Faves at Three Fox and Miracle Valley

So as promised here is our review of favorites at Three Fox Vineyards and Miracle Valley Vineyards. These were wineries that we visited two weekends ago, but I got sidetracked in my postings. Of course, I took careful notes complete with gold star awards!

First up was our visit to Three Fox Vineyards, and we began our tasting with the white wines, of course. The first wine, the 2007 Leggero Chardonnay, was my gold star award for the white wines. Done in stainless steel, this Chardonnay exhibited apple and pear characteristics with a crisp, refreshing finish. This Chardonnay promises to be a crowd pleaser and is a versatile pour to boot. Serve with appetizers, light poultry dishes or white fish, bring along to a picnic, or enjoy on the deck with cheese and fruit. Paul went boheme on me and voted for the 2008 La Boheme Viognier. He appreciated its tropical fruit notes and flavors and noted a crisp edge associated with stainless steel aging.

Of the reds, we both gold starred the 2007 Alouette Cabernet Franc. I observed more a layered wine here with black berries, dark cherries, and coffee on the nose; in the mouth, similar characteristics with a toffee on a lengthier finish. The 2007 Alouette Cabernet Franc is one to age, so buy now but save for later with a feast of roasted beef or game. So enamored were we of the 2007 Cabernet Franc that we opted to share a glass with a hunk of mild Swiss cheese and crackers.

With snack digested and a bottle each of the Leggero Chardonnay and the Alouette Cabernet Franc purchased for future enjoyment, we made tracks on what was becoming a rainy day to Miracle Valley Vineyards. As we entered the tasting room, we heard strains of live music as a guitarist serenaded guests. We made a quick friendship with tasting associate, Ashley, who expertly guided us through the tasting menu. In fact, my gold star was awarded to the wine described by Ashley as “liquid art”, and that was the 2007 Cabernet Franc. And liquid art did indeed present itself in the glass. Dark plum, dried herbs and spice filled the nose while waves of dark plums and cherries flooded the mouth . Completing the exhibit was a vibrant acidity and peppery edge that commanded a lengthier finish. This piece of art does indeed expect to be appreciated for quite a while.

So what of the whites? An interesting treatment of Chardonnay was offered with the 2007 Reserve Chardonnay which was aged for six months in Hungarian oak. Oak aged Chardonnay usually spends time in French and/or American oak barrels; however, this is not the case at Miracle Valley Vineyards. The result is a fruitier Chardonnay with some citrus notes and apple and pear flavors. The short time on the gentler Hungarian oak does impart a slight toasty edge, but Paul noted a smooth finish.

As our tasting came to a close, we realized that the light drizzle that accompanied our short trip to Miracle Valley became a steadier rain shower. Not wanting to get all wet, we had no choice but to share a glass of the 2007 Cabernet Franc with the complementary snacks offered for the afternoon at Miracle Valley. What better way to spend a springtime shower than with a glass of nice wine and light snacks with soft folk tunes playing in the background!

Alas, the rain did let up, and we were able to depart Miracle Valley Vineyards. We bid our farewells to Ashley, and we promised to return soon. In the meantime, we do encourage a visit to both Three Fox Vineyards and Miracle Valley Vineyards; just be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Gray Ghost Barrel Tasting

So I promised a post about our visits to Three Fox and Miracle Valley, but I’m taking a detour to write about our recent visit to the barrel tasting at Gray Ghost Vineyards. (However, do look for our reviews of Three Fox and Miracle Valley on our next post!)

We look forward to this barrel tasting every year as one of the barrel samples is taken from the developing Chardonnay; Paul and I harvest Chardonnay every year at Gray Ghost, and this is our opportunity to witness the vine to barrel to bottle process. Our barrel sample of the 2008 Chardonnay presented enticing aromas and flavors of apples and pears, and we were pleased to find out that this one will be bottled in late spring.

From the Chardonnay barrel we sauntered over to the 2008 Cabernet Franc barrel. Paul was already eyeing the Merlot barrel, but this barrel tasting was very well organized with numbered stations so Paul had to wait a bit longer. Anyway, the 2008 Cabernet Franc had been in the barrel for six months and was showing black pepper and cherry on the nose with similar flavors in the mouth. Similar to a Cabernet Franc from the Loire region of France, this Cabernet Franc was already showing potential.

With our Franc sample done, Paul could no longer be restrained and we made haste to the Merlot barrel. The 2008 Merlot was actually prepared from grapes grown in a Leesburg vineyard; we were told that this vineyard escaped a summertime hail storm that had damaged grape cluster at several vineyards. This indeed was a fortunate piece of luck, and Paul wasted no time placing his gold star next to the 2008 Merlot sample. Aged in French oak barrels, this Merlot presented big cherry characteristics; tannins were a bit “chewy”, but these will soften over time. Merlot fans should look for a mid to late summer release of the 2008 Merlot from Gray Ghost Vineyards. (Guess who will be first in line to purchase a bottle?)

I was more anxious to try the Cabernet Sauvignon. Samples here were pulled from three stations—the 2008 American oak barrel, the 2007 American oak barrel, and the 2007 French oak barrel. Differences here could be observed due to age and type of barrel. The 2008 sample was certainly young yet exhibited juicy cherries and a bit of earthiness with the same chewy tannins. However, the 2008 American oak sample displayed a more mellow smokiness with dark plum flavors; I detected a whiff of violets, but Paul thought I was nuts. I jotted down “violets” anyway. Tannins certainly softened quite a bit, too. The ultimate sensory experience, though, was indeed the 2007 French oak sample. Dark fruit characteristics noted here with silky tannins. “Lush” and “decadent” were adjectives that we agreed upon. As an extra treat, we were able to blend the 2007 American and French Oak sample, and “smoke meets silk” was our assessment. Layers of dark berries and plums were complimented by a nice acidity and lengthy finish. Guiding us through the blending process was winemaker Al Kellert who revealed to us that the final blend for the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon will indeed be blend of both the French and American aged Cabernets with the French-aged portion dominating the mix.

An incentive to attending the barrel tasting at Gray Ghost Vineyards was the opportunity to reserve favored samples in the future program. Tasters were given the opportunity to reserve favorites by the case at a substantial saving per bottle. Needless to say, Paul has already reserved his case of Merlot, and I opted to stake a claim to one case of the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon.

With our barrel tasting done, we bid adieu to Gray Ghost Vineyards. Before we left, we made certain to try the newly released 2008 Riesling and the 2008 Vidal Blanc. Both should be popular summer pours, so be sure to visit soon to give these a try. Of course, be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Paul’s Weekend Review

So I forgot to post Paul’s review of the 2006 Doukenie Merlot which he enjoyed this past Friday evening. In fact, Paul declared it his favorite Merlot of the year, and we’re only in March! Anyway, I trust Paul’s instincts on Merlot. Paul opened this one at least 30 minutes before he poured it, and even then it needed a good swirl. Once the wine began to “open up”, Paul noted a nose of dark fruits and lavender wood. In the mouth, Paul enjoyed darker berries such as black berries and black cherries with licorice at the end; he also found the tannins to be “silky”. Over the course of the evening, we shared the 2006 Doukenie Merlot over Gruyere cheese and baguette and later with sliced beef tenderloin.

Interested in trying the 2006 Doukenie Merlot? Visit the winery located in Loudoun County, and mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you. In the meantime, our next post will feature two other winery visits from this past weekend: Miracle Valley Vineyards, and Three Fox Vineyards. Stay tuned!

Barrel Tasting at Barrel Oak

Brian and Sharon Roeder of Barrel Oak Winery invited us to sample sneak previews of the bottled 07 and 08 reds, that were still in the barrel. Also on display were the the 08 whites. This was a special event for wine bloggers and barrel owners, and we felt privileged to be able to attend. The event was attended by more than 80 people and everyone enjoyed complimentary sips from barrel and bottle.

We started with the Bowhaus White, and guests were greeted with a taste of this crisp white. With its refreshing minerality and citrusy flavors, it was with little wonder that the Bowhaus White was an immediate crowd favorite.

After sipping and mingling, the gathering was then guided through samples of 08 whites and reds as well as 07 reds currently in the bottle. Of the future whites, we sampled the 2008 Traminette, 2008 Stainless Steel Chardonnay, 2008 Barrel Select Chardonnay and the 2008 Viognier. We both placed a gold star next to the 2008 Traminette. We noted grapefruit and stone fruit on the nose, and apricot and spice in the mouth, and we both predicted that this one is destined to become a holiday favorite this fall. Lovers of bolder Chardonnays should look for the 2008 Barrel Select Chardonnay to be bottled in June.

Of the reds, we sampled the 2008 Cabernet Franc, 2008 Merlot, 2008 Norton, 2007 Merlot and the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. Our gold star was awarded to the 2007 Merlot which was bottled last July. We noted a nice big cherry nose with a bit of coffee on the finish; it lingered in the mouth for a longer period of time, and it should be a favorite with a steak dinner. The most promising of the 2008 reds that we sampled was the Cabernet Franc with its raspberry and dried herb characteristics.

After the barrel tasting we each decided to enjoy a glass of wine while blogging in the loft. Warren favored the crisp 2007 Seyval Blanc with its lemony nose and flavors, vibrant minerality, and refeshing acidity. Paul enjoyed the 2005 Merlot with its cherry vanilla nose, cherry and dried herbs in the mouth, and toffee on the finish. It was a great day and we want to Thank Brian and Sharon for inviting us. Thank you!


That is the only word that could be used to describe the 2006 Viognier de Rosine. Honeysuckle in the bottle; apricot delight, or nectar of the gods might be other apt descriptors. Do seek out this stellar wine from the Rhone region of France. Produced from Viognier grown on the tiny estate in Ampuis, this Viognier is a knock out. I tasted it at Pearsons in Georgetown,and I fell in love. I was seduced by a honeysuckle nose and a whiff of seashells, although Paul thinks I’m nuts with the seashells. Anyway, a lovely blend of apricots and honey filled the mouth, and a soothing acidity completed the sensual experience. In fact, if a romantic evening with a significant other calls for a special wine then this might be the clincher. Serve with a poultry or seafood dish, add some candles, and dim the lights!

This special wine is not cheap—I bought this one at a discount, and it cost me $36. However, it’s worth every penny. So, go to your favorite wine shop and ask for the 2006 Viognier de Rosine; mention this review on Virginia Wine Time!

Wine Review

Believe it or not, we don’t always drink Virginia wines. From time to time other wines make it into our glasses. This past weekend we visited friends of ours and they were serving an Echelon Merlot. I got the video camera out and decided to do a little wine review.