Nebbiolo Vertical Tasting

The last time we visited Breaux Vineyards we heard about their Nebbiolo Vertical Tasting taking place this weekend. Being interested in Nebbiolo and not having much experience with it, we decided to sign up for the tasting.

The vertical tasting took place on Saturday. Breaux was a very popular place on Saturday. The tasting room was populated with patrons waiting to taste. Breaux had so many visitors they had to set up a tent outside for more tasting space. There were also lots of people having picnics on the grounds.

Breaux had set up long tables in their tank room for the Nebbiolo vertical tasting. It looked as though they could seat 30 to 40 people for each tasting. After being seated, David Collins, the winemaker, told us about the history of Nebbiolo at Breaux. Then the tasting began.

We began with the 2004 and 2003 Breaux Nebbiolos out of the barrel. Both will be spending a year or two more in the barrels before bottling. The 2004 was very earthy, and rustic, with a red brick color and hints of raisin flavors. The 2003 had the same color but was smoother with dark berry flavors.

Next up were the 2002 Breaux Nebbiolo and the 2001 Veraldo Barbaresco. The 2002 Nebbiolo was from the bottle. It was fruitier with pepper, spicy flavors. It was slightly lighter in color but not in body. The 2001 Veraldo Barbaresco was a deeper red with a long finish and gave the sensation of sweetness without the sweet taste. The sensation of sweet was noted by some and questioned by others. Everyone’s palate is different.

Finally we had the 2001 Breaux Nebbiolo (current release) and the 2000 Allesandra Montigliero (Barolo). These were very similar. Both had dark brick red colors, smooth on the tongue, with some cherry/dark berry flavors.

Of course the foods prepared by Grandale Farm were perfectly paired with the wines. We had braised duck confit, caponata with prosciutto, Maryland crab mousse, sauteed grandale mizuno and chicory, aged Italian asiago, and nut toffee with vanilla wafer crust. Outstanding tastes to compliment the wines.

After the nebbiolos, we were treated to a taste of the syrah in the barrel room. They provided some chocolates to go with the syrah. While the syrah was very nice (especially with the chocolates), Paul really enjoyed the merlot they poured before the Nebbiolo tasting began. But then again, he’s partial to merlots. From the Nebbiolo tasting, Warren found the 2001 Breaux Nebbiolo to be most interesting. Not being all that familiar with Nebbiolo, we enjoyed the opportunity to taste so many and compare the different vintages. It certainly was an interesting wine afternoon.

Barrel Tasting at Linden

On Sunday we went to a once yearly barrel tasting at Linden Vineyards. We invited our friends Caroline and Kerry to join us at this event. We were so pleased they decided to join us.

Once we got to Linden we participated in their regular tasting and were able to taste their recently released 2004 Cabernet Franc and their 2005 Vidal Riesling as well as their current offerings. We could not find a bad thing to say about any of their wines. We enjoyed each one.

After our tasting we picked up our glass and our tasting sheet and went to the cellar to began the barrel tasting. The tasting sheet describes the event like this:

“Once a year we like to give you the opportunity to taste the new vintage. There is something magical about tasting a wine right from the barrel. The wines are young, unpolished, exuberant and full of fresh fruit flavors with a puckery dryness. We will tell you about the growing season, the logic behind the blends and how we think the wines will evolve.”

From the first barrel we were able to taste the 2005 Avenius. This wine is a blend of cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot. The grapes come from Shari Avenius’ vineyard which is close to Linden. She grows the grapes for Linden and Jim Law uses his skill to create the wines. Shari Avenius herself was using the wine theif to serve our taste of this developing wine. We would really enjoy having the chance to talk with her sometime about her vineyard.

The second barrel revealed the 2005 Hardscrabble which is a blend of cabernet sauvignon, petit verdot, merlot, and cabernet franc. This one became the favorite of Paul and Caroline. The man providing our taste explained that this wine would be staying the barrel for several more months. We look forward to it’s release.

Barrel three consisted of the 2005 Petit Verdot. This wine contained petit verdot and cabernet franc. Warren found this one to be his favorite. Kerry enjoyed this one as well.

The last barrel was the 2005 Boisseau which is a blend of cabernet franc, petit verdot, and merlot. Richard Boisseau has 3 arces of grapes that he sells to Jim Law for creating this wine. Richard explained to us that each wine takes the name of the vineyard from which the grapes come. Instead of naming the wine by the largest concentration of a certain grape, the wine takes the name from the vineyard’s owner. Interesting way to name wines.

After the barrel tasting we entered a different part of the cellar for a special release tasting. Over the weekend Linden released the 2005 Avenius Sauvignon Blanc, the 2002 Hardscrabble Red, and the 2004 Petit Manseng. All three were very good. With each wine they provided foods that paired well with each one. After this tasting we went back upstairs and enjoyed two bottles of wine and nibbles for lunch. While we were having our lunch, they sold out of the 2002 Hardscrabble Red. Paul was a bit upset because he was planning on buying a bottle or two because it was 100% merlot.

We have found that barrel tasting provide you insight to the upcoming wines. We thoroughly enjoyed this barrel tasting at Linden and can’t say enough about their wines. Here are some photos from our visit to Linden:

Caroline, Kerry, and Warren at the regular tasting.

Warren, Kerry, and Caroline enjoying the barrel tasting.

Richard Boisseau using the wine theif to provide Warren a taste of the 2005 Boisseau.

Vertical Tasting at Gray Ghost

On Saturday we attended a vertical wine tasting dinner at Gray Ghost Winery. We were treated to 10 years of Cabernet Sauvignons from their wine library. None of these wines are available for sale. We enjoyed foods that paired well with the cabernets.

The first flight of wines was from 1998 to 2002. From that flight the 2002 stood out as an exceptional wine. Even though it is considered young for a cabernet, it was full of fruit flavor and exhibited signs of becoming even better in the future.

The second flight of wines was from 1993 to 1997. As you might guess, the 1993 was amazing. It’s holding up very well for its age. The tannins have smoothed over the years and the fruit flavors still shine.

We plan to write more about this event and others at Gray Ghost in a future article for the Daily News Record.

On a side note, we are off to New Orleans on Tuesday to visit Warren’s family. While in New Orleans we plan to visit Pontchartrain Vineyards. We will write about our visit there when we return.

Barrel Tasting

On Saturday we attended the barrel tasting at Gray Ghost Vineyards. We enjoyed seeing how the wines are developing in the barrels. Amoung others we tasted the 2005 Merlot. It’s bursting with cherry! We can’t wait for it to be released later this year. Barrel tasting is always a treat. Below is a picture of wine maker Al Kellert filling Warren’s glass right from the barrel.

Sideways Party

Saturday evening we had some friends over to enjoy some Virginia Merlots and to watch the movie Sideways. If you are familiar with the movie, you know there is a famous line about having Merlot. That’s the reason we decided to serve Merlot. We picked out 4 Virginia Merlots to enjoy while watching the movie. The Merlots were:

2004 Oakencroft Monticello Merlot
2003 Barboursville Merlot
2003 Lake Anna Merlot
2002 Old House Merlot

For dessert we served the Windham Hope’s Raspberry Merlot. It was chilled and served with brownies and dark chocolates. At the end of the evening most agreed the stand out Merlot was the 2004 Oakencroft Monticello Merlot. All of the Merlots were delicious and had their individual characteristics. It was enlightening to compare and contrast the different years and different wineries. Don’t let the line in the movie keep you from discovering Virginia Merlots.

Horton Vineyards Mardi Gras

On Saturday we took a trip to Charlottesville to attend the Mardi Gras event at Horton Vineyards. It was a rainy day but that didn’t dampen our spirits. With your admission you got a logo glass, Mardi Gras beads, seafood gumbo, chili, and traditional Mardi Gras cake. We enjoyed all of these while tasting many of their wines.

After our tasting, we joined a tour of their tank and barrel room. We were able to taste several of their wines right out of the barrel and a few out of the tanks. It was interesting to taste what the wines are like right out of the barrel. You can taste where the wines will be in the future. Here’s a picture from Horton’s cellar.