Yes indeed I did! On March 12, I attended the Taste the Wines of America event sponsored by the National Association of American Wineries and the Winegrape Growers of America. The event was held in the evening at the Longworth Building near the Capitol building.
A warm winter’s evening allowed for the event to occur not only in the stately Congressional suite in the Longworth Building but also on the grand balcony which offers a spectacular view of the Capitol building’s dome. Seen between the bare branches of budding trees on a crystal clear night, the view could only be described as breathtaking. I met up with Frank Morgan of Drink What You Like, and with glasses in our hands, we literally tasted our way across America. Wine selection represented the west coast, Great Lakes, Midwest, New York, the Northeast, the Rocky Mountains, and the Southeast. Virginia was represented in the Southeast tasting, and wineries included the some of the state’s best—Barboursville Vineyards, Boxwood Estate, and Breaux Vineyards.
So what were my impressions? Virginia showed very well, of course. I was especially fond of the 2007 Topiary and enjoyed the 2010 Topiary Rose from Boxwood Winery. Rachel Martin and Kat were on hand to present the wines of the Southeast, and they were careful to give equal treatment to wines from Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. The Petite Noir from Arrington Vineyards was interesting, and I will assume that Petite Noir is a hybrid grape. I certainly would need more experience with this varietal to offer further comment about it; however, I could see how its smoky nose and tart cranberry flavors might be favored by barbeque lovers of the Volunteer State.
My standout impressions of the evening were Oregon and Colorado. The Oregon table featured Pinot Noir, of course, and it was here that Frank and I strolled out onto the balcony to behold the majestic view as the sun began to set. Frank skillfully guided me through a tasting of Oregon Pinots, a particular favorite of his. We both concluded that the best of the selections that featured King Estate, Rex Hill, Sokol Blosser and Willamette Valley Vineyards was the Winderlea Vineyards 2009 Dundee Hills Pinot Noir. In Frank’s opinion it was “well integrated” with dark berry and spice characteristics. I simply agreed and asked for another splash from the server.
I was impressed, though, with the offerings fro Colorado; in particular, I enjoyed the white wines from Guy Grew Vineyards. This winery is located far away from Denver, but a trip to the Centennial State might have to include a visit to Guy Grew Vineyards. The 2009 Viognier was reminiscent of a fruity, peachy Virginia wine made from the same grape; I also thought that the dry Riesling was quite nice.
Other attendees included sommelier Andrew Stover of Vino50 Selections. If any person defines the word, “enthusiastic”, it is Andrew Stover. Andrew is usually seen wherever wines from off the beaten wine trails are being poured. I ran into Andrew at the Midwest table as he sipped his way through wines from Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, and Texas. (I thought that the McPherson 2010 Reserve Rousanne had the best potential of the lot.) Be sure to checkout Stover’s Grape American Road Trip at www.vino50.com, to find out more about his promotion of American wines made by boutique-style producers.
There is no doubt that America’s other 46 are producing some quality wines. An event like this is an excellent way to taste these wines since they cannot be tasted at wine shops. I will say, though, that Virginia made me proud. Tired of the same old stuff from Napa? Plan a visit to a Virginia winery and try something local. Be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.