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.

Pasta and Virginia Wine

We visited several Virginia wineries this weekend and plan to share our experiences with you soon. In the mean time we wanted to share our dinner wine. This evening we had linguine with red sauce. To accompany the meal we selected the 2009 Cabernet Franc from Annefield Vineyards. I thought it might be a bit young but Warren said a young red wine would pair nicely with a tomato based meal. Turns out he was right and our selection was perfect.

On the nose we observed raspberry, cherry, and a hint of menthol. In the mouth we noted similar characteristics as those on the nose with earthier, spicy elements. We noted a rich garnet color. Annefield Vineyards is relatively new on the Virginia wine scene but we feel they’ll be making their mark quickly. We tasted their wines back in December at the DC Holiday Wine Mall and enjoyed them all. We hope to visit them in the near future.