Return To The Club

I was a member of the Casanel Vineyards and Winery wine club for a year and then a few more months went by and I was out. You need to buy a case within the year to be in the club. Well I had forgotten. So we went back to Casanel to get back in the club.

We began at the tasting bar. Our very knowledgable tasting associate Erik, guided us through our tasting. Between the two Pinot Gris’ they have, we both preferred the Ellianna. We noted a full palate with notes of pear, apricot and some lime zest. It was lean and ended with some mineral notes. It’s perfect for a late spring day or summer time. But we’ll enjoy it year round.

We really enjoyed the 2016 Chardonnay. It’s a blend of stainless and oak aging. We noted pineapple, pear and lemon with a lingering finish and a kiss of oak at the end. As I tasted this one, I knew I’d be adding several bottles to my case.

Onto the reds. We tasted the 2015 K2 Red Blend, the 2013 Bergerac Red, the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2015 Petit Verdot. While all the reds were wonderful, my favorite was the 2015 Petit Verdot. I noted plum, blackberry, cedar and a whiff of violet. I could see this one as both a sipper and pairing well with beef. We were also treated to a taste of the 2014 Carménère. Warren wrote down fleshy red fruit, plum, black pepper and thought it would pair well with a flank steak.

After our tasting we shared a bottle of the 2016 Chardonnay with cheese and a baguette. While enjoying out wine and snacks, Nelson joined us and told us his life story and shared his words of wisdom. It was great talking with him and hearing his stories.

Before leaving we made our decisions for the case. We liked the wines so much we’ll probably be back sooner than later to get another case! I’m back in the club now! Be sure to visit Casanel soon and when you do, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Breaux Vineyards

On Sunday we went to pick up club wines and do a tasting at Breaux Vineyards. We went straight to the club room and Bruce was there just waiting to conduct out tasting. It’s always nice to see a familiar face at Breaux.

We started with the club wines. We tasted 2016 Vidal Barrique, the 2015 Cellar Club Chardonnay, the 2016 Six Degrees and a new, sweeter white called 2016 Orleans. Of these I really enjoyed the 2015 Cellar Club Chardonnay. We noted apple and pear on the nose and on the palate. We also enjoyed the 2016 Six Degrees. Here is another one that tastes like it smells. We noted strawberry and cherry on the nose and on the palate.

After our tasting with Bruce we moved back upstairs for a regular tasting. And who was at the bar? Bruce’s wife, Sylvia! We always enjoy talking wine with Sylvia. We tasted through the wines on the regular tasting menu. From the whites on the list I really enjoyed the 2016 Madeleine’s Chardonnay and Warren enjoyed the 2016 Viognier. I noted tropical fruit and some citrus notes on the Chardonnay. Warren noted melon, floral notes and a full mouth feel.

We then moved onto the reds. Sylvia was able to do a mini-vertical tasting of two vintages of the Meritage. We tasted the 2013 and the 2014. I preferred the 2013 and Warren put a star next to the 2014. I underlined black cherry, plum, and candied fruit on the 2013. Warren jotted down raspberry, blackberry and pepper on the tasting sheet for the 2014. Both can be enjoyed for years to come.

After our tasting with Sylvia we grabbed some bread and cheese and sat out on the patio while enjoying a glass of the 2016 Madeleine’s Chardonnay and the 2016 Viognier. It was a great way to enjoy our Sunday afternoon.

Before leaving we purchased a half a case and said our goodbyes. We always enjoy our time at Breaux Vineyards! A big Thank You to Jen Breaux for letting us purchase two bottles of the 2015 Jennifer’s Jambalaya! If you haven’t been to Breaux Vineyards lately, stop by and check out the latest releases and tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Zephaniah Farm Vineyard

A few weeks ago we visited Zephaniah Farm Vineyard. We visited them in the fall but decided to return to see how the wines were developing and what might be new on the tasting menu. It was a chilly day so we enjoyed sitting by the fire and having Bonnie conduct our tasting. It’s always fun to catch up with Bonnie. Since we are both teachers and Bonnie is a former teacher, we always have lots to chat about. While we always enjoy all the wines at Zephaniah, we did find our favorites.

Our favorite white wine from the menu was the 2015 Adeline. It’s a blend of 53% Muscat Ottonel, 25% Vidal, and 22% Petite Manseng. The wine is aged in stainless steel. We noted floral, fruity, and sweet notes. We thought this would make a nice wine to enjoy on a warm spring day. The natural sweet notes come from the muscat and vidal. We could see almost anyone enjoying this wine.

Our favorite red from the tasting was the 2013 Three Captains Red. This is a blend of 46% Cabernet Franc, 45% Chambourcin, and 9% Cabernet Sauvignon. I am not normally a chabourcin fan but the blend here ended up being a very favorable wine. We noted tobacco, black currents, blueberries, cranberry, and some mild tannins that grip the tongue in just the right places. Something beef with roasted potatoes and crunchy French green beans comes to mind when thinking of pairings for this wine.

After our tasting we enjoyed a glass of the 2015 Adeline by the fire. And of course before leaving we picked up a few bottles to add to our wine rack. We always enjoy our time at Zephaniah. You can definitely count on a relaxed, enjoyable tasting in the old farm house. And chatting with Bonnie is a plus! Plan a trip to Zephaniah soon and when you do, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

America Eats Tavern and Virginia Wine

Jose Andres is well known in the area for his fine restaurants that include Jaleo and Zaytinya. His latest culinary venture is America Eats Tavern located in the Ritz Carleton Tysons. America Eats manager David Strong invited us to the restaurant for a food and wine dinner. In the course of eating and sipping, we learned more about Andres’ concept behind America Eats and the critical role that Virginia wine plays in putting that concept into practice.
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America Eats presents itself as a no pretense establishment. Patrons at the bar sported business casual attire with sleeves rolled up; others were dressed in more comfy but appropriate summer attire. David Strong explained to us that Andres’ goal for America Eats was to attract a no-nonsense clientele who was more interested in experiencing the possibilities of classic American cuisine prepared with interesting culinary twists. Only seasonal foods are served at America Eats, so don’t expect to find asparagus on the menu in February. However, do expect to find local wines to pair with a dinner selection that may also feature fresh local ingredients. America Eats boasts a selection of excellent Virginia wines that include such labels as Michael Shaps, Barboursville, Linden, Early Mountain, Ankida Ridge, Glen Manor, and RdV. Other American wines include those from New York, Texas, New Mexico as well as selections from better known wine producing states such as California, Oregon, and Washington.

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AmericaEats0 - 1Our niche, of course, is Virginia wine, and David Strong did not disappoint us. Awaiting us was a plate of raw oysters from both the Rappahanock and Washington coasts, and these were paired with a very nice 2013 Riesling from Rockbridge Vineyards. This was followed by a lovely crab cake created from Chesapeake crab; the cake was topped with a lemon foam and partnered with a fuller-bodied 2012 Chardonnay from Early Mountain. Next up was a dish after my own heart——a pork jambalaya prepared with suckling pig and topped with fried pork skins. I’m from Louisiana and couldn’t wait to dig into this. I must admit, I’ve never eaten suckling pig jambalaya; Cajuns usually make pork jambalaya with pork chops and andouille sausage, so this was a first for me. I can report that this rendition was absolutely delicious, and it was served beside the complex 2010 Hodder Hill from Glen Manor. The final entree was braised mutton served with the Jose Cuvee. The Jose Cuvee is a Merlot-based blend prepared for Andres by RdV. This cuvee also happens to be the house wine and bottled in huge bottles that make magnums look small by comparison. For dessert we enjoyed the Martha Washington chocolate cake, and it was a decadent treat that ended our dining experience.
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Our evening came to a close, but not before we received a tour of the restaurant to reveal its private dining area that can be used to host wine and dinner events as well as its state of the art wine cellar where the full selection of Virginia wines are stored.
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Looking for a full culinary experience that features American cuisine, fresh seasonal ingredients, and excellent Virginia wines served in a no-attitude-required environment? Consider Jose Andres’ America Eats Tavern located in the Ritz Carleton Tysons. Mention to the maitre-de, table server, bartender, and sommerlier that Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Lasagna Lunch at Naked Moutain

Last weekend our friends Jill and Michael (wine club members) and their son invited us to join them for a tasting and lasagna lunch at Naked Mountain Vineyards. Each year we try to get to Naked Mountain in the winter time to enjoy the lasagna lunch. We were happy to accept their invitation.

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We tasted the current line up of wines before our lunch. From the tasting we all decided our favorites were the 2013 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay and the 2012 Raptor Red. We were also surprised by how much we liked the 2013 Birthday Suit. We weren’t looking for a white wine to sip on on a warm spring day but this wine made us think of just that. It was crisp and fruity.

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After our tasting we sat down to enjoy the lasagna lunch. We all agreed to enjoy a bottle of the 2012 Raptor Red with our pasta. We noted blueberry, spice, plum, and toasted oak. It paired deliciously with our lasagna. If you haven’t been out to Naked Mountain lately, be sure to get there during the winter so you can enjoy the lasagna lunch. And when you do, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!