Virginia Wine Time

We Enjoy Virginia Wine

Month: March 2010 (page 2 of 2)

Roundup Time

Over the past couple of weekend, we’ve visited a few other wineries, and we wanted to post our reviews of these visits.

Chrysalis Vineyards—It’s always a treat to do a tasting here. Our gold star faves in the white category was the 2008 Viognier, the flagship white wine at Chrysalis Vineyards. We were allowed a “sneak” of the 2008 Albarino—Wow! This would be my double star favorite. Soft peach, a hint of lemon zest, and a noticeable minerality sums up the flavor profile. Of the red wines, my own gold star was presented to the 2005 Locksley Reserve; of course, I was not swayed by the fact that it won gold at the Virginia Governor’s Cup competition. Paul preferred the smoky 2005 Petit Verdot. We can also report that owner Jenni McCloud is making progress with her plans to build an on-site dairy and restaurant. We’ll follow these developments and keep track of latest releases as the spring and summer progresses.

Loudoun Valley Vineyards—The renaissance continues here! Our favorite white continues to be the crisp and refreshing 2008 Pinot Grigio, but the 2008 Vinifera White should prove to be a summertime crowd pleaser. The red wines produced another split decision. Paul favored the 2005 Cabernet Franc with its blackberry and spicy notes. My own preference was the 2005 Dynasty Reserve, and I noted dark berry, plum, and spice characteristics with some vanilla to boot. A more complex and “layered” pour, I opted to enjoy a glass of this one after our tasting.

Piedmont Vineyards—New releases planned in late May, and these include a Hunt Country Chardonnay and a Native Yeast Chardonnay. We were given “sneaks” of the Native Yeast, and for lovers of an oak-aged Chardonnay, this one should be popular. The current Hunt Country is still available and was Paul’s gold star winner. He favors the stainless steel Chardonnays, and this one is still crisp and refreshing. We both concurred on the Cabernet Franc with its raspberry and spice flavors. This one is limited in quantities, so buy now for future enjoyment.

Plan springtime visits to these wineries soon, and be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

New Website

There’s a new website specifically for Fauguier County wineries. When you visit you can find out all about the wineries in Fauquier County. They are divided by exits on route 66. You can also find out about the upcoming events at each winery. In addition to that information, you can also print out tasting sheets for each winery you plan to visit, and map out a trip to several wineries using tour tool. And on top of all that, you can join and be able to input your comments about each wine you tasted at each winery. You really need to check it out.

Gerhard von Fincke has this to say about the creation of this site:

“This site is an attempt to increase awareness and show visitors, mainly from the DC area east of Fauquier, how easy it is to reach “Virginia’s Wine Country” in Fauquier County in less than one hour by using I66 and their respective exits. The site is a combined effort by all wineries to show their locations and upcoming events with a user friendly format, so that visitors can plan winery tours through one single web site without going to each individual winery site to plan their route.”

If you are looking for information about Fauquier County wineries, check out the new website and sign up to save your comments!

Back To Breaux

Despite the rain, fog, and chill on Sunday, we went to Breaux Vineyards to pick up my Cellar Club selection. They were having a little pick up party for those who go to the winery to pick up their wines instead of having them shipped. At this party they were serving some spicy gumbo. They were also tasting the Cellar Club selections, the 2009 Water Bent Viognier and the 2007 Meritage.

The 2009 Water Bent Viognier was a wonderful wine filled with fruit on the nose and on the palette. Warren noted pear. We thought this one went really well with the gumbo being served.

The 2007 Meritage showed characteristics of a wine meant for aging. The tannins were tight and you could easily tell that it is a young wine. We suggest you lay this one down for a few more years. It promises to be quite nice in a few years.

I talk about these Cellar Club selections as if you can buy them. You can if you are a Cellar Club member. I’ve been a member for more than a year now and haven’t found one wine I didn’t like. They have all been amazing. The greatest advantage to being a member is the wines they select are created JUST for the club members. How many other wineries do this? I’m not sure but I do know I like having some wines that no others will have. I’m greedy like that.

In this months’ Cellar Club Newsletter there was a coupon for 30% off a case of select wines from the regular tasting. Since Warren and I hadn’t done a regular tasting in awhile, we decided to check out the current selections and consider getting a case of the ones we really liked. We were looking forward to spring and summer and what wines would be appropriate for the seasons.

Our tasting associate Carole, walked us through our tasting, expertly describing each wine. My gold stars went to the 2007 Madeleine’s Chardonnay and the 2002 Merlot Reserve. Warren’s gold stars went to the 2008 Viognier and the 2006 Meritage. Isn’t it interesting that we usually have different selections for our gold stars?

Our next decision was what to include in our case. With the coming seasons in mind, I selected equal amounts of the 2007 Madeleine’s Chardonnay, the 2008 Syrah Rose`, and the 2008 Jennifer’s Jambalaya. We usually take rose` with us to Wolf Trap in the summer and the 2008 Syrah Rose` will be perfect while enjoying a concert.

Before leaving we caught up with Jen Breaux. It was great to see her and the other Breaux staff we’ve come to know and enjoy. Plan a trip to Breaux Vineyards soon and be sure to tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Springtime at Sunset Hills

Now the weather has warmed up, we’re officially back on the wine trail, and we celebrated an early spring-like weekend at Sunset Hills Vineyard.  We were impressed with the lineup of wines there on the last visit, and we were eager to sample the latest releases.

We continue to be pleased with the quality of wines produced at Sunset Hills, and we know that owners Diane and Mike Canney are dedicated to vigilant maintenance of the vineyards.  Winemaker Nate Walsh likewise remains committed to the craft of winemaking, and the results are evident in the bottle.  In fact, we were hard pressed to find any wines that were truly weak—all were well-crafted.  Our hardest choices were deciding which wines would earn the coveted gold star awards!

Our tasting began with the white wines, and tasting room manager Christine started us off with wine glasses and pours. The white wines were all very solid.  Paul’s own favorite and gold star winner was the 2008 Unoaked Chardonnay.  Full pear flavors with a twist of citrus made for a pleasing wine, and the cold fermentation in stainless steel tanks made for a crisp wine. My own gold star, though, was presented to the bolder 2008 Reserve Chardonnay which was aged nine months in French oak. I noted ripe pear and honey flavors with a buttery texture—just my kind of Chardonnay!  Be assured that there was the requisite “toastiness” but not in an overwhelming sense.  I’d sip this one on its own but would serve the 2008 Reserve Chardonnay with poultry, pork or shellfish especially if cream sauces were involved.  Not to be outdone, though is the lush 2008 Viognier that is begging for a crabcake dinner.  Look out for the Sunset White which is a blend of 90% stainless steel Chardonnay and 10% Viognier that was aged in neutral French oak barrels.  Christine obliged us with a sampling of this very slightly sweet with (1.5% residual sugar).  This one should be a perfect summer sipper or picnic wine. 

Before we moved on to the reds, Christine also surprised us with another sneak preview, and that was the Sunset Rose.  Here we found our Wolftrap wine!  We’re big Wolftrap fans, and we’re already stocking up on our concert wines—a bottle of this rose will be coming along for music under the stars.  Nate Walsh had been diligent in his preparation of this rose which he made from Cabernet Franc.  Its clear pink color suggested a crisper wine, and a .5% residual sugar provided a refreshing feel.  Cool strawberry and melon flavors were noted.

Now on to the red wines!  More solid pours and very tough decisions.  However, Paul did award his gold star to the lighter-bodied 2008 Benevino Cabernet Franc with its distinctive minerality and cherry flavors.  Easy to drink and perfect to sip on its own, the Benevino Cabernet Franc should also prove to be a pleaser with pizza or a sampling of dry meats and roasted nuts.  My own decision was likewise not easy, but I did end up favoring the 2007 Reserve Cabernet Franc with its layers of blackberries, raspberries, spice, and mocha.  Aged for 18 months in both French and American oak, it also presented a lengthier finish. I’d favor a leg of lamb with this one!  A close second for me was the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon with its dark fruit characteristics and spicy edge.  Enjoy with a rib roast!

Diane Canney poured most of our red wines, and she was able to share with us the secret to Sunset Hill’s success.  Diane and husband Mike place a priority on vineyard management, and they use such Old World methods as hand sorting to make certain that only quality fruit from the best lots are used to produce their wines.  They’re also confident in their young winemaker, Nate Walsh, who began his career in the Virginia wine industry at Horton Vineyards.  Joined by a quality tasting room team, Sunset Hills Vineyards seems destined for even greater success.

Of course, we were hungry, and we opted to enjoy some of the viands from the “Lite Fare” menu offered at Sunset Hills Vineyard.  We selected the deli-style pepperoni with manchego cheese and crusty French break.  Our wine of choice?  The 2008 Benevino Cabernet Franc.  We enjoyed lunch and wine in the cozy Amish farmhouse that serves as the tasting room.

We left Sunset Hills Vineyard with several bottles of favorite pours, and we will return quite soon.  In fact, we plan to attend a blending session to be held next Sunday; so, stay tuned!  In the meantime, maybe we’ll see some of our readers at Sunset Hills.  Be sure, though, to tell Christine or Diane that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Winery At La Grange

With winter’s tight grip finally letting go, we have been able to slowly get back on the wine trail.  A more recent visit was paid to The Winery at La Grange.

Up for tasting were eleven wines, and our knowledgeable associate, Michael, started us off with the white wines.  I thought all of the white wines were all quite solid.  My own favorite, though, was the 2007 Fletcher’s Chardonnay which made an impression of crispness on the nose.  Aged six to nine months in French oak, it had not undergone malolactic fermentation.  I noted apple and pear flavors with some butterscotch on the finish.  Paul’s award went to the 2008 Viognier which was fermented in stainless steel and aged for six months in Hungarian oak.  It presented a floral nose with soft peach flavors.  We placed the initials, MT, next to the 2008 Cuvee Blanc, because we knew that our friend and occasional guest blogger Michael Tyler would appreciate this one.  It is a blend of white grapes and results in a Riesling-style wine that includes a hint (1.2%) of sugar. It had me dreaming of summer!

So on to the red wines with gold stars in hand.  My award went to the 2007 Meritage with its characteristics of dark plums and cherries with tobacco and cedar on the nose.  Tannins were definitely present here, so drink now but feel free to age this one for a while.  This Meritage is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec—a true Bordeaux-style wine. It was aged for 14 months in both American and French oak barrels.  The 2007 Merlot received Paul’s award.  The Glebe Vineyard produced the grapes for this American-oak aged Merlot which presented flavors of currants and black pepper.  Paul detected some tobacco on the nose, too, and he noted that it finished “smooth.” For a truly bold wine, try the 2007 Tannat with its dense core—dark plums and cherries with a spicy edge, I found it to be “chewy”.  Drink now if you must but decant before drinking and be sure to pair with a steak.  (Now I’m hungry!) Not to be missed, though, is the 2007 Norton which was co-fermented with Cabernet Sauvignon.  This light-bodied pour reminded me of cherry jam with a touch of cinnamon. Perfect to sip, but nice with pizza, too.

So with our tasting done, it was time to sip and nibble.  We brought along some grilled chicken filets with white cheeses and a baguette.  What wine did we choose to pair with lunch? The 2007 Fletcher’s Chardonnay, of course.  We enjoyed our light lunch on the back patio which was enclosed and therefore allowed us to enjoy the receding snowy landscape.  We even noted some green patches where the snow had melted!

Now that a long winter is slipping away, plan to visit local wineries, and put The Winery at La Grange on your agenda.  Be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Newer posts

© 2015 Virginia Wine Time

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑