Bluemont Vineyard

This past weekend we went to Bluemont Vineyard. We hadn’t been there for quite awhile so it was nice to see what the tasting menu had to offer. Anyone who has been to Bluemont knows that it’s a very popular place. The parking lot was packed as was the tasting room. We made our way to the bar and waited for our tasting. When it was our turn we found out you get to taste seven wines for $5.00. We thought that was a deal so we preceded with the tasting.

Of the white wines we really enjoyed the 2010 Stainless Steel Viognier, the Goat. This wine had a nice floral nose with peach aromas. We noted peach/stone fruit on the tongue with a mineral finish. We also noted the long finish. The sad part is the wine sold out while we were having our tasting. They literally sold the last bottle as we tasted the wine. No fear though, the 2010 barrel fermented Viognier is still for sale.

Of the reds we tasted the 2008 Merlot, the Ram, really stood out. As our tastress was pouring the wine in our glasses, she informed us that bottle was the last of the 2008 Merlot. She told us that if we liked it, we should get a glass right away. As I brought the glass to my nose, I instantly told her I wanted a glass. Right away this wine reminded me of the 2008 reds that I’m really enjoying right now. This wine had a beautifully fruity nose with lots of cherry. In the mouth the cherry continued with hints of pepper. The ending was smooth and the tannins were light. I really enjoyed this wine and was disappointed that it was already sold out. Again though, no need to fear the 2009 Merlot, the Ram, is now on sale. It has many of the same characteristics but not as fruity as the 2008.

After our tasting we enjoyed that glass of 2008 Merlot with a cheese platter and baguette. We also enjoyed some live music and the wonderful view from the deck at Bluemont. If you haven’t been to Bluemont lately, plan a trip soon to enjoy the wines and the view! And tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Final Roundup: Southern Virginia

This post will wrap up our reviews of wineries in the southern portion of the state.

Molliver Vineyards and Winery: The winery opened a year ago and currently has 10 acres planted in vines. Twelve wines were available for tasting including a vin chocolat. Our tasting occurred on a hot August day, so we were in the mood for chilled wines; our favorite, then, was the Traminette with its tropical fruit and ginger spice notes. In fact, we shared a glass after our tasting. The Vin Chocolat would certainly make for an interesting dessert offering if served with fresh berries.

Sans Soucy Vineyard: Sans Soucy Vineyards began to sell its own wine in 2008, but before then, it had been selling its grapes to other wineries. Six acres are currently in vines, and this includes the only tempranillo vines in the state! Paul was a fan of the Chat-o, a fruity Viognier with lots of peach and mango flavors. We both enjoyed the 2008 Cabernet Franc with its notes of raspberry and anise. Aged in French oak barrels for 18 months, it finished with a bit of vanilla. Lovers of Legacy, a blend of Chambourcin, Tempranillo and Cabernet Franc grapes, will be pleased to know that the 2009 vintage of this complex reserve wine will soon be released.

Villa Appalachia Winery: I was a big fan of the Simpatico back in 2007, and I remain a fan today. Its floral nose and tropical fruit flavors make for an easy sipper that does well on its own or with spicy food. Simpatico is a blend of Vidal Blanc, Malvasia, and Pinot Grigio. We were also able to sample the Rustico Reserve made from 50% dried Corvina grapes. It presented a raisiny nose with dried plum, anise and tobacco aromas. Since our last visit, the winery added a 2008 bottling of Aglianico and will soon release a barrel-fermented Trebbiano. After our tasting, we enjoyed a glass of Simpatico (of course!)

We hope to return to these more distant wineries in the future. In the meantime, plan a visit to these wineries, and mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

2008 Chester Gap Merlot

We of course enjoyed some Virginia wine this weekend. We enjoyed the 2010 Galena Creek White from West Wind Farm as our sipper for the evening. You can see a video about the wine if you scroll down. For dinner Warren made roasted veal chops and wild rice. He also picked out three wines from which to pick our dinner wine. I opted for the 2008 Chester Gap Merlot. I know I’ve mentioned in the past but I’ll say it again. I’m really enjoying the 2008 reds. I wanted to find out if the 2008 Chester Gap Merlot would live up to what I’ve come to enjoy about the 2008 reds.

The wine paired beautifully with our roasted veal chops and wild rice. We noted a biig cherry nose with a hint of blackberry and lots of earthy elements…like a forest floor. We noticed similar fruit characteristics in the mouth with spicy nuances and a lingering dark fruit finish. As I suspected, this 2008 Merlot lived up to my expectations of a 2008 red. The longer it was opened and breathing, the better it got with each sip. If you haven’t tried the 2008 Merlot from Chester Gap, give it a try. And if you visit Chester Gap anytime soon, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

29 Vines Grand Opening

The latest addition to the growing list of Loudoun County wineries will host its grand opening this weekend. 29 Vines will officially open its tasting room located in Purcellville on Saturday. Paul and I visited the tasting room before the official grand opening just to get a sneak preview of what tasters can expect.

Owners Matt and Mary Beth Barbagallo describe 29 Vines as a “micro-winery…dedicated to delivering wine education, excellent customer service and unpretentious wines.” Matt Barbagallo is also the winemaker, and he studied under local guru, Jim Law, to learn winemaking skills. He produced his first vintage of Chambourcin, Cabernet Franc and Merlot in 2009. Mary Beth is operations manager and also designed the tasting room’s interior to create a contemporary yet classic feel that blends in with the local area’s historic surroundings. In keeping with the stated goal to deliver wine education, the Barbagallos pour wines from other Loudoun County wines in addition to their own. These include pours from Tarara Winery and Fabbioli Cellars. Wines that bear the 29 Vines label are produced from the couple’s 29 grapes vines located in their own vineyard as well as grapes grown in other Virginia vineyards.

The samplings from Tarara Winery present some of the best from Tarara winemaker Jordan Harris. These include the crisp 2009 Tarara Viognier, 2009 Tarara 3 Vineyards Chardonnay (one of my faves), 2008 Cabernet Franc, and the 2008 Long Bomb Edition 2. Fans of Fabbioli Cellars Raspberry Merlot will be also pleased to try this luscious dessert wine in the 29 Vines tasting room. Offerings from the 29 Vines production include barrel-aged 2009 29 Vines Reserve Chardonnay, the 2010 29 Vines Sweet Rebecca Lynn, 2010 29 Vines White Chambourcin, and the 2009 29 Vines Karma. The 2010 Sweet Rebecca Lynn is a blend of Traminette and Seyval Blanc and is actually not that sweet; at .5% residual sugar, it’s an off-dry pour with floral notes and tropical fruit and citrus flavors. A food-friendly crowd pleaser, it could also be enjoyed on its own. The Bordeaux-style Karma is a Merlot-based blend with wild berry/cherry characteristics that should open up nicely after some time on the wine rack.

Another unique twist offered by 29 Vines is the tasting room hours—Friday through Monday from 12 PM to 10 PM. From classy happy hours to late evening wine gatherings with friends, 29 Vines can accommodate and educate!

With our tasting done, I enjoyed a glass of the Reserve Chardonnay while Paul sipped a glass of the Sweet Rebecca Lynn. We also admired the tastefully appointed tasting room that included elegant chandeliers and lighting fixtures. These created a soft, unpretentious atmosphere that invited tasters to stay a bit longer. However, we did eventually have to leave, and we thanked Mary Beth for guiding us through our tasting. Please plan to attend the grand opening of 29 Vines in Purcellville, and mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Solid Wines at Annefield Vineyards

Our late summer swing through the distant wines regions of Virginia brought us to the Southern Virginia Region and a trip to Annefield Vineyards. We’ve sampled Annefield’s wines at wine festivals, but we have never been able to trek out to the tasting room for a full tasting of wines. Owners Stephen Ballard and Michael Leary graciously accommodated a Monday tasting for us, and at the end of our tasting, a case of Annefield Vineyards’ wine found its way into the car!

The vineyards and tasting room are located on historic countryside property south of the James River. The tasting room was renovated by Ballard and Leary to reflect its 19th century elegance and grace and in fact was once a plantation house built in 1858. Ballard and Leary purchased the house in 2005 after it had been neglected for many years, and they restored the house so that it could be used as both a weekend home and tasting room. It is worth the effort to visit the winery’s website to compare photographs of the house in its dilapidated state with those of the current house in its restored glory. The contrast is quite remarkable! And the interior is well appointed with antique pieces that could fit quite easily into a traditional-contemporary setting. All that we needed to feel at home was a glass of wine!

And wine we did receive! On tap for tasting were four white wines that included the 2009 Chardonnay, 2009 Viognier, 2010 Viognier, and the Annefield White. All were well crafted. The elegant 2009 Chardonnay was an immediate favorite with its tropical notes and vanilla finish. Nice on its own, I’d like a glass of this one with shellfish. Of the Viogniers, Paul liked the 2009 Viognier with its melon flavors and crisper finish; however, I preferred the 2010 Viognier with its bright honeysuckle nose, tropical fruit flavors and fuller mouth feel. Poultry or fish served with a cream sauce should partner well with this more complex Viognier. While we expect summer to fade into fall, the Annefield White, a blend of Chardonnay, Rkatziteli and Vidal Blanc is a fruity crowd pleaser and could be served on the patio after work or before dinner alongside appetizers.

The red wines were likewise well made, and these included the 2009 Cabernet Franc, 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2008 Annefield Red. We both agreed that the well-structured 2009 Cabernet Franc was the favorite; it presented classic raspberry and plum characteristics with nuances of dried herbs and black pepper. With fall around the corner, consider the 2009 Cabernet Franc as an option for Thanksgiving dinner! It’s still summer, though, and with steaks or chops still sizzling on the grill the 2008 Annefield Red should pair nicely. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot, this Bordeaux-style blend with its dark berry elements and tobacco notes was fuller-bodied yet accessible.

Owners Stephen Ballard and Michael Leary have assembled an outstanding team of experts who have created a solid line up of wines. Renowned winemaker Michael Shaps crafts the wines for Annefield Vineyards, and expert viticulturist Joyce Rigby serves as winery consultant. Of course, excellent wines are made in the vineyard, and the Annefield Vineyards benefit from excellent rocks and soils that date back to the Precambrian period. The soils profiles include descriptors as “strongly acid” and “low in natural fertility”, qualities that are much desired for wine-producing grapes. In addition, a 500-foot elevation provides for optimal air drainage., Ballard and Leary started the vineyards in April 2006 with plantings of Viognier, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and additional plantings were added in 2011 that include Vermentino, Pinot Grigio, and Vidal Blanc.

With our tasting done and case of wine procured, we bid adieu to Annefield Vineyards with a promise to return. Be certain to visit Annefield Vineyards and mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.