Virginia Wine Time

We Enjoy Virginia Wine

Category: Wine Trail (page 1 of 7)

We’re Baaaack!

We resumed our treks on the wine trails in style with a weekend stay at The Inn at Meander Plantation. We always reserve the well-appointed Madison Cottage with its European-style shower, and I look forward to sporting the plush robes that await guests in the cottage’s closet. Owners Suzie Blanchard and Suzanne Thomas also have a commitment to serving only Virginia wines in their dining room, and we made certain to reserve a table for a night of elegant fare and excellent Virginia wines. The Inn also offers gorgeous views of mountains framed by glorious sunrises and vivid sunsets. Early morning fog called to mind a scene from a Gothic novel. Paul created a video that captures these experiences:

What were our menu selections for dinner?

Menu

What did we order? I enjoyed the salad of romaine lettuce; the shaved fennel and citrus vinaigrette was the perfect match for the vino verdhe-style Green 2013 from Cardinal Point Vineyards. I love summer squash so the zucchini with basil soup was a no-brainer for me; its creamy texture matched that of the Chardonnay Reserve 2013 from Barboursville. Paul delighted in the tempura fried shrimp and noted that the batter-coated crustaceans were quite marvelous with the same Chardonnay.

shrimp

We both ordered the same entree- – -the black angus filet mignon. The wine pairing was quite a mysterious yet wonderful surprise—-a Cabernet Sauvignon from Crow Mountain Vineyards. The vintage? 2011. I admit to not knowing anything about Crow Mountain Vineyards, but I do know quite a bit about the 2011 vintage. Hurricane Irene dumped tons of rain in the state that year, and red wine grapes took quite a hit throughout most Virginia vineyards. However, this 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon exhibited a depth in its color as well as its aroma and flavor profiles that we have not experienced from other 2011 red wines from Virginia. We would love to know more about this vineyard, so if any reader out there can enlighten us, we are eager to learn all about it! The dinner ended with the La Bete Noir, a flourless cake with fresh raspberry, and its pairing with the Gray Ghost Vineyards Adieu was classic.

We never look forward to ending our stay at the Inn at Meander Plantation; however, having to say good-bye always prompts us to look ahead to future visits. Looking for an elegant weekend in Virginia wine country? Plan to stay at The Inn at Meander Plantation; however, please mention to Suzie and Suzanne that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Winters Weirdness Wrap Up

So here I present the final installment of our recent visit to the Monticello area in the midst of Mother Nature’s topsy-turvy weather.

Grace Estate: This was our second visit to Grace Estate, and this time our tasting was conducted in the new tasting room located in the estate’s spacious mansion. This new tasting space allows for tasters to enjoy the lovely mountain views while swirling and sipping. On a cold, rainy day we pretty much had the place to ourselves. Our tasting featured three whites, a rose and two red wines. Of the white wines, my favorite was the 2012 Chardonnay (of course) that was aged 11 months in 50% new steam bent French oak barrels. Ripe pear notes were complemented by a butterscotch kiss in the mouth. I also appreciated the fuller mouth feel. Paul preferred the 2012 Viognier; he likes his whites from a stainless steel tank, and this one was 100% aged in stainless steel. Rich floral aromas with peach notes and tropical fruit flavors ended with a steely finish yet presented a nice weight in the mouth. We were both fans of the dry 2013 Le Gras Rose; on a cold, wet day this one screamed spring. It was made from Merlot (80%) and Tannat (20%) and presented classic strawberry and cherry characteristics. Nice acidity with a crisp finish—-just how we like our roses! Of the red wines offerings, the 2012 Cabernet Franc earned our unanimous praise. Aromas of cherry, tobacco and cracked pepper were followed by flavors of cherry and blackberry as well as earthy nuances. It was barrel aged for 10 months in 40% new French oak barrels.

cville22

After our tasting, we shared a glass of the 2012 Chardonnay; between raindrops, we enjoyed the mountain landscape from beneath the canopy that covered the patio. We also had a quick chat with winemaker Jake Busching who informed us that a new tasting room will be built at Grace Estate so that parts of the mansion could be used for events. He was also very excited about the release of 3, a red blend that was the product of three winemakers: Jake, Emily Pelton of Veritas and Mathieu Finot of King Family. Tasters will also want to sample the upcoming Vidal Blanc which was aged in neutral oak barrels. Jake gave us a preview bottle and we are looking forward to tasting it soon. Thanks, Jake!

cville23

Pollak Vineyards: It was crowded here, but our tasting associate Casey made us feel right at home with a superb tasting. We were interested in newer releases since our last visit, and that included the 2012 Viognier, 2012 Pinot Gris, 2013 Rose, and the 2010 Merlot. All were quite good. The 2012 Viognier presented aromas of honeysuckle and peach with tropical fruit flavors and a hint of white pepper. The 2012 Pinot Gris should be a summer favorite with its peach notes and rounded mouth feel. Rose is our wine of choice for summer, and the 2013 Rose will be poured with a favorite warm weather meal. Nice strawberry and melon elements here with a crisp finish. Dry too—-yay! Grilled meats should pair well with the 2010 Merlot and its characteristics of tobacco, cassis, black cherry, blackberry and a soft splash of blueberry. Look for some cedar notes too. Complex and should age well to boot; but pour now if you must. Give it some time to breathe, though.

cville24

cville25

Trump Winery: Sparkling wine is the forte here, no doubt about it. We tasted four sparklings as well as the Chardonnay 2012, Rose 2012, Meritage 2012, and the CRU. However, it was the sparklings that I was interested in sampling and therefore paid more attention to them. The Sparkling Blanc de Blanc 2008 earned top honors at the recent sparkling tasting hosted at Tarara Winery, and it was just as excellent this time around; however, my ultimate favorite was the Sparkling Rose 2008 with its nonstop parade of bubbles. Made with Chardonnay (95%) and Pinot Noir (5%) it was rich with strawberry notes and flavors with a round mouth feel and lengthy finish. I must admit that I found the Sparkling Reserve 2007 a bit better on this day than I did at the sparkling taste off. This time around I found the acidity that I thought was missing a couple of weeks earlier. It is aged in French oak barrels, so it does have a creamier feel with apple and pear flavors with oaky nuances.

cville21

Mother Nature did not deter us from tasting some wonderful wines, and it looks like spring has finally arrived with cherry blossoms, daffodils and pear trees in full bloom. The dogwoods are sure to follow. Bud break, 2014? It has to be around the corner and for some has already begun. Plan to visit this wineries to celebrate spring, and be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Final Monticello Sweep

Yes, we close out our focus on the Monticello area with this post. Here we review our favorite wines at some oldies (but goodies):

Afton Mountain Vineyards: Gewurztraminer has been a solid grape for this winery, and the 2010 vintage continues to showcase this varietal at its best. Heady tropical fruit and orange peel aromas lead to similar flavors in the mouth perhaps with an extra splash of pineapple. Thanksgiving is not too far away, and this one will pair nicely with turkey and dressing. We also concurred on the favorite red wine, and this was the smoky 2010 Petit Verdot with its notes of dark plum, blackberry and vanilla; we noted caramel on the finish. The 2010 Petit Verdot was offered for club members, so we felt privileged to be given a sneak preview. I’d buy this one now and store on the rack for a couple of years. (In fact, Paul made off with a bottle or two himself.) Nice with hearty winter fare!



Blenheim Vineyards: We always enjoy tasting Kirsty Harmon’s wines, and this time was no exception. We both gave accolades to the crisp 201 Chardonnay with its pear and lime notes and a streak of mineral. Its nice acidity made for a refreshing finish, too. We reach a split verdict on the red wines. I preferred the Cabernet Franc 2011 and its cranberry nose; flavors of seed berries and black pepper presented a versatile, light bodied wine that should prove popular for holiday dinner parties that featured roasted chicken, turkey or pork. Paul was a fan of the Petit Verdot 2011 and noted aromas of cherry and pomegranate complimented by a palate of dark cherries, blackberries, black pepper, and a trace of mineral. For tasters in search of a bolder red wine, we both appreciated the complex Painted Red 2010 with its layers of dark cherries, blackberries, plum, tobacco, and then toffee at the finish.


DelFosse Vineyards: It had been two years since we visited the DelFosse Winery, so we were eager to sample the current releases here. There were 15 wines to try, so we made certain to hone in on certain favorites with careful note taking (and judicious use of the dump bucket). Of the white wines, my fave was the Reserve d’Oriane, a blend of Chardonnay, Viognier, and Petit Manseng. The blend is owner Claude DelFosse’s unique creation, and it is a heavenly cocktail of tropical fruit notes with just the faintest suggestion of vanilla. This is a dry, complex white wine with a fuller mouth feel that presents an alternative to a Chardonnay done in a similar style. And yes, another wine to consider with Mr. Turkey especially if served with a rich sauce. Paul’s preference was for the crisper 201 Sauvignon Blanc. He noted elements of citrus, mowed grass, and mineral. We did reach a joint decision on the red wine, and we gave the nod to the 2008 Grand Cru Olivier, a Merlot-based blend that includes all of the Bordeaux grapes. Elements of cherry, raspberry, licorice, sweet tobacco, and black pepper abounded with this one. Tired of turkey? Beef tenderloin with the Grand Cru Olivier might be an alternative. Our close second was the 2007 Merlot with its blackberry, cherry, and earthy characteristics. Paul likes Merlot, and you can be sure that a bottle of this one went home with him.



Fall is now in the air, and autumn hues fill the skylines. It’s time to consider wines appropriate for holiday menus, heartier meals, or a gathering of friends by the fireside. Consider some of these recommended wines or plan a visit to these wineries to find your own favorites. Please be certain to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Monticello Sweep Part 2

We began Virginia Wine Month with posts about the upcoming Bluegrass Festival at Chrysalis Vineyards and our decision to kick off the special month a day early by enjoying a picnic with the crisp 2011 Seyval Blanc from Gray Ghost Vineyards. However, before we go further into the month, I do want to conclude our recap of visits to wineries in the Monticello area. So pretend that it’s still Labor Day weekend and read on!

Barboursville Vineyards: I always look forward to a tasting here, and no, the assembly line tasting process does not bother me at all. The wines here are consistently well made, and we always leave with a bottle (or two or three) of something. Favorites here: of the white wines, Paul liked the stainless steel Chardonnay, and I preferred the oaked Chardonnay Reserve. No surprises here, right? We did, however, concur on the Rose 2011 with its refreshing crispness and strawberry flavors. We recently enjoyed this one at Open Kitchen, too. Red wine faves included the Sangiovese Reserve 2010 for Paul, but for me it was the Cabernet Fran Reserve 2010 with its big raspberry, plum and cedar elements. Of course, the Octagon is always in a special category, and the 2008 vintage is noteworthy for its complexity and aging potential. Sharing a space in the special category is the Malvaxia Reserve 2007 with its rich palate of pineapple, apricot and honey.



Keswick Vineyards: Stephen Benard is a master winemaker, and a tasting here is another always on the “must do” list when we visit the area. Paul was a fan of the dry 2011 Rose with its vibrant acidity and red berry flavors. I liked this one too, but I am always a sucker for Old World-style Chardonnays. The 2011 Chardonnay was my winner. Fermented in both stainless steel tanks and new French oak barrels, I noted flavors of pear, pineapple and butterscotch with a honeyed mouth feel. Of the red wines, we both agreed on the 2010 Merlot. Paul the Merlot fan gravitated toward the complexity of this one; oak notes complimented rather than dominated the nose and palate. Dark cherry and raspberry flavors melded with a chocolate kiss; tannins were still a bit gripping but not unpleasantly so. Buy now and either decant or age. We bought bottles of each favorite.


Kilaurwen Winery: A first visit for us. We were able to taste the fruity Fiesta White, a mix of Rkatsetelli (96%) and Viognier (4%). A fun summer wine, we noted flavors of peach and citrus. At 2 ½% residual sugar, it was bright a fruity. Paul enjoyed the 2010 Cabernet Franc with its elements of blackberry, dark cherry, black olive, and pepper. I was more intrigued with the 2010 Cabernet Franc Reserve that was aged in American oak barrels for 8 months. Earthier elements prevailed here with notes of anise and violet. Owner Bob Steeves conducted our tasting, and we found out that the name of the winery is actually a blend of his daughter’s names, Kimberlee, Laura and Wendy. Steeves has maintained the vineyard since he purchased it in 1994; his first vintage, though, was bottled in 2009. His flagship varietal, Riesling, was sold out and therefore not available for tasting; however, we did learn that his Cabernet Francs have earned numerous medals and even beat a California Cabernet Franc in a blind tasting!



Stinson Vineyards: This was our third visit to Stinson Vineyards, and we both enjoyed the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc. Fermented in a concrete egg (that looks like an atomic bomb), it presented aromas of grapefruit and cut grass. Our red wine faves included the complex 2010 Meritage with its smoky nose and aromas o blackberry and raspberry; dark fruit flavors gave way to a peppery finish. If cheesecake is on the dessert menu, try pairing it with the 2010 Petit Manseng. Petit Manseng seems to have a characteristic unctuous mouth feel, so at 9% residual sugar this offers a fuller mouth feel in spades. Notes of orange peel and sesame makes added to the profile, and this dessert wine presents a nice way to end a dinner party.


We always enjoy a trip to wineries in the Monticello area. Visit these wineries during Virginia Wine Month to select your own favorites. Please mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Monticello Sweep

Our few posts have featured harvest (always fun at Gray Ghost Vineyards) and new winery openings; however, be assured that we were also on the wine trails too. We spent the Labor Day weekend in the Charlottesville area; of course, our purpose was to visit wineries. No newbies in this post—here we feature some oldies but goodies.

Jefferson Vineyards: We’re big fans of Andy Reagan’s wines, so it was no surprise that we had a tough time identifying only a few favorites. Of the white wines, Paul was a fan of the 2011 Pinot Gris with its stone fruit and citrus elements and vibrant acidity. I remain a diehard fan of the 2010 Chardonnay Reserve with its lush notes of pineapple and pear. A close second for me was the aromatic 2011 Viognier 2011 that was loaded with floral aromas, tropical fruit flavors, and a honeyed texture. We reached a unanimous decision on the red wines, and that was the smoky 2009 Meritage with its characteristics of dark plum, black cherry, anise, and pepper.



Pollak Vineyards: It is always a treat to taste here especially with our favorite tasting educator, Casey. This was our first tasting at Pollak since Jake Bushing left to being his own venture at Mt Juliet Vineyards, but we can report that current winemaker Benoit Pineau continues the tradition of excellence at Pollak Vineyards. Selecting favorites was difficult as the wines here were all well crafted; however, we did reach some decisions. Of the white wines, I preferred the 2011 Viognier with its floral aromas and lively tropical fruit flavors. Extended maceration provided a fuller mouth feel. Paul’s preference was the 2011 Durant White; he observed lemon/lime notes with pear and melon flavors as well as a crisp finish. The 2011 Durant White is a blend of Chardonnay (60%) and Viognier (40%). Paul was in a mood for lighter bodied reds that day, so he enjoyed the fruity 2011 Durant Red, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (57%), Cabernet Franc (38%), and Petit Verdot (5%). Crafted from a tough vintage, the 2011 Durant Red can be described as very berry with hints of sweet tobacco and spice. I was more partial to the 2010 Cabernet Franc produced, of course, from a stellar harvest. Aromas of pomegranate, blackberry and black pepper led to flavors of blackberry, black raspberry, and mocha. My close second? The 2009 Merlot with its intense juicy berry flavors and nuances of tobacco and spice. We were also treated to a sneak peak of the 2012 Pinot Gris with winery owner David Pollak. What a treat! Thank you, David!




White Hall Vineyards: We’re always amazed at the price points here given the quality of the wines. All of the wines that were available for tasting were priced under $20.00. We once again reached a split decision on the white wines with Paul favoring the minerally Pinto Gris 2010 with its subtle floral notes and flavors of citrus and pear. My own preference was the 2011 Petit Manseng. At .9% residual sugar, it was by far one of the driest Petit Mansengs that I’ve tasted. Aromas of peach and pineapple were complimented by similar flavors in the mouth along with a note of honey, too. The characteristic acidity was on full display. We did agree on the Petit Verdot 2009 as our favorite red wine. A smoky impression led to other aromas of plum, tobacco, and licorice. We noted similar flavors in the mouth with a peppery finish.



So where else did we visit? We’ll keep readers in suspense until the next post. In the meantime, fall is in the air. Why not plan a visit to these wineries? Be certain to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Monticello Sweep

Yes, our focus during our latest trek to the Monticello area was sparkling wines; however, we did manage to sneak in a few visits to wineries that weekend. Here were our impressions:

Glass House Winery: This winery has been on our “places to visit” list for a while, and we finally managed to get there this time around. This is our 141 winery visited! Glass House Winery offers a unique tasting experience in a hot house that grows an assortment of tropical plants including banana trees. Our favorite pours included the off-dry 2011 Pinot Gris with its pear and citrus aromas and the smoky 2010 Barbera that presented a whiff of violet and full blackberry flavors. Norton lovers may appreciate the 2010 Meglio del Sesso that is a blend of Norton, Chambourcin and Cabernet Franc. It is then aged with 82% ground chocolate. Needless to say, it is indeed dessert in a bottle. Oh—the fresh bananas are divine! Naturally sweet with a firm texture, they beat anything you will ever buy from the supermarket.



Mountfair Vineyards: Our tasting here began with the two sparklers from Thibaut-Janisson—the current release of the dry Blanc de Chardonnay and the sweeter Fizz. I liked Fizz, but I loved the dry Blanc de Chardonnay with its non-stop racing bubbles, apple notes, and crisp finish. (It also ended being my second favorite sparkling at Sunday’s tasting.) Of course, Mountfair is known for its focus on Bordeaux-style reds, and we favored the 2009 Belated, a bend of Merlot (65%), Cabernet Franc (25%), and Petit Verdot (10%). We noted dark fruit, cedar and sweet tobacco on the nose with plum and spice in the mouth. After our tasting, we enjoyed bubbles and conversation with Ben and Jackie of Mountfair Vineyards. Ben assists with the winemaking, and Jackie does the marketing; they are also married to each other!

Stinson Vineyards: This was our second visit to Stinson, and here we reached split decisions. Paul enjoyed the 2010 Rose with its characteristics of strawberry and dried herbs. It certainly possessed an earthiness that would pair well with gamy cheeses and meats. I preferred the 2010 Chardonnay that presented pear notes and a vanilla finish. We did concur on our choice of red wines and that was the 2010 Cabernet Franc. Nice cherry, raspberry and pepper flavors were evident here with some smoky notes to suggest oak aging.



White Hall Vineyards: An impressive line-up of wines was tasted here with an equally impressive list of price points. Everything that we tasted was under $20. I was eager to taste the 2010 Gerwurztraminer, a gold medal winner at the 2012 Governor’s Cup. I was not disappointed—lovely floral aromas with notes of orange peel led the way to intense flavors of citrus, white pepper and nutmeg. Do not be afraid to warm the glass up a bit with your hands before sipping as the rich aromatics and flavors will only intensify. I’m a proud Chardonnay fan, and the 2008 Chardonnay was an absolute steal at $11.99 per bottle. Apple and pear elements prevailed with hints of vanilla at the finish made for an elegant wine that could be enjoyed on its own or with light fare. Paul added to his Petit Verdot collection and snagged a bottle of the earthy 2009 Petit Verdot that is blended with some Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. (Between the two of us, we walked out with six bottles of wine.)


Spring is now upon us and daylight is lasting longer, so plan to visit these wineries sometime soon. Enjoy your favorite wine while gazing upon spring blossoms and lasting sunsets, but mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Older posts

© 2014 Virginia Wine Time

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑