Our evening began with the 2011 Albarino from Willowcroft Farm Winery. We enjoyed it with manchego cheese and crackers. This wine had a predominately lemon presence. I really enjoyed the lemon nature of this wine and thought it paired nicely with our cheese and cracker selections.
For dinner we had the 2009 Meritage from Jefferson Vineyards. We enjoy this one with thick filets and herbed potatoes. This wine absolutely blew us away. We noted tobacco with a wiff of carmel/vanilla, blackberry, pencil shaving/cedar edge at the end. It paired absolutely beautifully with our filets. If you do not have this wine on your rack, you need to plan a trip to Jefferson and get a bottle before they run out. Have we ever mentioned that Andy Reagan is an awesome winemaker?
Family obligations and a long weekend found us back in the Monticello area. Yes, we were just there; however, there are always too many wineries to visit there in one weekend. Of course, we found time to visit a few more while we were there. Visits to Byrd Cellars and Thistle Gate Vineyard allowed us to add to the list of wineries visited!
Byrd Cellars: Owner and winemaker Bruce Murray opened the winery two years ago, but he planted his first vines almost 10 years ago. Eleven acres of vine are planted on the Murray’s property. He prides himself on using no chemical pesticides or fertilizers in the vineyard. Over fifteen wines were for sale on the day of our visits, and we tasted 5 wines on the day of our visit. Off-dry Rose lovers would probably like the 2010 Vin Rose made from Merlot grapes. Its light pink color and strawberry notes made for a refreshing sipper with the 1% residual sugar adding just enough sweetness to bring the bright red berry and melon flavors forward. My favorite was the non-vintage Norton with its raspberry and blackberry characteristics and spicy edge. Paul was on the lookout for a light-bodied red suitable for pepperoni pizza and burgers. He found his match with Dahlgren’s Raid Red, so named after a Civil War incident in Goochland when a Union soldier plied a Confederate prisoner with just enough wine to get him talking about Confederate plans. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Chambourcin and Concord grapes, this very fruity wine was also slightly sweet. An interesting blend for sure, and Concord does lend a very distinctive grapey flavor. I’d serve this chilled, too.
Thistle Gate Vineyard: The tasting room at Thistle Gate Vineyard opened about a month ago, but owners Leslie and George Cushnie planted their vines 6 years ago. Chambourcin is the flagship variety with 4 acres of the hybrid grape planted in the vineyard. Another acre of vines were also planted and include Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc. Daughter Christy poured for us at the tasting bar, and I was very impressed with the line up of wines. These wines were well-crafted and clean, perhaps due in part to the expertise of consultant Kirsty Harmon of Blenheim Vineyards. The off-dry Thistle White was a refreshing blend of Seyval Blanc and Viognier; it was crisp with nice pear and citrus notes. However, my favorite white wine was the oak aged Chardonnay 2010 with its pear and apple elements and fuller mouth feel. Paul preferred the 2011 Chardonnay (this was my second favorite). Oak aged for nine months, it possessed pear and pineapple notes. My favorite red wine? The St. George Chambourcin so named after the local church. Rich plum aromas and a generous dose of black currants were complimented by earthy nuances to present a bolder wine. Paul was a bigger fan of the 2010 Cabernet Franc with its classic characteristics of raspberries, blackberries, and black pepper.
We made certain to purchase our favorite wines at Byrd Cellars and Thistle Gate Vineyard, and we were glad to add these wineries to our growing list of wineries visited. I should also mention that both wineries offered lovely views that invite visitors to stay a while sipping a glass of wine. Do plan to visit these wineries, and mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.
October is Virginia Wine Month and Whole Foods is celebrating with special wine tastings at all of the Virginia locations. We attended the Tysons store on Friday to check out the wines and the foods they paired with five Virginia wines. Whole Foods Fab Five Friday events showcase five wines with foods that go well with the wines. They have five stations set up around the store and move from station to station enjoying the foods and the wines. It’s a great way to get to taste wines you might not normally get to taste. Here’s what we tasted and the foods paired with each wine. Check out the poster at the end of the post to see when the Whole Foods near you will be holding their event.
The first course was a tomato bisque paired with the the Chatham Unoaked Chardonnay. I really enjoyed this chardonnay and left the store with a chilled bottle to enjoy later in the evening.
The second course was a Quinoa broccoli casserole paired with the Lovingston Rotunda Red.
The third course was classic chicken pot pie paired with the Gadino Cabernet Franc. Earthy, spicy, and blackberry were the notes we jotted down.
The fourth course was roasted fall vegetables with sage and thyme paired with the Tarara Viognier. It was light and fruity with a nice crisp edge.
The fifth and final course was a strawberries and cream cake paired with the Sans Soucy Ginger Dessert wine.