Virginia Wine Time

We Enjoy Virginia Wine

Month: January 2013 (page 1 of 2)

Cabernet Franc Vertical at Gadino Cellars

We have attended a number of vertical tastings in Virginia, but they usually feature Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, or Meritage blends. Gadino Cellars offered a vertical tasting of Cabernet Franc, Virginia’s premier red grape, and we were intrigued by the opportunity to sample past vintages of the grape to see how they fared over time. On a very cold and snowy afternoon, we made our way to Gadino Cellars to attend the vertical.
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Owner and winemaker Bill Gadino started the event with a warm welcome to guests. He provided a short presentation on the Cabernet Franc grape, its characteristics, and its prominence in portfolio of Virginia’s red wines. Bill also presented the wines for tasting, and they included Cabernet Franc from the 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 vintages. However, they were not necessarily poured in chronological order; rather, they were poured in contrasting pairs and with food that complemented each pairing. For example, the eldest 2006 partnered with a fruitier 2009 to pair with a first course of polenta topped with crumbled Italian sausage. Bill threw in a mystery wine alongside the 2008 vintage to pair with the second course that featured marinated mushroom and a cheese purse. A final course and pairing showcased the heavily awarded 2007 vintage beside the jammy 2010 vintage, and these were served with a lamb chop and cannellini beans topped with a scone.
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So what were our favorites? It was a tough decision as each vintage had its own unique and special qualities. A fact sheet explained the circumstances of each harvest that helped to put each vintage into perspective. Each year seemed to present challenges, and even seemingly best growing seasons should never be taken for granted. The 2006 season, for example, was described as typical with variable temperatures and normal rainfall until August that turned out to be too dry. Some beneficial rainfall saved the vines from stress without splitting or rotting the grapes. Even the heralded 2007 growing season produced some concern; although it was a very dry growing season, harvest began earlier, and that the concern then was lower than normal acid levels. In sum, managing a vineyard and then making wine is a tough business even in the best of years.
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With that it mind, we swirled, sniffed, sipped and savored. My own favorites were the 2007 vintage with its fruit-driven nose and palate; nuances of tobacco and oak were well integrated, and the finish was smooth and lengthy. My other preference was the 2008 vintage that I described on my tasting sheet as the most Old World of the Francs that we tasted. Its smoky nose and characteristics of cherry, raspberry and spice suggested a true French heritage. The most New World of the bunch was the jammy 2010 vintage that was picked at 24.5 brix, the highest level of the Francs that we sampled that afternoon. Oh, and what about the mystery wine? It was a Cabernet Franc from Gadino’s sister winery in Sicily. This one was by far the earthiest of the Francs with an initial impression of barnyard that faded away with some swirling. I actually grew to enjoy it at the second sip.
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Paul had his own favorites, and the 2008 topped his list followed by the 2006. The eldest statesmen of the group still showed well with elements of dried fruit, tobacco and spice. I detected a caramel note too. Paul was particularly fond of the marinated mushrooms that to him best complemented the 2008 Cabernet Franc when first delivered to the mouth with a forkful of the baked cheese purse. The food was indeed delicious and was prepared by Chef Chuck Arnaud at Main Street Bakery and Catering in Luray Virginia.
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Bill Gadino regaled guests with hilarious jokes and stories; however, it was his skill as an accordion player that moved us all. Italian classics, Beatles tunes, and Sinatra hits were all part of his playlist. I was most touched by Bill leading the group in singing Happy Birthday—to me! (Yes, it was my birthday on Saturday, and I can safely say that I am more than legal to drink wine at any Virginia winery!)
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The vertical ended with guests being led down to the barrel room to sample the still evolving 2012 Cabernet Franc which will be released in the spring of 2014. It was still very fresh as though it was just picked (which, of course, it was), and characteristics fruit elements were already on display. Derek Pross, Bill’s son-in-law and co-winemaker, also provided us with a sneak sample of the upcoming 2011 Cabernet Franc. This one will be more of a Chinon-style Franc with bright berry characteristics. Lighter in body, it should prove to be versatile and refreshing with summer and fall fare.

With our vertical tasting done, we made certain to purchase bottles of our favorite Gadino Cabernet Francs. We will return soon to sample the latest releases; however, we encourage readers to visit sooner. Be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

New Wines at North Gate

After the Cabernet Vertical we attended at Breaux Vineyards on Saturday we decided to go to North Gate Vineyards to see what was on the tasting menu. We hadn’t visited since May 2012 for the Taste Camp event and it was time to see what new wines were ready for tasting.
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(Photo from March 2011)

It’s always nice to walk into the tasting room and see familiar faces. Mark and Vicki Fedor noticed us right away and welcomed us to the tasting bar. After catching up a bit we began our tasting. I kept my tasting notes on my iPad so I will post them here as they were recorded on the iPad. Between each taste we chatted with Mark about each wine, how it was made, and the impressions we experienced.

2011 Viognier-Mineral, tropical fruit, melon, delicate wine with no residual sugar. Made from the French clone known as Aban. Aged in neutral french oak barrels. I really enjoy the lightness of this wine. This was my favorite white!

2010 Roussanne-We noted a pear nose and pear on the tongue with some almond notes. It had a nice hay color. Roussanne is different from your regular white wines. It has evolved since our last tasting in May. Warren enjoyed this one.

2012 Chardonnay-We didn’t get to taste this one but it should be released by early May. Stay tuned!

2011 Rose of Cabernet Franc-We noted watermelon, strawberry, and dried herbs. It has a very low .25% residual sugar and was finished in stainless steel.
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2010 Cabernet Franc-We noticed bright fruit with a light pepper finish, It was blended with 10% merlot to balance it out and smooth out that pepper finish. This one won gold at the 2012 San Diego Wine Competition and the Indy International. Congrats!

2011 Merlot-We got a sneak peak tasting as it’s not yet released to the public but will be soon. It has already won Bronze in San Francisco Wine Competition-This one has a beautiful color, a hint of petit verdot, all french oak, cherry, tight tannins, hint of spice, 5% cabernet sauvignon. We have a feeling this one will be very popular.

2010 Meritage-We noticed mineral upfront and then a fruity mid palate, and a slightly tannic ending. Cherry, plum, pepper, tobacco were the descriptors that were mentioned while tasting this complex wine with lots of layers. The tannins made me think of enjoying this one with some food.

2010 Petit Verdot-This has a beautiful rich, dark color. We noted sweet tobacco, dark fruit notes, and refined tannis. It’s blended with 10% cabernet sauvignon. We were able to try the exclusive dark chocolate mad with the North Gate Petit Verdot. This became my favorite red. It reminded me of their legendary 2008 Petit Verdot. This one also won a gold medal a the Atlantic Seaboard wine competition!

2011 Apple Wine-This award winning Apple wine is made from four kinds of apples. The apple flavors run from the front of your tongue all the way to the back. It’s filtered and fermented like a white wine. We thought a good food pairing would be soft cheeses. Warren even thought it would go with lamb or pork chops. Mark informed us others have used it in Sangria.

After our tasting we continued to chat with Mark and Vicki and discovered they are still selling their wines at the Falls Church Farmers Market. They began there and continue to go because the community knows them and would miss not seeing them. The community aspect keeps them going back. We also found out they have a chocolates and wine tasting option. You can select three chocolates to pair with three wines during a tasting. We were able to taste a few of the chocolates and they were delicious! The chocolates are made by The Perfect Truffle in Frederick Maryland. During our conversation we found out North Gate has an artist in residence program. The artist is able to display their work in the tasting room, conduct classes if they wish, promote their works and sell their pieces of artwork. It’s a great addition to the tasting experience and helps show the connection between local art and local wine. If I was a better photographer, I would think of becoming one of their artists in residence!
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We had a great time catching up with Mark and Vicki. It was nice to have some time to chat with them about all things North Gate. After our time at the tasting bar I enjoyed a glass of the 2011 Viognier and Warren enjoyed a glass of the 2010 Roussanne. We enjoyed our wine with the view from the patio while a warm fire burned in the outside fireplace. Before leaving we purchased a few of our favorites and said our Thank Yous and goodbyes. The next time you are in Loudoun County plan a trip to North Gate Vineyards and tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Cabs That Grab at Breaux Vineyards

We attended a Cabernet Sauvignon vertical tasting at Breaux Vineyards this past weekend. The event was held in the newly opened Acadia room, the spacious events facility located on the Breaux property. We tasted Cabernets that dated back to the 2000 vintage with the 2010 vintage the latest one sampled. A three course lunch allowed tasters to enjoy the wines with appropriately paired foods.
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Winemaker David Pagan Castano was on hand to present the wines and then to lead discussions on the wines, the particular characteristics of each vintage, and the weather that helped to produce them. I will present the courses and the wines that were paired with each course before presenting my favorite Cabernets from the session:
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First Course: Italian sausage and local lamb brochette over arugula tossed in black cherry vinaigrette with Maytag bleu cheese – Paired with 2005 and 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon
(Half eaten in the picture.)
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Second Course: chicken and cheese dumplings stewed with turnip, rutagbaga, and cheese dumplings – Paired with 2008 and 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon
(Again, half eaten in the picture.)
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Third Course: Sous-vide beef tenderloin sliced over a sweet potato pancake and kale with balsamic Cabernet semi-glace – Paired with 2006 and 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon barrel sample
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My favorites throughout the afternoon tended to be the bolder-bodied Cabernets and hence the title of the post. I enjoyed the Cabs that grabbed my attention. The smoky 2000 Cabernet was rich with earthy aromatics that included tobacco and cedar. However, my favorite was the still-evolving 2007 Cabernet. Like its older sibling from the 2000 vintage, it presented tobacco notes and earthy nuances with dark plum flavors. Its finish was quite lengthy too. Readers may recall that the 2007 harvest was one of the best in recent years, and there was no doubting the age-worthiness of this one. Following the same path with a similar profile was the 2010 Cabernet barrel sample with its sweet tobacco and licorice notes.

Of course, the food enhanced the tasting experiences, and I gravitated toward the savory components of each dish as much as I did toward the bolder wines. A forkful of lamb and blue cheese dipped in the vinaigrette paired better with the 2000 Cabernet. A slice of the herbed cheese dumpling eaten with a piece of the stewed chicken opened up the fruit flavors of the 2007 Cabernet while smoothing its tannic presence. The beef and kale provided both flavors and texture to enhance the spiciness of the 2010 Cabernet barrel sample and tamed its still youthful tannins.

Paul’s preferences were completely different than mine. He trended toward the fruitier Cabernets and preferred the 2005 Cabernet with the spicy Italian sausage. His favorite Cabernet, though, was the 2008 vintage. He enjoyed the ripe plum flavors and vibrant acidity of this one, and found it more enjoyable with a piece of the stewed chicken. In Paul’s view, the 2006 Cabernet with its more herbal components matched well with the sweet potato pancake.
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At the end of our tasting session, David conducted a poll for favorites amongst the crowd, and it seemed as though the 2007 was the winner with the 2000 a close second. In the end, the Cabs that grabbed were the most popular! Fellow wine enthusiast and friend Susan McHenry was also seated at our table, and we all had a wonderful time comparing tasting notes. I must also note that the Acadia room added a dash of elegance and charm to the event. Glittering crystals that dangled from chandeliers provided a Southern element to the facility while elaborate crown molding and walls painted soft yellow added cozy, antebellum appeal. A New Orleans boy myself, I felt at home in the Acadia room.
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The vertical tasting ended with Lagniappe, a New Orleans term that roughly means “something extra” or a “bonus”. For tasters, a sample of the port-style Lineage was that something extra that was enjoyed in the barrel room with a slice of brie cheese.

Breaux Vineyards will host a vertical tasting of Merlot and Nebbiolo in the coming months, to be sure to stay posted for those events. Of course, always plan a visit to Breaux Vineyards if a trip to Loudoun County wineries is on the weekend agenda; please mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Inauguration Toast

In honor of the second inauguration of Barack Obama we are having the Thibaut-Janisson Winery Brut with cookies from Cookies & Corks. We are having the Zesty Lemon and the Peanut Butter Chocolate. We both agree the Zesty Lemon pairs very well with the Brut. The lemony flavors come out with each nibble and sip.
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2012 Retrospective

I was asked at a recent dinner party about Virginia wines I had tasted in 2012 that were the most memorable. This could have been any wine that I tasted but not necessarily purchased in 2012. I gave a quick answer but then realized that more reflection time would have generated a list of favorite wines. I will list my top five white wines and top five red wines; these are memorable wines that I enjoyed last year but may have been purchased in previous years.

White Wines:
Afton Mountain 2010 Gewurztraminer
Glen Manor 2011 Sauvignon Blanc
Gray Ghost 2011 Adieu
Jefferson 2010 Reserve Chardonnay
Linden 2009 Hardscrabble Chardonnay

Red Wines:
Barboursville 2007 Reserve Cabernet Franc
Breaux 2005 Nebbiolo
Glen Manor 2009 Hodder Hill
Keswick 2009 Merlot
Pollak 2009 Cabernet Franc Reserve

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Favorite wines not produced in Virginia? Hanzell 2009 Pinot Noir, J Vineyards Brut Rose, and Silver Oak 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon top my list. The Champagne Mailly Grand Cru was another winner that made New Years’ Eve very special. My most disappointing wine experience, though, was a 2004 French Burgundy that I had been saving for a special occasion; yes, it was rather expensive. I opened it before a dinner party to honor two guests who had just been married, and thankfully, I tasted it before it was poured. Yikes was it bad! Oxidized and funky were the only words to describe it. Heartbroken, I even tried decanting, but it could not be saved—it was done!

Feel free to share your own favorites in the comments section! Of course, plan a visit to any of the wonderful wineries listed in this post, and mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Return To Piedmont

Some wine friends of ours recently told us that Piedmont Vineyards was still open for business. We thought it was sold and no longer producing wine. It was time for us to return to Piedmont Vineyards. After our stop at Boxwood Winery over the weekend, we decided to go by Piedmont and see if they were in fact open.
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When we entered the tasting room we saw a very familiar face…Gerhard Von Finck. After hellos and welcomes, we found out that he was recently in the hospital but is almost back to normal and still selling wine at Piedmont. The only wine he is selling is his 2010 Chambourcin. He only has about 20 cases left so you need to get out there soon and get your case. All other wines on the tasting menu are from DelFosse Vineyards. Gerhard’s plan is finish selling his Chambourcin and then Claude DelFosse will be able to get a license to sell his wines on his own. So Piedmont will most likely become a satellite tasting room for DelFosse Vineyards. Gerhard hops to return to Toronto in the near future.

We last visited DelFosse in October and wrote about our visit at that time. If you want to find out what we thought about the wines at that time, check out that post. Even though we just recently tasted the DelFosse wines, we went ahead and did a tasting. As usual, we enjoyed the wines. A few favorites: The 2011 Reserve d’Oriane presented pineapple, peach, and apricot and a long finish. The 2008 Petit Verdot is 100% petit verdot with notes of blackberry, violet, and beautifully smooth ending. I thought of food right away with this one.
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After enjoying a bottle of the 2011 Reserve d’Oriane with lunch and bird watching on the patio and long chats with Gerhard, we wished him well and success in future before leaving. We also purchased a few of our favorites. Visit Piedmont Vineyards soon to enjoy the DelFosse wines and be sure to tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

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