Virginia Wine In My Pocket

Our friends over at Virginia Wine In My Pocket have released their iPhone app! I downloaded it and installed it on both my iPhone and my iPad. I spent some time going through the app and finding out all about it. If you are at all interested in or visit many Virginia wineries, this is the app for you.

It is full of information about more than 150 wineries in Virginia. Each listing includes tons of information about the winery, where it’s located, operating hours, tasting fees, phone numbers, websites, directions, and a detailed history about the winery and winemakers. Part of each listing is a slideshow of photos taken at the winery. If you need help getting to the winery you can even click on a link that will take you to Google maps and get driving directions to the winery from where you are! That’s a great feature. You can also keep track of your favorite wineries with a favorites list. My favorites list already has some 70 wineries!

This is a very comprehensive app. I can’t think of anything they haven’t included. Warren and I usually plan out our winery stops but I could see using this app on the road to find a winery we haven’t visited before. Click here to get the app. Below are some screen captures from the app.

Cider Houses Rule!

How’s that for a play on literary titles? Anyway, Frank Morgan of DrinkWhatYouLike teamed up with cider makers Diane Flynt of Foggy Ridge Cider and Chuck and Charlotte Shelton of Albemarle CiderWorks to organize a cider tasting at the Albemarle CiderWorks tasting room. We joined other bloggers and winemakers for the event and the evening ended with a cookout, wine and more cider!

A caveat must be issued here—neither Paul nor I have any experience with cider; therefore, our opinions must be taken with a huge grain of salt. Before we tasted, Charlotte Shelton provided us with a brief history of cider making in Virginia, and does it indeed go back to colonial times. Remember, the winemaking experiments were unsuccessful despite best efforts by early settlers, and even Thomas Jefferson was confounded by Virginia’s difficult climate. Apples, however, did grow well, and orchards were widely planted in Virginia. Virginia hard ciders were widely enjoyed, and John Adams began each day with a glass of the beverage. Over time, American palates moved away from hard ciders, and during Prohibition, of course, all alcoholic beverages were illegal. Although the Virginia wine industry began its renaissance some time ago, the cider industry has undergone a more recently revival;in fact, Foggy Ridge Cider and Albemarle CiderWorks are the only cider houses now operating in Virginia.

With that background in mind, we felt like we were revisiting a slice of Americana. Albemarle CiderWorks began its tasting with the CiderWorks 2009 Old Virginia Winesap which had the appearance of a bubbly sparkling wine. I applied my wine tasting techniques to the cider and observed a floral nose and a tart, acidic presentation in the mouth; assuming that I did okay with this one, I continued to swirl, sniff, and sip away. My own palate trended toward the Foggy Ridge offerings with the Foggy Ridge 2009 Serious Cider and the 2009 First Fruit topping my list of favorites. Serious Cider is made primarily from the Yarlington Mill apple and seemed lean, clean and elegant with lengthy apple flavors. First Fruit was simply delicious and presented the aromatics and mouthfeel more akin to a Chardonnay. Apples used here include Parmar, Harrison and Graniwinkle. As tasters sipped away, locally made artisan cheeses were passed around, and the creamy, full mouth texture of the Old Chatham Shepherding’s Kinderhook Creek was more than a match with the fuller-bodied First Fruit.

Of the Albemarle CiderWorks offerings, I found the 2009 Royal Pippin most appealing. Made from the Pippin apple, it was fruity and clean with a refreshing effervesence. Paul concurred on this one, and we both enjoyed it with the creamy Caromont’s Bloomsbury cheese.

The Sheltons and Diane Flynt continued to educate us as we sampled the various ciders. Like grapes, apple flavor profiles are impacted by terroir, and varieties are carefully selected so that they suit soils and climate. The tannic Yarlington Mills apples used in the Serious Cider, for example, grow best in orchards located at a 3000 foot elevation in the Blue Ridge Plateau. These cider makers are also on a mission to debunk stereotypes about ciders—too sweet, cheap buzz, not for the dinner table, etc., In fact, most of these ciders were dry with residual sugars clocking in at well under 1%; moreover, all were at a 7% alcohol level. And do not hesitate to serve these elegant ciders at any dinner gathering!

After the tasting, we continued our tastings and conversations over a cook out! Frank and Nancy (from Virginia Wine In My Pocket) grilled burgers, favorite wines and ciders were opened, and a nice evening was had by all. In the group picture below you can see we all had a wonderful time enjoying the wines and ciders. A HUGE Thank you to Diane, Charlotte, and Chuck and all the staff at Albemarle Ciderworks for their wonderful hospitality and to all the wine bloggers, winemakers, and members from the Virginia Wine Board Marketing Office. We had a great time! Thank you!

Plan to sample ciders sometime this year, and be sure to pay a visit to Foggy Ridge Cider and Albemarle CiderWorks. Mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Friday Sips

We began our Friday evening with the 2009 Chardonnay from Pollak Vineyards. As you may know I am a huge fan of Pollak Vineyards wines. It seems like I’m always looking for occasions to enjoy one of the wines from Pollak. I selected the chardonnay to go with our cheese and crackers as we waited for dinner to be ready.

We sipped and noticed pear, a hint of citrus, and toasty oak on the nose of this wonderful wine. In the mouth we noted apple, pear, a hint of oak and a creamy mouth feel. This wine went really well with our cheese and crackers. It was a perfect way to start the weekend.

For dinner we selected the 2009 Cab Franc from Gray Ghost to go with our pasta and chicken. Again we love the Gray Ghost wines. On the nose of this one we noted mixed red berries. In the mouth we got very similar fruit characteristics of cherry, strawberry and maybe even a hint of mocha. Warren detected some mint or menthol. This is a light bodied wine with a beautiful magenta color. It accompanied our meal very well. We hope you enjoyed some Virginia wine this evening!

More Sips On A Rainy Day

We continued our tour of Loudoun County wineries on our wet and dreary weekend. Wine tends to make things less dreary, though, and we made our way to Hiddencroft Vineyards.

Owner and winemaker Clyde Housel conducted our tasting which began with the white wine offerings. Included was a tank sample of the upcoming 2010 Vidal Blanc. When compared to the sweeter 2009 Vidal Blanc, the drier 2010 sample seemed similar to a dry Riesling. Rich with citrus zest and melon flavors it also presented mineral undertones; its finish was quite crisp and destined to herald the arrival to summer! Of the white wines that we tasted, Paul and I both favored the 2010 Vidal Blanc, and we look forward to its release in either June or July. Sweeter wine lovers may also like the floral-nosed 2009 Traminette with its 2 1/2 percent residual sugar.

Clyde moved us on to the red wines, and here we reached different conclusions. My gold-starred favorite was the 2008 Chambourcin Reserve which was aged for 22 months in French oak barrels and blended with 10% Petit Verdot. Lush ripe plum and cherry elements complemented by some spice notes made for a versatile wine that could partner with any beef or pork dish, a cheese course, or a simple plate of charcuterie. Paul selected the 2008 Cabernet Franc. The 2008 Cabernet Franc just earned gold at the Virginia Governor’s Cup competition, and it is made from all estate grown fruit. It possessed a “raisiny” nose with brambleberry flavors and a spicy finish. Of course, the tasting ended with a sample of fruit wines, and the pairing of cherry wine with dark chocolate was simply decadent!

As we sipped and savored, Clyde revealed to us that he was part of a blending collaboration along with Jordan Harris at Tarara Winery and Ben Renshaw at 8 Chains North. This will be very similar to the successful “3” blend produced by Veritas Vineyards, King Family Vineyards and Pollak Vineyards. The red grapes used in this blend will all be from the Tranquility Vineyards in Loudoun County; although we did not jot down the varieties to be used in the blend, we will be sure to find out in time for the June 5 release!

With our tasting done, we shared a glass of the 2008 Cabernet Franc and nibbled on cheese and baguette while we watched the raindrops fall. We finished in time to take advantage of a lull between showers and headed for the car with Hiddencroft favorites in hand. Plan a visit to Hiddencroft Vineyards, and mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

What To Do On A Rainy Day?

We went wine tasting! First stop was Loudoun Valley Vineyards. Our last visit to Loudoun Valley Vineyards was in March, 2010, and we were anxious to taste the current releases.

Of the white wines, we both favored the very aromatic 2009 Traminette. The Traminette grape is a hybrid of Gewurztaminer and Seyval Blanc, and this offering presented characteristics of both parents. It floral nose was quite intoxicating, and we both noted citrus and stone fruit flavors. Spicy fare or spring time menus that include baked ham would pair nicely with this one.

The red wines resulted in a split decision. I tended to favor the 2008 Dynasty which is a blend of Cabernet Franc (50%), Merlot and Touriga Nacional. This is a more fruit forward offering with elements of mixed berries and spice. I noted a velvety finish, too. Winemaker Bree Ann Moore favors neutral French oak barrels which may explain the softer tannic presence. Paul preferred the 2008 Cabernet Franc. He appreciated its dark plum and cherry flavors and full fruit finish; Paul also noted hints of black pepper in the mouth that would be characteristic of Cabernet Franc. Tasters who are hope for an early grilling season may want to try the lighter bodied 2008 Chambourcin or the Vinifera Red that includes such Rhone varieties as Mouvedre and Syrah.

Upcoming releases will include a non-fortified port style wine made from Touriga Nacional. This will be called Legacy and will be available in May. We will be sure to check back when this and other new releases may be on the tasting menu. Be sure to stop by Loudoun Valley Vineyards for a tasting, and be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Saturday Sips

Our Saturday sips included two white wines. We started the evening with the 2008 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay from Delaplane Cellars. I thought it was a food wine while Warren was easily able to sip it while enjoying some cheese and crackers. Our dinner wine was the 2008 Viognier from Pollak Vineyards.

We had the 2008 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay from Delaplane Cellars with some manchego cheese and crackers. I noted oaky pear on the nose while Warren jotted down pear and honey. In the mouth I thought this was a classic oaken chardonnay with buttery notes and a creamy mouth feel. Warren noted a honey texture, bit-o-honey (like the candy) and a toasty finish. We both thought though, that it went really well with the cheese and crackers. I thought it might even go better with some white fish or crab cakes. Warren agreed.

For dinner we had parmesan encrusted tilapia with black rice (by the way this was the first time I had black rice and it was pretty good…bland, but pretty good). Warren selected the 2008 Viognier from Pollak Vineyards. I was upset because this was my last bottle. I have loved all the vintages of the viognier from Pollak. I need to visit them again to get some of the 2010. Back to the wine…on the nose we noted apricot, stone fruit. In the mouth we noted minerality, stone fruit, Warren’s “bit-O-honey,” and a fruity finish. As it warmed up I definitely got honey as Warren noted. I love this wine and thought it went beautifully with our tilapia. If you find yourself enjoying a tasting at Pollak Vineyards or Delaplane Cellars, please tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!


Here’s a short video of our impressions of the new wine “3” by Pollak Vineyards, King Family Vineyards, and Veritas Winery. Click on the picture to see the video.

Live on Twitter!

First…if you are looking for our Top 20 lists just scroll down. It’s below this post. Also, please check out the analysis of many of our lists over at DrinkWhatYouLike. Nice job, Frank!

Second…we received a bottle of the soon to be released “3”. It’s the collaboration wine by King Family Vineyards, Pollak Vineyards, and Veritas Vineyards. The official release date is tomorrow, March 3rd. We will be tasting our bottle LIVE on Twitter at 7:00 PM. Be sure to follow us on Twitter to get the first impressions of this wine. We hear great things about it and we’re looking forward to tasting it and sharing our impressions LIVE on Twitter! @vawinetime

Top 20

Recently Jordon Harris, winemaker at Tarara, left a comment on the Swirl, Sip, Snark blog suggesting some of us create a list of our top 20 Virginia wines. We all decided that was a great idea. So here are our top 20 lists. Both of our lists are in alphabetical order by winery and are not intended to rank any one wine over another on the lists.

Warren’s List:
Please note that these were my favorite Virginia wines that I tasted last year; however, they may have been released before 2010.

1. Afton Mountain Vineyards 2006 Sparkling Wine-a Thibaut-produced classic
2. Barboursville Vineyards Octagon 2004
3. Barboursville Vineyards 2007 Cabernet Franc Reserve
4. Breaux Vineyards 2002 Merlot Reserve-always a favorite and only gets better with age
5. Breaux Vineyards 2009 Water Bent Viognier
6. Chrysalis Vineyards2009 Albarino-stellar!
7. Chrysalis Vineyards 2005 Norton Locksley Reserve-do read the Todd Kliman’s Wild Vine
8. Delaplane Vineyards 2008 Honah Lee Viognier
9. Gray Ghost Vineyards 2008 Chardonnay Reserve-the crowd favorite at my parents’ 50 anniversary party
10. Gray Ghost Vineyards 2007 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
11. Glen Manor Vineyards 2007 Sauvignon Blanc
12. Ingleside Vineyards 2005 Petit Verdot-the sleeper at the Drink Local conference.
13. King Family Vineyards 2007 Meritage-won Governor’s Cup; outstanding example from an outstanding year.
14. King Family Vineyards 2009 Crose-classic Rose that should be on every wine rack during the summer
15. Linden 2008 Boisseau Red-Wine Spectator liked this one!
16. Linden2006 Hardscrabble Chardonnay
17. Linden Avenius Sauvignon Blanc
18. Pollak Vineyards 2008 Petit Verdot
19. Rappahannock Cellars 2009 Viognier-another Wine Spectator favorite!
20. Villa Appalachia Vineyards Simpatico-Yum!! I wish this winery were not so far away!

Paul’s List:
My list consists of wines that have stood out in my mind over the last few years. You will see several wineries with multiple entries and that’s because I think the consistent quality of their wines is exceptional. There are so many other wines I wanted to put on the list but had to limit it to 20.

1. Blenheim Vineyards 2008 Petit Verdot-2008 produced some wonderful fruit forward wines.
2. Breaux Vineyards 2002 Merlot Reserve-probably the best merlot I’ve ever had.
3. Breaux Vineyards 2009 Viognier Water Bend Barrels-from the cellar club selection
4. Chrysalis Vineyards 2009 Chardonnay-I love this crisp stainless style chardonnay
5. Corcoran Vineyards 2008 Malbec-Might be the best malbec in the state. I only have one bottle left!
6. Gray Ghost 2004 Adieu-wonderful dessert wine
7. Gray Ghost 2008 Merlot-smooth and big cherry
8. Gray Ghost 2009 Cabernet Franc-smooth and fruity, unlike so many others in Virginia
9. Horton Sparkling Viognier
10. Jefferson Vineyards 2007 Viognier
11. King Family Vineyards 2007 Meritage-Governor’s Cup winner!
12. King Family 2009 Crose-delightfully delicious rose
13. Kluge Estate VIneyard Blanc de Blanc-another nice sparkling
14. Kluge Estate Vineyard 2002 New World Red-loved this one…should have kept it on the rack longer.
15. Linden Vineyards 1999 Hardscrabble Chardonnay-OMG It’s a memory now.
16. Linden Vineyards 2006 Avenius Sauvignon Blanc-perfect minerality and citrus
17. Linden Vineyards 2007 Claret-a red that shows just how great 2007 was.
18. Pollak Vineyards 2008 Petit Verdot-another example of the fruit forward wines from 2008.
19. Pollak Vineyards 2009 Viognier-The crisp, fruity nature of this one made me fall in love with viogniers
20. Pollak Vineyards 2009 Chardonnay-my pick as a perfect example of chardonnay in Virginia