Friday Wine of Note

As is often the case we found ourselves having nice thick filets and red potatoes for dinner Friday evening. The question always arises as to what wine to pair with our meal. We perused the wine rack and selected several possibilities but ultimately decided on the 2008 Meritage from King Family Vineyards. You know how much I’ve been enjoying the 2008 reds. I wondered if this 2008 would live up to the characteristics that I enjoy most from the 2008 reds. Sure enough, it did. A swirl and a sniff revealed plum, cherry, a hint of tobacco, and some anise. On the tongue we noted plum, cherry, and some spice at the end (maybe cinnamon or maybe even cedar). The fruit up front was what made me think of the 2008 reds that I enjoy. The mouthful of flavors complimented our meal very well. How could it not? If you haven’t tried the 2008 Meritage from King Family, be sure to put it on your list of 2008 reds to enjoy. And if you visit King Family Vineyards, tell them Virginia WIne Time sent you!

Virginia Wine Month Celebration

Last night we attended a reception to celebrate Virginia Wine Month and Virginia Wine Tourism. There were many winery dignitaries in attendance as well as lots of media folks. The guest of honor was Governor Bob McDonnell. After introductions and fanfare, the governor spoke. He spoke about the wine industry in Virginia and how successful it’s been in the last few years. He noted that the industry will have great growth in the future especially with Donald Trump getting into the game. Of course the focus of the evening was wine and we got the chance to taste some of the best Virginia wine.

Breaux Vineyards poured the 2010 Viognier, 2007 Cabernet Franc Reserve, and the 2005 Nebbiolo. We agreed the winner here was the 2005 Nebbiolo. We noted cherry and raspberry with hints of licorice and tobacco. I really noticed the smooth finish. What a nice wine!

Barboursville Vineyards poured the Viognier Reserve 2010, the Octagon 2007 and the Malvaxia Reserve 2006. Here we really enjoyed the Octagon 2007. Great color, intense tannins, and berry flavors stood out here. We thought of food with this one.

Boxwood Winery poured the Topiary Rose Blend 2010, the Topiary Blend 2009, and the Boxwood Blend 2009. I think the Boxwood Blend 2009 really stood out here. It has a deep, dark color with hints of blackberry, violet, and anise. The tannins would accompany a thick steak really well.

Chatham Vineyards poured the Church Creek Vintner’s Blend (non vintage 2009 and 2010), the Church Creek Cabernet Franc (non vintage 2009 and 2010), and the 2010 Steel Church Creek Chardonnay. I really preferred the 2010 Steel Church Creek Chardonnay. I noted the pear and apple flavors on the nose as well as in the mouth. It had a nice mouth feel even though it spent no time in oak.

The Virginia Wine Board and the Virginia Tourism Corporation put on a wonderful event. We enjoyed the conversation, the wines, and the promotion of Virginia wine. We met some great people that we hadn’t met before. We even got to meet the governor! It was a great way to celebrate Virginia Wine Month. If you haven’t visited any of the wineries that poured at the event, you need to plan a trip to visit them soon. And tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Some of the Virginia Wine Mafia was in attendance!

Virginia Wines Before Dinner

We had friends over for dinner this past Saturday, and we decided to pour Virginia wines as aperitifs.  After all, it is Virginia Wine month!  Guests were greeted with the Governor Fauquier from Philip Carter Winery and Sarah’s Patio White from Chrysalis Vineyards.  Both were off-dry wines and produced from the Vidal Blanc grape, a Riesling-like hybrid that grows very well in Virginia.  Like Riesling, Vidal Blanc is very fruity and refreshing, so some of the appetizers that I served with these wines were a bit spicy. Some of these dishes were captured by Paul, the cameraman.

Cheeses: Brie topped with hot peach chutney, or for the faint of stomach, plain brie and red grapes.
Nuts: Chili-lime flavored almonds; plain almonds for the wimps.  Not sure if olives pair with these wines, but the gourmet olives were stuffed with sun-dried tomatoes and were absolutely delicious! 
Meats: Smoked salmon

So what was on tap for the rest of the evening? I did splice in a couple of Napa wines from Clos Pegase winery; one was a Sauvignon Blanc that I sampled at a wine tasting and thought it was unique—tropical fruit flavors (as opposed to cat pee/grapefruit) with a refreshing acidity that seemed a perfect match with an acidic tomato dish.  The other was a Cabernet Sauvignon that has been resting on the wine rack for several years, but according to the wine mags, needed to be appreciated now.  And indeed it was appreciated!  It was quite good with the beef; however, the fruitier Virginia offering was very well-received by my dinner guests. A number of Virginia meritage blends would have paired quite nicely with my beef dish; however, I went with the Gray Ghost option based on my experience at the Gadsby’s Tavern winemaker dinner which featured the Ranger Reserve with a very similar beef dish.  Empty wine bottles indicated that the Virginia option was as popular as the California one. 

Anyway, here was the menu:

Fresh tomato soup paired with Clos Pegase Sauvignon Blanc 2009 
Garlic-herb crusted beef tenderloin with roasted potatoes and squash paired with Clos Pegase Cabernet Sauvignon 2005; Gray Ghost Ranger Reserve 2008
Pumpkin bundt cake served with Gray Ghost Adieu 2006
Community Brand Coffee and Chicory (found only in New Orleans)

Friday Wines

Our sipper for the evening was the 2008 Viognier from Corcoran Vineyards. We had it with a soft creamy cheese and baguette. We noted a floral nose with lime and ripe pear in the mouth. It was refreshing on the cool fall evening. It paired well with our Friday evening nibbles. We don’t think Corcoran is making a viognier anymore and it’s just sad because this one is so nice.

For dinner we had turkey cutlets and angel hair pasta. Warren selected the 2009 Breaux Vineyards Viognier. We have loved the Breaux Viogniers in the past and just knew this one would go well with our meal. On the nose we noted honeysuckle and mango. In the mouth we picked up honeysuckle and mango, tropical fruit notes. It had a full mouth feel and a lengthy finish. And yes, it went well with our meal.

Fall Fun at The Winery At La Grange

Last weekend we met some friends at The Winery at La Grange. We hadn’t been there in awhile and we wanted to show our friends what it’s like in Virginia wine country. Plus, it’s still Virginia Wine Month so we had to get to a Virginia winery. It was a cool, blustery, sunny day…perfect weather for wine tasting.

During our tasting we talked with our friends Dorothy and Laura about what we were smelling and tasting. They shared their impressions of each wine as well. We were all taking notes on what we thought we’d enjoy with our lunch. After our tasting we all decided the 2008 Fletcher’s Chardonnay was the winner. We enjoyed a bottle with cheeses, baguette, and prosciutto. From the wine we noted pear, apple, and a hint of vanilla. It paired beautifully with our lunch items.

After lunch we wandered around the grounds and toured the historic house. We took several pictures as well. We had a wonderful time sharing our wine tasting experience with our friends. Check out the fall fun at The Winery at La Grange. And tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

The Hague Continues to Impress

A visit to The Hague Winery was on our itinerary during a recent trip to the Northern Neck of Virginia. We posted our favorable impressions of the Hague Winery last year, and we were curious to see if our return visit would confirm our initial impressions. In short, the answer is yes!

Owner Stephen Mady was on hand to conduct our tasting, and he guided us through our sampling of seven wines. Our favorite pour a year ago was the dry 2008 Rose, and the 2009 Rose was likewise dry but darker with strawberry and raspberry notes with a whiff of dried herbs. While I preferred the lighter-colored 2008, I did enjoy the 2009 bottling which was aged briefly in oak barrels.

Mady does seem to concentrate on red wines, and my favorite of the current offerings was the complex 2008 Meritage Reserve, a blend of all Bordeaux varieties except for Malbec. Brambleberry, sweet tobacco and cedar aromas were complemented by similar berry flavors with a spicy edge. This was quite an elegant wine. Paul’s favorite and my close second was the 2009 Cabernet Franc with its classic characteristics of raspberry, eucalyptus and pepper. We were able to sample the upcoming 2010 Petit Verdot. Paul is collecting quite a library of Petit Verdot from Virginia, and this bottling from what promises to be a stellar vintage was still very, very young. However, there was no mistaking the dense color; lots of swirling did release aromatics of dark plums, blackberry, and menthol. Tannins were still quite firm. Paul predicts that a year of aging will result in a stellar wine; I’d age this one even longer and serve with a hearty beef dish.

The Hague Winery does offer a white wine, the 2009 Chardonel. This is a crisp offering with nice pear notes. The 2009 Cynthia Dessert, though, is by far the most delightfully aromatic wine on the list. This sweet Muscat wine is rich in tropical fruit flavors, but it is the aromas of orange blossoms and peach skins that intoxicate!

Stephen Mady did confirm that Michael Shaps remains the winemaker for The Hague Winery. Production levels will remain small with a concentration on quality wines. Of course, Mady looks forward to the bottling and release of the 2010 wines as these promise to rival heralded 2007 vintage.

With our tasting done, we purchased several bottles of our favorite wines. With fall firmly underway, plan a weekend visit to the Northern Neck to enjoy fall colors. Along the way, sample the current releases at The Hague Winery. Please mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Civil War Dinner and Virginia Wine

Continuing our celebration of Virginia Wine Month we attended an amazing dinner on Friday night. We went to the Gadsby’s Tavern Museum for a Civil War dinner paired with Gray Ghost wines. We were treated to a history lesson on the Civil War. We heard the part Gadsby’s Tavern and the Gray Ghost played in the Civil War. We were also treated to some delicious food and wonderful wines. Below is the menu and pictures from the evening.

Appetizer course was served in the Tavern assembly room.

Our history lesson conducted by Gretchen Bulova, Director of the Museum.

Shitake Mushroom soup in an herb broth

More history

Filet of beef wrapped in a puff pastry.

Chocolate charlotte ruse with a custard filling.

Gretchen Bulova, Al and Cheryl Kellert, Amy Payette

We had a wonderful evening enjoying the history, the food and of course the wines. The 2010 Merlot was tasted for the first time and it was wonderful! Gretchen informed us that the Tavern offers Virginia wine all the time. Horton makes two wines with the Gadsby’s Tavern label. She kindly gave us a bottle of each to try. Thank you Gretchen!

Potomac Point

On our way home from the Northern Neck weekend, we stopped at Potomac Point Vineyard and Winery. It was almost exactly a year ago that we visited Potomac Point so it was time to catch up and check out what new wines were on the tasting menu.

There are three levels of tastings at Potomac Point. Since it had been a year, we selected the Premium level of tasting so that we could try all the wines. Not surprisingly, we were split on our favorite of the white wines. I preferred the stainless steel 2009 Chardonnay with it’s crisp notes of pear and mango. I thought it would be a perfect sipper on the balcony. Warren preferred the oaked 2009 Reserve Chardonnay. He noted vanilla melon. He thought this would be a nice white to accompany food.

The reds presented the same split decision. Warren preferred the 2008 Heritage. He noted cherry, dark fruit, mocha, and pepper. He thought this one would be perfect for fall meals. I preferred the 2008 Petit Verdot. I noted smoke, plum, cherry, and mocha. As most of you know from reading our blog, I am really enjoying the 2008 reds and petit verdot is my favorite varietal right now. This one lived up to my expectations.

After our tasting we decided to enjoy lunch in the courtyard. They have a full menu of foods and while Warren enjoyed a panini, I filled up on cheeses and bread. We selected the 2010 Abbinato to go with our lunch. We noted cherry, raspberry, and earthy notes. It has an intense purple hue. We enjoyed our time at Potomac Point and hope to return soon. If you find yourself at Potomac Point anytime soon, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Northern Neck Weekend

We spent the Columbus Day weekend on the Northern Neck visiting our friends, Bob and Jackie. They have a lovely home there, and we always make a point to visit them at least once a year. Along the way, of course, we stopped off at a few wineries to sample the latest pours. And we added to our list of new wineries visited. We visited General’s Ridge which was our 137th winery!

General’s Ridge Vineyard and Winery: Owners Rick and Linda Phillips operated the General’s Ridge Vineyard for several years to sell the grapes to local wine makers; however, they recently decided to open a winery to sell wines that bear their own label. The GRV White, a stainless steel fermented blend of Chardonel and Traminette, was a refreshing pour that presented tropical fruit notes. It is slightly sweet at 1%% residual sugar. We favored the GRV Viogner 2010 with its floral aromas and apricot flavors. Chambourcin lovers may wish to try the GRV Red, a blend of Chambourcin and Merlot. It resembled a bistro wine that could be served with pasta and red sauce, pizza, or burgers. Rick Philips was on hand to greet us, and though he is excited with GRV’s lineup of wines, he still does plan to sell at least 90% of his fruit to local winemakers. Michael Shaps is now the winemaker at GRV, and we look forward to more good things from General’s Ridge Winery.

Ingleside Vineyards: One of the oldest wineries in the state and certainly the oldest winery on the Northern Neck, Ingleside is always a favorite to visit. Favorite wines this time around included the Rosato de Sangiovese 2009 with its strawberry and cherry flavors and crisp finish. Paul and I both enjoyed the Petit Verdot from the outstanding 2007 vintage. A smoky nose gave way to aromas of dried fruit and tobacco; similar fruit flavors gave way to a spicy finish. Drink now but should age well. Paul was also enamored with the Merlot 2006 and noted dark cherry and blackberry flavors with a firm tannic presence. Winemaker Bill Swain is now adding Charbono, a varietal grown in California, to some of his red blends, and this Merlot does indeed include 6% Charbono along with 11% Petit Verdot and 7% Cabernet Franc.

Vault Field Vineyards: This small, family-owned winery continues to make some very nice wines. I enjoyed the 2008 Chardonnay that is aged in French oak barrels for nine months. Nice pear flavors and a honeyed mouth feel make for a fuller-bodied white wine that would pair well with poultry and fish especially if sauces are served. Of the red wines, we reached a split decision, and I preferred the complex 2007 Red Estate Bottled that is a blend of Merlot and Syrah. Owner and winemaker Dan Meenan does indeed grow the Syrah that in included in the Red, and the result is a nose of brambleberries, cherries, and spice with similar flavors in the mouth. With winter stews and roasted meats about to make the cold weather menus, this wine should pair well with these heartier dishes. Paul liked the fruitier 2008 Red Estate Bottled that is more of a Bordeaux-style blend. The 2008 vintage was produced in a more classic Virginia environment than its 2007 sibling—cooler nights and less intense heat with a bit more rainfall. The result is a more accessible red wine that is ready to drink now. The 2008 Reserve Red has yet to be released but we were able to both sample it and bring a bottle home!

With fall colors about to explode, a trip to the Northern Neck should be part of the weekend plans for the autumn season. Be sure to include a trip to these wineries, but be certain to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Blenheim 2009 Petit Verdot

Last night we had pasta with red sauce and paired it with the 2009 Petit Verdot from Blenheim Vineyards. This really is one of my most favorite wines. As many of our readers know, I’m a big fan of stand alone petit verdots. And even though I favor the 2008s, this 2009 is really amazing. We noted blackberries, cherry, and a nice floral bouquet. It has a smooth ending that makes you want another glass. It paired beautifully with our pasta and red sauce. And it continued to delight our senses even after the meal. However, since it has a screw cap remember to open it up a little while before you plan to enjoy it. We opened it up a good 30 minutes before our meal and it was just the right amount of time to let it breath. If you find yourself at Blenheim Vineyards anytime soon be sure to check out the 2009 Petit Verdot and tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!