Thanksgiving season is upon us, and there is no greater need for versatile wines than Thanksgiving dinner. Deciding what to pour can be as challenging as deciding what to serve especially if dinner guests have different food and wine palates. Turkey seems to be the meat of choice, but it’s the sides that vary and hence the wine offerings. Some like mashed potatoes but others prefer oyster dressing; some like sweeter white wines while others crave a red wine with the meal. We can’t help you cook dinner, but we can make a couple of suggestions for wine pairings that might make these weighty decisions seem a little lighter!
We were out in wine country in northern Virginia this past weekend, and we sampled some wines that should provide readers with some choices for the upcoming holiday.
Chester Gap Cellars: Winemaker Bernd Jung has to be one of the few (if not only) Virginia winemakers to grow the Roussanne grape, a white varietal grown in Rhone region of France. The 2010 Roussanne might be an option if the meal will begin with either seafood bisque or feature a creamy sauce with the main meal. Aged for fifteen months in French oak barrels, the 2010 Roussanne exhibits tropical fruit characteristics. It is a bit higher in alcohol, so pair with something that can stand up to it. My own preference is the earthy 2009 Petit Verdot aged for two years in French oak barrels. Aromas of ripe dark plums and flavors of dark fruit and berries should complement dishes that are heavy on herbs and spices; non-traditionalists who opt to serve duck or game meats instead of turkey should consider this one.
Glen Manor Vineyards: Governor’s Cup winner Jeff White is now featuring 2011 wines on his tasting room menu. The four wines that we sampled would all have a place on the Thanksgiving Day table; of course, all of the wines were well-crafted. Serving shellfish before the main course? Can’t go wrong with the classic 2011 Sauvignon Blanc with its elements of grass, citrus and mineral that are characteristic of the varietal. White wine lovers who don’t drink reds? Red wine lovers who don’t drink whites? Offer the 2011 Rose with its aromas of red berries and fresh mint. This one can be served with just about anything on the menu. A nice acidity makes this rose refreshing (and it’s not sweet!) The 2011 harvest was considered quite challenging, but Jeff White has managed to produce excellent red wines from this tricky vintage. There was nothing wimpy about the weighty 2011 Cabernet Franc and its notes of dark cherry, cranberry and menthol. This would be my go-to wine for the main meal on Turkey Day especially if sides included cornbread dressing and fresh cranberry sauce. Going for beef stew instead of poultry? Try the 2011 Vin Rouge, a blend that is dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon (50%) and complemented by Petit Verdot (36%), and Merlot (14%). Smoky notes give way to aromas of plum, licorice and spice.
Still confused as to which wines to pour? I always recommend opening more than one bottle of wine for Thanksgiving dinner and then let guests decide which glass to sip with the meal. This option encourages guests to sample a few wines instead of only one. Who knows what will happen—that white wine lover may fall in love with a Virginia red wine!
We will post one more article about wine Thanksgiving wine options featuring two more Virginia wineries. Check in later for that one! In the meantime, be sure to try these wines at Chester Gap Cellars and Glen Manor Vineyards, and mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.
On Sunday we were invited to join our friend Duwayne enjoy a bottle of the recently released 2011 Blue Mountain Mist from Fox Meadow Winery. Duwayne is an amateur Virginia wine collector. When he finds something new, he likes to enjoy it with others. We haven’t had the Blue Mountain Mist so we were interested in finding out more about it. Duwayne set out lots of cheeses, crackers, and finger sandwiches to enjoy with the wine. Thank you for inviting us, Duwayne!
After tasting the wine we shared our notes. We found pear and melon notes on the nose. The bottle doesn’t list what grapes are used but we think it might be a blend of chardonnay and vidal. In the mouth we noted pear, melon, and crisp apple on the end. It’s slightly sweet and would be perfect for a warm summer day. The wine paired very well with goat cheese stuffed peppers. We also think it would pair nicely with any spicy food.
Yet another summer sipper to enjoy! If you visit Fox Meadow Winery soon to pick up some Blue Mountain Mist, be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you!
As I have mentioned before, I have lots of Virginia red wines on my wine rack. Lately I’ve been randomly selecting red wines to taste and enjoy. One evening last week I was finishing up some brownies that Warren made and thought a red wine would really compliment the brownies. I perused my wine rack and decided on the 2007 Lot 751 Virginia Red Table Wine from Breaux Vineyards Cellar Selection. This wine is only available to Cellar Club members.
Lot 751 is a blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, malbec, petit verdot, and cabernet franc grapes from the 2007 vintage. The dark color and dark cherry nose made me think that maybe this wine was meant for bigger foods. But once I swirled it in my glass and gave it a taste, I knew it would be perfect for the brownies. I noted cherry, extracted fruit, firm tannins, and a relatively smooth ending. With a bite of the brownie, the cherry notes really came through. Since this wine is from 2007 and has some firm tannins, it could benefit from more time on the rack. Or enjoy it now!
I’ve mentioned it before and I’ll say it again. There are benefits to being a Cellar Club member at Breaux Vineyards. I enjoy having access to wines the general public won’t get to purchase. I need to get to Breaux soon to pick up my most recent Cellar Club Selections. And if you visit Breaux Vineyards anytime soon, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!
On Fridays we usually have steak but this past Friday Warren decided to have fish. We had fluke flounder that was lightly breaded and pan fried with olive oil and butter. It was topped with capers and a butter sauce. We had it with bow tie pasta with parmesan cheese.
Warren selected the 2009 Viognier Reserve from Barboursville Vineyards. It was a perfect pairing. We noted ripe pear and lichen nut on the nose. It had a full mouth feel with similar flavors and a bit of spice in the mouth. It complimented the butter sauce very well. We have always enjoyed Barboursville wines. It seems like you can’t go wrong with a Barboursville wine.
A few weeks ago, on a Friday evening, we enjoyed a few wines as we usually do. We’ve been busy posting about events and winery visits that we had to put this off a few weeks.
We started the evening with the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc from Glen Manor Vineyards. We are huge fans of Jeff White’s wines and this sauvignon blanc didn’t disappoint. We had it with manchego cheese and sour dough bread. While enjoying the wine we definitely noticed grassy and boxwood on the nose. On the tongue we noticed tropical fruit, minerality, and a nice crisp ending. It paired wonderfully with the cheese and bread.
For dinner we were having lasagna and selected the 2009 Private Reserve Red from Chrysalis Vineyards from the VIP Wine Club. We noted dried fruit, tobacco, anise, and a whiff of sandalwood. In the mouth we noted dried plum, dried herbs, tobacco, and a vanilla finish. We think this wine is still integrating and could benefit from more time on the rack. The acidity of the wine did a nice job of cutting the red sauce of the lasagna. Yes, it is a little young but paired well with our meal.
We’ll continue to enjoy our Friday wines and post about our impressions. If you haven’t been to Glen Manor Vineyards or Chrysalis Vineyards lately, plan a trip to visit them soon and tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!
Continuing to celebrate Virginia Wine and Dine month, on Friday we enjoyed two Virginia white wines.
We began the evening with the 2010 Viognier from Chrysalis Vineyards. We enjoyed it with a creamy goat cheese and soft baguette. We noted pear, mango, and floral notes on the nose. On the tongue we noticed tropical fruit…mango, pineapple, and pear flavors with a hint of oak at the end. It paired nicely with our cheese and baguette.
For dinner we had pan seared, lightly breaded fluke flounder with capers and a side of pasta. Warren selected the 2010 Viognier from King Family for the meal and to do a little side by side comparison. We noted honeysuckle, citrus, and shale on the nose. In the mouth we noted subtle peach, stone fruit, and a soft vanilla finish. Warren preferred it a bit warmer while I enjoyed it quite chilled.
Enjoying these two different viogniers side by side gave us a good look at different viogniers from different parts of the state. Warren preferred the 2010 Viognier from King Family while I enjoyed the 2010 Viognier from Chrysalis Vineyards. Have you had a Virginia viognier lately? If you try one of these, or visit the wineries, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!
As is often the case, Warren and I don’t exactly agree on what’s for dinner. Friday night Warren made crab cakes for himself and tilapia that was breaded and spiced with parmesan cheese for me. I don’t happen to like shell fish so having the tilapia solved that problem. We also had bow tie pasta tossed with parmesan cheese and herbs. But what wines to pair with our meals?
Warren likes big buttery chardonnays but I prefer lighter crispier white wines. He selected the 2009 Reserve Chardonnay from Gray Ghost to accompany his meal. He noted ripe pear, subtle grilled pineapple, and a toasty lingering finish.
I opted for the 2009 Viognier from Rappahannock Cellars. It had crisp tropical notes, honeysuckle, and a delightful fruity ending. Warren picked up some spicy elements.
Both wines complimented both our meals. Of course I’m partial to the crisp whites and voted the 2009 Viognier as the winner. Warren voted for the 2009 Reserve Chardonnay. If you visit Gray Ghost or Rappahannock Cellars anytime soon, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!
The holidays are finally over and we’re back to a regular posting schedule. We visited some wineries this weekend and will be posting about them soon but until then here’s what we enjoyed Saturday evening for dinner.
We began the evening with the 2009 Annefield White from Annefield Vineyards. We enjoyed this one with cheese and crackers before dinner. We really enjoyed the crisp edge with a slightly sweet hint. We noted kiwi, melon, and tropical flavors. Warren described as a tropical fruit salad. We visited Annefield Vineyards in the summer and left with a case of wine. The 2009 Annefield White garnered two spots in the case box. We’ll need to plan another trip to Annefield to stock up again soon.
For dinner we had oven baked buttermilk chicken with roasted red potatoes and veggies. At first we thought we’d be having another white wine but Warren perused my wine rack and selected the 2008 Malbec from Corcoran Vineyards. This one is light enough to not overpower the chicken but give us a fruit structure strong enough to compliment the chicken. And it did just that. As you may remember, I’m a huge fan of the 2008 reds and this one lived up to that expectation. Lots of fruit characters on the nose and tongue. We noted lavender wood and blackberry on the nose. We picked up dark fruit like raspberries in the mouth. The smooth finish went well with the chicken dish. We will say that its time to enjoy this wine now. I wouldn’t keep it on your rack much longer. And the 2009 Malbec is out there so get some of that and enjoy the 2008 now.
Two more perfect selections for our dinner wines. If you happen upon Annefield Vineyards or Corcoran Vineyards anytime soon, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you! We know we need to visit both soon!