Bloggers Favorites for Virginia Wine Week

Recently Allan from CellarBlog suggested we follow up our top 20 Virginia wine list with another list. To help celebrate Virginia Wine Week it was suggested we post our favorite wineries for different categories. After several emails a bunch of the wine bloggers came up with the following 10 categories. We selected the wineries that we thought best fit each category. This one might be helpful for those looking for a specific kind of winery. Here are our selections. Would you agree? Have different ideas? Share them in the comments.

1. Most Dog Friendly: Barrel Oak Winery
2. Most Family Friendly: Bluemont Vineyard
3. Best Winery to Take a Date: Potomac Point Winery
4. Best Winery to Hear Music: Notaviva Vineyards
5. Best Winery to Bump into Owner/Winemaker: Fabbioli Cellars
6. Best Winery for Someone New to Virginia Wine: Chrysalis Vineyards
7. Best Views: Delaplane Cellars
8. Best Place to Visit With a Big Group: Breaux Vineyards
9. Best je ne sais quoi/indefinable quality that makes it special: Linden Vineyards
10. Best Winery to Laze Away the Afternoon: Gray Ghost Vineyards

Top 20

Recently Jordon Harris, winemaker at Tarara, left a comment on the Swirl, Sip, Snark blog suggesting some of us create a list of our top 20 Virginia wines. We all decided that was a great idea. So here are our top 20 lists. Both of our lists are in alphabetical order by winery and are not intended to rank any one wine over another on the lists.

Warren’s List:
Please note that these were my favorite Virginia wines that I tasted last year; however, they may have been released before 2010.

1. Afton Mountain Vineyards 2006 Sparkling Wine-a Thibaut-produced classic
2. Barboursville Vineyards Octagon 2004
3. Barboursville Vineyards 2007 Cabernet Franc Reserve
4. Breaux Vineyards 2002 Merlot Reserve-always a favorite and only gets better with age
5. Breaux Vineyards 2009 Water Bent Viognier
6. Chrysalis Vineyards2009 Albarino-stellar!
7. Chrysalis Vineyards 2005 Norton Locksley Reserve-do read the Todd Kliman’s Wild Vine
8. Delaplane Vineyards 2008 Honah Lee Viognier
9. Gray Ghost Vineyards 2008 Chardonnay Reserve-the crowd favorite at my parents’ 50 anniversary party
10. Gray Ghost Vineyards 2007 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
11. Glen Manor Vineyards 2007 Sauvignon Blanc
12. Ingleside Vineyards 2005 Petit Verdot-the sleeper at the Drink Local conference.
13. King Family Vineyards 2007 Meritage-won Governor’s Cup; outstanding example from an outstanding year.
14. King Family Vineyards 2009 Crose-classic Rose that should be on every wine rack during the summer
15. Linden 2008 Boisseau Red-Wine Spectator liked this one!
16. Linden2006 Hardscrabble Chardonnay
17. Linden Avenius Sauvignon Blanc
18. Pollak Vineyards 2008 Petit Verdot
19. Rappahannock Cellars 2009 Viognier-another Wine Spectator favorite!
20. Villa Appalachia Vineyards Simpatico-Yum!! I wish this winery were not so far away!

Paul’s List:
My list consists of wines that have stood out in my mind over the last few years. You will see several wineries with multiple entries and that’s because I think the consistent quality of their wines is exceptional. There are so many other wines I wanted to put on the list but had to limit it to 20.

1. Blenheim Vineyards 2008 Petit Verdot-2008 produced some wonderful fruit forward wines.
2. Breaux Vineyards 2002 Merlot Reserve-probably the best merlot I’ve ever had.
3. Breaux Vineyards 2009 Viognier Water Bend Barrels-from the cellar club selection
4. Chrysalis Vineyards 2009 Chardonnay-I love this crisp stainless style chardonnay
5. Corcoran Vineyards 2008 Malbec-Might be the best malbec in the state. I only have one bottle left!
6. Gray Ghost 2004 Adieu-wonderful dessert wine
7. Gray Ghost 2008 Merlot-smooth and big cherry
8. Gray Ghost 2009 Cabernet Franc-smooth and fruity, unlike so many others in Virginia
9. Horton Sparkling Viognier
10. Jefferson Vineyards 2007 Viognier
11. King Family Vineyards 2007 Meritage-Governor’s Cup winner!
12. King Family 2009 Crose-delightfully delicious rose
13. Kluge Estate VIneyard Blanc de Blanc-another nice sparkling
14. Kluge Estate Vineyard 2002 New World Red-loved this one…should have kept it on the rack longer.
15. Linden Vineyards 1999 Hardscrabble Chardonnay-OMG It’s a memory now.
16. Linden Vineyards 2006 Avenius Sauvignon Blanc-perfect minerality and citrus
17. Linden Vineyards 2007 Claret-a red that shows just how great 2007 was.
18. Pollak Vineyards 2008 Petit Verdot-another example of the fruit forward wines from 2008.
19. Pollak Vineyards 2009 Viognier-The crisp, fruity nature of this one made me fall in love with viogniers
20. Pollak Vineyards 2009 Chardonnay-my pick as a perfect example of chardonnay in Virginia

Virginia Sparklings Impress at Tasting

Paul and I were invited to a tasting of sparkling wines which was held at Keswick Vineyards. Stephan Barnard and his wife Kat hosted the event, but the logistics (including the procurement of sparkling wines) were superbly handled by Frank Morgan of Drink What You Like and the Dynamic Duo who write Swirl Sip Snark. A number of palates were on hand to lend their opinions on which sparkling bubbled most brightly, and these included: Swirl Sip Snark, John Witherspoon of the Wine Cellar Wine Shop, John & Jean Haggarty of Haggarty On Wine, Stephen Barnard, winemaker at Keswick Vineyards, Joel Timmons of Virginia Wine Snob, Richard Leahy of Richard Leahy’s Wine Report, Frank Morgan of Drink What You Like, and Rick Collier & Nancy Bauer of Virginia Wine in Your Pocket.

So twelve sparklings were poured for our critical judgments, and all but two were from Virginia. The tasting was done blind. How did Virginia fare? Quite well. In fact, the two non-Virginia sparklings did not show well at all with the offering from France scoring at the bottom. The other, a bubbly bearing the Barefoot label, ranked #6. Without further ado, here are the rankings based on the panel’s decision:

1. Thibaut-Janisson FIZZ, $21
2. Prince Michel Sparkling Wine, $30
3. Afton Mountain Vineyards Tete’ de Cuvee, $30
4. Kluge SP Blanc de Blanc, $24 (tie)
4. Veritas Scintilla, $30 (tie)
6. Barefoot Brut Cuvee, $9.99
7. Thibaut-Janisson Blanc de Chardonnay, $30
8. King Family Brut, $30
9. Barboursville Brut, $18.99
10. Potomac Point Sparkling Wine, $0 (received as tasting sample)
11. Ingleside Vineyards Virginia Brut, $20
12. Chateau Gaillard Cuvee Charlette Voyant Touraine, $19

After tasting the wonderful sparkling we were able to taste several viogniers. We had three from Virginia and two from California. Stephen even shared a 2009 Viognier from the Keswick Signature series. We spent some time socializing and enjoying the wines. It was great getting to spend time with and getting to know our fellow Virginia wine writers. We would like to send out a huge Thank You to Frank Morgan, the folks at Swirl Sip Snark, Stephen Barnard and his wife Kat, and the Inn on Poplar Hill for providing the flutes. We appreciate all the help that went into creating a wonderful tasting afternoon!

Here are some pictures from the afternoon.

Please plan to sample these bubbling beauties at the Virginia wineries that produce them, and mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.