We’ve been out and about on the wine trail recently. Here are a few stops we made and photos from each stop.
One stop was at Naked Mountain. We always enjoy going to Naked Mountain and finding out about their new releases. Here are some pictures from that visit. I’ll note here that my gold star went to the 2008 Unoaked Chardonnay. Warren’s gold star goes to the 2006 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay. This is typical for us. I prefer stainless and Warren prefers barrel fermented.
Village Winery is another winery we visited recently. Kent Marrs, the winemaker and owner, always treats us so well when we visit. We visited with our wine blogging friend Dezel from myvinespot. Our gold star here went to the combination of Elderberry Sparkling drink and the Apple wine. This was perfect the day we were there because it was quite warm and the drink was quite cool. Here are a few photos from the visit.
Be sure to check out this month’s edition of Wine Spectator, because wines from Rappahannock Cellars were reviewed and earned excellent scores! I’ll provide the wines and rating here and let you read the reviews for yourselves.
Here are the wines:
2008 Viognier-87 Points
R 2006-86 Points
2006 Cabernet Franc-86 points
2006 Meritage-85 points
Be sure to sample these excellent wines at Rappahannock Cellars, and mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.
Last Saturday we were invited to Philip Carter Winery for the release of their big Bordeaux red, Cleve. As part of the release party, they conducted a Twitter taste off of their current wines and the new Cleve. A few other wine bloggers joined the fun. Rob Cox, the newest member of the winemaking team at Philip Carter, conducted the Twitter Taste-off.
We began with the 2008 Chardonnay. This one got our gold star. It’s been their solid white for a while now. It’s the white wine we always go for when we visit Philip Carter. We always note the crispness, the fruit, the hints of lemongrass with a touch of oak. It’s also a winner. It’s gathered a handful of medals. Next up was the Governor Fauquier 2008. We tweeted nutty, off dry, tropical fruit, and melon flavors. We noted it has 1% residual sugar.
We then moved to the reds. We were looking forward to trying the Cleve but first we had the 2008 Cabernet Franc. This was not of our favorites but we did note it had a nice color for a cab franc. We tweeted it had an acidic nose, with black cherry and pepper on the palate. We then moved on to the Cleve! The Cleve is a Bordeaux style red with 50% cab franc, 35% petit verdot, and 15% cabernet sauvignon. Again, we tweeted extracted fruit on the nose, smoke, violets, bramble berry, big fruit, lengthy finish, and that you can chew on it awhile. We declared Cleve was a winner! We could see keeping this one on your rack for a while. It will on get better with time. Philip Carter Winery certainly has a winner on it’s hands with Cleve! Nice job winemakers!
The last wine we tasted was the Late Harvest Vidal 2008. It’s 8% residual sugar but isn’t overly sweet. We noted baked apple and honey. Perfect ending to the taste off.
After the Twitter taste off we had a chance to chat with Rob Cox. We always enjoy chatting with Rob Cox…we’ve followed him from winery to winery. We chatted about the Philip Carter wines and the wine industry in Virginia in general. Rob noted how many Virginia wineries are employing professional winemakers to help develop the wines they want to produce. He said, “The days of owner made wines are numbered.” He went on to say, “Virginia doesn’t need more wineries making wines, we need wineries making better wine.” He certainly has his opinions about the future of Virginia wines.
Philip Carter Winery is again teaming up with Luxury Cruise Counselors to plan a spectacular cruise to the Mediterranean in August 2011. Check out their website for more information. You simply must plan a trip out to Philip Carter Winery to taste that Cleve. And when you do, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!
We’ve chronicled the steady improvements at Piedmont Vineyards since Gerhard von Finck took the helm as winemaker. Gerhard invited us to a weekend gala that celebrated his new releases, and we gladly accepted the offer. We can report that the improvements continue at Piedmont Vineyards, and Gerhard has much to celebrate.
As usual, our tasting began with the white wines, and we samples four wines here. (Although the tasting sheet listed the Hunt Country Chardonnay 2008, we were given a sneak sample of the upcoming 2009.) The official new releases included the Native Yeast Chardonnay 2009 and the Special Reserve Chardonnay 2009. My own favorite was the Native Yeast Chardonnay 2009. As the name suggests it is fermented in native yeasts, and for the wine maker this process can induce a degree of anxiety. Why? It is a non-interventionist approach that depends on the natural fermentation process, and much can go wrong along the way. California’s Frog’s Leap Chardonnay is an example of a wine created in this fashion. Anyway, Gerhard’s version is aged in French oak for nine months and presents aromas of pineapple and honey with similar characteristics in the mouth. A longer finish was noted with some toasted nuts at the end to suggest a more complex wine. Paul preferred the Special Reserve Chardonnay 2009 which was aged for nine months in Hungarian oak. He appreciated its more floral nose and fruitier presentation but did not mind the soft oak at the finish. Now for those who enjoyed the Hunt Country Chardonnay 2008, we can report that the 2009 is also unoaked and as crisp as the 2008 version; however, we observed a sharper fruit focus to the 2009 offering. It should prove to be quite popular upon release!
On to the red wines, and the Hunt Country Red 2008 was first in the glass. This Merlot-based offering was Gerhard’s personal favorite of the red wines, and I enjoyed this one, too. Aged 18 months in oak, this blend also includes 29% Cabernet Sauvignon and can be characterized as a very nice, fruit-driven bistro wine. Nice cherry notes and a smooth feel make for an easy drinker to enjoy with pizza, burgers, beef, or a simple platter of deli meats and cheeses. Paul’s favorite was the Cabernet Franc 2009 which was very similar to its 2008 sibling. Aged ten months in French oak, it offers bright cherry flavors with a spicy edge and silky finish.
As we completed our tasting, we chatted with Gerhard and learned that these new releases were the result of hard work and a determination to learn the winemaker’s craft. To this end, he consulted with other winemakers including Doug Fabbioli; we applauded his efforts, and we look forward to a potential autumn released of the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon.
So of course we were hungry for lunch, and we opted to enjoy a bottle of the Native Yeast Chardonnay 2009 with cheese, bread, and toasted almonds. In the process we were entertained by the band, Expanded Waistlines. After nibbles and wine, we made certain to purchase bottle of our favorite releases and bid adieu to Gerhard von Finck. Of course, we will return to Piedmont Vineyards soon; be sure to visit Piedmont Vineyards and mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.