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Category: Events (page 1 of 25)

Wining and Dining at Williamsburg Winery Pt. 2

So our extraordinary weekend at Williamsburg Winery included a four-course dinner prepared by chef Ika Zaken and held in the Wedmore Place’s Café Provencal. The menu including wine pairings are presented here:

First Course:
Vol-Au-Vent—creamed mushrooms, puff pastry, port reduction
Paired with: 2011 Matthew’s Chardonnay

Second Course:
Monk Fish with artichoke and Winter Green Risotto, snow peas, lobster cream
Paired with: 2013 Viognier (This was my favorite course and pairing of the night.)

Third Course:
Lamb Saddle with cannellini beans, baby kale, roasted tomatoes, lamb jus
Paired with: 2010 Trianon

Fourth Course:
Wild boar, daube provencal with carrots, pearl onions, forest mushroom, butternut squash polenta
Paired with: 2010 Adagio (ok—this ties with the second course as my favorite course and pairing of the night.)

Dessert:
Crème caramel with caramel sauce

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Our appetites were certainly sated after the day’s culinary delights. However, a special word must be mentioned for the Wedmore Place and its wonderful staff. The Wedmore Place took us back to a colonial period but with modern amenities. Our room was decorated with period furnishing and warmed by a fireplace; the bathroom was first rate with refreshingly scented body products. Breakfast was continental style with the world’s fluffiest croissants and a wonderful quiche that complemented fresh-brewed coffee. The Wedmore staff could not have been more polite and accommodating, and we look forward to a future visit to the Wedmore Place.

The 6th Annual Virginia Sparkling Tasting concluded our weekend of food and wine; however, before we left the Williamsburg Winery and Wedmore Place, I made certain to purchase a few bottles of our favorite wines. Looking for a local getaway that includes world-class cuisine, wines, and accommodations? Then plan a visit to Williamsburg Winery and then book a stay at the Wedmore Place. Of course, please mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Trump 2009 Trumps Sparkling Tasting

We participated in the 6th Annual Virginia Sparkling Blind Tasting this past weekend. We always look forward to this event that is planned by Frank Morgan of Drink What You Like. Williamsburg Winery hosted this year’s tasting with Williamsburg winemaker Matthew Meyer serving as one of the judges.

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So of the ten sparklings presented for judging, which one was at the top of the heap and which one finished last? The complex Trump 2009 Blanc de Blanc finished first this year followed by Veritas’ Scintilla. Third place went to Thibaut-Janisson’s NV Blanc de Blanc. Here is how the other’s ranked:

4th place—Stone Tower 2009 Blanc de Blanc (Wild Boar)
5th place—Trump 2007 Reserve
5th place(tie)—Trump 2008 Blanc de Blanc
7th place—Afton Mountain Bollicine
7th place (tie)—Boneyard Bubbles (Tarara Vineyards)
9th place—Thibaut FIZZ NV
10th place—Thibaut-Janisson Extra Brut

How did my own rankings compare? I must have been in the mood for a light and zesty bubbly since the tasting occurred at 10:30 AM, because my top choice was the Afton Mountain Bollicine. However, my second preference was at the opposite end of the spectrum—the weighty, oakier Trump 2007 Reserve. My third place winner was the Scintilla by Veritas Vineyards. The Thibaut-Janisson Extra Brut finished last on my list.

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Sunday’s sparkling tasting actually completed a weekend of wonderful wines and delicious cuisine enjoyed by us and other bloggers, magazine writers, and wine industry people. On top of that, we were able to rest and relax at the Wedmore Place, a country hotel located at the Williamsburg Winery. I will share details on all of the above in the next post. In the meantime, seek out the sparkling wines listed above at your local wine shop; better yet, plan to visit the wineries that produce them and sample for yourself before buying—be your own judge! Just mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Breaux Kicks Off Its Vertical Tastings

Breaux Vineyards host three vertical tastings every year, and these present tasters a chance to compare vintages of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Nebbiolo. This year’s vertical started with a lineup of Cabernet Sauvignon that included the 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2012 vintages. The 2012 was a tossed in as a pre-release, and also included in the lineup was a barrel sample of the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon. A Cajun flare was added to the mix with the 2013 Zydeco, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Chamourcin. Cuisine from Grandale Farm restaurant was served with the stellar cast of Cabernet Sauvignons.

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Winemaker Heather Munden introduced herself and the wines that were served alongside the courses of food. A twist to this year’s Cabernet Sauvignon vertical tasting was that no particular course was intended to pair with a particular vintage; the intent was to allow tasters to decide which wines paired best with which course. So what did we all conclude? The run away winner for best and most versatile Cabernet Sauvignon was the 2008 vintage with its ripe mixed berry nose and flavors; silky tannins and an oak kiss made for a nice yet lengthy finish. Its fruity profile certainly made for a perfect play partner with the first course, a spicy sausage and shrimp brochette over celeriac puree with port reduction. However, I also enjoyed the fruit-driven 2013 Zydeco with this spicy dish; the fruitiness tended to cool down the kick provided by the peppery first course.

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The second course presented pork lollipop raised with fig and cippolini onions served overt tarragon gnocci and ginger oil. Here again, the 2008 paired quite well, but the chewy nature of the lollipop tended to favor the chewier wines—the still young 2010 and the even younger 2012. I kept returning to the 2010 vintage as I nibbled on this course. The 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon was still tight on the nose but swirling coaxed elements of tobacco and dark fruit. Tannins were still a bit on the chewy side too—no wonder it paired with the braised pork.

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The third course featured grilled lamb chops over stewed carrots and brussel sprouts with chimi churri and demi. More spices meant more opportunities for the fruit-driven 2008 vintage to shine; however, I gave a nod to the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon with its notes of dark plums and cherries and whiffs of cedar and sandalwood; it presented a full mouth feel and a nice length to complement the chops and stewed veggies. Paul is a fan of both lamb chops and brussel sprouts, and he favored the 2013 Zydeco with this course.

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Of course, a Cajun feast would not be complete without something extra or lagniappe. Here the lagniappe was the port-style lineage, 1st edition. Enjoy a sip of this on its own or pair with a strong cheese; dark chocolate should also pair quite well.

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Other Virginia wine lovers attended the vertical tasting including our friends Susan McHenry and Erica Johannsen. The next vertical tasting at Breaux Vineyards will feature a cast of Merlot vintages followed by a lineup of Nebbiolo vintages in April. Plan a visit to Breaux Vineyards and be sure to sign up for a vertical tasting; please mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Happy New Year!

margauxEvery December 30th for the last 6 years many of our wine friends have gathered at our friend Susan’s house for a final wine dinner of the year. Last night we enjoyed a wonderful dinner with friends and some amazing wines.

The star of the evening was the 1990 Chateau Margaux. It had a brown, brick edge in the color, due to age. Warren noted on his first impression tobacco and earthy elements; third swirl and air revealed cherry on the palate with sweet tobacco and good acidity. Paul and Bruce noted cranberry while Sylvia caught a whiff of geraniums. It was a wonderful wine that everyone enjoyed! What a great way to end the year!

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Happy New Year to all our readers! Thank you for continuing to return to our blog and read about our wine adventures! Cheers!

Red Wines Shine At Whole Foods

Virginia Wine Month logoOctober is Virginia Wine Month, and on this past Wednesday the Whole Foods Tysons in Falls Church capitalized on the celebration by featuring red wines from Pearmund Cellars. These included the 2012 Cabernet Franc and the 2012 Petit Verdot. Marketing director Neche Harris invited us to participate in the event, and we eagerly accepted. We’ve been to a few Virginia wineries; of course, we were in our element!

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So what were our impressions of the wines? The 2012 Cabernet Franc was lighter-bodied with brambleberry notes and spicy characteristics—typical for a well-crafted Virginia Cabernet Franc. The 2012 Petit Verdot presented a more fruit-forward profile with dark fruit on the palate along with hints of licorice; oak nuances added a bit of complexity. Our favorites? Depends on food. The versatile Cabernet Franc would certainly pair well with lighter fare, cheese plates, or even Thanksgiving dinner with its herbed turkey and numerous side dishes. Grilled meats or game? The Petit Verdot by a mile.

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We enjoyed mingling with customers many of whom had already experienced Virginia wines and spoke favorably of them. We can recall the early days of our blog when very few folks had tasted Virginia wines, and their impressions were not so wonderful. We can also note that according to our very rough estimate, most of the tasters at the Whole Foods event preferred the 2012 Petit Verdot.

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We applaud Neche Harris and Whole Foods Tysons staff for promoting Virginia wines. Can’t find your Virginia wine at your local market? Shop at the Whole Foods in Falls Church, and be sure to tell Neche Harris that Virginia Wine Time sent you!

October Is Virginia Wine Month!

Virginia Wine Month logoOctober is Virginia Wine Month! Wineries and restaurants that serve Virginia wine will be having activities all month to help celebrate Virginia Wine Month. To help you plan your month, here are a few resources to look into. There are lots of activities for you to participate!

Nancy and Rick from Virginia Wine In My Pocket has put together “31 Days of Virginia Wine” to help you celebrate and enjoy Virginia Wine all month. Check out their ideas!

Virginia.org has put together a list of events happening at Virginia wineries for almost every day of the month. Check out their list and plan to attend some events!

Virginiawine.org also has a long list of winery happenings for the whole month of October. Check out their list and plan your celebration of Virginia Wine Month!

Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook and check back on the blog to see what we will be doing for Virginia Wine Month. We’ll be Tweeting and Facebooking our winery visits as well as the different Virginia wines we’ll be enjoying this month. Happy Virginia Wine Month!

Seven From ‘07 at the Millers

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Bruce and Silvia Miller, wine educators extraordinaire at Breaux Vineyards, invited us over to their lovely home for a food and wine pairing that featured Virginia wines from the stellar 2007 vintage. Fellow bloggers Alan Liska, Erica Johansen, and Kirsten Gansulous of Cellar Blog, and other wine guests joined us all for a wonderful evening of wine, food, and cheer.

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Bruce and Silvia greeted guests with a glass of the Wild Board Sparkling Wine from Stone Tower Vineyards. However, this was simply the precursor to the evening’s main attractions—red wines from the 2007 harvest. Readers may recall that the 2007 growing season was hot and dry which allowed red grapes more time to hang on the vine before harvest. Robust red wines with depth and complexity were the result. Silvia prepared a plate of small bites that included flank steak, duck, beef tenderloin, cheeses, and macaroni and cheese. These were paired with the following 2007 red wines from Virginia:

2007 Rappahannock Vineyards Meritage
2007 Jefferson Vineyards Meritage
2007 Pollak Vineyards Meritage
2007 Pearmund Cellars Ameritage Reserve
2007 Octagon from Barboursville
2007 King Family Meritage
2007 Avenius from Linden

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I did not take any notes on the wines, but I can say that the 2007 Pollak Vineyards Meritage generated the most buzz. Other comments suggested that the Jefferson Meritage and the King Family Meritage were also quite popular. After the seven from 2007 were poured, Silvia then opened up a buffet of food platters that included flank steak, beef tenderloin and potato salad; desert included chocolate cups filled with fresh berries. Bruce likewise expanded the wine buffet to include the following:

2007 Fratelli from Fabbioli Cellars
2007 Gray Ghost Cabernet Sauvignon
2007 Hodder Hill from Glen Manor Vineyards

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We enjoyed the flight of 2007 red wines from Virginia; for me, it was a good opportunity to taste some 2007 wines that are still on my own wine rack. I can assure readers that the 2007 red wines from Virginia can be enjoyed now but still have time to rest in the wine cellar. (In my case, that would be the closet in my office.) So you already drank your 2007 red wines from Virginia? Then visit the wineries listed in this post to replenish your stock with current releases. Be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Tasting Wines Of America

logoI attended the Wines of America event hosted by WineAmerica, an advocacy group that “serves the interests of wineries in all 50 states by leveraging its formidable grassroots strength to benefit the entire industry.” The event was held at the Longworth House Office Building, and this year 25 wineries participated in the event. These included wineries from the Northeast, Midwest, and Rocky Mountains. Yes, wines are made in states other than California, Washington, Oregon—and Virginia. Here is a brief wrap up of some standouts:

Arizona: 2011 Caduceus Cochise County “Sancha” Red Wine; 2012 Pillsbury Wine Company Viognier

California: 2011 Dierberg Chardonnay

Colorado: 2012 Stone Cottage Cellars West Elks Gewurtztraminer

Finger Lakes: 2013 Anthony Roads Rose

Idaho: 2009 Bitner Vineyards Snake River Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz

Missouri: 2011 Les Bourgeois Vineyards Chardonel; 2012 St. James Winery Ozark Highlands Norton

Nebraska: 2012 James Arthur Vineyards Vignoles

North Carolina: Biltmore Chardonnay (I neglected to record the vintage)

Oregon: 2012 Firesteed Pinot Gris; 2012 Cliff Creek Cellars MRV; 2010 Van Piezer Pinot Noir

Pennsylvania: South Shore Wine Company Gruner Veltliner

Washington: 2012 Basel Cellars Sauvignon Blanc/Semillion; 2011 L’Ecole Merlot

And how do wineries participate in this event? Public Affairs Director Michael Kaiser explained to me that WineAmerica puts out an all call to the state winery associations to send wines, and WineAmerica members also contribute wines to the event. The goal is to get at least 20 states to represent their wines at the event; needless to say, that goal was exceeded in 2014. I sampled wines from Georgia, Iowa, New Mexico and Texas. It was exciting to observe (and taste) the ever-expanding wine industry in America.

The event was well attended, and I was able to chat with wine critics Dave McIntyre and Richard Leahy who were also in swirling and sipping across America. I was also able to stand out on the building’s porch to enjoy a gorgeous view of the Capitol building; from here, I could also witness a spectacular horizon. Did I take any pictures? Well, Paul the photographer did not come along, and though I brought a camera with me, I neglected to snap a few shots. Use your imaginations—it was a lovely spring evening in the nation’s capital.

I did not get to taste every wine that was being poured, and yes, I did taste wines from Maryland and Virginia; however, we write about those wine all of the time. I though it would be an educational experience to focus on wines outside of my own comfort zone. Every state in the country boasts at least one winery; plan to visit any of the wineries mentioned in this post while travelling this summer. Be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Nebbiolo Veritcal

On April 12th we attended the Nebbiolo Vertical Tasting at Breaux Vineyards. We’ve been attending the vertical tastings at Breaux for several years now and always have a great time. Several of our wine friends also attended the vertical. So how did the nebbiolo grape end up in the Breaux vineyards? Paul Breaux visited Italy’s Piedmont, tasted nebbiolo and fell in love with the grape. Now Breaux has four acres of nebbiolo grapes producing some really nice vintages of nebbiolo.

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After a introduction by Jen Breaux Blosser, the tasting began. We tasted six different vintages of nebbiolos from Breaux. We tasted 2000, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010, and a barrel sample of 2012. Winemaker David Pagan Castano was on hand to discuss the different vintages and answer questions about the wines we were tasting. The four course meal was provided by Grandale Farm Restaurant. Instead of pairing specific vintages with specific courses, David suggested we try different vintages with different courses.

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The first course was an antipasto plate featuring a charred baguette, sliced cappicola, Genoa salami, Soppressata, Parmesan, Vermont white cheddar, aged Provolone with sun dried tomato pesto and fresh olive oil. With this course we preferred the 2000 and 2012 vintages of nebbiolo.

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The second course was pan-braised shrimp and local cured ham over white bean rosemary risotto and Swiss chard. We enjoyed the 2005 and 2007 vintages of nebbiolo with this course.

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The third course was salt-crusted rib roast over cauliflower and asparagus with truffle oil and fig jelly. The 2010 nebbiolo was our favorite for this course.

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The final course was a raspberry white chocolate truffle paired with the 2012 Nebbiolo Ice. During the tasting we compared our notes with other tasters. Our favorite vintages ended up being the 2005, the 2000, and the 2007. I selected the 2007 as my favorite vintage. I was sure to secure a bottle before leaving. We had a great time chatting about all things wine with Jen Breaux Blosser as well as discussing the nebbiolos from Breaux. If you haven’t attended one of the vertical tastings at Breaux Vineyards, you should think about signing up for one. And if you do, tell the Virginia Wine Time sent you!

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5th Annual Sparkling Tasting

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.
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Of the eleven sparklings, seven were from Virginia, two were from France, one from New York, and one from California.
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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
9. FIZZ
10. Piper-Hidseck
11. Grower Champagne – Louis de Sasy
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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.
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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!
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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!

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