Man, is it hot! As we sweat through a record-breaking summer in which 95 degrees is considered cool, we decided to sample some summer sippers sent to us by Kluge estate Winery and Vineyard. The package included the 2009 Albemarle Sauvignon Blanc, the 2009 Albemarle Viognier, and the 2007 Kluge SP Rose. On this warm Wednesday, we tasted the Sauvignon Blanc and the Viognier; we’ll save the Rose for our “back to school” special review.
Our summer menus tend to be fairly light, and this afternoon we snacked on white cheese and crackers as we sipped a glass of the 2009 Albemarle Sauvignon Blanc. On the nose we noted lemongrass and melon with a refreshing minerality with similar attributes in the mouth. It was perfect on a hot day and paired well with our cheese and crackers.
As the sun began to set, Paul prepared a simple supper that consisted of herbed chicken with aromatic jasmine rice. Our wine pairing with this meal was the 2009 Albemarle Viognier. It offered the floral aromatics that reminded us of summertime honeysuckle blossoms, and we both observed flavors of mango and apricot. It finished with a very subtle toasty edge reminiscent of a Condrieu-style Viognier. As the sun began to set and temps lowered to a more comfortable 91 degrees, the 2009 Albemarle Viognier was the best way to end a hot summer’s day.
Stay tuned for our upcoming review of the SP Rose. In the meantime, plan to purchase some summer sippers from Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyard. Be sure to mention,though, that Virginia Wine Time sent you.
So we’re behind in our postings, but we promise to get caught up. (Darn those 9-5 things called jobs!) Anyway, we did attend the Linden barrel tasting held on May 2 and wanted to post about the event. We love all things Linden, and this barrel tasting confirmed for us that Jim Law is an incredible winemaker. Of course, he does get phenomenal support from superb fruit cultivated from the Avenius and Boisseau vineyards, and these wines all prove this theorem to be correct—great wine starts in the vineyard.
Our cellar tasting began with the cult-favorite 2009 Avenius Sauvignon Blanc paired with mussels. Is there another word for “divine”? Please let us know! Classic Sauvignon Blanc characteristics prevailed here with the signature minerality associated with the Avenius Sauvignon Blanc. In fact, we met up with Shari who presented her 2009 Chardonnay at the Concrete Egg. Yes, a concrete egg. This storage device could well pass for an atom bomb, but indeed it does house evolving Chardonnay wine that would otherwise ferment in a stainless steel tank. Shari explained to us that this is not new technology and the egg does provide a more stable environment for wine to develop. We await the final results, of course, since this sample was quite young; however, we do anticipate a more French-style offering.
And so on to the red wine barrel samples. Which were the faves? We reached a split decision, but it a tough decision. Paul’s nod went to the 2009 Boisseau Cabernet Franc due to its fruit-forward presentation. I gravitated toward the more complex 2009 Hardscrabble barrel with its blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Jim’s father poured from this barrel, and I appreciated the story behind the blend—a difficult spring that gave way to a remarkable summer that will produce a cellar-worthy Bordeaux-style wine.
From there we proceeded to the special release room where upcoming releases were being tasted. Here again we reached different conclusions. I held my ultimate gold star for the special release room, and it was presented to the 2007 Hardscrabble Red. The composite here was similar to the barrel sample but included Petit Verdot and splash of Carmenere. Dark fruit, pencil shavings, and a spicy edge defined this one; given that it’s from the stellar 2007 vintage, count on a cellar-worthy offering to boot. Paul preferred the more accessible 2007 Avenius Red which was dominated by Petit Verdot but supported by a generous splash of 38% Cabernet Sauvignon. Drink now or later, this pour offered blackberries, raspberries, and a bit of nutmeg to complement grilled fare that may include a dash of barbeque sauce.
With our barrel tasting done, we enjoyed a glass of the 2009 Avenius Sauvignon Blanc with a baguette. It was a lovely spring afternoon, and Jim Law’s tasting room offers spectacular mountain views which aw appreciated as we sipped and nibbled. Remember, the cellar tasting is offered to case club members; so, visit Linden to try their current releases and you might be tempted to purchase a case in order to enjoy the benefits. Be sure to mention, though, that Virginia Wine Time sent you.
Just a quick post about the 2006 Reserve Merlot from Lovingston Winery. We had this tonight with filet mignon and rice. It was amazing. First of all I was upset that we even opened it so soon after getting it. This one could have laid down for several years.
The color is beautiful. I think it might have a splash of petit verdot to give it the rich color but I can’t be sure. Warren disagrees. However, Warren believed this merlot benefitted from decanting thanks to the convenient Soiree aerator. I noted extremely smooth tannins. Warren noted dark cherry and plum with a dry earthy/herbal quality. It complimented our steaks well. Koodos to Riann.
A recent visit to Sharp Rock Vineyards brings our count to 98, a feat that has taken us five years to accomplish. With so many new wineries opening up, we predict that #100 is in our sights. However, we were quite pleased with our first experience at Sharp Rock Vineyards, and we enjoyed meeting winemaker Jim East in the process.
Located at the foot of Old Rag Mountain, Sharp Rock offers a stunning mountain view. As we approached the tasting room, we were greeted by a couple of lovable dogs who were eager to give us a handshake. The tasting room itself is a renovated 100 year old barn, and we were greeted by winemaker Jim East as we entered the room. Four white wines were available for tasting, and my favorite was the Burgundian-style 2008 Chardonnay Reserve. It presented notes of pear, toasted almonds and vanilla with a honeyed texture in the mouth which comes from aging in French oak barrels. Paul favored the 2009 Sauvignon Blanc, a perfect summer wine with citrus and mineral characteristics. Speaking of summer pours, don’t miss the dry 2009 Rose made from Cabernet Sauvignon; it’s crisp and offers refreshing strawberry and melon flavors.
Of the reds, Paul and I both preferred the light-bodied 2008 Synergy, which is a blend of Petit Verdot and Merlot. Cherries and plums were noted here with some subtle aromas of cinnamon spice. This one can be a sipper with cheeses and a baguette but can be offered with summer grilled fare. Look for the fall release of the 2008 Malbec which promises to be a rich, fuller-bodied wine just in time for the fall menus that include heavier roasted meats and game.
In the course of our tasting, Jim shared with us his commitment to producing small quantities of quality wines. His twelve bottling are made from estate-grown fruit that include Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, and Petit Verdot. Since the winery opened in 1998, Sharp Rock’s wines have won numerous national and international awards, but the best commendations come from customers who visit Sharp Rock Vineyards to enjoy nice wines and lovely scenery.
After our tasting, we shared a glass of the Chardonnay Reserve and took in the gorgeous mountain views. Our friendly greeters returned to make us feel at home (and to hope that a stray cracker might accidentally fall from the table.) As we sipped and savored, we were glad to add Sharp Rock Vineyards to the growing list of wineries visited, and we pondered which future visit might push us closer to the 100 mark. Of course, we know that we will return to Sharp Rock Vineyards for a second time, but readers may want to visit sooner—be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.