Return To Fox Meadows Vineyards

A couple of weekends ago, we decided to pay a visit to Fox Meadow Vineyards.  Our last visit there occurred quite a while ago.  Needless to say, we were looking forward to sampling the current releases at Fox Meadow Vineyards, and all of these were certainly new to our palates.

Of the white wines, our gold star favorite was the 2007 Le Renard Gris, a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, and Riesling.  We were impressed by its melon flavors and pleasant feel.  Serve as a sipper or partner to light picnic fare or salads—Le Renard Gris should be a crowd pleaser. 

We reached a split decision on the red wines.  Paul favored the 2007 Cabernet Franc, and he noted its dark garnet core with mixed berry and spice characteristics complemented by a woodsy finish.  My own fave was the 2007 Le Renard Rouge.  This one presented a longer finish but first presented a red berry nose with a splash of plum to boot; similar flavors were noted in the mouth.  The 2007 Le Renard Rouge should prove to be an age-worthy wine, so buy now to drink later.

Owner Dan Mortland invited us down to the barrel room for a sneak sample of the upcoming Syrah, and we anticipate a release that will be bolder than the lighter-bodied pour currently offered in the tasting room.

With our tasting concluded, we enjoyed a glass of the 2007 Cabernet Franc while taking in lovely mountain views from the tasting room. Though a post-blizzard thaw had long begun, enough snow remained to present a winter landscape that we appreciated as we swirled and sipped.

We plan to return to Fox meadow Vineyards soon to sample upcoming releases.  Be certain to visit, too, and be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Doukenie Winery With Friends

Last Sunday we met some friends at Doukenie Winery. We hadn’t been there in awhile so we wanted to try the new wines and see how things were going. Our friend, Jeff, is a club member at Doukenie, and he enjoys Doukenie wine all of the time! We met Jeff and his friend Stephen at Doukenie for a sampling of the current pours.

During our tasting we started with the whites and we tasted the 2008 Pinot Grigio, 2008 Chardonnay, 2008 Mandolin, and the 2007 Vin de Paille. Of these we gave our gold star to the 2008 Pinot Grigio. It was crisp and light with pear on the nose and tropical fruit on the tongue.

Of the reds we tasted the 2007 Vintner’s Reserve, the 2007 Petit Verdot, the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon and the Hope’s Legacy Raspberry wine. Our gold star went to the 2007 Vintner’s Reserve. We noted dark fruits on the nose and some spice on the tongue. Warren noted tobacco on the nose as well. A close second, though, was the fruit forward 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon.

After out tasting we all enjoyed a bottle of the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon with a baguette and a sharp cheddar cheese. Before leaving we secured a few bottles for our wine racks. Plan a trip to Doukenie soon and tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Breaux Vineyards’ Cabernet Vertical Tasting

This past Saturday, we attended a vertical tasting of Cabernet Sauvignon at Breaux Vineyards.  Samples from previous and current vintages were paired with appropriate food courses. On hand to present the wines and their profiles was winemaker David Collins.

For those who may not know, a vertical tasting is a tasting of wine of the same variety but from different years.  In this case, Breaux Vineyards presented a vertical tasting of Cabernet Sauvignon that included the 2001, 2002, 2005, and 2006 vintages with barrel samples from the 2007 and 2008 vintages.  However, the event started with guests receiving a sample pour of the 2006 Meritage as they made their way to the tables.  This younger, fruit-forward blend was the perfect way to begin as it prepared palates for the more full-bodied offerings to follow. 

The first wines offered for sample were the barrel samples, the 2008 and 2007.  Both were still very young with the 2008 very tight on the nose; of course, this is to be expected with such a young wine still in its developmental stages. The 2007 barrel sample has signs of potential greatness with its characteristics of dark fruit and cedar. A tannic presence still prevails, but this will smooth with time.  Both wines paired nicely with the braised beef rib served over polenta; this course included a sinful chocolate truffle that I thought took the tannic edge off of both barrel samples while bringing forward the fruit characters.

The second course featured my favorite dish of the evening—pork wellington served over wild rise and a pomegranate crème fraiche.  An interesting twist to the wellington was the inclusion of a layer of mushroom slices between the pork and pastry shell.  This added a layer of earthiness to the flavor profile which perhaps was why this course was partnered with the earthier 2006 and 2005 vintages.  Of these vintages, my preferred the 2006; however, both vintages offered aromas that I described as leather and tobacco with tannins still more pronounced in the mouth.

The third course featured my favorite wines of the evening—the 2002 and 2001 vintages.  In fact, my gold star of the evening was given to the 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon.  Here now was the melding of fruit character and tannins to present a more complex wine with a nice, long finish.  I detected some smokiness on the nose with dark plum, black cherry, and mocha in the mouth.  Nice, silky tannins, too! “Excellent” sums it up!  Oh—the food pairing was just as excellent.  Grilled salmon over saffron rice served aside a chive rosewater-infused oil pecorino-romano.  The 2001 was a close second for me; the fruit profile here was more extracted than the 2002 which no doubt came with the extra year of aging. 
The evening ended with lagniappe, which in New Orleans means “bonus”.  Our bonus pour was the 2009 Cabernet Rose, a tank sample of an upcoming rose offering.  Another “still young” sample, this rose should settle down quite nicely in time for summer. 

So what was the final vote for the vertical tasting?  Did Paul award any gold stars?My final verdict was as follows: *2002, 2001, 2007, 2006, 2005.  Paul’s vote went like this: *2001, 2002, 2007, 2005, 2006.  Neither of us included the 2008 in the mix since it was still too young to judge; we wanted to be fair to the 2008 vintage!

These events are always fund and informative.  For winemakers, it’s an opportunity to showcase wines from several vintages with each vintage the result of varying circumstances not the least of which is the weather.  It was to surprise, for example, that the 2007 barrel sample presented quite nicely; that year was one of the best in Virginia with weather conditions resembling those of Napa in California. 

The evening flew by too quickly.  We caught up with Jennifer Breaux Blosser who heads the hospitality and events team at Breaux Vineyards and Sylvia Miller, one of our favorite tasting associates at Breaux Vineyards.  We also met SuzieLin (one of our Twitter buddies) and Joel Timmins for the Examiner. It was great meeting them and chatting about the vertical tasting.

Be sure to visit Breaux Vineyards, and do inquire about events such as this vertical tasting to learn more about Virginia wines through the years.  Please mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Back To Barrel Oak

Last weekend when we were out visiting wineries, and Barrel Oak was on our list to visit. To be honest, Brian did send us an invitation to stop by; however, holiday events precluded us from accepting his generous offer. So what to do on a very cold winters’ week and after the barrage of holiday festivities? We visited Barrel Oak for a tasting!

Unfortunately, when we arrived we learned that Brian was on vacation. While we didn’t get to chat with him, we did get to taste all of the new wines. Our tasting associate informed us that they were now starting their tastings with some bubbly from Iberia. What did we sample? The Dibon Cava Brut Reserve. It was a great way to start our tasting at Barrel Oak.

The white wines we tasted consisted of the 2008 Seyval Blanc, the 2008 Chardonnay Reserve, the 2008 Reserve Viognier and the 2008 Barrel Chardonnay. Our gold star went to the 2008 Seyval Blanc. It was crisp and light with citrusy lemon flavors. We liked this one so much we had a bottle of it with our lunch!

There were three reds to taste with the anticipation of more to be released soon. We tasted the 2007 BOWHaus Red, the 2008 Merlot, and the 2007 Petite Verdot Reserve. Our gold star went to the 2007 BOWHaus Red, and guest critic Michael Tyler would agree. You can not go wrong with this one. It appeals to to white wine drinkers who would not sip red wine. It’s versatile enough to have with pizza or sandwiches. It has a hint of sweetness but not too much to offend the hard core red wine drinker.

Before leaving we secured another bottle of 2008 Seyval Blanc for the wine rack, because we did not think that it would last long on the racks at Barrel Oak. The 2008 Seyval Blanc is Sharon Roeder’s favorite white wine, and we do concur.

If you find yourself in Delaplane, be sure to stop by Barrel Oak and tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Bright Horizons at Delaplane Cellars

A Happy New Year to our readers, and away we go with yet another year of tasting fine wines from Virginia. We started the new year with a sampling at a new winery—Delaplane Cellars located in Delaplane, Virginia. It was a cold and chilly afternoon, of course, but we bundled up and braved the winter’s freezing blast of frigid air. We were not disappointed; the new kid on the block, Delaplane Cellars, offers an impressive lineup of wines.

Delaplane Cellars opened the weekend after Thanksgiving, 2009. At opening, it offered about 1200 cases of wine. Current offerings are produced from grapes grown on Virginia vineyards. Autumn was our tasting associate, and she skillfully guided us through our tasting. Armed gold stars, we swirled and sipped. The white wines were all quite solid. For Chardonnay lovers, the 2008 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay should prove to be quite a treat. Done in a Burgundian style, this one presented pear flavors with a subtle but noticeable toasty finish. Paul’s decorated the 2008 Honah Lee Viognier with his gold star. He noted a dry crispness with peach flavors and concluded that this Viognier was treated in stainless steel tanks. However, Paul was surprised to learn that the 2008 Honah Lee Viogner was fermented and then aged for about 10 months in neutral French oak barrels. I designated this one as a classic sipper that could pair well with lighter fare. My own favorite? The 2008 Maggie’s Vineyard Viognier. This one presented a floral nose with rich peach flavors and a creamy texture not unlike a full-bodied Chardonnay. Lobster or chicken with cream sauce for dinner? This Viognier would be the perfect partner.

Red wine and winter seem like a natural pairing. Beef stew, roasted game, braised meats all served by a roaring fire—you get the picture. Red wine offerings at Delaplane Cellars might complete the menu. Paul’s gold star was awarded to the 2007 Old World Cabernet Franc with its mixed berry characteristics and a seductive tobacco nose. Some blending with small portions of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon add complexity to this offering. A bolder option may be found with the 2007 Left Bank Bordeaux Blend. This one earned my gold star. Aged in French oak barrels for 20 months, I detected blackberry and dark cherry flavors with some mocha to boot. An obvious tannic presence suggested that this one was still quite young , but the tannins will mellow with age. Drink now but decant to serve with steak or venison, and be generous with the cracked pepper, herbs and mushrooms. For a splurge, do try the 2007 Springlot Reserve, another Bordeaux-style blend that includes Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot. Luscious raspberry and cherry characteristics with a spicy edge and some chocolate to finish, this one presented quite a complex blend and like its siblings should age quite nicely.

Autumn was quite knowledgeable as she facilitated our tasting experience. She shared with us that each labeling provided the vineyard designation. For example, the 2008 Honah Lee Viognier was produced from the Honah Lee Farm located near Orange, Virginia. Likewise with Maggie’s Vineyard, and this vineyard is located on the western slope of Short Mountain near Neerville, Virginia. The red wines were produced from local vineyards too, including the Spring Lot vineyard. Future plans include the production of red wines and perhaps even Viognier from grapes grown on the Delaplane estate.

We also met Jim Dolphin, owner of and winemaker for Delaplane Cellars. Jim provided us with a tour of the cellar, and he revealed to us his plans to expand production to between 3000 and 5000 cases. Jim’s professional background is in finance; however, he has been a wine enthusiast for many years and can recall the Virginia wine industries’ formative years in the 1980s. Heralded wine maker Jim Law has been his teacher and mentor, and Jim Dolphin has been an insider in the winemaking industry for the past ten years. Dolphin’s methods and preferences are similar to those of Law’s—Old World with an emphasis on vineyard management and fruit quality. As we toured the underground barrel room, we noted new and older barrels; some were American and many were French. Dolphin prefers to ferment and age in a variety of barrels and then he blends according to desired outcome. The results are evident in the tasting room—quality wines that reflect Old World traditions.

With our tasting and tour done, we gave new homes to several bottles of wines from Delaplane Cellars. (We purchased a bottle each of our gold star faves.) Before we left, we paused to appreciate the breathtaking view of blue-ridged mountains made more stark and vivid on a cold winter’s day. These can be appreciated from Delaplane Cellar’s spacious and well-appointed tasting room; an outdoor deck is in the offing and should prove to be popular in warmer weather.

We know that we will return to Delaplane Cellars soon; however, we encourage readers to start the year right with a visit to Delaplane Cellars. Be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.