Virginia Wine Time

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Month: February 2013 (page 2 of 2)

Wine and Lasagna

Every winter we enjoy visiting Naked Mountain Vineyards to take advantage of their lasagna and wine weekends. Even though we just visited in November and much of the tasting menu was exactly the same, we decided to head out to Naked Mountain this past weekend to enjoy some wine and lasagna.
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Upon entering the winery we notice Seth Chambers would be conducting our tasting. We chatted with him about what was going on at Naked Mountain while enjoying the wines on the menu. One of our favorites turned out to be the 2011 Chardonnay with its pear and apple notes and creamy texture. Another favorite we found on the list was the 2008 Cabernet Franc. We noted lots of raspberry, some smoke on the nose, autumn spice, and a tart ending.
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After our tasting, our lasagna was ready. We decided on the non vintage Raptor Red to accompany our lasagna. The Raptor Red is a blend of grapes from 2007 and 2008. We noted some bright fruit, decent tannins, and a long finish. It went very well with our lasagna. While we enjoyed the lasagna we had a great view of the vineyards on a snowy day. It made for a beautiful scene.
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While chatting with Seth earlier we found out that Naked Mountain is coming out with a new line of wines later this spring. The line will be called Drink Naked and will begin with two white wines. Seth let us have a sneak peek of the new wines. The first is the 2012 Skinny Dipper which is made from mostly Vidal and blended with some chardonnay. It has 3% RS. It was fruity and crisp with nice acidity. We thought it would be perfect for a warm summer day. The other Drink Naked wine is the 2012 Birthday Suit. It is mostly chardonnay with some seyval and a splash of riesling. Its dry and would also be a nice sipper for summer time.
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Seth also informed us Naked Mountain will be expanding their vineyards soon. With the success of Virginia wines, fewer growers are selling their grapes so Naked Mountain wants to expand their vineyards to be able to make more estate wines. It’s always nice to catch up with Seth to find out what’s happening at Naked Mountain. And of course enjoying their delicious lasagna is a plus! Be sure to get out to Naked Mountain this winter to enjoy their wine and lasagna weekend. And when you do, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Congratulations Tarara!

Tarara Vineyards just received news that three of the winery’s red wines earned 90 points in Wine Enthusiast magazine. These wines include the Cabernet Franc 2010, Tranquility Red 2010, and the CasaNova 2010. We recently visited the Tarara tasting room and can attest to the quality wines produced by winemaker Jordan Harris. We’ve become big fans of the nova series of wines, too.
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Jordan Harris was kind enough to answer our questions about the 2012 harvest and to reveal his expectations for the 2012 vintage. We hope that this will be the first in a series of several articles about the 2012 harvest, and we have been polling winemakers from various regions of the state about the 2012 season. Tarara Winery is located in the Northern region in Loudoun County. A huge THANK YOU to Jordan Harris for answering our questions!

How would you describe the 2012 growing season for:

White Grapes?

Overall I think that n most of the white varieties will really shine in 2012. I am finding the acidities are really crisp but are balanced with some of the best flavor development I have seen here including 2010 and 2007. They are wines that show a true sense of terroir by having very ripe characters but structures that still allow for minerality and freshness to shine. We only processed Chardonnay, Viognier and Rkatsiteli for whites in 2012. The Chardonnay is leaner but with an abundance of character. I think they will be expressive out of the gate but will also be some of our most age worthy expressions I have made so far in Virginia. Viognier was a welcome return to having riper stone fruit, floral and exotic characters with a full creamy mouthfeel after 2011. While they have the tell-tale aromatics and fruit characters and creamy mouthfeel I think they also have the best acidity I have tasted for balance in quite some time. Rkats was a first for us so it is hard for me to have any comparative statements. We processed Rkats in three wildly different ways and got three wildly different wines. We did some as simple cool fermented stainless only wines, some we fermented on the skins to make an Orange wine with 30 days on the skins and some we did barrel fermented and aged with full Malo. I love all three, but learned I still have no idea what Rkats should be.

Red Grapes?

The reds were far more selective, but by no means any less successful. We had an extremely long growing season starting almost a month early. That meant the hang time was superb for us in pretty much every block we harvested resulting in more supple tannins, great flavor development and good color. There were a couple scattered rain events that did not effect our Nevaeh Vineyard as much as many other sites just due to the weather patterns around our site. Tranquility needed the most time given the rain that hit randomly at harvest and we always like to wait 7-10 days after a rain event before harvesting (not always possible, but it is a goal). Overall I find that the wines have a more claret like leanness, but more new world style fruit characters. They have the tannins of 2007, the acid of 2008 or 2009, and the flavor development of 2010. There are a couple blocks that weren’t as exciting, but overall I think it was a great vintage for both reds and whites given the length of it assuming you had good vineyard management and reasonable yields.
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What factors contributed to the success/failure of the 2012 harvest?

The biggest helper was the early bud break and the fact that we did not get any severe frost damage. There were some blocks that had small amounts of frost that resulted not in shoot death, but simply a naturally lower yield which in my opinion was good. It meant for more balances and concentrated fruit in the end without the possibility of greed after the tough 2011 vintage. It was also a fairly moderate to cool year for most of the vintage except of the end of July and start of August when we hit 100 degrees for several days. The rain in most of our blocks nearing the end of the vintage I found refreshed the vines, but did not cause much of an issue with dilution if you were patient enough and your vineyard was healthy in the first place. It resulted in the ability to hang the fruit longer without having overly excessive sugars and better acidity then most years.

How does the 2012 harvest compare to previous harvests?

A somewhat stated above, 2012 is a year that will be held on its own. The long, moderate season allowed for the flavor development of 2010, tannin (both skins and seeds) of 2007, but the acidity and weight of 2008 or 2009. It is a true winemakers vintage in that I think the types of wines that are being tasted are those that we enjoy with complexity, structures and not wines that will overtake a meal. They are supple and almost lean but in a very good way.

What will the hallmarks of the 2012 wines?

This is the area that never really changes much for me here. Chardonnay and Viognier shined for the whites. Merlot and Syrah shined for the reds, although I am more partial to the Cabernet Franc we harvested from Nevaeh this year. I can only compare it to 2007 for quality in my mind for Cab Franc. I found with the midseason ripeners (Viognier, Chardonnay, Merlot and Syrah) and a little patience we were able to get some pretty incredible grapes that in my opinion will rival any vintage I have seen here.

The Inexhaustible Lori Corcoran

Lori Corcoran and her husband Jim seem to have an endless supply of energy, and they are always embarking on some new adventure or innovation in the beverage industry. In addition to their winery, the Corcorans also operate a brewery and now plan to open a tavern, the Leesburg Brewing Company! Lori is the winemaker; however, she can usually be found at the tasting bar serving customers and sometimes at the taproom. She also assists other vineyard managers and wine makers in Loudoun County and is now a hands-on planner in refurbishing the tavern that will open soon in Leesburg.
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Our primary objective in meeting Lori on a windy Sunday afternoon was to sample her latest wine releases since we had done a tasting at the winery in over a year. Of course, Lori was already behind the tasting bar when we arrived, and she bid us a very warm welcome. We were treated to a full complement of wines on the menu with at least six of them from the 2011 vintage. I became a fast fan of the 2011 Apple wine; in fact, I find myself liking these more and more each time I taste them. I think that I tend to forget that Virginia does apples as well as it does grapes! Anyway, this one was made from100% Virginia and was very crisp with a nice acidity. Versatile too—pour with Virginia ham, a summer picnic, or on its own on a it day. I also enjoyed the light-bodied 2011 Cabernet Franc with its bright strawberry notes and classic pepper nuances. Several of the 2011 Francs in Virginia do seem to be of this style due to the wetter-than-normal season, but they should not be dismissed. Compare them to a Cabernet Franc from the Chinon region of France, and you might be surprised. These lighter, brighter style Cabernet Francs are very fruity and accessible making them quite versatile with food pairings. However, Paul and I both concurred that the 2010 Petit Verdot was the winner on the menu. Plummy aromas and flavors merged with spicy notes to reveal a fuller-bodied wine. Its tannic presence suggested a need for food, and I’d suggest a leg of lamb.
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Lori also treated us to a sampling of her dessert wines. Paul tends to shy away from these wines, but he did linger quite a while on the 2008 Cello with its lemony nose and herbal notes. It is made from 100% Petit Manseng that perhaps accounts for its fuller feel in the mouth. Flavor is not lacking with this one. My own favorite was the 2011 USB, a port style wine made from Chambourcin grapes. When seated beside a fireplace with a chocolate dessert (or a cigar), the USB should a perfect partner.

As we sipped and savored, Lori clued us in on future releases and plans for the Corcoran operation. Readers who were fans of Lori’s excellent Chardonnays will be glad to know that Chardonnay will return to Corcoran Vineyards! Look for Pinot Noir, too! These grapes were grown on the Swedenburg estate, and the Lori promises that this will be an excellent Pinot. We also learned that Lori plans to open a tavern in Loudoun County; in fact, the facility already exists and will be refurbished (and renamed) to comply with the new ownership. Of course, Corcoran wines and other Loudoun County wines will be poured there as well as beers brewed at Corcoran brewery.
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We also went over to the winery to get a special taste of Lori’s white port from “the barrel.”

And from there, we went to the brewery! The brewery was already crowded with tasters, and several beers from light-bodied to dark ales were on tap for sampling. We did sample a couple of brews, and one was a light-bodied holiday wine; the other, a darker brew flavored with vanilla. We’re not beer experts, and I tend to enjoy beer with summer fare like burgers or with Mexican fare. With that in mind, I did trend toward the lighter-style beer. We do intend to return for a more complete tasting (and maybe with a beer drinker in tow.)

In addition to various ventures in the food and beverage industry, Lori is also a full-time Mom, and I have to admire her unlimited supply of energy and enthusiasm. She is not afraid of innovation and seems to have a knack for understanding what works. We wish her luck in her new endeavor.

We know that we will return to sample the latest pours (and brews) at Corcoran Vineyards and Brewery. I, for one, am excited about a return of the Chardonnay and will be anxious to taste the upcoming release. In the meantime, readers should plan a visit to both the winery and brewery. Please mention to Lori that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

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