Appellation Wine Trail

On Saturday we participated in the grade opening of the new Appellation Wine trail near Charlottesville Virginia. The trail consists of five wineries; White Hall Vineyards, Mountfair Vineyards, Glass House Winery, Stinson Vineyards and Moss Vineyards. Stinson had a preview opening this weekend and Moss Vineyards will be opening in 2012. We knew we wouldn’t have time to get to all the wineries so we will plan to visit the rest later this summer.

We began at Stinson Vineyards. We met Frank from at Stinson and began our tasting. We started with the 2010 Sauvignon Blanc. We noted some nice citrus fruit, a grassy element and some minerality. This one quickly became my favorite. Its not for sale right now because they haven’t received their labels yet. Look for this on the official opening weekend on June 16th. We then moved on to the 2010 Rose. It’s made from 100% mourvedro. Warren noted strawberry on the nose. I picked up red fruit on the tongue and some nice pink grapefruit notes. We then moved on to the refreshing 2010 Sugar Hollow White. This one will be nice for the summer with it’s apple and grapefruit notes. Next up were the reds. We started with the 2010 Sugar Hollow Red. It’s a blend of 95% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc. It was aged in stainless steel and was rustic and earthy. The 2010 Cabernet Franc was next. This one won’t be released until the opening day as well. We noted smoke and spice on this one.

While at Stinson Vineyards we met Nathan Vrooman who, along with his family, is starting a winery as well, Ankida Ridge Vineyards. He brought a sample of their Pinot Noir to taste. Considering how tough it is to grow Pinot noir in Virginia, this one was pretty good. We look forward to tasting more from Ankida Ridge in the future.

Next stop on the trail was Mountfair Vineyards. Mountfair has been around a couple of years and we’ve enjoyed their wines before. This visit was no exception. After surviving the downpour on the way there it was nice to see Fritz, Chris, Jacquline, and Ben once we entered the tasting room. After our hellos we got started tasting wines. While they only produce reds, they were pouring the Fizz and Brut from Thibout Janisson to begin the tasting.

We began the tasting with the smoky 2009 Merlot. We noted dark cherry tobacco,and beautifully smooth finish. This one became my favorite right away. We continued with the 2009 Cabernet Franc. This one had a velvety mouth feel with hints of bramble berries. Next up was the 2008 Belated. We noted bright red fruit characteristics. The 2008 Indigenous was nice. This is the first wine created using their own fruit. It’s a blend of petit verdot and cabernet franc. We noted a smokey nose, plum, tar, tobacco, and black pepper with a silky finish. The final wine was the 2009 Engagement. This is a meritage style blend. We noticed it was tight and needed a good swirl to get the cherry, ash, and coffee to appear.

After our tasting we joined Jacqueline, Ben, and Frank for some of the 2009 Merlot. This one stood out as my favorite at Mountfair. Before leaving we secured a bottle of the merlot for my rack. We always have a great time with the crew from Mountfair.

There are more wineries on the trail and we look forward to visiting them in the future. If you visit Stinson or Mountfair be sure to tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Friday Sips

Our Friday sips consisted of the 2009 Pinot Gris from Pollak Vineyards and the 2009 Syrah from Blenheim Vineyards.

We had the 2009 Pinot Gris with bread and cheese. I’m a big fan of the stainless whites and this one doesn’t disappoint. I. Noticed the flowery nose and lit color. In the mouth I noticed the crisp mouth feel, grapefruit flavors, and nice acidity. I thought it paired nicely with our before dinner nibbles.

We had the 2009 Syrah with pasta and red sauce. We weren’t sure of the pairing but it went very well with our meal. We noted a floral nose with bright red fruit and spice on the tongue. It’s a smooth, lighter bodied red. We tasted this back in February and enjoyed it then.

We will be back on the wine trail this weekend so stay tuned for updates from the road. And if you visit Pollak or Blenheim tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

So Much Wine Too Little Time

I’m seriously backlogged with posting about our experiences, but I’ll try to get caught up in the next couple of weeks. I will start with the most recent experiences and feature Chester Gap Cellars and Hume Vineyards.

I’ll begin with Chester Gap Cellars. We always looks forward to running into Bernd Jung in the tasting room at Chester Gap Cellars, and this time was no exception. In fact, Bernd conducted our tasting; of course, he began with the white wines. Viognier is a specialty at Chester Gap, and Bernd produces both a stainless steel and barrel-aged version. Paul preferred the crisp 2008 Viognier with its floral nose and fruity flavors; however, I always tend to prefer barrel-aged over stainless steel. These always seem more substantial to me, and Bernd treated us to a comparison of the 2007 Viognier Reserve and the 2008 Viognier Reserve. Both were very good, but I kept reaching for the 2007 vintage. It presented a nice integration of floral aromas, stone fruit elements and oak nuances. However, the 2008 vintage was equally nice with citrus notes and a honeyed texture. With spring in the air and summer not so far away, do try the slightly sweet 2009 Cuvee Manseng and its heady tropical fruit characteristics.

Of the red wines, we both enjoyed the fruit forward 2008 Pettit Verdot with its dark berry and tobacco/earthy characteristics. Enjoy with roasted meats, leg of lamb or on its own with strong cheeses! We enjoyed a glass after our tasting—sans food.

We were eager to make our return to Hume Vineyards since several months had passed since our first visit. We recalled an unfinished tasting room but quality wines on the racks. This time around, we witnessed a finished facility and a crowded tasting bar; therefore, lots of things are going right at Hume Vineyards. Owner and winemaker Stephane Baldi guide us through a tasting of wines, and we were very pleased with the newly released 2010 Seyval Blanc. Crisp with a refreshing minerality, it presented notes of pear, melon and hay. Crabcakes should be served with this one! Of the reds, I was still a fan of the 2008 Detour which seems to be opening up quite nicely. Dark fruit and earthy elements prevailed here, and decanting would still be advised for those who wish to pour this one now. Chambourcin fans may be pleased with the 2010 Chambourcin, another new release at Hume Vineyards. The tasting notes suggest that this one is bold, and I will not argue with it! Big and jammy with 15.1% alcohol, it makes for an assertive wine. This was the first 2010 bottled red that we sampled, and when winemakers claim that 2010 may be the year for Virginia to rival California for big reds, this may be proof positive. Serve with big steaks and baked potatoes loaded with cheese and bacon—and then plan to hit the gym for about a week!

With spring already here and summer not so far away, think about picnic and barbeque fare with your favorite Virginia wines. Out of Virginia wine? Plan a trip to Cheaster Gap Cellars and Hume Vineyards to replenish your wine racks, and mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Return to Philip Carter

On a recent rainy Saturday on the wine trail we stopped at Philip Carter to see what was new. Before starting out tasting we found out that the winemaker Rob Cox has left Philip Carter and moved over to Paradise Springs. A new winemaker for Philip Carter will be selected soon.

Upon examining the tasting sheet we noticed and were told that Philip Carter will be releasing some new wines soon. In the mean time they are pouring some of the leftover Kluge wines. On the list is the Kluge Albemarle Rose and the Albemarle Simply Red. Instead of writing about those wines we’ll concentrate on the Philip Carter wines.

We began with the 2009 Chardonnay. We noted citrus on the nose with notes of vanilla, pear and apple in the mouth. It’s got a crisp rounded mouth feel with a light oak presence. Next up was the Governor Fauquier. This is an off dry white made from 100% Vidal Blanc. We noted tropical fruit and melon.

Next up was the 2009 Cabernet Franc. This one has a beautiful color. We noted blackberry and cherry on the nose and similar flavors in the mouth. It has some tobacco notes and smooth tannins. I really like this cab franc. I could see sipping this none by itself or enjoying it with lite fair.

Before leaving we enjoyed a glass of the 2009 Cabernet Franc while we waited for the rain to break. We are sad to see Rob cox go but will continue to enjoy the Philip Carter wines. If you visit Philip Carter soon, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Gray Ghost Vertical

On Saturday evening we joined some of our wine friends to attend the Gray Ghost Cabernet Sauvignon Vertical tasting and dinner. After Al, Cheryl, and Amy Kellert spoke, we began the tasting. We tasted vintages from 1998 to 2007. They were all wonderful vintages but a few stood out for me. I really enjoyed the 2003 (even though it was a wet year), the 2001, and the 1998. We enjoyed wonderful dishes prepared by Cheryl Kellert with each vintage. Here are some photos from the evening: