Extra Pour

In this edition of the Extra Pour you’ll find out about our trip to Virginia Wine country and our stay at The Inn at Meander Plantation. Click on the image to download the latest Extra Pour!

The Wine Festival at The Plains

Looking for a wine festival to attend this fall? In just a few short weeks one of the most prestigious wine events will be held at Great Meadow at the Plains…The Wine Festival at The Plains. Not only will get you get to taste some amazing Virginia wines but they will also have polo both days! There will also be fine art, fancy food, and commercial exhibitors offering all kinds of amazing items. We have attended this festival twice in the past and look forward to attending again this year. Mark your calendars for September 11th and 12th and plan to attend the Wine Festival at the Plains. Go to the website for all the details.

Plan Ahead

October is Virginia Wine Month. As we are informed of upcoming events in October we’ll try to post them here so you can plan ahead to celebrate Virginia Wine Month in October. Here’s one event to consider:

Yorktown Wine Festival…

Where: Yorktown Riverwalk Landing at Chisciak Green
When: October 2
Time: See Information Below

If you haven’t been to Yorktown lately, you will be pleasantly surprised. Historic Yorktown at Riverwalk Landing will be the site of the Yorktown Wine Festival 2010 – “The Best of Virginia in Yorktown.” Village Events, Ltd. is proud to host this event that will showcase some of Virginia’s finest wineries on October 2nd. This event promises to be spectacular and the biggest festival in Yorktown to day. 21 Virginia wineries will be with us and 8 will participate in our wine dinner at Nick’s Riverwalk Landing Restaurant. Buy your tickets to attend Saturday’s Wine Festival and the concluding Dinner with Your Favorite Winery. Go to both events for food, wine, and lots of fun.

After a beginning ceremony featuring the Fifes and Drums of York Town entertainment for the festival will be provided by The Calypso Nuts. The nightly menu consists of Pop and Rock, Reggae and Soca, Acoustic and Electric; all different, but the perfect ingredients to a great bowl of musical gumbo. A great group to listen to while sipping your favorite wine on the York River.

Come early and stay late so you will be sure to catch all the featured entertainment during the day!

Entertainment for the wine dinner will feature the fabulous Cheryl Sonderman on her sterling flute. Cheryl was instrumental in getting this festival started and we are delighted that she will be with us for the dinner event. Her music alone is worth the price of the dinner!

Payment options – we accept payments electronically (we use PayPal) below. You can also contact us by phone at (757) 877-2933 for payment. Please note that all payments include a $5 shipping & handling charge.

Wine Festival (age 21+): $25 in advance; $30 at the door – Must show proof of age at the gate. Cash sales only at the gate. Event on 10/02. Time is 12PM-6PM (tasting ends at 5:30PM although the festival will go on until 6PM)

Check out the website for more information.

Weston Farm Vineyard and Winery

On our recent trip to Charlottesville we stopped at Weston Farm Vineyard and Winery. Weston Farm is a new winery located in Louisa County and just opened in May. Weston Farm is owned by Bobby and Penny Martin and they live there with their French bulldogs (you’ll see them on the labels). They currently have 10 acres of grapes planted with plenty of space to grow in the future. Gabriele Rausse is their wine consultant and helps guide their winemaking decisions.

We were lucky enough to have Penny conduct our tasting. She filled us in all the history of the property and pointed out where the different grapes are planted. Weston Farm currently offers five wines for tasting. We tasted the Chardonnay, the Cabernet Franc, the Rose, the Norton, and the Rosso which is a blend of 90% Rose and 10% Norton.

Warren and I both placed our gold star on the Chardonnay. It has a fruity nose that carries over onto the tongue. It’s fermented and aged in stainless steel. We enjoyed this one so much we enjoyed a glass of it after our tasting. Of the reds we selected the Cabernet Franc for a gold star. This one is a light bodied wine fermented in stainless steel with a fruity nose. We think this one would be a good red wine for those who prefer white wine.

We enjoyed our time at Weston Farm and look forward to seeing their progress in the future. Plan a trip to Weston Farm soon and tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Yet More on the Monticello Trail

Yes, it was a busy week of wine tasting last week. Somebody has to do it, right? In this post, we detail our experiences at Afton Mountain Vineyards and White Hall Vineyards.

Afton Mountain Vineyards: We’ve written about the positive changes that are ongoing at Afton Mountain Vineyards since Elizabeth and Tony Smith purchased the vineyards and winery. During our previous visit, I became a fan of the Tete de Cuvee and was interested in purchasing another bottle. Of course, this was my excuse to revisit and sample the latest releases at Afton Mountain Vineyards. Tony and Elizabeth graciously conducted our tasting which featured some upcoming releases that were not available for tasting at the time. Of the white wines, we still favored the Tete de Cuvee with its nonstop bubbles and toasted edge. It’s a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and done in the Methode Champenoise. Of the red wines, Paul preferred the 2008 Cabernet Franc with its dark cherry and pepper characteristics. I, however, opted for the 2009 Pinot Noir. Yes, I liked a Pinot Noir made from Virginia fruit! It presented a dark garnet color and a nose of dark cherry, currants, and anise with a whiff of smoke to boot. Similar flavors in the mouth with a medium body completed the experience. Look for this one to be released on Labor Day Weekend. Another upcoming release will be the 2009 Sangiovese, and we noted dark fruit characteristics and smooth tannins.

Like other winemakers and winery owners, the Smiths were optimistic about the 2010 harvest; in fact, they had already harvested the Chardonnay grapes. With vineyard manager Robbie Corpora and winemaker Lucien Dimani as part of the team, we expect great things to continue at Afton Mountain Vineyards. (And yes, I did purchase another bottle of the Tete de Cuvee before I left!)

White Hall Vineyards: An extensive menu is offered here, but the wines are well made. The first offering of the white wine selections was the crisp Pinot Gris 2008. “Clean” was the word that came to mind, and I noted a refreshing palate of orange and pineapple with a mineral finish. We both concurred that this was our gold star winner of the white wines, and on a day that hit 97 degrees, it was the perfect choice. (In fact, we shared a glass after our tasting.) Our tasting of the red wines found us at odds, though. Paul placed a star next to the Cabernet Franc 2008 with its aromas of violets and brambleberries. He also appreciated its smoky edge and medium finish. My own favorite, though, was the Touriga 2008. I’ve been a fan of White Hall’s Touriga in the past, and I remained a fan at this tasting. Touriga is a grape grown in Portugal, but pockets of Virginia’s micro-climates do well with this variety as well. I noted rich aromas of blackberry, raspberry, anise and tobacco with similar flavors in the mouth but with a touch of cedar. For tasters who have been a fan of White Hall’s Syrah, the 2008 vintage will be the last; at the $10.00 sale price, it might be worth stocking up. Ligher bodied but fruity with a spicy kick, it’s an accessible sipper.

So we’re almost done with our round up of tasting on the Monticello Trail. We should have one more post to finish our experiences from the past week, including a review of a newbie, Weston Farm Vineyard and Winery. Of course, the weekend is upon us, so plan to visit these Virginia wineries if you have the chance. Please mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

More on the Monticello Trail

So in this roundup, I’ll review our experiences at King Family Vineyards, First Colony Winery, and Virginia Wineworks.

King Family Vineyards: Mathieu Finot is one of Virginia’s premier winemakers, and this was confirmed earlier this year when King Family’s 2007 Meritage took the Governor’s Cup.  Mathieu joined us for our tasting today. And we were treated to a sample of the newly release 2009 Chardonnay.  This was my gold-star winner for the white wines.  Fermented and aged in French oak barrels, it presents aromas of lemon and pear with similar flavors in the mouth.  A creamier mouth feel and a longer finish were noted, too.  For summertime, it’s hard to beat the Crose 2009 done in a dry Provence style.  We stock up on this classic rose, because it is a versatile pour throughout the year.  The red wines were all well-crafted, and it was hard to select only one for our gold-star award.  The 2009 Cabernet Franc reminded us of the Chinon-style, and it was rich with bright red fruit and spice elements that are typical of Cabernet Franc. However, Paul gave his gold-star nod to the 2008 Merlot with its dark cherry, smoke and mocha characteristics.  I almost concurred with Paul until I tasted the 2008 Meritage with its complex aromas and flavors.  Dark fruit, violets and licorice made for an enticing nose, and layers of dark cherry, black plums, spice and vanilla revealed themselves in the mouth.  A lengthy finish suggests aging potential, too.  Port lovers should also try the brandy-fortified Seven 2008 which is made from Merlot; a hunk of blue cheese and/or a cigar should provide nice partners with this one.

In the midst of our tasting, Mathieu confirmed what other winemakers have noted—the 2010 harvest will be much earlier than usual for Virginia with white wine varieties either already harvested or about to be harvested very soon.  He also sees the 2010 harvest as a year for potentially complex, robust  red wines.

First Colony Winery:  We reached a split decision with the white wines.  Paul favored the floral 2008 Viognier with its tropical fruit characteristics, but I preferred the 2008 Chardonnay Reserve which is aged in Hungarian oak barrels for nine months.  Pear flavors end with a subtle toasted almond finish.  (In the past, we’ve enjoyed the Chardonnay Reserve at Kinkeads, the much-heralded seafood restaurant in DC.)  We did, however, concur on a favorite red wine—the yet-to-be released 2008 Merlot.  Dark cherries, plums and dried herbs with some chocolate at the end make for a more complex wine.  Early September is the scheduled release date for the 2008 Merlot.  Of course, it’s still grilling season, and steak lovers might want to sample the earthier 2006 Tannat.

Virginia Wineworks:  It’s always a pleasure to sample the latest releases by Michael Shaps, and it’s equally hard to find favorites since all of Shaps’ wines are well-crafted.  It’s hard to beat the Michael Shaps Viognier 2008, and we’ve written about this one in the past.  However, I was more intrigued with the Burgundian-style Michael Shaps Chardonnay 2008 with its apple and pear characteristics and toasted almond finish.  A creamier mouth feel and lengthier finish make for an elegant pour.  Paul’s vote remained with the 2008 Viognier, and that was fine with me!  Of the reds, Paul favored the Michael Shaps Cabernet Franc which was aged for 15 months in French oak barrels.  He observed elements of dark cherry, plums and anise that finished with a smooth tannic presence.  I gave my gold star to the Michael Shaps Petit Verdot 2008 which presented dried fruit characteristics, tobacco and black pepper. 

We were able to chat with Michael for a bit, and his next experiment will be “bag in the box” wines that are currently catching on in Europe.  Finding alternatives to cork enclosures has led to these developments, and quality products are being poured from the “bag” containers.  We’ll check in with Michael to see how this innovation is progressing!

Want to read more about our finds on the Monticello trail?  Don’t despair—more will be posted in upcoming articles.  With a very hot summer winding down, be sure to plan a visit to these wineries on the Monticello trail.  Be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.