After the Merlot Vertical at Breaux Vineyards on Saturday we headed over to Tarara Winery for the 5th annual sparkling tasting organized by Frank Morgan of Drink What You Like. It is now our tradition to get together each year to do a blind sparkling tasting to rate different sparklings from both Virginia and around the world. This year we tasted eleven different sparklings. This year the attendees were Frank, Kathy, Nancy, Erica, Kimberly and Brandon, Allison and Tarara winemaker, Jordan Harris.
Of the eleven sparklings, seven were from Virginia, two were from France, one from New York, and one from California.
We gathered around the tasting table with about a dozen glasses placed in front of each seat. Jordan and his helpers poured the wines so we wouldn’t know which wines were which. We began our tasting, writing notes, and ranking the wines. When all the rankings were compiled, the results were announced. Here are the results:
1. Trump Blanc de Blanc
2. Green Hill Blanc de Blancs
3. Stone Tower 2009 Wild Boar
4. Boneyard Blanc de Blanc
5. Flat Rock Cellars, Niagara (Tie)
5. Roederer Hermitate 2004 (Tie)
7. Trump Reserve
8. Thibaut-Janisson Blanc de Blanc
11. Grower Champagne – Louis de Sasy
Our top three picks were:
1. Trump Blanc de Blanc
2. Green Hill Blanc de Blancs
3. Stone Tower 2009 Wild Boar
Warren and I were quite surprised the Thibaut-Janisson ranked lower on the list. We absolutely love this sparkling. I have a bottle in my fridge right now! It might be our favorite. Maybe it was a bad bottle, it was too warm, or some other anomaly. We just can’t be sure. But we were surprised. We are very happy though that Virginia sparklings took the top four spots. Each year the rankings are a bit different but Virginia seems to do well each year.
A huge THANK YOU to Jordan Harris and the staff at Tarara Winery for hosting the event and providing all the glasses, and the wonderful nibbles at the end of the tasting. We had a wonderful time and met some new wine friends along the way! After our tasting we all went to dinner at Palio in Leesburg for dinner. We had a great time!
We are getting close to the time when people do a lot of celebrating…graduations, weddings, birthdays…so consider a Virginia Sparkling for your celebrating! When you visit one of the wineries that produces a sparkling, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!
On Saturday we attended the Merlot Vertical Tasting at Breaux Vineyards. We try to attend the verticals at Breaux as often as we can. We always have a great time and thoroughly enjoy the wines and the food pairings. This time, as usual, we weren’t disappointed. We were also so pleased to see so many of our wine friends attending as well. Frank Morgan from Drink What You Like, Erica and Kirsten from Cellar Blog, and our long time wine friend Susan were all in attendance.
The vertical began with an introduction by Jen Breaux. We then heard from winemaker David Pagan Castano about the wines we’d be tasting. The years of merlot we tasted were 2002, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, and a barrel sample from 2012. The wonderful food pairings were provided by Grandale Farm Restaurant. Throughout the tasting we could taste the wines as we wanted and try different vintages with the different courses.
The first course was local pulled pork and cremini mushrooms over a gruyere onion risotto cake with plum demi glaze. With this course we preferred the 2010 and the 2012 vintages.
The second course was caper and mustard braised chicken over tarragon faro with frisee and scallion oil. The wines we preferred for this course were the 2006 and the 2002.
The third course was beef and bacon stewed over angel hair pasta, Brussels sprouts, and basil in a red wine tomato sauce. This was my favorite course! Both Warren and I paired this course with the 2002, 2007, and 2010.
The final course was a Breaux Lineage 1st Edition infused truffle. It was served with the Lineage 1st Edition.
During the different courses we were able to ask David and Jen questions about the vintages and hear his take on the different conditions that helped produce each vintage. Jen Breaux treated everyone to a special treat in honor of Frank Morgan joining the vertical. We each had a glass of the 2002 Merlot Reserve. Everyone was impressed with what an amazing wine it is. I was pleased to taste it because I have one on my rack and was glad to see it can stay on the rack a bit longer.
David informally surveyed the crowd about our favorites. While there were lots of answers, it seemed the 2002, 2007, and 2010 were the favorites. They certainly were our favorites as well as the 2002 Reserve.
Before leaving we purchased our favorites and posed for pictures. It was great to see Jen, David, Bruce and Silvia. And of course it’s always great to see all our wine friends! If you haven’t been to Breaux lately, check out their events page. You might find one you’d like to attend. And when you do, mention Virginia Wine Time sent you!
On the way home from Gray Ghost over the weekend, we decided to stop at Pearmund Cellars to check out the latest offerings and to see if they had any of the Governor’s Cup gold medal winning 2010 Ameritage.
We were lucky to have Tammy Davis as our tasting associate. She walked us through the current line up of wines and even treated us to a few others that happened to be opened on the day we visited. While we enjoyed all the wines there were a few that did stand out as our favorites.
Our favorite white was the 2011 Old Vine Chardonnay. This one was aged for 8 months on neutral and French oak, sur lie style. The grapes came from the Meriwether vineyard in Fauquier County. We noted pear, vanilla, and a honey feel. Warren was thinking of seafood for this wine.
Our favorite red was in fact the gold medal winning 2010 Ameritage. This is a blend of cabernet sauvignon, petit verdot, cabernet franc, malbec, and merlot. It was aged for 14 months in American oak. We noted blackberry, cherry, and tobacco in this very balanced wine. Of course we thought of a nice filet mignon as a pairing for this one. After our tasting Warren enjoyed a glass of the 2010 Ameritage and I enjoyed a glass of the 2010 Merlot (one of my favorites!) with a baguette while sitting on the patio.
We had a fun time chatting with all the staff. All the staff members signed a bottle of the 2010 Ameritage for us to take home. Thank you! After purchasing some of our favorites we said our goodbyes. A huge THANK YOU to Tammy for the wonderful service and hospitality. We had a great time during our tasting! If you haven’t been to Pearmund Cellars lately, plan a trip soon. And when you do, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!
On Saturday evening we went to Gray Ghost Vineyards to attend the Vertical Cabernet Sauvignon tasting. This is a black tie optional event for a limited number of guest who get to taste vintages of their Cabernet Sauvignons from odd number years back to 1993.
We saw some familiar faces at the event. And of course it’s always fun to catch up with Al, Cheryl, and Amy with the latest news at Gray Ghost. Al had selected Cabernet Sauvignons from 1993, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, and 2011. With the wines Cheryl had prepared many dishes that paired nicely with the wines. The chicken and pasta with red sauce was one of my favorites as were the meat balls. During the evening we had a chance to talk about each vintage and compare notes with other participants. We all had our favorites but it seems the years ending in 5s and 7s received must of the chatter. The evening ended with a delicious slice of double chocolate cake and a glass of the 2010 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Everyone enjoyed this vintage!
If you haven’t attended one of the tasting events at Gray Ghost Vineyards, check out their events page and find one you might enjoy. And when you attend, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!
With the frigid temperatures and the snow we’ve had recently we haven’t been able to get to too many wineries this year. However, you don’t have to go on the Virginia wine trail to enjoy Virginia wines (however, we suggest you do). We’ve been pairing Virginia wines with several of our meals lately.
On a recent Friday evening we enjoyed a meal of chicken and mushrooms with corkscrew pasta tossed with parmesan cheese and lemon infused olive oil. We paired this meal with the Ankida Ridge 2011 Chardonnay. We noted rich, ripe pear, mineral elements of shale and graphite and a whiff of melon and nutmeg. It had a nice mouth feel with nice acidity. We consider it a Burgundian style chardonnay.
On another recent evening we selected the 2008 Reserve Furnace Mountain Red from 8 Chains North as our dinner wine. We had this wonderful red wine with filet mignon. We aerated it into a decanter before enjoying it. Bramble berry notes with a whiff of candied apple were complemented with flavors of blackberry, licorice and pepper. Why did we decant this one? Our initial sip (and literally our first sip after opening) presented a higher acidity; aerating into a decanter and then some breathing seemed to settle the acidity. In the end, by dinner time we very much enjoyed the 2008 Reserve Furnace Mountain Red. How do we know? The decanter was emptied far too soon.
Over the weekend we went to Boxwood Winery’s Tasting Room Wine Bar to both pick up club wines and to have a bite for lunch. After a quick tasting of some of the current wines, we selected the 2011 Boxwood Trellis to enjoy with our flatbread pizza of prosciutto and goat cheese. The Boxwood Trellis is a blend of cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, and petit verdot. We noted the earthiness with herbal and mineral notes and tobacco and cedar. It paired nicely with our flatbread pizza.
What Virginia wines have you been enjoying with a meal lately? Consider some of the wines we’ve enjoyed lately. And if you do get through the snow and visit one of the Virginia wineries, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!
On Sunday we braved the cold temperatures and threats of ice to get to a few wineries to pick up club wines. I had wines to pick up at Breaux and Doukenie and we thought our first winery trip in 2014 would be to pick up those wines.
After some icy travel, we made it to Breaux. We were so glad to see our wine friends Bruce and Silvia. Bruce conducted our tasting. We tasted the club wines and the regular tasting menu wines. We have tasted many of them before but were reminded how much we enjoy them. The 2012 Viognier stood out with the floral nose and honeysuckle notes. I also enjoyed the new version of Equation. It is a new blend of mostly 2011 reds. I decided to bring a bottle home for an evening when we are looking for a sipper to go with pizza or burgers. We had the chance to taste the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon to compare it to the 2006 vintage. I preferred the 2010. We noted sweet tobacco, raisiny fruit, jammy and cherry notes. It could use a little more time but I thought it was ready to enjoy now.
After our tasting we decided to enjoy a glass of wine with a baguette and cheese. Warren enjoyed the Cellar Selection 2012 Reflection and I enjoyed the 2012 Vidal Blanc. We are always looking for white wines to add to our racks so we brought home a bottle of each of these. We always enjoy our time at Breaux and we take advantage of the benefits of being club members.
We then headed to Doukenie to pick up my club wines there. The ice hadn’t let up a bit. We still made it there safely. As a club member we get a complimentary tasting when we pick up our wines. We decided to do just that.
If I remember correctly, we tasted the 2012 Pinot Gris, the 2010 Le Vin Rouge, the 2011 Merlot, the 2011 Cabernet Franc, and the 2011 Vintner’s Reserve. The Pinot Gris reminded me of warmer days. I kept thinking I would enjoy it more on a warm spring day while sitting on the balcony. Those days will return in a few months. The 2011 Cabernet Franc tickled my taste buds the most. I enjoyed the cherry notes, black fruit flavors and the smooth ending. We enjoyed it so much we enjoyed a glass of it before getting back on the road to brave the icy weather on the way home.
We headed up with almost a half a case of wine! If you haven’t been to Breaux Vineyards or Doukenie Winery lately, plan a trip in the new year. And when you do visit, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!
We attend many of the Gray Ghost Vineyards events all throughout the year. In the last month or so we’ve attend three of those events. Here is a short recap of those events.
On November 3rd we attended the Wine Library Tasting. The Wine Library Tasting is a chance to taste past vintages of some of their best wines. Since we have many of these on our wine racks, it’s a good chance to see how they are developing in the bottle. This time we had a chance to taste the:
1999 Cabernet Sauvignon
2002 Cabernet Sauvignon
2006 Cabernet Franc
Here are a couple of shots from the event.
On November 16th we attended the Gala Release Party for the 2010 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s a fun evening of great food, great friends and of course a great wine. Here are a few shots from the event.
On December 1st we attended the Wine Library Tasting with Warren’s parents. They were in town for Thanksgiving and were able to join us in tasting the:
1993 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (Gray Ghost’s Inaugural Release)
1999 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
2002 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
Here are a few shots from the event.
We always have a great time at the Gray Ghost events. If you haven’t attended one, think about it joining in the fun. And when you do, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!
Happy Thanksgiving from Virginia Wine Time! We hope you are enjoying Virginia wines with your Thanksgiving meal today! Which Virginia wines did you pour?