Virginia Wine Time

We Enjoy Virginia Wine

Category: Food (page 2 of 13)

Food and Virginia Wine

With the frigid temperatures and the snow we’ve had recently we haven’t been able to get to too many wineries this year. However, you don’t have to go on the Virginia wine trail to enjoy Virginia wines (however, we suggest you do). We’ve been pairing Virginia wines with several of our meals lately.

On a recent Friday evening we enjoyed a meal of chicken and mushrooms with corkscrew pasta tossed with parmesan cheese and lemon infused olive oil. We paired this meal with the Ankida Ridge 2011 Chardonnay. We noted rich, ripe pear, mineral elements of shale and graphite and a whiff of melon and nutmeg. It had a nice mouth feel with nice acidity. We consider it a Burgundian style chardonnay.
On another recent evening we selected the 2008 Reserve Furnace Mountain Red from 8 Chains North as our dinner wine. We had this wonderful red wine with filet mignon. We aerated it into a decanter before enjoying it. Bramble berry notes with a whiff of candied apple were complemented with flavors of blackberry, licorice and pepper.  Why did we decant this one? Our initial sip (and literally our first sip after opening) presented a higher acidity; aerating into a decanter and then some breathing seemed to settle the acidity. In the end, by dinner time we very much enjoyed the 2008 Reserve Furnace Mountain Red. How do we know? The decanter was emptied far too soon.
Over the weekend we went to Boxwood Winery’s Tasting Room Wine Bar to both pick up club wines and to have a bite for lunch. After a quick tasting of some of the current wines, we selected the 2011 Boxwood Trellis to enjoy with our flatbread pizza of prosciutto and goat cheese. The Boxwood Trellis is a blend of cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, and petit verdot. We noted the earthiness with herbal and mineral notes and tobacco and cedar. It paired nicely with our flatbread pizza.
What Virginia wines have you been enjoying with a meal lately? Consider some of the wines we’ve enjoyed lately. And if you do get through the snow and visit one of the Virginia wineries, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Wine and Dine at The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner

For anyone looking for a unique food and wine experience, look no further than The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner.  We spent this past weekend participating in a cooking class hosed by executive chef Matthew Morrison, chatted about wine with heralded sommelier Vincent Feraud, and then had dinner paired with Virginia wines in the elegant yet unpretentious Entyse Wine Bar & Lounge. We felt very spoiled and pampered, and our only regret was that we could not stay longer.
Our day at The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner began with a cooking class given by chef Matthew Morrison.  The class was actually part of the Fall Epicurean Series, a weekly series of cooking demonstrations held at the hotel each week in October.  The particular session was called Thanksgiving 101; Morrison and his talented culinary team guided participants through lessons on how to create a delicious Thanksgiving meal.  The menu included brined turkey (including a unique tip on how to bake the bird in separate pieces), apple raisin stuffing with seasonal herbs, cranberry orange chutney (say good-bye to the gelled canned stuff), and a lush black pepper panna cotta for dessert.  Mixologist Narath crafted signature cocktails to pair with each course.  For starters, a crisp French 75 made with Champagne and a splash of gin and lemon made for a lemony aperitif.  With the main meal, a French Martini was served and featured Chambord, pineapple juice, grand marnier, and vanilla vodka.  Sommelier Vincent Feraud offered a wine alternative and poured a divine Stolpman Syrah 2009.  Finally a decadent pumpkin spice martini made with pumpkin spice liquer and Godiva chocolate syrup was finished with a dollop of whipped cream, and this was served with the panna cotta.  Rich textures, chocolate highlights, and fall spices played delightfully well with each other.  The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner has many Fall/Winter events lined up. Check out the events calendar and find one that interests you.
We walked away from the cooking class with tips to make our Thanksgiving meal even more memorable.  We were also quite satisfied from Chef Morrison’s sample servings from the demonstration.  However, we knew that more culinary treats were on the way, and we decided to rest for a bit in The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner Club Room which offers guests a panoramic view of the Tysons area including the emerging fall colors from trees that are just now putting on quite a colorful show.  Shima, the Club’s concierge, warmly greeted us and offered to pour for us a glass of wine, and offerings included the Barboursville Pinot Grigio.  How could we resist?  Lovely views of the Virginia landscape were appreciated from the Club Room while enjoying a glass of Virginia wine from Barboursville to continue our celebration of Virginia Wine Month. 
We finished our evening at The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner with dinner at Entyse Wine Bar & Lounge.  Here we were greeted by sommelier Vincent Feraud who poured for us the Trump 2008 Blanc de Blanc.  Vincent Feraud was the sommelier that helped to conduct the Judgment of Paris held in 2009; this contest featured a showdown between the best Virginia wines and wines from France, Chile and Austria.  The outcome? Virginia wines either bested or equaled their foreign competitors.  Vincent was more than willing to chat with us about Virginia wines, wines from around the world, and yes, custom motorcycles.  If readers ever see us pull up at a winery on motorcycles, it was Vincent Feraud who influenced us!  Anyway, we ordered dinner with a promise from Vincent that he would return with a Virginia wine to pair with our meal.  Paul ordered roasted chicken with mashed potatoes; I could not resist the filet mignon with rosemary potatoes.  And the wine?  Vincent poured for us the 2009 Cabernet Merlot from Lovingston Vineyards.  It was a “wow” experience.  Our meal was perfectly prepared, and the Virginia wine selection proved to be the perfect match.  I must add that our waiter, Simon, was very attentive and personable.  After we finished our meal, we lingered for a while to finish our wine; as we did so, the Christopher Linman Jazz Ensemble entertained lounge guests with classics from such greats as Miles Davis and Duke Ellington.
Needless to say, our appetites were more than satisfied.  We retired to our room where chocolate squares rested atop pulled down sheets.  We had no trouble falling asleep!  After a breakfast of French toast and fresh coffee, we took one final glance at the elegant lobby with its bouquet of fresh flowers and glittering chandeliers.  We enjoyed our stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner.  Great food, wonderful wines, and superb amenities await guests who will be pampered by a dedicated team that offers excellent service.  We plan to visit The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner again, and we recommend that readers do so too.  Please mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.
(A very special thank you to Chef Matthew and his talented culinary team, and Narath, Vincent, Shima, and Simon for making our stay super fantastic!)
We were invited to participate in The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner: Stay, Play and Write Campaign. All opinions are our own.

Italian Cuisine Meets Virginia Wine

Al Dente, an upscale Italian restaurant located in northwest DC, recently expanded its wine list to include a rather extensive offering of Virginia wines. We visited Al Dente last Friday to chat with Executive Chef Roberto Donna about his decision to include local wines on his wine list. Of course, we were also hungry and enjoyed an excellent meal with a favorite Virginia wine.
Al Dente provides a true Italian dining experience in DC. The menu features homemade pastas, fresh fish and meat selections, and gourmet Neapolitan pizzas prepared in a brick oven. The contemporary décor is hip yet inviting, and its open design provides an airy atmosphere. Executive Chef Roberto Donna hails from Turin located in northern Italy; he is a James Beard winner and twice declared DC’s “Chef of the Year” since 1984. Al Dente’s wine list is also top notch and offers a selection of mostly Italian wines that range from good yet inexpensive to outstanding and pricey.
So why did Roberto Donna, a heralded chef who knows a thing or two about wine, decide to include Virginia wines on his wine list? I was eager to know the answer since readers can just about imagine my excitement when I saw the wine list. We all know that bloggers can be a pesky lot with too many questions to ask, but the affable Donna was more than gracious and spent some time chatting with me. According to Donna, he has tasted his way through several Virginia wines over the past ten years and is impressed with the improved quality. He finds them to be food-friendly wines that do not over power the palate with high levels of alcohol associated with the heavily extracted fruit bombs of California. Therefore, an expanded wine list to include Virginia wines was kicked off in June; in fact, Al Dente features one Virginia wine by the glass each week to entice diners to try them out. For example, last week Delaplane Cellars’ Melange Blanc was the featured wine and available by the glass. So far, the response from diners has been very positive.
Which Virginia wines are on the list? Too many for me to recall; however, I can report that it represents an honor roll of Virginia’s best wineries and their wines from the best vintages. These include selections from Barboursville Vineyards, Breaux Vineyards, Delaplane Cellars, Glen Manor Vineyards, Jefferson Vineyards, Linden Vineyards, and Rappahannock Cellars. Of course, these are the ones that I can remember, and I am sure that I’ve left a few off of the list. However, you get the idea—some of Virginia’s best wineries are pouring their best wines at Al Dente.
The smell from the wood-burning brick oven and the scent of fresh tomato sauce made us very hungry. Our friend Matt joined us, and we dined on homemade fettucini with tomato-basil sauce tossed with garlic and cherry tomatoes. The wine of choice? The 2009 Barboursville Nebbiolo Reserve. An excellent Italian meal paired with an excellent Virginia wine—how much better can life get?

We hope that Al Dente and its Executive Chef Roberto Donna will inspire other DC restaurants to follow the lead and include Virginia wines on their wine lists too. As Donna aptly put it, local wines have vastly improved in quality and it is time for local restaurants to do their part by serving them. Plan to dine at Al Dente restaurant and ask for a Virginia wine to pair with your meal. And when you do, mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Cabernet Franc Vertical at Gadino Cellars

We have attended a number of vertical tastings in Virginia, but they usually feature Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, or Meritage blends. Gadino Cellars offered a vertical tasting of Cabernet Franc, Virginia’s premier red grape, and we were intrigued by the opportunity to sample past vintages of the grape to see how they fared over time. On a very cold and snowy afternoon, we made our way to Gadino Cellars to attend the vertical.
Owner and winemaker Bill Gadino started the event with a warm welcome to guests. He provided a short presentation on the Cabernet Franc grape, its characteristics, and its prominence in portfolio of Virginia’s red wines. Bill also presented the wines for tasting, and they included Cabernet Franc from the 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 vintages. However, they were not necessarily poured in chronological order; rather, they were poured in contrasting pairs and with food that complemented each pairing. For example, the eldest 2006 partnered with a fruitier 2009 to pair with a first course of polenta topped with crumbled Italian sausage. Bill threw in a mystery wine alongside the 2008 vintage to pair with the second course that featured marinated mushroom and a cheese purse. A final course and pairing showcased the heavily awarded 2007 vintage beside the jammy 2010 vintage, and these were served with a lamb chop and cannellini beans topped with a scone.
So what were our favorites? It was a tough decision as each vintage had its own unique and special qualities. A fact sheet explained the circumstances of each harvest that helped to put each vintage into perspective. Each year seemed to present challenges, and even seemingly best growing seasons should never be taken for granted. The 2006 season, for example, was described as typical with variable temperatures and normal rainfall until August that turned out to be too dry. Some beneficial rainfall saved the vines from stress without splitting or rotting the grapes. Even the heralded 2007 growing season produced some concern; although it was a very dry growing season, harvest began earlier, and that the concern then was lower than normal acid levels. In sum, managing a vineyard and then making wine is a tough business even in the best of years.
With that it mind, we swirled, sniffed, sipped and savored. My own favorites were the 2007 vintage with its fruit-driven nose and palate; nuances of tobacco and oak were well integrated, and the finish was smooth and lengthy. My other preference was the 2008 vintage that I described on my tasting sheet as the most Old World of the Francs that we tasted. Its smoky nose and characteristics of cherry, raspberry and spice suggested a true French heritage. The most New World of the bunch was the jammy 2010 vintage that was picked at 24.5 brix, the highest level of the Francs that we sampled that afternoon. Oh, and what about the mystery wine? It was a Cabernet Franc from Gadino’s sister winery in Sicily. This one was by far the earthiest of the Francs with an initial impression of barnyard that faded away with some swirling. I actually grew to enjoy it at the second sip.
Paul had his own favorites, and the 2008 topped his list followed by the 2006. The eldest statesmen of the group still showed well with elements of dried fruit, tobacco and spice. I detected a caramel note too. Paul was particularly fond of the marinated mushrooms that to him best complemented the 2008 Cabernet Franc when first delivered to the mouth with a forkful of the baked cheese purse. The food was indeed delicious and was prepared by Chef Chuck Arnaud at Main Street Bakery and Catering in Luray Virginia.
Bill Gadino regaled guests with hilarious jokes and stories; however, it was his skill as an accordion player that moved us all. Italian classics, Beatles tunes, and Sinatra hits were all part of his playlist. I was most touched by Bill leading the group in singing Happy Birthday—to me! (Yes, it was my birthday on Saturday, and I can safely say that I am more than legal to drink wine at any Virginia winery!)
The vertical ended with guests being led down to the barrel room to sample the still evolving 2012 Cabernet Franc which will be released in the spring of 2014. It was still very fresh as though it was just picked (which, of course, it was), and characteristics fruit elements were already on display. Derek Pross, Bill’s son-in-law and co-winemaker, also provided us with a sneak sample of the upcoming 2011 Cabernet Franc. This one will be more of a Chinon-style Franc with bright berry characteristics. Lighter in body, it should prove to be versatile and refreshing with summer and fall fare.

With our vertical tasting done, we made certain to purchase bottles of our favorite Gadino Cabernet Francs. We will return soon to sample the latest releases; however, we encourage readers to visit sooner. Be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

New Wines at North Gate

After the Cabernet Vertical we attended at Breaux Vineyards on Saturday we decided to go to North Gate Vineyards to see what was on the tasting menu. We hadn’t visited since May 2012 for the Taste Camp event and it was time to see what new wines were ready for tasting.
(Photo from March 2011)

It’s always nice to walk into the tasting room and see familiar faces. Mark and Vicki Fedor noticed us right away and welcomed us to the tasting bar. After catching up a bit we began our tasting. I kept my tasting notes on my iPad so I will post them here as they were recorded on the iPad. Between each taste we chatted with Mark about each wine, how it was made, and the impressions we experienced.

2011 Viognier-Mineral, tropical fruit, melon, delicate wine with no residual sugar. Made from the French clone known as Aban. Aged in neutral french oak barrels. I really enjoy the lightness of this wine. This was my favorite white!

2010 Roussanne-We noted a pear nose and pear on the tongue with some almond notes. It had a nice hay color. Roussanne is different from your regular white wines. It has evolved since our last tasting in May. Warren enjoyed this one.

2012 Chardonnay-We didn’t get to taste this one but it should be released by early May. Stay tuned!

2011 Rose of Cabernet Franc-We noted watermelon, strawberry, and dried herbs. It has a very low .25% residual sugar and was finished in stainless steel.
2010 Cabernet Franc-We noticed bright fruit with a light pepper finish, It was blended with 10% merlot to balance it out and smooth out that pepper finish. This one won gold at the 2012 San Diego Wine Competition and the Indy International. Congrats!

2011 Merlot-We got a sneak peak tasting as it’s not yet released to the public but will be soon. It has already won Bronze in San Francisco Wine Competition-This one has a beautiful color, a hint of petit verdot, all french oak, cherry, tight tannins, hint of spice, 5% cabernet sauvignon. We have a feeling this one will be very popular.

2010 Meritage-We noticed mineral upfront and then a fruity mid palate, and a slightly tannic ending. Cherry, plum, pepper, tobacco were the descriptors that were mentioned while tasting this complex wine with lots of layers. The tannins made me think of enjoying this one with some food.

2010 Petit Verdot-This has a beautiful rich, dark color. We noted sweet tobacco, dark fruit notes, and refined tannis. It’s blended with 10% cabernet sauvignon. We were able to try the exclusive dark chocolate mad with the North Gate Petit Verdot. This became my favorite red. It reminded me of their legendary 2008 Petit Verdot. This one also won a gold medal a the Atlantic Seaboard wine competition!

2011 Apple Wine-This award winning Apple wine is made from four kinds of apples. The apple flavors run from the front of your tongue all the way to the back. It’s filtered and fermented like a white wine. We thought a good food pairing would be soft cheeses. Warren even thought it would go with lamb or pork chops. Mark informed us others have used it in Sangria.

After our tasting we continued to chat with Mark and Vicki and discovered they are still selling their wines at the Falls Church Farmers Market. They began there and continue to go because the community knows them and would miss not seeing them. The community aspect keeps them going back. We also found out they have a chocolates and wine tasting option. You can select three chocolates to pair with three wines during a tasting. We were able to taste a few of the chocolates and they were delicious! The chocolates are made by The Perfect Truffle in Frederick Maryland. During our conversation we found out North Gate has an artist in residence program. The artist is able to display their work in the tasting room, conduct classes if they wish, promote their works and sell their pieces of artwork. It’s a great addition to the tasting experience and helps show the connection between local art and local wine. If I was a better photographer, I would think of becoming one of their artists in residence!
We had a great time catching up with Mark and Vicki. It was nice to have some time to chat with them about all things North Gate. After our time at the tasting bar I enjoyed a glass of the 2011 Viognier and Warren enjoyed a glass of the 2010 Roussanne. We enjoyed our wine with the view from the patio while a warm fire burned in the outside fireplace. Before leaving we purchased a few of our favorites and said our Thank Yous and goodbyes. The next time you are in Loudoun County plan a trip to North Gate Vineyards and tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

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