Virginia Wine Time

We Enjoy Virginia Wine

Month: February 2013 (page 1 of 2)

King Family

On our recent trip to Charlottesville we stopped at another one of our favorite wineries, King Family Vineyards. We have been familiar with Matthieu Finot’s wines for a few years now and absolutely love them. Whenever we visit, we enjoy all the wines on the tasting menu.
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We are not the only ones who enjoy Matthieu’s wines. When we entered the tasting room it was packed with tasters. Every spot at the multiple tasting bars was filled. We waited our turn and then found a spot at one of the tasting bars.

It was very difficult to find a favorite white wine. Warren enjoyed the 2012 Roseland with fuller feel, pear notes and partial malolactic fermentation. I enjoyed the 2011 Viognier. It was crisp and clean, with a wonderful floral nose and notes of melon and peach. We also both enjoyed the 2012 Crose which was full of strawberry, melon, and citrus notes. Of course we thought of concerts on the lawn at Wolf Trap while tasting this one.
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Once again it was tough to pick a favorite red. We enjoyed both the 2011 Cabernet Franc and the 2011 Merlot. We were lucky enough to get a taste of the 2010 Petit Verdot. This one became our favorite. We really enjoyed the black cherry, plum, berry notes and picked up on some tobacco. This is a big red that could easily age on your wine rack.
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After our tasting we enjoyed some cheese and baguette with a glass of the 2011 Viognier. We then purchased some of our favorites before leaving. If you haven’t been to King Family lately, it’s probably time to plan a trip. And when you do visit, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Pollak Vineyards

On our recent three day weekend trip to Charlottesville we stopped at one of our favorites, Pollak Vineyards. We were there last September but always enjoy our time at Pollak so we stopped by again. Plus, it’s always good opportunity to pick up some much needed white wines. For some reason, my white wine rack always needs some restocking.
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We always get a warm family feeling when we enter the tasting room and see so many familiar faces. Selecting our favorites from the tasting menu is always difficult because we enjoy all the Pollak wines. This time around though we were able to pick a few. Of the whites we really enjoyed the 2011 Viognier. Warren really enjoyed this one last time but I thought it had changed somewhat in the bottle and I really enjoyed it this time as well. We both noted the peach, apricot, and honeysuckle notes. Even though this was my favorite white of the day, I did end up leaving with a half case of the white wines. You can never have too many choices when looking for a white wine to serve.
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Not surprisingly, some 2012 wines are beginning to appear and Pollak just recently released their 2012 Rose. While we aren’t necessarily looking for Rose at this time of the year, we certainly thought about summer concerts while sipping this Rose. We noted strawberry and spice with a smooth mouth feel. It was created with Cabernet Franc. Nice job, Benoit!

As you may be aware, Pollak won a gold medal in the Governor’s Cup for their 2009 Cabernet Franc Reserve. We were interested to taste the 2010 Cabernet Franc to see how it was developing. We really enjoyed this one back in September. The 2010 Cabernet Franc was again our favorite red. The blackberry, raspberry, and dark chocolate notes danced around on our palates with delight. This one may be our favorite for some time to come.
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Even though the 2010 Petit Verdot isn’t normally on the tasting menu, they had a bottle open and offered us a taste. We thoroughly enjoyed it. We noted plum, blackberry, and dust. It’s a bit hot and a bit tannic right now but in time this is going to be a perfect wine. As we often do, we thought of food while tasting this one.

With our tasting complete, our conversations ended, we enjoyed a glass of the 2010 Cabernet Franc with a baguette while enjoying the fire in the tasting room. Before leaving we purchased more than half a case of wine to add to our wine racks. If you haven’t been to Pollak Vineyards recently, it’s time to plan a trip soon. And be sure to tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

2013 Governor’s Cup Winner

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Photo provided by the Virginia Wine Marketing Office.

We thought we’d jump on the bandwagon and announce the 2013 Virginia Wineries Association’s Governor’s Cup was awarded to Barboursville Vineyards 2009 Octagon 12th Edition. It was selected from the 12 top scoring wines from the competition. The 2009 Octagon will be included in the Governor’s Cup Case. The others that will be included are:

Cooper Vineyards – 2010 Petit Verdot Reserve
King Family Vineyards – 2010 Meritage
Lovingston Winery – 2009 Josie’s Knoll Estate Reserve
Philip Carter Winery – 2010 Cleve
Pollak Vineyards – 2009 Cabernet Franc Reserve
Potomac Point Vineyard and Winery – 2010 Richland Reserve Heritage
Rappahannock Cellars – 2010 Meritage
RdV Vineyards – 2010 Rendevous
RdV Vineyards – 2010 Lost Mountain
Sunset Hills Vineyard – 2010 Mosaic
Trump Winery – 2008 Sparkling Rose

Congratulations to Luca Pachina, Barboursville, and all the other award winners!

New Owners, New Vision at First Colony

Our trek through the wine trails in the Charlottesville area brought us to First Colony Winery. A sign that declared, “new owners” intrigued us, and we knew that we had to get the scoop.
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No sooner had we approached the tasting bar, new owners Heather and Bruce Spiess extended their greetings to us. They were also gracious enough to answer all of our questions, too. Heather and Bruce and Jeff Miller had just recently purchased the winery and vineyard; although they live in the Richmond area, they felt a need to rescue First Colony, a winery that had a special connection to them. Their son, Austin, works at First Colony as a vineyard manager, and according to Heather, his hands had “touched every vine on the property.” This personal connection inspired them to purchase the property and to create a new vision for future success.

The first phase of this new vision is to focus on the wines and to improve their quality. Jason Hayman will remain at the helm as winemaker but in a new production facility that will offer an improved environment for winemaking. A special thatched roof will cover the facility to create a unique element. New barrels are already on order, and the vineyards will include new plantings that take advantage of First Colony’s own micro-climate. Bruce even envisions an experimental lot that will allow the winemaker to consider Italian varietals.
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The next phase will then be the construction of a new tasting room, and this will begin once the production facility is completed. Heather and Bruce foresee a tasting room that will be a bit more expansive yet welcoming to customers. Design features will allow tasters to take advantage of First Colony’s scenic view; in fact, Paul took a quick tour of the outdoor trail to snap picture of birds as they fluttered by his camera lens. Fans of the First Colony name, though may have to make an adjustment as a name change may also be in the future.

Owning and operating a winery is tough work, and Heather and Bruce, a physician, still maintain jobs in Richmond. However, we did not doubt their commitment to this new venture; their enthusiasm was almost contagious, and we felt excited for them. Indeed, they already have wines to help them move forward. Our own favorites were the upcoming 2011 Estate Reserve Chardonnay that was lighter on the oak and more generous with fruit notes such as coconut, citrus and melon. The 1670 Port made from the Touriga grape and fortified with brandy should prove to be an elegant way to end a dinner party, and maybe partner with a dense chocolate dessert.
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We will keep abreast of developments at First Colony Winery; in the meantime, be certain to stop by and meet the new owners of First Colony Winery. Mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Taking “Flight” at Early Mountain

Winter weekends are perfect for visiting local wineries. These are quieter times to visit wineries as opposed to summer or fall, and we had that in mind when we planned a President’s Day Weekend to the Charlottesville area. Our first stop was to Early Mountain Vineyards, and we each enjoyed a “flight” while we were there!
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So what’s up with all of this flight business? Readers may recall that we attended the opening of Early Mountain Vineyards last year, and we did report on the Early Mountain’s concept as envisioned by Jean and Steve Case. A short summary of that vision here—Early Mountain Vineyards celebrates the “best of Virginia” and therefore presents for tasting and purchase the quality wines produced by themselves and other participating Virginia wineries. Therefore, a tasting at Early Mountain Vineyards occurs in flights: 1) Early Mountain Ascent, 2) Bright Lights & Bubbles, 3) Red White & You!, and 4) Red Berry Pickings. These should be self-explanatory; however, I will provide a quick description of each: Flight 1: all Early Mountain wines both red and white, #2: bubbly!, #3: a mix of red and white wines from several vineyards, and #4: all red wines from various vineyards.

Decisions, decision! However, we each selected our own flight with Paul opting for the Early Mountain Ascent. My own choice was the Red, White & You!. Our tastings were seated, and we planted ourselves at a table facing the majestic mountain views; it was a very cold day, so the crackling fireplace created the right setting (and the right temperature) to enjoy our flights.
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Paul’s Early Mountain Ascent featured the 2011 Pinot Gris, 2011 Chardonnay, 2011 Handshake Red (a blend), and the 2008 Merlot. He favored the Chardonnay that was blended with a bit of Viognier to present a complex wine with pear and citrus elements and a subtle tropical fruit note. Of the reds, Paul preferred the Handshake Red with its dark fruit flavors and earthy notes. It was a bit tight, though, so some swirling may be needed to coax the aromas to move forward.
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I had a hard time selecting my faves from the Red, White & You flight. This flight included the Ox-Eye 2011 Riesling, Chatham Vineyards 2010 Chardonnay, Well Hung Vineyard 2010 Cabernet Franc, and Early Mountain Vineyards 2011 Handshake. I kept grabbing the glass of Chardonnay from Chatham Vineyards, and that normally indicates a winner. However, The Ox-Eye Riesling intrigued me since Riesling in Virginia tends to be subpar. However, elegant aromatics and softer notes of stone fruit that begged for a second (or third) sip drive this particular Riesling. Of the reds, I appreciated the Handshake Red but finished my sample of the 2010 Cabernet Franc from Well Hung Vineyard with its aromas of violet and seed berries. Bright Cherry and raspberry flavors ended with a peppery finish to make for a wine that could be enjoyed on its own or with food.

Patrick was our tasting associate; of course, we tend to ask lots of questions, and Patrick answered all of them. We did know that winemaker Franz Ventre has left Early Mountain Vineyards, and assistant winemaker Steve Monson currently overseas the winemaking. Future plans also include new plantings in the vineyard, and the Best of Virginia concept will continue to be the guiding philosophy.
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I was awed by the spacious yet tasteful facility with its warm earth tones and regretted finishing my last sip of wine. We snacked on a warm, homemade pretzel with a glass of the 2011 Petit Manseng and appreciated the winter’s landscape while wondering which colors spring would add to the pallet. We are certain that we will return to Early Mountain Vineyards soon. Be sure to schedule your own “flight” soon, and mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Round Up Time

Too many wineries and not enough time to write about all of our experiences—this seems to be the ongoing dilemma for us. I will use this post to play catch up on wineries that we have recently visited:

Delaplane Cellars: We always look forward to a tasting here if only to enjoy the gorgeous view from the windows; of course the wines are pretty good too. The 2009 Melange Rouge remains my favorite on the tasting menu; readers may recall that I enjoyed this Bordeaux-style blend the last time we tasted at Delaplane Cellars. Paul enjoyed the smoky 2009 Tannat with its notes of plum and dried herbs. The 2011 Cabernet Franc was the lightest-bodied red and yet the most versatile red wine on the menu. The bright fruit flavors and peppery elements make for a wine that can be served on its own, with fish or pork, or with Thanksgiving fare that features herbed turkey and cranberry sauce. White wines, you ask? Paul was a big fan of the 2011 Maggie’s Viognier with its floral notes and orange blossom notes. Looking for a reason to join Delaplane’s wine club? The cellar-worthy 2010 Syrah might provide convincing evidence. A smoky nose leads to dark plum and tobacco aromas with similar dark fruit flavors and spicy elements in the mouth. I detected a hint of caramel at the end too.
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Linden Vineyards: Too easy to say all of the above, but that would be the answer. We always sign up for the cellar tasting, too, and that complicates our decision to pick a favorite wine. From the regular tasting menu, we were fans of creamy 2010 Chardonnay and the jammy 2010 Petit Verdot. The cellar tasting usually brings out the split decisions. We both agreed that the fuller-bodied 2009 Boisseau Chardonnay was ready for prime time. Rich pear and vanilla aromas were matched by ripe pear and honey flavors. However, I own two bottles of the 2009 Avenius Chardonnay, and I was well pleased with its progression in the bottle. Drink now? Enjoy the Boisseau. Enjoy later? Be patient with the Avenius.

On to the red wines, and these included the 2009 Boisseau Red and the 2009 Hardscrabble Red. Ripe berry fruit and violet notes characterized the Merlot-driven Boisseau, and it was Paul’s immediate favorite. However, I preferred the complexity of the 2009 Hardscrabble Red. Cabernet Sauvignon (64%) dominates the blend, and Merlot (19%), Petit Verdot (10%), and Cabernet Franc (7%) serve as sidekicks. Still tight on the nose, swirling brought forward the dark berry and earthy elements. I made certain to purchase a bottle of this special wine before the left the winery! The cellar tasting always closes with a comparison of dessert wines, and the 2005 and 2008 Late Harvest Vidal were presented for our enjoyment. Paul preferred the fresh 2008 Late Harvest Vidal with its bright floral aromas and vibrant tropical fruit and ginger spice components. I appreciated the older 2005 with its more honeyed texture and dried apricot and citrus flavors.
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Three Fox Vineyards: The 2011 Gatto Bianco was an easy favorite. This white wine is a blend of Chardonnay and Vidal Blanc, and the 2% residual sugar brings forward the tropical fruit elements. The Leggero Chardonnay is also noteworthy for its pear and pineapple characteristics and crisp finish. We were also fast fans of the 2009 Piemontese Nebbiolo with its aromas of clover and tobacco. Swirling coaxed raspberry, blackberry and pepper notes to move forward. Port fans may also like the Rosso Dolce Chambourcin and its elements of dark cherry and black plum; a mocha splash at the end begged for chocolate; Paul suggested a tobacco treat, but I’ll let readers decide on that one. A dark chocolate brownie for me, and a cigar for Paul!
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We made certain to purchase our favorite wines at each of these wineries. Readers may have already concluded that Virginia wineries offer a diverse selection of quality wines, and the only right choices are the ones that best please the palate. Therefore, get out on the wine trails and discover which Virginia wines best suit your own palate! Start with a visit to these wineries, and mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

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