Wacky Winter Weather Doesn’t Stop Bloggers!

Wintry mixes, gale force winds, and wild temperatures have not deterred us from hitting the wine trails in 2018. In recent weekends, we visited Tarara Winery, Gray Ghost Vineyards, and Rappahanock Cellars; along the way, we met up with fellow bloggers Kurt and Carol of Wine About Virginia and supreme oenophile/good friend Susan McHenry.

Our trip to Tarara Winery was threatened by a winter advisory that was issued for later in the afternoon. However, we decided to go with the intent to get their early and then leave early before the winter weather arrived. Danielle, our wine educator, gave us an expert tasting of winemaker Jordan Harris’ excellent wines. Of the white wines, the 2015 Viognier and the 2013 Neveah White were my favorites. The Viognier presented floral aromas with notes of tropical fruit and honey. On the palate, I noted tropical fruit with a nice, round mouth feel. The Neveah White is a blend of Chardonnay and Viognier; it displayed ripe pear and pineapple characteristics with a touch of oak on the finish. Favorite red wines included the 2015 Long Bomb 9, a red blend led by Cabernet Sauvignon followed by Merlot, Syrah and Tannat. Notes of tobacco, clover, blackberry and anise gave way to a fruity palate with pepper on the finish; it was also a bit “chewy”. I’d recommend decanting before serving. The 2012 Neveah Red was a juicy treat with elements of blackberry, currants, tobacco and cedar. Oh—-the wintry mix? In keeping with the fickle winter that has been 2018, it never materialized.

However, our winter hurricane did strike the area, and many wineries were closed due to power outages. Gray Ghost Vineyards was able to operate thanks to a generator, so we were able to attend their annual barrel tasting. Here we met bloggers Kurt and Carol Jensen and dear friend Susan McHenry. Group favorites were the 2016 Petit Verdot and the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon. I was also a fan of the lighter-bodied and fruity 2017 Cabernet Franc that was still in the barrel but oh so ready to enjoy. From Gray Ghost Vineyards we made our way to Rappahanock Cellars. Rappahanock Cellars has added sparkling wines to their lineup of quality wines, and I enjoyed the Sparkling Rose with its strawberry flavors and bright acidity. The dry Rose Reserve and the 2015 Cabernet Franc were other standouts; however, at the end of our tasting, the group was in the mood for Chardonnay, and the 2015 Chardonnay did not disappoint. Pear flavors with a rich mouth feel and an oak kiss paired well with the platter of cheeses that we ordered to finish the wonderful (and less windy) afternoon.

Spring is around the corner, and the finicky winter of 2018 will be history. Plan to visit these wineries as we transition to warmer days and spring landscapes colored with fragrant blossoms. Of course, mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Traditions Continue – Breaux Vineyards Vertical Tasting

Our last post featured a tradition of beginning each new year with a visit to Delaplane Vineyards, and we continued another one this past weekend. Paul and I have attended the vertical Cabernet tasting at Breaux Vineyards for the past several years, and also tends to be the first wine event that we attend. This year’s vertical featured Cabernet Sauvignon from the driest growing season which was 2007 to the wettest, 2014. Exquisite food pairings with the vintage Cabernets made for a delicious afternoon.

The event was held in the grand Acadia room with its scenic views of the vineyards. We were greeted with a glass of the 2016 Vieux Carre, an orange wine crafted from Viognier. Lookout for orange wines in Virginia; this is the second orange wine that we have experienced from Virginia. Both were produced from the Viognier grape with the orange tint due to extended soaking on the skins. Expect a tannic presence on the palate. It paired quite well with the amuse bouche, a scrod cake topped with garlic tarragon aioli.

Cabernet Sauvignon was the featured star, and six vintages were presented for review. These included the 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, and 2014. An added twist was that these Cabernets were the result of three different winemaking talents: Dave Collins, David Pagan Castano, and Heather Munden. Current winemaker Josh Gerard introduced the profiles to each wine and its respective vintage. So which vintage shined the brightest? In the end, it depended on the food pairing. My overall favorite was the 2012. It proved to be the most versatile; although it was paired with the second course, salmon topped with raw sugar and mustard salmon served atop white bean pepper ragout, it also played nicely with the third course, a tornedeau of beef over apple chestnut gnudi and apple cider vinegar. So we should pair chicken with white wine? Think again. The first course featured chicken thighs braised in peanut sauce. The 2012 played quite nicely with this dish too.

First Course

Second Course

Third Course

The 2007 as elder statesman was not to be ignored. It sang the right notes for its age—-soft cedar, sweet tobacco, and raising-like fruit. Quite nice on its own, it also paired well with the chicken course; however, the more savory 2008 vintage gave its older sibling a run for its money with this food pairing. The peanut sauce brought forward the ripe berry elements. The youngest kid on the block, the 2014, was produced from what was the wettest year of the vintages served; however, the rains came and went at the right time. Harvest time was dry and the fruit ripened right on cue to produce a more structured wine with dark berry aromas, cedar notes, and firmer tannins. This was most enjoyable with the beef course. Buy now but drink later; decant if you are not that patient.

I was not surprised that the 2007 was at its apex; it was a dry year with little rainfall and dry conditions to harvest time. The 2010 growing season was indeed even hotter; for that reason, the red wines from this vintage still need time on the wine rack. I find them to be a bit tight still. Tasting the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon in this lineup from Breaux Vineyards reinforced my hunch—-I enjoyed it with the salmon, a fattier dish that absorbed the higher alcohol and propelled forward the dark fruit elements of the wine. However, it is a gem that needs time to evolve further.

Some traditions are worth continuing, and this is certainly one of them. It is remarkable to us that we can discuss vintages in Virginia and decide whether to drink or hold. As we begin our 13th year as bloggers, we can attest that the quality Virginia wines can be found at those wineries that devote the time and effort into creating quality wines. Breaux Vineyards is one of those wineries. Please visit Breaux Vineyards to discover your own favorites, and be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Dinner Party Wines

Saturday evening we had some friends over for dinner. Because October is Virginia Wine Month we decided to serve Virginia wines. Warren, of course, was the chef and also selected the wines for the meal.

We started with a salad course. It was a tossed green salad with a Dijon vinaigrette dressing. Warren selected the 2016 Rose from 50 West Vineyards as the wine to pair with the salad. Everyone thought it was the perfect pairing for the salad. The rose was was made with Sangiovese. It was crisp and refreshing.

The main course consisted of a healthy portion of filet mignon, parmesan oven roasted potatoes, and grilled squash. Warren selected the 2010 Meritage from Pollak Vineyards. Warren decided it needed to be decanted. 2010 was a big year for reds and while it’s been many years since it’s release, the Meritage was still pretty big and needed some air. We decanted it for more than an hour before serving. It ended up being a perfect pairing. It’s a blend of 41% Cabernet Franc, 41% Merlot, 18% Petit Verdot. This estate grown Bordeaux blend won the 2013 Monticello Cup. Warren noted concentrated fruit aromas with hints of anise and tobacco that led to flavors of black cherry, blackberry, and spice. Nice tannins too. He noted a subtle vanilla note at the end to boot. It was delicious!

So what have you been enjoying for Virginia Wine Month? Let us know! If you happen to visit either 50 West Vineyards or Pollak Vineyards please tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Harvesting At Gray Ghost

Today we went to Gray Ghost Vineyards to help harvest the chardonnay grapes. We do this every year and have been for the last 12 years. They had a bumper crop this year. Al Kellert reported bringing in almost 50% more than they did last year. We had a great time as usual! Here’s what the grapes looked like this morning.

Wines Across America

Last week we attended the Wines Across America event held at the Longworth House Office Building in the shadow of the Capital. This is a yearly event for members of congress, staffers, and invited guests to come and taste wines from across the country. There were 97 wines being poured that evening from the four regions of the country. The event is put on by Wine America. We try to attend each year to taste wines from around the country and see how what’s new.

After making our way to the event we started with the north east region. Warren found is favorite wine here. He enjoyed the Dry Riesling from Anthony Road Wine Company from the Finger Lakes region of New York. He enjoyed the peach, tangerine and the long finish.

We had to travel to the south east region for me to find my favorite. And it happened to be local! My favorite was the Old Westminster 2014 Anthem. It’s a red blend with lots of fruit on the nose and a very smooth finish. I thought of red pasta sauce or even a hearty hamburger while sipping this one.

Virginia was well represented by Cardinal Point with their A6 and from Paradise Springs with their viognier.

We had a great time tasting wines and chatting it up with industry folks from around the country. There was some really nice wines represented at this event. If you get the chance in the future to attend the Wines Across America event, you will enjoy tasting wines from all corners of the country.

Breaux Vineyard’s 20th Anniversary

We were invited to attend Breaux Vineyard‘s 20th Anniversary celebration. And what a celebration it was! Here are some pictures from the event.

Here’s one of the cakes. It was delicious!

The place was packed. They had lots of venders in attendance, people were tasting wine and enjoying the music.

Jen Breaux said a few words and introduced her father, Paul Breaux and state representative Dave LaRock. Mr. LaRock spoke to congratulate Paul Breaux on his accomplishments in Loudoun County. Then Paul Breaux spoke as well.

They had a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new building.

We enjoyed our time in the VIP room for the celebration. We had a chance to talk with Chris Blosser, Vice President of Operations at Breaux Vineyards. We sipped the wonderful latest vintage of the Rose. We ran into some of our wine friends and overall had a great time!

If you haven’t been to Breaux Vineyards lately, plan a trip to visit them soon and when you do, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!