Every spring I look forward to attending The Wines of America event sponsored by WineAmerica and Winegrape Growers of America in conjunction with the Congressional Wine Caucus. It is at this event that tasters get to experiences wines from all over the country. Thirty eight wineries from 25 states poured their best at the Capitol Visitor’s Center, and while I did not come close to tasting all the wines poured that evening, I did keep notes on wines that I thought were quite good.
The Northeast Region includes wineries from Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. The stunner here was the 2012 Gruner Veltliner from South Shore Wine Company located in the Lake Erie area of Pennsylvania. Nice stone fruit and spice notes were accompanied by a mineral element—it was quite good! From Maryland, my fave was the 2014 Boordy Vineyards Dry Rose with its strawberry elements that heralded the arrival of spring.
The New York Wine Selections featured a refreshing 2013 Rose Sparkling wine from Bedell Cellars as well as a 2013 Cabernet Franc from the same winery; it presented characteristic aromas of fresh berries and spice. The Great Lakes Region presented very good examples of hybrids done well; one such case was the 2013 Blue Sky Vineyard Seyval Blanc (Illinois) and the 2013 Wollersheim Winery “Prairie Fume” Seyval Blanc (Wisconsin). Illinois Sparkling Company’s “Franken French Hybrid” is indeed a sparkling wine produced from the Chambourcin grape, and I was pleasantly surprised with the result. However, it was the 2013 Ferrante Grand River Valley Gruner Veltliner that most impressed me with its heady floral aromas and subtle peach notes.
After a break to nibble on cheeses and bread, I sampled the ware from the Midwest Region. Here I enjoyed the 2011 Les Bourgeois Vineyards Norton from Missouri and the 2013 Haak Vineyards Dry Blanc du Bois from Texas. The Blanc du Bois is a hybrid grape that mimics Alsatian varieties, and it can be rather acidic; it paired well with the cheeses on my plate. The Rocky Mountain Region finished my tasting across America, and here I enjoyed the 2014 Dos Cabezas WineWorks Meskeoli from Cochise County in Arizona. Lovely floral notes and tropical fruit flavors were the result of a blend that included Viognier, Muscat and Riesling. One sniff made me want to head out to the beach with a bottle of the Meskeoli, a fruit and cheese plate, and a good book! Anyway, I also enjoyed the complex 2012 Bookcliff Vineyards “Ensemble” Red wine from Colorado and the 2012 Bitner Vineyards Dry Riesling from the Snake River Valley in Idaho.
Yes, I did sample at least one Virginia wine, and that was the 2013 Viognier from Breaux Vineyards; my mission was to try wines from other states, so I did not make a point to try the range of Virginia wines. Likewise, I avoided offerings from California and Oregon. I wanted to step outside of my comfort zones and was glad that I did.
Planning a trip to any of the wineries mentioned in this post? Let us know what you think; of course, mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.
Paul and I hosted a blind tasting of five Cabernet Francs from Virginia (of course). Our amateur team was provided with a simple scoring sheet and after a brief discussion about the Cabernet Franc grape and its characteristics, the tasting began. The wines were wrapped in paper bags so that our tasters did not know which wines they were tasting, and these included the 2012 Barboursville Reserve, the 2013 Marquis de Lafayette by Breaux Vineyards, Gadino Cellars’ 2012 Cabernet Franc, a 2013 offering by King family, and 2013 Cabernet Franc by Zephaniah. Light fare was served as the tasting and scoring was conducted, and these allowed our team to see how the wines paired with cheeses, dried meats, and prosciutto-wrapped dates.
So which Cabernet Franc won the contest? Here is how they ranked:
Our team of sippers appreciated the brambleberry and tobacco notes of the Gadino Cabernet Franc; it also offered a generous length. I found it to be very lively with vibrant fruit elements. The Barboursville Reserve was a close second but was a bit tight at the beginning compared to the winner; lots of swirling coaxed out the cedar and pepper notes and eventually dark berry aromas and flavors.
Once the official tasting was done, we feasted on braised lamb shoulder chops flavored with fresh mint and green olives, couscous, and roasted green beans topped with roasted almond slivers. These paired quite well with the wines that were poured for the tasting.
It was fun to showcase one of Virginia’s premier grapes at this taste off. We did not take ourselves too seriously, and we enjoyed the conversation that the wines engendered.
Seek out these or other Cabernet Francs and hold your own wine tasting with family, friends, and food. Of course, always mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you! Watch the video of our tasting below and subscribe to our NEW YouTube Channel!
Paul and I have not posted lately because we’ve been preoccupied with a very special event—our wedding! Yes, we got married on February 20 and then hosted a celebration dinner on February 21 at Chef Geoff’s restaurant in DC. And yes, Virginia wines helped to make the event very memorable.
We were officially married at the DC Courthouse on February 20 at 11:30 AM. Our good friends, Jill and Michael Dail as well as family members that included my parents, sister, brother-in-law, nephew and Paul’s mom joined us to witness the brief ceremony. The Dails then treated us all to a spectacular lunch at Black Salt restaurant. A round of bubbles paired nicely with fresh oysters from both the New York and Rappahannock beds; seafood entrees that included crab cakes and pasta topped with ahi tuna proved to be perfect matches with the Michael Shaps Wild Meadow Vineyard Chardonnay 2010.
The celebration dinner was held on the next day, and Mother Nature threw a day’s worth of snow, ice, and freezing temperatures our way. However, we were not deterred, and family and friends gathered at Chef Geoff’s restaurant that evening. Dinner options included crab cakes, hanger steak, and pasta tossed with a walnut pesto. Barboursville’s Viognier Reserve 2012 and Cabernet Franc Reserve 2012 were poured for our guests. We all had a wonderful time in spite of the wintry mix falling outdoors; in fact, the evening seemed to fly by all too quickly. Before we knew it, Paul and I were cutting the wedding cake and bidding adieu to guests who made us feel very special.
Virginia wines have always played a special role in our relationship, and we were very excited to be able to enjoy these special wines during our very special weekend. Hosting a special occasion at a favorite venue? Ask the events planner to serve Virginia wine, and mention that Virginia Wine Time made the suggestion.
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:
Vol-Au-Vent—creamed mushrooms, puff pastry, port reduction
Paired with: 2011 Matthew’s Chardonnay
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.)
Lamb Saddle with cannellini beans, baby kale, roasted tomatoes, lamb jus
Paired with: 2010 Trianon
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.)
Crème caramel with caramel sauce
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.
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.
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:
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Every 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!
Happy New Year to all our readers! Thank you for continuing to return to our blog and read about our wine adventures! Cheers!