to navigate these events without getting inebriated, remember that you do not have to taste everything on the tasting menus. For example, I do not like sweet wines and do not taste them. Paul avoids most Chardonnays, and we both say “no thanks” to so-called hot tub wines. Also, do not be afraid to dump into the buckets even if you enjoy the wines you are tasting. Tasting portions do tend to be quite minimal, but if an associate is pouring too much into your glass then speak up! Finally, drink lots of water and be sure to eat. (Your palate will tell you when you’ve sampled too much wine—when Merlot tastes like Chardonnay, it’s time to call it quits.)
Be sure to visit any or all of the wineries featured here, but be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.