Dinner Wines

To begin our evening we had the 2009 Blenheim Chardonnay. While dinner was being created we enjoyed this chardonnay with crackers and white cheese. On the nose we noted pear, melon, and citrus. It was very crisp. In the mouth we noted pear, citrus, and a hint of minerality. It complimented our cheese and crackers quite well.

For dinner we had the 2008 Malbec from Corcoran Vineyards. I always enjoy this one. We had it with pasta and red meat sauce. We must say we ran this one through the Soiree to help decant it immediately. On the nose we noted dark cherry, and spice. In the mouth we noted similar jammy characteristics with a spicy edge. It proved to be the perfect pairing with our meal. We understand DrinkWhatULike had the same wine for dinner this evening.

Dinner Party and Virginia Wines

This past weekend I invited friends over for dinner. On occasions when I am serving several courses, I tend to “cull the herd” on my wine racks, and I like to present wines produced from all over the world. However, since it is Virginia Wine Month I opted to serve only Virginia wines with each of my courses. These are wines that we’ve reviewed as favorites in the past, so I’ll just provide the menu with wine pairings here:

First Course: Appetizers
Soft and hard goat cheeses with baguette slices; grapes and almonds
Wine Pairing: Ingleside Vineyards 2009 Pinot Grigio

Second Course: Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup
Wine Pairing: Gray Ghost Vineyards 2008 Reserve Chardonnay

Third Course: Grilled Louisiana Andouille served over Mixed Greens tossed with Balsamic Vinaigrette and topped with crumbled Feta Cheese
Wine Pairing: Linden Vineyards 2007 Claret

Entree: Garlic and Herb Crusted Beef Tenderloin served with Potatoes au Gratin and roasted Green Beans and Carrots
Wine Pairing: King Family Vineyards 2006 Meritage; Chrysalis Vineyards 2006 Special Reserve Red

Dessert: Pumpkin Bundt Cake
Dessert Wine: Gray Ghost Vineyards 2009 Adieu

This was quite a rich, hearty menu! And how did my guests react to Virginia wines? The most priceless reaction came from Don who had only experienced Virginia wines at a festival that he attended two years ago. He did not have a favorable opinion of the festival wines that he sampled and forgot all about Virginia wines ever since. However, Don was blown away by the quality of wines that I poured during the evening, and he has now concluded that Virginia does indeed produce some outstanding wines. This reaction is what we enjoy most about promoting Virginia wines. We see ourselves as educators, and the best lesson plans are those that involve wine drinkers who actually get to taste Virginia wines. Hands-on is the best learning experience! Of course, we then write about it all in our own cyber-textbook.

Planning a dinner party? Consider serving Virginia wines. Visit the wineries mentioned in this post and mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Taste Live Event

Last night we participated in the TasteLive event showcasing wines from the Monticello Wine Trail. There were bloggers and wine writers as well as winery representatives all on the TasteLive system. We tasted the wines and tweeted our thoughts and impressions of the wines. Below you’ll see the wines we tasted and the tweets associated with each wine. Read the tweets from the bottom up since they appear oldest to newest in the timeline.

The 2007 SP Rose from Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyard

The 2009 Viognier from Keswick Vineyards

The 2009 Chardonnay Reserve from Jefferson Vineyards

The 2009 Gewurztraminer from Afton Mountain Vineyards

The 2009 Seven Oaks Merlot from Blenheim Vineyards

The 2008 Wooloomooloo from Mountfair Vineyards

Besides a few glitches on the website (losing some of our tweets, having to refresh the browser to have the next hashtag added to our tweets, and the clunky layout) we had a great time and enjoyed all the wines. We really enjoyed sharing our impressions with others from across the country. It was great how so many people were finding the same characteristics in the wines. We hope this experience exposed many people to Virginia wine. It has always been our goal to promote Virginia wine. We would recommend any and all of these wonderful Virginia wines.

A big THANKS to Virginia Wine and Dezel for putting this event together!

The Eastern Shore Party Continues

My last post detailed the results of the Eastern Shore winery tastings. Our delightful afternoon found us sipping and chatting with winemakers at Bloxom Vineyards, Holly Gorve Vineyards, and Chatham Vineyards. Our meet-up continued after our winery visits, though, and we all stayed at the Green Valley Farm Bed and Breakfast. We all brought bottles of wine to enjoy with a delicious meal prepared by the sipswirlsnark team; we also got to appreciate our comfy accommodations provided for us by our hostess, Chantal Deel.

As dusk set it, we continued to all get better acquainted, and what better way to socialize than with favorite Virginia wines. Before we knew it, the sipsters had the kitchen knives flying away with their preparations for the evening’s meal. Their menu started with their own olive tapenade and a spread made from edamame. As they donned their favorite chef’s hats and took charge in the kitchen, we sipped on glasses of Pollak Vineyard’s Durant White and the 2007 Glen Manor Sauvignon Blanc. We fed the horses that live on the grounds and watched as the stars began to twinkle. It was a classic autumn evening—cool and crisp!

Before long we were dining on grilled flank steak, stir-fried green beans, and sliced eggplant sauteed with parmesan cheese, and favorite red wines were compared at the dinner table. The gold stars for the evening seemed to be the Linden Vineyards’ 2007 Hardscrabble Red and the 2006 Merlot from Lovingston Vineyards. (I seemed to take an extra pour of Chrysalis’ 2005 Norton Locksley Reserve; sometimes it’s okay to be the oddball.) Dinner ended with a decadent chocolate tart, and then it was off to bed.

Chantal made breakfast for us all in the morning, and it was quite a spread that she prepared. Eggs, sausage and biscuits with gravy, bagels, bacon, fruit with yogurt—it seemed endless. There is no doubt that Chantal runs a cozy inn with well-appointed bedrooms, an outdoor fireplace to complement the patio, and gardens that feature brilliant flowers and fragrant herbs. Horses live on the property, and visitors can expect to see deer, geese and turkeys frequenting the grounds.

Be sure to visit wineries on the Eastern Shore and plan to stay at Green Valley Bed and Breakfast. Mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Barboursville Sauvignon Blanc

From time to time we pack up a lunch and head to the Bishop’s Garden at the National Cathedral. Today was one of those times. We packed sliced ham and sliced turkey to have with a baguette and goat cheese. We also packed a bottle of the 2009 Barboursville Sauvignon Blanc. We were hoping to see some fall color while enjoying our lunch and wine. Unfortunately we had to enjoy the food and wine without the fall color. It might be too soon but we mostly saw green and a bit of yellow in the trees.

We seem to enjoy every Barboursville wine we open. We enjoyed the 2009 Sauvignon Blanc as well. On the nose we noted citrus, grass, and grapefruit. In the mouth we noted citrus, a hint of minerality, and lemon zest. We noticed some very small bubbles in our glasses. We wonder if this one was topped off with some C02. The Sauvignon Blanc paired well with the sliced meats and baguette.

We are able to get to Barboursville a few times a year and always plan to taste while we’re there. If you bring your glass back, the tasting is free! We always leave with several bottles. If you visit Barboursville, pick a bottle of the 2009 Sauvignon Blanc and tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

I’m Not a Chambourcin Fan

For dinner last night we had breaded chicken and herbed rice. Warren selected the 2009 Chambourcin from Hume Vineyards to compliment the meal. I may not have noted this yet but I’m not a big fan of Chambourcin. I’ve tasted many Chambourcins and very few make it on my rack. The Hume Chambourcin would fit nicely with the other wines on my rack.

On the nose we jotted down fruity, jammy, dark plum, dark cherry, earth, tobacco, and anise. Jammy can sometimes be a bad thing but in this case it was not the bad kind of jammy. It was pleasant. In the mouth we noted similar characteristics with the addition of currents, spice, and pepper. Even though it is 13.8% alcohol, we noted some heat on the end. The Chambourcin complimented the breaded chicken and herbed rice rather well.

Even though I don’t call myself a Chambourcin fan, I did enjoy this one. We look forward to future vintages of Hume’s Chambourcin. Knowing that I’m not the biggest Chambourcin fan, are there other Virginia Chambourcins you, dear readers, recommend I try?

Taste Live

As part of Virginia Wine Month and with the support of The Virginia Wine Board, we’ll be participating in the TasteLive event focused on Virginia Wines on Monday, October 25th. Wine writers and bloggers from across the country will be participating in this tasting. We’ll be tasting wines and tweeting our impressions on the TasteLive website. Our tweets will also show up on our Twitter feed. We will be tasting six wines from wineries on the Monticello Wine Trail in the Charlottesville area. The wines we’ll be tasting are:

The 2007 SP Rose from Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyard
The 2009 Gewurztraminer from Afton Mountain Vineyards
The 2009 Chardonnay Reserve from Jefferson Vineyards
The 2009 Viognier from Keswick Vineyards
The 2009 Seven Oaks Merlot from Blenheim Vineyards
The 2008 Wooloomooloo from Mountfair Vineyards

We are excited to participate in this unique tasting experience. We haven’t been part of the TasteLive website before so we are curious to see how the whole thing works and how it will be received. Be following our Twitter feed on Monday evening between 8:00 and 9:30 Eastern time.

P. S. Have you seen the article this week in the Washington Post about Virginia Wine? Check it out!

Bloggers Invade the Eastern Shore

Frank Morgan of drinkwhatyoulike.com organized a bloggers’ tour of wineries on the eastern shore of Virginia, and we gladly tagged along; we were also joined by the dynamic duo who write swirlsipsnark.com. On the agenda for the merry band of bloggers was tastings at Bloxom Winery, Holly Grove Vineyards, and Chatham Vineyards. With pens (and iPad) in hand and palates ready, we embarked on our mission.

Bloxom Winery: The first thing we noticed was the wood-fired outdoor oven. Owners and winemakers Robert and Francesca also make authentic Italian pizza in the oven as well as fresh Italian bread, and we can attest to the excellence of the pizza. In fact, Francesca treated us to a freshly-baked pizza as we tasted at the bar—YUM! Robert conducted our tasting, and we learned that the winery opened in 2004. Bloxom Winery produces about 900 cases of wine, and all of the fruit used in the wines are grown on the estate. Robert started winemaking as a hobby while he lived in New York, and he became proficient enough to plant his own vineyard in Virginia. Our preferred wine here was the 2009 Chardonnay with its ripe pear notes and honeyed texture. All of the wines at Bloxom Vineyards are done in stainless steel including the Chardonnay. Sweet wine lovers may find the Some Like It Blush an interesting pour; it contains 3% residual sugar and is very, very pink. A bit too candy-like for my tastes, but I know that our friend and guest critic Michael Tyler would appreciate this one.

Holly Grove Vineyards: Paul and I sampled these wines a while ago at a wine festival, and we recalled being impressed with what we tasted. We were no less impressed with the current lineup this time around. Warm greetings were extended to us by assistant winemaker and enologist Paula Paschall, and our tasting was conducted in the barrel room so that we could also experience some barrel samples. Awaiting us was an impressive spread of cheeses, chutneys, chocolates, crackers and bread that paired with the wines to be tasted. Winemaker and owner Jonathan Bess met up with us to conduct the tasting and to provide some background about the vineyards, the wines, and the winery. Our tasting actually started with some tank samples of white wines, and the most impressive of these was the upcoming Coastal Trio, blend of Chardonnay, Petit Manseng, and Viognier. We noted a floral nose with some tropical fruit characteristics and a refreshing minerality. Look for this one to sell quickly upon released! Of the bottled whites, our gold star favorite was the 2008 Chardonnay with its pear notes and toasty finish. It presented a creamy mouth feel but does not undergo secondary malolactic fermentation. I’m always on the lookout for roses, and the 2009 Sunset Rose was fruity and refreshing; made from Merlot, I noted raspberry and strawberry aromas and flavors. It was slightly sweet but still crisp—one to keep on hand for the upcoming holiday gatherings when a variety of wine preferences may be visiting for dinner. The red wines were likewise well-crafted, and we both favored the Genesis, a non-vintage blend of the 07 Cabernet Franc, the 08 Merlot, and the 08 Petit Verdot. I detected a hint of violet on the nose with abundant dark fruit aromas and flavors and a hint of dried herb. A plummy pour indeed! Merlot lovers might appreciate the lighter-bodied and accessible 2008 Merlot with its smoky nose and dark cherry flavor. Of the barrel-sampled reds, I was most partial to the 2009 Cabernet Franc; it’s a lighter-colored pour, and Jonathan and Paula may decide to blend it with a bit of Petit Verdot for color. However, I’d leave it alone; the lovely raspberry, strawberry, and spice characteristics recalled some of the Cabernet Francs from the Chinon region. The 2009 offering from Holly Grove should prove to be a classic.

Chatham Vineyards: This was our final stop of the day, and winemaker and owner John Wehner conducted our tasting. We had never sampled the wines from Chatham Vineyards, so this was a first-time experience for Virginia Wine Time. On a gorgeous fall day, John guided us through the tasting menu outdoors, and a very generous deli platter awaited us at the table. Cheeses ranged from hard, smoked gouda squares to soft brie wedges; also included were slabs of chicken pate, bowls of olives and almonds, and drops of dried quince. Of course, the white wines were presented first for tasting, and Paul and I reached split decisions here. Paul opted for the 2009 stainless steel Chardonnay with its citrus notes, pear flavors, and crisp minerally finish. I preferred the 2009 Church Creek Chardonnay which is a blend of Chardonnay that was aged in both French and Virginia oak for nine months. Ripe pear characteristics were noted with creme-brulee at the finish. A perfect food wine, this one should complement shellfish and pork. Of the red wines, we both favored the 2008 Church Creek Cabernet Franc with its violet nose, brambleberry flavors and spicy edge. Aged for two years in French oak barrels, this one had a longer finish. I should also note that it is blended with some Merlot and Petit Verdot, so it does offer more complexity. Port lovers may appreciate the Late Harvest Dessert Wine made from Merlot. Serve at the end of a meal or on a cold day with dried fruit and strong cheeses. As we sipped and nibbled, John presented to us some of the history of the Chatham estate. It does indeed have a long history dating back to the 17th century. John and his wife planted vineyards on the property in 1999 with a first vintage produced in 2001. Twenty acres of the historic property are planted in grape vines with Merlot being the most planted grape. John Wehner learned winemaking from his parents who had a vineyard on their property in Great Falls, and we must say that John learned the craft quite well. These wines were all well-made, and John’s dedication to the best vineyard practices and winemaking methods shined brightly in the bottles.

So ended the wine tour with our blogging colleagues. But were we done with food and wine? Of course not! We made our way to the B&B where we all stayed for the evening and began phase two of our writers’ meet and greet. More on that in our next post. With fall colors now beginning to peak through, plan a trip to the eastern shore and visit these wineries, but be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.