Monticello Trail Roundup

I’m going to present a general review of other wineries that we visited during our Columbus Day weekend trip to the Monticello area.  (We wrote about these wineries in August, so visit our posts from the summer to get more detail.)

Blenheim Vineyards:  Always a treat to see winemaker Kirsty Harmon.  It was near closing time when we arrived, but we were treated very well by the tasting staff.  We enjoyed a glass of the excellent 2008 Viognier, and I got to join Kirsty and the harvest crew at the sorting table to pick through Chardonnay grapes.  Since we had just harvested at Gray Ghost, I felt like a trained pro!


Jefferson Vineyards: Looking for fall/ winter pours?  You can’t go wrong with the 2008 Chardonnay Reserve and the 2008 Viognier.  Prefer reds?  Give the 2007 Cabernet Franc and the 2007 Meritage a try. We noted that guest critic Michael Tyler would like the semi-dry Vin Blanc with its 1.5% residual sugar and Riesling-like profile.

Pollak Vineyards:  See the video posted earlier!  We always enjoy a trip to Pollak Vineyards.  This time we got to meet with winemaker Jake Bushing who gave us a tour of the barrel room.  Paul ended up purchasing a case of white wine, and these included five bottles each of the 2008 Durant White and the 2008 Viognier.  A bottle each of the 2007 merlot and 2007 Cabernet Franc were tossed in the case, too. 



Virginia Wineworks: We just had to have second sample of the superb 2007 Michael Shaps Viognier.  I also enjoyed the 2007 Michael Shaps Chardonnay.  The 2007 Michael Shaps Cabernet Franc should be considered for the holidays, and the seductive Michael Shaps Merlot just begs for a warm fire place, a romantic steak dinner, and a special someone!


As fall colors begin to fade and nature takes on the winter landscape, consider a wine tasting trip to the Monticello trail.  If you visit any of the wineries listed in this post, be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

An Autumn Trip To Keswick Vineyards

Two weekends ago, we made a quick trip to Monticello wineries to take in the fall colors and to sample latest releases at the wineries. It had been quite a while since our last visit to Keswick Vineyards, and this time around, we were determined to pay a call; so, on a crisp fall day we made our way to Keswick Vineyards.

On tap were six wines to taste. Armed with gold stars, we seated ourselves at the tasting bar and sipped away. I thought all three of the white wines were very solid. Two white wine offerings were produced from Viognier—the 2008 Viognier and the 2008 Les Vent D’Anges; the other was a 2008 Chardonnay. When forced to decide the “one”, I settled on the French oak-fermented 2008 Viognier. It presented lovely aromas of honeysuckle and peaches with a honeyed texture in the mouth. Rich and full-bodied, it should pair quite well with any dish that featured a cream sauce. Paul favored the 2008 Les Vent d’Anges which is stainless steel fermented. At 1.3% residual sugar, it’s considered an off-dry wine and exhibits the same characteristics as its oak fermented sibling but without the full mouth feel. My close second place was the classic 2008 Chardonnay with its toasty nose and pear flavors. I also liked its buttery feel and full finish—I’m a sucker for this kind of Chardonnay.


So on to the red wines. It was here that we reached a unanimous decision. The gold star went to the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. What a treat it was to taste this Governor’s Cup winner! “Dense” was Paul’s descriptor the rich garnet color, and we both noted blackberries and dark cherries on the nose with similar flavors in the mouth. I noted mocha at the end. This Cabernet is blended with 25% Merlot and aged in French and American oak barrels. One inhibiting factors? The price. At $60 a bottle, this Cabernet Sauvignon is well worth its hefty price tag, but tasters may want to reserve this one for a special occasion. For an everyday wine, try the fruity 2008 Touriga which is blended with 20% Chambourcin. Medium bodied and easy to drink, the 2008 Touriga was chock full of mixed berry flavors with a smoky edge to boot. Buy now and drink now with—might be a nice alternative for the holidays, too.


Of course, with tasting done, we were hungry. We brought along grilled chicken breasts, white cheeses and baguette. Our wine of choice? I let Paul prevail and we selected the 2008 Les Vent d’Anges to enjoy with lunch and fall scenery. We marveled at the different shades of fall that included gold, rust, orange and red. In the process, we also nibbled and sipped.


We made off with several bottles of wine that included a bottle each of the white wines. We also know that we will return to Keswick Vineyards to sample upcoming releases. Planning a visit to Keswick Vineyards? Be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Extra Pour

ExtraPour01Welcome to a new feature at Virginia Wine Time. The Extra Pour will be a quarterly addition to Virginia Wine Time. The Extra Pour will allow us to spend more time and space on a particular topic that is too long for a blog post. You can download the Extra Pour to read at a later time. Click on the picture to download the first Extra Pour. In the future you’ll be able to click on the menu at the top of the page to take you directly to the Extra Pour page.

Veramar Vineyards

I’m a bit behind in my blogging, so I’ll try to catch up this week.  This post picks up with our trek to the Shenandoah area which featured visits to Glen Manor Vineyards and Veramar Vineyard.  I’ve already written about Glen Manor Vineyards; today, I’ll finish the detail of that trip with a wrap up of our impressions of Vermar Vineyard


On a warm fall day, we noted signs of color changes with leaves taking on autumn hues.  As we made our way to the tasting room, we couldn’t help but notice spectacular mountain views, but in case we thought that we were lost, we were comforted by the word, Vermar, spelled in large rocks near the nearby pond.  On this particular day, we had the option of trying the reserve tasting, and these feature the best-crated wines at Veramar.  Wines sampled at the reserve tasting are available for purchase only to wine club members, and the session was hosted by wine maker Jim Bogaty.  Of course, we decided to participate in the reserve tasting, and with gold stars in hand, we made our way to the tasting bar designated for the reserve tasting.


On hand for sampling were six wines—three whites and three reds.  We were treated to wine critic Steve Spurrier’s favorite, the 2007 Estate Club Chardonnay Shenandoah Valley, and this one presented a nose that I described as brioche—vanilla, toast and almonds with coated with sautéed pears.  Complimentary flavors were noted in the mouth with a lingering finish.  This Chardonnay was done sur lees which provides a rich texture to this complex wine.  While I’m a fan of big chardonnays, I did concur with Paul, though, that the gold star of the white wines was the Tres Blanc.  A lovely blend of Chardonnay, Riesling, and Vidal Blanc, this fruity wine displayed a nice floral and subtle citrus aroma with heady fruit characteristics that included mango and peach.  Quite the crowd pleaser, the Tres Blanc should pair quite well with spicy fare, but I might even pop open a bottle of this one for Thanksgiving dinner if herbed turkey is on the menu.

On to the red wines, and we once again came to the same conclusion.  Our gold star was awarded to the 2007 Estate Club merlot Free Run.  Jim Bogaty explained that free-run means that the grape juice runs feely with no pressing; the grapes press on their own and by their own weight.  This Merlot is then aged in French oak to present a well-integrated wine.  Plum and cherry characteristics prevailed with notes of spice and mocha.  This one should age well, too!

With our tasting completed, we thanked Jim Bogaty for conducting our tasting, and he shared with us that Steve Spurrier will soon pay a visit to Veramar with other wine experts to sample the Estate Club Chardonnay.  We congratulated him on this exciting news, and we opted to share a glass of the revered Chardonnay to enjoy while appreciating the mountain landscape. 


Since the reserve wines are available only to club members, tasters should also be aware that a regular tasting menu is available.  We were able to sample these wines, and a quick note of our faves include the citrusy 2008 Seyval Blanc and the earthy Cabernet Franc.


We hope to return to Veramar Vineyard soon, but fall is here and readers should plan a trip to enjoy autumn’s pageant and Veramar’s nice wines. Of course, remember to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.