Virginia Wine Time

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Month: January 2011 (page 1 of 2)

Another Newbie: Crushed Cellars

During a recent trip on the Loudon County trail, we paid a visit to newly opened Crushed Cellars. The finishing touches were still being placed in the tasting room, but the tasting bar was ready for business.

Owner and winemaker Bob Kalok guided us through a tasting of the three wines available to sample and purchase. The first wine was a crisp, dry 2009 Seyval Blanc with its characteristic citrus and mineral elements. This one was my favorite of the wines that we tasted, and I think it would pair well with goat cheeses, poultry or shellfish. As an aperitif, the fruitier (and slightly sweeter) 2009 Vidal Blanc should prove to be popular. Paul enjoyed the vibrant 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon with its cherry and plum flavors and lingering finish.

Bob hopes to expand the offerings at Crushed Cellars in the new year to include Petit Verdot and Syrah. He also sells locally produced eggs, butter, and cheeses in the tasting room; in fact, he paired the wines with cheeses produced from local dairy farms. Bob also promised to keep his operation rather small but focused on quality wines.

Of course we will return to Crushed Cellars to taste new releases at Crushed Cellars. If you are planning to visit soon, mention to Bob Kalok that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Celebration Wines

Last night we had some friends over to help celebrate Warren’s birthday. I’m not a cook so Warren created a wonderful meal. Of course we had to serve Virginia wines with the meal.

We began the evening with white cheeses, baked shrimp wontons, and fruit. We paired these items with the 2008 Durant White from Pollak Vineyards. We enjoyed the crisp, fruity, mineral nature of this wine. It went perfectly with our food choices.

Warren then served a garden salad with a lemon vinaigrette. We paired the salad with the 2008 Sarah’s Chapeau from Aspen Dale Winery. This is a blend of vidal blanc and sauvignon blanc. The fruity, off-dry nature of this wine paired well with the salad.

For the main course Warren prepared a hearty beef stew with carrots, mushrooms, potatoes, and fresh thyme. We selected the 2008 Petit Verdot from Pollak Vineyards. We noted blackberry and plum notes and an earthiness. We poured the last two bottles I had on my rack. Unfortunately the Petit Verdot is sold out and I won’t be able to get any more. I’m looking forward to the next vintage!

We finished the evening with a very moist, chocolate birthday cake. I selected the 2009 Nebbiolo Ice Water Bent Barrels from the Cellar Selection from Breaux Vineyards. The delicious sweet strawberry notes complimented the chocolate cake. Everyone mentioned how much they enjoyed this one.

At the end of the evening we all decided that the 2008 Petit Verdot from Pollak Vineyards should get the gold star.

Warren and I continued his birthday celebration today by visiting Gray Ghost VIneyards, one of our favorite wineries. We are very familiar with their wines but always enjoy a tasting. We also enjoy chatting with Al, Cheryl and Amy about all things wine.

After our tasting we enjoyed some lunch nibbles with a bottle of the 2007 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. What a wonderful bottle of wine. We noted dark fruit, tobacco, ash, and a lingering finish. We can always count on a great time at Gray Ghost.

If you visit any of these wineries anytime soon, please tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Winter Wines at Chateau O’Brien

We continue our quest to seek out wines that pair well with winter menus, and our tasting at Chateau O’Brien presented us with options.

As we entered the tasting room, we were warmly greeted by Howard O’Brien invited us to the tasting bar to sample the winery’s current releases. The regular tasting presented us with five wines to taste, and we were both impressed with the 2009 Northpoint White, a blend of Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay. Though perfect for spring and summer, the fruit forward style of this crisp blend makes it an excellent versatile sipper for winter if served with roasted poultry or pork. Before dinner, pair with brie and baguette.

Of the red wines, our favorite was found in the Cellar Collection which featured four red wines. The complex 2006 Northpoint Red, a true Bordeaux blend that includes all of the Bordeaux varietals, won our stars of approval. The grapes used in this blend were all grown on the northern slope of the Chateau at the Northpoint Vineyard. Darker fruit elements prevailed with this one with accents of tobacco and spice; Paul noted a smoother finish, too. Chateau O’Brien has earned notice for its quality Tannat, and the 2006 vintage should continue the accolades; dense and inky in color, we noted dark plum and cherry with aromas of leather and tar. Buy now but drink later with a hearty beef dish served beside a roaring fire.

Fruit wine lovers should appreciate the sweeter 2008 Virginia Apple Wine crafted from locally grown apples. Elegant and rich, this one should prove to be popular with dessert or on its own as a dessert.

Part of our experience at Chateau O’Brien was the ability to chat with both Howard and his wife Debbie; their enthusiasm for wine and winemaking is undeniable. Chateau O’Brien’s wines continue to be poured at the area’s top restaurants, and we see more good things for winery in the future. Planning a visit to Chateau O’Brien? Be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Miracle Valley

A few weeks ago we hitting the wine trail in the Delaplane area and stopped by Miracle Valley Vineyard to taste the wines and see what was new. We hadn’t been there for sometime so it was time to check in.

Our tasting associate guided us through the tasting beginning with the whites of course. We started with the 2008 Chardonnay. This one got my gold star. It’s aged in stainless steel and is crisp, with ripe pear and grapefruit notes. This is my kind of chardonnay. Warren preferred the 2008 Reserve Chardonnay which was aged in Hungarian oak for nine months. He noted hints of apple and pear with a bigger, rounder mouth feel than the stainless chardonnay.

Next up were the reds. We started with the 2008 Merlot. We noted blackberry, plum, spice and pepper. The 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon was next. It was aged for 18 months in French oak. We jotted down cherry, blackberry, pepper, and wood on our tasting sheet. The last red was the 2008 Cabernet Franc. This one got the gold star from both of us. We enjoyed the cherry, blackberry, and vanilla notes with a hint of pepper and a very nice lingering finish.

With our tasting complete and our wine chatter with our tasting associate coming to an end, we purchased a bottle of the 2008 Chardonnay to bring home. This one would go on my rack. The next time you find yourself in the Delaplane area, stop by Miracle Valley Vineyard for a tasting and tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Happy Birthday, Warren!

Today is Warren’s birthday! Leave him a birthday wish in the comments!

Winter Fare and Virginia Wines

This past weekend was probably the coldest days we’ve experienced in a winter that has been extremely cold. No wonder we sought out food and wines that kept us warm!

On Friday night, we dined on braised veal shanks (known as osso bucco) paired with the 2003 Nebbiolo Reserve from Barboursville Vineyards. Displaying the trademark brickish hue in the glass, this Nebbiolo revealed cherry, violet and tobacco aromas with lingering fruit on the finish.

Sunday was the day for Chrysalis‘ VIP members to attend a food and wine party hosted at the winery. Chef Hump Astorga had prepared a kale and Portuguese sausage soup to partner with the 2006 Rubiana and a barrel sample of the 2010 Barrel Select Norton. While we both appreciated the fruity, drink now Rubiana, it was the 2010 Barrel Select Norton that won our stars of approval. This one was a dead ringer for a lush, fruity Beaujolais made from the gamay grape. It’s sure to be a crowd favorite once it is bottled and released.

Plan your winter menus around favorite Virginia wines some of which may already be on your wine racks. If you need to stock up, visit Barboursville Vineyards and Chrysalis Vineyards; however, please mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Paul’s Pick

I had an early dinner tonight without wine so I decided to peruse my rack for something different. I had several things to choose from but decided on the 2007 Merlot French Oak Select from the Cellar Selection from Breaux Vineyards. I was really looking for just a sipper but ended up with a bigger wine than I was expecting. On the bottle it says it was aged in new French oak barrels for 31 months. It being from 2007, I probably should have left it on the rack longer. Over all though, I really enjoyed this one but should have had food as well.

I see my ChapStick left a lip print on my glass!

On the nose I got a hit of coffee at first and then it gave way to some dark fruit and tobacco. In the mouth I noted dark fruit, prune, mocha, and tobacco. I also noted some pretty big tannins. They coated my tongue pretty strongly. The bottle does mention firm tannins so I should have been expecting them. There is a lingering finish with fruit characteristics. I know I’ve mentioned it many times before but being a club member at Breaux really does have it’s benefits. Having access to wines like this is just one of the many benefits. Next time you visit Breaux Vineyards tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Wine With A View at Delaplane Cellars

It seems as though our visits to Delaplane Cellars occur when it is chilly outside, and this time was no different. Regardless of the weather, though, the wines and the view at Delaplane Cellars are always impressive.

Most of the wines on the tasting menu were new to us including the 2008 Honah Lee Viognier. This one earned my gold star of the two Viogniers poured for us (and the only white wines, I should add.) Vibrant is the word to describe this distinctive Viognier produced from grapes grown on the Honah Lee Farm near Orange, Virginia. In fact, aromas of orange blossom first reached the nose followed by aromas of apricot and mango; similar tropical fruit flavors were noted on the palate. Owner and winemaker Jim Dolphin treated us to a sneak preview of the upcoming 2009 Honah Lee Viognier which seemed to have honey apricot elements to it. Paul preferred the 2007 Emerald Lake Viognier; I jotted down “bit-o-honey” on the tasting sheet, and Paul seemed to enjoy the creamier, honeyed texture to this one. He also appreciated the stone fruit flavors of this more mature offering.

Paul and I likewise reached a split decision on the red wines. My favorite was the 2008 Cinq, a blend of all five Bordeaux varietals with Cabernet Sauvignon dominating the mix. I noted characteristics of dark berries, anise, and spice with some violet on the nose to boot. Given that this is a more recent release (after May 2010), tannins were evident but likely to mature with time. Paul’s fave was the druit-driven 2008 Springlot Red Blend. The Cabernet Sauvignon (44%), Cabernet Franc (25%), Merlot (19%) and Petit Verdot (12%) which comprise the blend all come from the Springlot vineyard located near the winery. Dark cherry, plum and spice elements prevailed with a smooth tannic presence. Be certain to try the 2008 Syrah—crafted from grapes grown from borh the Shirland Vineyard near Middleburg and the Springlot Vineyard near the winery, this Syrah is all dark fruit flavors with earthy/tobacco, spice and pepper. Blended with 13% Tannat, this Syrah is a bolder option!

So with tasting done, we opted to take a moment to enjoy the gorgeous mountain views from the tasting room while enjoying a glass of the 2008 Honah Lee Viognier. Winter lanscapes are underappreciated, and even a quick glance from the tasting room windows reminded us just how lovely the barren scenery can be—paired with a favorite wine from Delaplane Cellars, of course!

Be sure to sample the current offerings at Delaplane Cellars this winter, but remember to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Pick Up Party at Breaux

On Sunday we went to Breaux Vineyards to pick my Cellar Club selections. The selections were the 2008 Malbec and the 2007 Lot 751. We picked up the wines at the Pick Up party for club members. Breaux treats their club members very well. They set up the tank room with a long table on one side and smaller round tables on the other. There was a wonderful selection of foods that paired well with the wines. They also had a large screen showing photos from recent events at Breaux. Jen Breaux was there to welcome guests as well as many Breaux tasting associates.

Silvia waved us over to taste at her table. We started with the 2008 Malbec. I really enjoyed this one. It had a dark rich color, fruit forward in the mouth with a hint of tobacco. I think this one is ready to drink now but I’ll probably let it sit on the rack awhile. Next up was the 2007 Lot 751. This is a meritage style blend. Warren jotted down rich and complex. I liked the dark fruit on the nose and in the mouth with a hint of spice. It is young and will definitely be better in a few years. I would suggest putting this one on the rack and forget about it for a few years. With the nibbles they provided we enjoyed a glass of the 2002 Cellar Club Meritage. We noted dark fruit aromas, violet and licorice, tobacco and similar flavors in the mouth. We both noted a longer finish. This one is ready to enjoy now. We could see this with a nice thick steak.

One of the benefits of membership is access to some nice library wines on sale. After purchasing a few of my favorites, we said our goodbyes and headed back out on the wine trail. Next time you visit Breaux Vineyards tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Upcoming Releases at Corcoran Vineyards

So we’re back on the trail, and one of our first stops of the year was at Corcoran Vineyards. Owner Jim Corcoran conducted our tasting, and our palates were treated to some new and exciting developments.

Jim and Lori Corcoran are always looking for ways to put their own unique stamp on the Virginia wine industry; not just satisfied with same old same old, their mission is to produce wines that help to define themselves as makers of distinct, quality wines. Therefore, Jim was eager for us to sample some of the upcoming releases that include a Petit Manseng, a Petit Limon styled after the popular Italian wine, lemoncello, a raspberry merlot, and a port crafted from Chambourcin. My favorites were the Petit Manseng and the port. At 6% residual sugar, this Petit Manseng will indeed be sold as a dessert wine; it’s floral and citrus characteristics should prove to be a lovely way to end a dinner party. However, I tend to also like these kinds of wines with blue cheeses and a drizzle of honey. The Chambourcin-based port could likewise complement a cheese course or an afterdinner dessert that featured dark chocolate. Paul and I both predict, though, that summer-time favorites will be the Petit Manseng-based Petit Limon and the Raspberry Merlot. The Petit Limon is made with real lemons zested by Jim Corcoran himself—lots of them, too! It was quite refreshing and needed a warm, sunny day to be fully appreciated.

Jim offered to take us through a tasting of current releases, and of course, we took him up on the offer. Speaking of warm sunny days, the dry 2009 Hunters Run Rose had me thinking of a summer vacation in Provence. Created from Cabernet Franc, it presented strawberry and melon characteristcs; I love these kinds of Roses especially during the summer months. Jim shared with us that the upcoming Rose will feature the Chambourcin grape with a slight amount of residual sugar. Of the red wines we sampled, all were quite solid. My favorites were the classic 2009 Cabernet Franc and the complex Hunters Run Red. The 2009 Cabernet Franc was not blended, and it displayed the bright berry and spicy elements associated with this varietal. The 2009 Hunters Run Red is indeed a meritage blend and presented layers of darker cherry and plum flavors with smoother tannins. Paul’s own favorites were the 2009 Benevino Cabernet Franc and the 2009 Malbec. The Benevino Cabernet Franc was blended with a small amount of Tannat to give it a bolder body; it could certainly stand up to a steak dinner. As he sipped through the 2009 Malbec, Paul noted smokey, cherry and earthy elements; he’s a fan of Malbecs produced by Corcoran Vineyards, and he approved of this vintage!

With our tasting done, Jim then invited us to the tank room where he gave us other sneak samples that included an upcoming apple wine, a knockout Tannat, and a Petit Verdot that wowed Paul. We also got to see the small tanks of Petit limon that gave testimony to Jim’s expert zesting skills; another tank of orange zest suggested another experimental blend that may include Traminette as a base. We also witnessed an immaculate barrel room with state of the art control systems to insure proper temperatures and humidity. Though Jim appeared to be the wizard of winemaking at Corcoran Vineyards, he constantly credited his wife Lori for producing Corcoran’s solid line up of wines. We concluded that both Jim and Lori bring their considerable talents to all of these efforts, and it is without doubt that success will continue for Corcoran Vineyards.

With our tastings done, we stocked up on our favorite Corcoran wines, and we know that we will return for a sample of new releases. In the meantime, stop by Corcoran Vineyards (or their sister site, Hunters Run) for a tasting, and let Jim and Lori Corcoran know that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

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