Last Review of 2010: Paradise Springs

So this past Sunday we gave ourselves two choices: last minute holiday shopping at the mall or a tasting at Paradise Springs. It did not take us long to talk ourselves into the second option. We left the crowded malls for other brave souls and headed out to Paradise Springs!

Of the white wines, we were hard pressed to argue with Governor’s Cup winner, the 2009 Chardonnay that was aged in French oak barrels for nine months sur lie. Pear notes and flavors abound here with butter and toast at the end. A honeyed-texture and lengthier finish make for a fuller-bodied white wine that should pair well with fish or poultry topped with a cream sauce. The aromatic 2009 Viognier was also quite nice and should prove to be a hit with holiday fare.

Of the reds, we were both partial to the 2008 Cabernet Franc. It presented a nose of plum and dried herbs with plum and cherry flavors in the mouth; we noted a lighter body, too. This could be another pleasing partner to holiday fare such as herbed turkey. If bucking the traditional holiday menu and serving steaks for dinner, the bolder 2009 Meritage might be a better bet. It includes all five Bordeaux varities and is more complex and tannic.

Our decision to skip the mall proved to be the wise decision, and we close 2010 with this post about Paradise Springs. We’ll return in the new year, but readers may want to follow our course of action and sample the latest at Paradise Springs before the year’s end. Be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Philip Carter Winery

Our quest to find holiday wines brought us to Philip Carter Winery. Positive changes continue at Philip Carter Winery including a new walkway to the tasting room. So on a cold, windy afternoon we sampled the latest at Philip Carter Winery with a determination to find the best holiday pours.

Of the white wines, the Riesling-style 2009 Governor Fauquier earned my gold star for the holiday menu. Made from Vidal Blanc, it was described as off-dry and presented a fruity nose that is characteristic of the Vidal grape. In the mouth, a fruity blend of pear, apple and melon make for a refreshing wine. The 2009 Governor Fauquier should pair well with holiday ham or turkey.

The 2009 Cabernet Franc was our selection for best holiday red wine. Aged ifor nine months in older French oak barrels, this Cabernet Franc was rich with raspberry and cherry aromas and flavors. Paul noted a smooth finish with a hint of mocha at the end. Another nice partner with turkey and cranberry sauce! If heavier meats or game are on the menu, sample the 2008 Cleve, a Bordeaux-style blend aged for 20 months in both French and American oak barrels. Smoky, earthier elements prevail here with violet notes and dark fruit flavors; expect a more tannic presence with this one.

So with our tasting done, we shared glass of the 2009 Governor Fauquier in the tasting room and enjoyed the glowing lights of the Christmas tree. We look forward to enjoying the wines at Philip Carter Winery in the New Year; in the meantime, stock up on the favorite holiday wines at Philip Carter Winer and mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Holiday Wines at Rappahannock Cellars

With the holidays now upon us, it’s time to think about wines that may pair with holiday fare. We can recommend some wines from Rappahannock Cellars.

Since our last tasting at Rappahannock Cellars, the winery earned top scores for wines reviewed in Wine Spectator magazine. With such accolades, we were eager to sample the latest pours at Rappahannock Cellars with a focus on winter and holiday menus. Of the white wines, two options stood out for me: the 2009 Viognier and the sweeter 2009 Noblesse Viognier. The 2009 Viognier presented floral and apricot aromas; apricot, peach and subtle spice describe the flavor profile. This Viognier is a blend of wine fermented both in stainless steel and French oak barrels to present a refreshing pour that should pair well with holiday turkey or roasted pork tenderloin served with a fruit chutney. The 2009 Noblesse Viognier is actually a blend that includes Vidal Blanc, Seyval blanc, and Chardonnay. Bright fruit and honey aromas with similar flavors in the mouth, it is slightly sweet yet enough to elevate the fruit characteristics. Baked ham should partner quite well with this one.

Of course, winter menus always include heavier meats, and my gold star favorite for this sort of match up was the 2008 Meritage. Dark fruit and earthy elements prevailed on the nose as I caught whiffs of tobacco and ash. Dark cherry, plum and blackberry greeted the palate and ended with a spicy edge. This should pair quite well with roasted beef and potatoes. If heavy cheeses, chocolates and/or cigars are on the menu, try the jammy 2007 Port Styled Dessert Wine made from the Norton grape, and be sure to enjoy next to a roaring fireplace.

We enjoyed our tasting at Rappahanock Cellars since all of the wines are quite solid and well-crafted, and an extra treat was the two glasses presented for tasting—one for the white wines; the other, for the red wines. We know that we will return to Rappahanock Cellars to sample the lastest award-wining wines; however, if you go there before we do, mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

New Finds At The Holiday Wine Mall

On Sunday we went to the Holiday Wine Mall at the Dulles Expo Center. It was a great opportunity to taste many Virginia wines and pick up some gifts for all the special people on our holiday shopping list. We took the opportunity to taste wines from some of our favorite wineries, taste wines from a few new wineries, and of course chat about Virginia wine.

We tasted the wines offered by the newest additions Kilaurwen and Annefield Vineyards. Have you heard of either of these?

Kilaurwen is so new they don’t have a tasting room open yet. They plan to be open in April 2011. They are located in Stanardsville Virginia. Until the tasting room is open they will be pouring and selling their wines at festivals. We were able to taste their Rose, Fiesta White, Cabernet Franc, and their Fiesta Red. Of these I enjoyed the Cabernet franc with its raspberry and blackberry notes and hint of pepper. When Kilaurwen opens up next week, we’ll have to plan a trip to taste their wines again. They are working on creating a website so I don’t have a link to include.

Annefield Vineyards was the other newbie. Annefield is located in Saxe, Virginia. The tasting room is a renovated plantation house dating back to 1858. We had a great time chatting with owners Stephen Ballard and Michael Leary. They told us all about their property, vineyards, and tasting room all while we were tasting the wines. We had the chance to taste their Chardonnay, Viognier, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, the Annefield Red and the Annefield White. Michael Shaps is the winemaker for Annefield and has done an amazing job with these wines. I placed one gold star next to the Chardonnay which is light and crisp with hints of pear and lemon. I placed my other gold star next to the Cabernet Franc. I noted integrated tannins, spice, and pepper. I consider these the absolute stand out wines from the whole show. I only bought two bottles of wine from the event….the Chardonnay and the Cabernet Franc from Annefield Vineyards. If you get the chance to taste their wines, you simply must. And be sure to tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Holiday Open House

On Saturday we went to the Gray Ghost Holiday Open house. They hold this event annually and we try not to miss it. Each year they have a different holiday glass design. This year its train. Turns out, Al Kellert also made a train out of corks for the yearly cork contest.You have to guess how many corks it took to create the train. Warren and I guess every year but never win. We aren’t the best at guesstimation. At this time of the year the tank room is decorated for the holidays showing all the previous creations for the cork contest.

During the event we enjoyed some wonderful foods and all the delicious wines offered at Gray Ghost. I noticed the Victorian Red had changed slightly since the last time I tasted it. This time it had some big cranberry notes on the nose and in the mouth. It was a surprising change that I thoroughly enjoyed. Warren decided his favorite of the day was the Reserve Chardonnay. He has always been a big fan of the Reserve Chardonnay.

Here are some pictures from the Holiday Open House at Gray Ghost:

Dinner Wines

Last night we had the 2008 Viognier from Horton Vineyards as our sipper. We had a very buttery brie with crackers. We notice its light straw color. On the nose we noted pear, citrus, and melon. In the mouth we picked up grapefruit and lemon zest as well as the characteristics we noted on the nose. We thought this was a very nice pairing with the cheese an crackers.

For dinner we had the 2008 Jen’s Jambalaya from Breaux Vineyards. We had ham steaks with green beans and mashed potatoes. The wine went well with our meal. We noted floral notes and mango on the nose and pineapple, melon, and peach in the mouth. We know this wine is a blend of whites but we’re just not sure which whites. Warren noted it was alsatian style with maybe vidal, traminette or gwurtztraminer. Either way, it was very nice. I was sad to see my last bottle go but it was the perfect pairing with our meal.