It’s Kosher at Molon Lave

Our quest for summer pours brought us to Molon Lave. We first visited the winery when it first opened about two years ago, so we knew that we were due for a re-visit. Since that time, the tasting menu has expanded to include kosher wines!

Molon Lave is Greek and roughly translate to, “Come and Get Them”, and that is what we planned to do—get the wines that is. Katherine, daughter of owner Louizos Papadopoulos, warmly greeted us and recalled our first visit to Molon Lave. She updated us on the developments at Molon Lave that include an expansion of the wine menu to include ten wines. Riesling, Vidal Blanc, Chambourcin, Merlot, Noiret, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon are some of the estate-grown varieties that are now for sale at the winery. Our goal was to identify wines appropriate for the hot and humid days of Virginia summertime, and Paul’s favored the fruity 2010 Vidal Blanc with its peachy flavors. Aged in stainless steel, it should be enjoyed on its own or with a light picnic lunch, fresh fruit, and light cheeses. Katie’s Charm should delight rose lovers who appreciate the Chambourcin grape. Bright strawberry notes and a characteristic tart finish make for the perfect wine to bring to a Wolftrap concert. Outdoor grilling might call for a red wine, and the 2010 Cabernet Franc was my own personal favorite. This spicy red wine was aged for 12 months in American oak barrels and presented flavors of blackberry and raspberry. Sweet wine lovers might enjoy the Autumn Nectar, a blend of late harvest Rielsing, Pinot Gris and Viognier. At 2.5 residual sugar, it should be fine with dessert; however, our friend Michael Tyler would probably sip this one on its own.

We were very intrigued with the kosher wines, and winemaker and owner Louizos Papdopoulos was on hand to answer our questions about this process. Louizos became interested in producing kosher wines due to his business dealings both here and in New York City; he discovered that Jewish communities were interested in local wines, but they had no local options for kosher wines. Louizos decided to fill this void and pursued the process of making kosher wines. Kosher wines are made according to strict Jewish dietary laws, and only a rabbi can make the wines. These laws and practices go back to ancient bibilical times. At Molon Lave, a rabbi now makes three kosher wines, and these include the 2010 Riesling, the upcoming 2010 Chardonnay, and the smoky 2010 Noiret, a hybrid red grape. The wines have become popular sellers, and Molon Lave was the first Virginia winery and among very few east coast wineries to produce kosher wines.

Louizos filled us in on future goals for Molon Lave, and these include a continuation of the kosher wines. He also intends to plant an additional 20 acres of vines to include more of the varietals now grown on the estate with Traminette being added to the mix. The overall winemaking philosophy will remain the same, though, and that is to produce fruit-forward, drinkable wines.

With our tasting done, we decided to enjoy a glass of Katie’s Charm with a plate of salami, cheeses, and Greek olives. We walked up to the pavilion and enjoyed a panoramic view of the lovely grounds at Molon Lave. We made certain to leave with bottles of summer favorites, and we plan to visit sooner to keep abreast of developments at Molon Lave. Be sure to visit Molon Lave for a tasting, but be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Reserve Cabernet Vertical

On Saturday evening we joined some of our wine friends to attend the Gray Ghost Vineyards Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Vertical tasting and dinner. After Al, Cheryl, and Amy Kellert spoke, we began the tasting. We tasted vintages from 1993 to 2008. They were all wonderful vintages but a few stood out for us. We really enjoyed 1993, 1998, and 2001. We enjoyed wonderful dishes prepared by Cheryl Kellert with each vintage. Here are some photos from the evening:

Aspen Dale

On Memorial Day weekend we attended the 250th Anniversary of Wine at Philip Carter Winery. After the festivities there, we stopped at Naked Mountain Winery and then our final stop was Aspen Dale Winery at the Barn. It had been almost a year since we last visited Aspen Dale. At this time of the year we are looking for wines to enjoy during the summer. We found some familiar wines that we’ll be enjoying this summer.

We decided to do a full tasting and were pleased to see they are still serving small food pairings with the wines you taste. They had some delicious cheeses! Of the white wines we thought the 2011 Sarah’s Chapeau would make a great summer sipper. We noted citrus grassy notes. Chill it nicely and enjoy on the deck. The Mary Madeline Rose would also make a nice summer sipper.

Of the reds we enjoyed the Rockawalkin’. We noted earthy, spicy, oaky notes and thought it would pair well with a nice steak. Most people aren’t thinking of reds for summer time but this one would go well with a nice steak on the grill.

After our tasting we had a chance to talk with Shay McNeal, owner and winemaker, about what she’s has going on in her barrel room. We were able to taste a few of her upcoming wines and had a special tasting of the 2009 Islington which is a barrel aged Seyval. We had a nice time catching up with Shay and enjoying the live music and lively atmosphere at the barn. If you haven’t been to Aspen Dale lately, plan a trip soon and tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Time For Summer Sippers

Yes, it’s that time of the year to put away the bolder wines until the fall and to crack open the crisper, lighter-bodied white wines and fruitier red wines. Our mission to stock up on warm-weather wines brought us to Naked Mountain Winery.

The 2011 offerings at Naked Mountain seemed to meet our expectations for white wines from the 2011 vintage—fruity and refreshingly acidic. The 2011 Viognier presented one such example. Nice melon citrus aromas were matched with flavors of pear and melon. A higher acidity level led to a crisp finish. Perfect on its own or serve well chilled with light cheeses or shellfish. For sweeter wine lovers, the 2011 Chardonnay Riesling should fit the bill. A residual sugar level of 2.5% made for a fruity wine with peach and apple flavors. Our friend and guest blogger Michael Tyler, a fan of fruity white wines, would really love this one while grilling on the deck on a hot afternoon! He might even save a glass for me!

White wine lovers who find themselves in a dither at barbeques might appreciate the 2010 Catamount Run Red. Spicy barbeque sauces and char-grilled fare that once mooed may not seem like a match with sweet white wines; however, this fruity red wine should woo white wine drinkers. Slightly sweet with a bright, fruit forward presence should partner quite nicely with burgers, ribs, and sausages. If heavier meats are on the grill, Paul’s favorite, the Raptor Red, might be a better match. This non-vintage pour is a blend of wines from the 2007 and 2008 vintages. Its smoky nose gave way to aromas of dark seed berries and tobacco.

If a cheese course or cheesecake is on the dessert menu, opt for the 2011 Old Vine Riesling. At 6% residual sugar, it is certainly a dessert wine and presented floral aromas with apricot notes and hints of green apple.

It was indeed a hot day, and we refreshed ourselves with a glass of the 2011 Viognier. It proved to be the perfect pour to complement a warm, muggy afternoon. Be sure to consider Naked Mountain Winery when shopping for your own summer sippers, and please mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.