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Category: Wine Trail (page 3 of 4)

Eastern Shore

This weekend we added three more wineries to the list of wineries visited (now 111 visited). Frank at Drink What You Like organized this trip. Swirl Sip Snark joined us as well and cooked for the group! We visited Bloxom Winery, Holly Grove Vineyards, and Chatham Vineyards. Stay tuned for a full report on our visit to these wineries.

Yet More on the Monticello Trail

Yes, it was a busy week of wine tasting last week. Somebody has to do it, right? In this post, we detail our experiences at Afton Mountain Vineyards and White Hall Vineyards.

Afton Mountain Vineyards: We’ve written about the positive changes that are ongoing at Afton Mountain Vineyards since Elizabeth and Tony Smith purchased the vineyards and winery. During our previous visit, I became a fan of the Tete de Cuvee and was interested in purchasing another bottle. Of course, this was my excuse to revisit and sample the latest releases at Afton Mountain Vineyards. Tony and Elizabeth graciously conducted our tasting which featured some upcoming releases that were not available for tasting at the time. Of the white wines, we still favored the Tete de Cuvee with its nonstop bubbles and toasted edge. It’s a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and done in the Methode Champenoise. Of the red wines, Paul preferred the 2008 Cabernet Franc with its dark cherry and pepper characteristics. I, however, opted for the 2009 Pinot Noir. Yes, I liked a Pinot Noir made from Virginia fruit! It presented a dark garnet color and a nose of dark cherry, currants, and anise with a whiff of smoke to boot. Similar flavors in the mouth with a medium body completed the experience. Look for this one to be released on Labor Day Weekend. Another upcoming release will be the 2009 Sangiovese, and we noted dark fruit characteristics and smooth tannins.

Like other winemakers and winery owners, the Smiths were optimistic about the 2010 harvest; in fact, they had already harvested the Chardonnay grapes. With vineyard manager Robbie Corpora and winemaker Lucien Dimani as part of the team, we expect great things to continue at Afton Mountain Vineyards. (And yes, I did purchase another bottle of the Tete de Cuvee before I left!)

White Hall Vineyards: An extensive menu is offered here, but the wines are well made. The first offering of the white wine selections was the crisp Pinot Gris 2008. “Clean” was the word that came to mind, and I noted a refreshing palate of orange and pineapple with a mineral finish. We both concurred that this was our gold star winner of the white wines, and on a day that hit 97 degrees, it was the perfect choice. (In fact, we shared a glass after our tasting.) Our tasting of the red wines found us at odds, though. Paul placed a star next to the Cabernet Franc 2008 with its aromas of violets and brambleberries. He also appreciated its smoky edge and medium finish. My own favorite, though, was the Touriga 2008. I’ve been a fan of White Hall’s Touriga in the past, and I remained a fan at this tasting. Touriga is a grape grown in Portugal, but pockets of Virginia’s micro-climates do well with this variety as well. I noted rich aromas of blackberry, raspberry, anise and tobacco with similar flavors in the mouth but with a touch of cedar. For tasters who have been a fan of White Hall’s Syrah, the 2008 vintage will be the last; at the $10.00 sale price, it might be worth stocking up. Ligher bodied but fruity with a spicy kick, it’s an accessible sipper.

So we’re almost done with our round up of tasting on the Monticello Trail. We should have one more post to finish our experiences from the past week, including a review of a newbie, Weston Farm Vineyard and Winery. Of course, the weekend is upon us, so plan to visit these Virginia wineries if you have the chance. Please mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

More on the Monticello Trail

So in this roundup, I’ll review our experiences at King Family Vineyards, First Colony Winery, and Virginia Wineworks.

King Family Vineyards: Mathieu Finot is one of Virginia’s premier winemakers, and this was confirmed earlier this year when King Family’s 2007 Meritage took the Governor’s Cup.  Mathieu joined us for our tasting today. And we were treated to a sample of the newly release 2009 Chardonnay.  This was my gold-star winner for the white wines.  Fermented and aged in French oak barrels, it presents aromas of lemon and pear with similar flavors in the mouth.  A creamier mouth feel and a longer finish were noted, too.  For summertime, it’s hard to beat the Crose 2009 done in a dry Provence style.  We stock up on this classic rose, because it is a versatile pour throughout the year.  The red wines were all well-crafted, and it was hard to select only one for our gold-star award.  The 2009 Cabernet Franc reminded us of the Chinon-style, and it was rich with bright red fruit and spice elements that are typical of Cabernet Franc. However, Paul gave his gold-star nod to the 2008 Merlot with its dark cherry, smoke and mocha characteristics.  I almost concurred with Paul until I tasted the 2008 Meritage with its complex aromas and flavors.  Dark fruit, violets and licorice made for an enticing nose, and layers of dark cherry, black plums, spice and vanilla revealed themselves in the mouth.  A lengthy finish suggests aging potential, too.  Port lovers should also try the brandy-fortified Seven 2008 which is made from Merlot; a hunk of blue cheese and/or a cigar should provide nice partners with this one.

In the midst of our tasting, Mathieu confirmed what other winemakers have noted—the 2010 harvest will be much earlier than usual for Virginia with white wine varieties either already harvested or about to be harvested very soon.  He also sees the 2010 harvest as a year for potentially complex, robust  red wines.

First Colony Winery:  We reached a split decision with the white wines.  Paul favored the floral 2008 Viognier with its tropical fruit characteristics, but I preferred the 2008 Chardonnay Reserve which is aged in Hungarian oak barrels for nine months.  Pear flavors end with a subtle toasted almond finish.  (In the past, we’ve enjoyed the Chardonnay Reserve at Kinkeads, the much-heralded seafood restaurant in DC.)  We did, however, concur on a favorite red wine—the yet-to-be released 2008 Merlot.  Dark cherries, plums and dried herbs with some chocolate at the end make for a more complex wine.  Early September is the scheduled release date for the 2008 Merlot.  Of course, it’s still grilling season, and steak lovers might want to sample the earthier 2006 Tannat.

Virginia Wineworks:  It’s always a pleasure to sample the latest releases by Michael Shaps, and it’s equally hard to find favorites since all of Shaps’ wines are well-crafted.  It’s hard to beat the Michael Shaps Viognier 2008, and we’ve written about this one in the past.  However, I was more intrigued with the Burgundian-style Michael Shaps Chardonnay 2008 with its apple and pear characteristics and toasted almond finish.  A creamier mouth feel and lengthier finish make for an elegant pour.  Paul’s vote remained with the 2008 Viognier, and that was fine with me!  Of the reds, Paul favored the Michael Shaps Cabernet Franc which was aged for 15 months in French oak barrels.  He observed elements of dark cherry, plums and anise that finished with a smooth tannic presence.  I gave my gold star to the Michael Shaps Petit Verdot 2008 which presented dried fruit characteristics, tobacco and black pepper. 

We were able to chat with Michael for a bit, and his next experiment will be “bag in the box” wines that are currently catching on in Europe.  Finding alternatives to cork enclosures has led to these developments, and quality products are being poured from the “bag” containers.  We’ll check in with Michael to see how this innovation is progressing!

Want to read more about our finds on the Monticello trail?  Don’t despair—more will be posted in upcoming articles.  With a very hot summer winding down, be sure to plan a visit to these wineries on the Monticello trail.  Be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Busy Day on the Monticello Wine Trail

We took advantage of the close clustering of wineries on the Monticello Wine Trail and planned an aggressive agenda for yesterday’s wine tastings. We’ll comment on each tasting by providing our gold star favorites and share other important revelations such as upcoming releases and the outlook for the 2010 harvest.

Jefferson Vineyards: Wines here are always well-crafted. Today’s tasting provided us with samples of a few new pours. My favorite white wine was the floral-nosed 2009 Viognier with its apricot flavors and weightier texture. Paul gave the nod to the 2009 Pinot Gris; he appreciated its crisp acidity and citrus characteristics. Of the red wines, my gold star was awarded to the 2007 Meritage, a gold medal winner in the 2010 San Diego International. I noted layers of dark fruit with complements of mocha and dried herbs. Quite complex, and a good candidate for aging, too! Paul favored the 2008 Petit Verdot with its notes of spice and tobacco.

Blenheim Vineyards: We’re always fans of Kirsty Harmon’s wines, and we were eager to sample the latest at Blenheim Vineyards. Mitzi conducted our tasting today; of course, we started with the white wines. Paul’s gold-star fave was the crisp 2009 Blenheim Farms Chardonnay which is a blend of wines from stainless steel tanks and oak barrels. Pear flavors with a slight lime edge make this one a refreshing pour. My own favorite was the heavier-bodied 2008 Blenheim Chardonnay with its pear flavors and toasted almond finish. This Chardonnay is actually the result of careful blending from American, French, and Hungarian oak barrels to present a more food-friendly wine. (I also enjoyed the dry 2009 Rose with its flavors of melon and strawberry.) Mitzi skillfully moved us on to the red wines, and we started with the light-bodied and accessible Red Table Wine. Candy bar aficionado Paul made note of Mitzi’s creative pairing with this one—a Snickers bar! He’ll be sure to give it a try, too. Anyway, as we began to sample the reds, we were joined by Kirsty Harmon who provided testimony to the fact that the 2010 harvest will be an earlier one than usual with white varieties coming in from the vineyard as we spoke. She also brought along two upcoming releases, the 2009 Cabernet Franc and the 2009 Merlot. The fruity 2009 Cabernet Franc ended up being our gold-star favorite. Bright cherry and raspberry flavors were noted with some characteristic spice notes, too. It should be the perfect partner for Thanksgiving dinner, too. The 2009 Seven Oaks Merlot was still a bit tight and revealed itself after a few swirls; however, we noted the dark cherry and earthy characteristics that will prevail with this one.

Kluge Estate: Tasting room manager Tammy warmly greeted as we entered the cottage that serves as the tasting room. We were very hungry, too; Tammy took our orders for food and wine tasting as we made our way to a table. Two flights are offered for tasting: a) the Albemarle flight, and b) the Kluge flight. The Kluge flight featured the sparkling wines, and it was this flight that we opted to enjoy with our lunch. We’re not fans of the tasting “test tubes”, though, and Tammy kindly obliged our request for wine glasses along with our rack of tasting tubes. We simply poured the contents from the tube into the glass, and all was made better. Lunch arrived in time for us to pair our sparkling wines with food which included crab cakes and cheeses. Our gold star favorite was the Kluge Estate SP Rose 2007; we’re going to review this one in an upcoming ‘back to school” post, so more on this sparkling wine later on. I will say that made for a perfect marriage with the crabcakes! With the harder cheeses, we both concurred that the Kluge Estate New World 2002 was the winner. Blackberry, dark cherry, tobacco, and mocha were noted characteristics. Tammy joined us for banter about the wines, and her sense of humor made for some lively conversation! We shared with her that in summer months, we like to make note of summer sippers, and Tammy provided us with samples of the classic Albemarle Rose 2009. Dry and crisp with bright berry and melon notes, it did indeed qualify as a quality summer sipper!

I’ll wrap up this post here, but we did manage to complete tastings at First Colony and Virginia Wine Works. Stay tuned for my next post about those wineries. In the meantime, visit the wineries presented in this article; of course, mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Ingleside and Vault Field

The last two wineries we visited while on the Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail were Ingleside and Vault Field. Our friend Bob joined us for the tasting at both wineries.

It had been awhile since we visited Ingleside. The tasting choices had changed since our last visit. We opted for the full tasting which included the basic tasting as well as the reserve tasting. With that choice there were 16 wines to taste. Warren and I both selected the 2009 Pinot Grigio to receive a gold star for the whites. Our friend Bob selected the Blue Crab Blanc for his gold star. The pinot grigio had a clean, crisp finish that was perfect for a warm summer day. From the reds, Warren and I both selected the Petit Verdot 2005 Special Reserve for a gold star. This one is not on the tasting list but they had a bottle open and were tasting it the day we were there. This was simply the best red on the tasting menu. We noted plum, currents, coffee, spice, cedar. Bob’s red gold star went to the Cabernet Merlot.

One interesting note about the reds. Ingleside has a 2007 Sangiovese with 9% Charbono. We tasted some charbonos in California but we’ve never encountered a wine in Virginia with charbono. Is anyone aware of another Virginia winery working with Charbono?

Bob’s wife Jackie joined us for our visit to Vault Field. Vault Field produces six wines–three whites, a rose, and two reds. Jackie and I put our gold star for the whites next to the 2008 Chardonnay. We both enjoyed the mouth feel and the citrus aroma. Warren and Bob liked the 2008 Vidal Blanc. They noted pineapple and pear. Of the reds, Jackie and Bob enjoyed the 2008 Red which is a blend of merlot, cabernet sauvignon and chambourcin. They placed their gold star next to this one. Warren and I both agreed the 2007 Reserve Red should get our gold star. We noted extracted fruit, coffee, and tobacco.

We had a great time on the Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail. If you haven’t been to the Northern Neck, you should plan a trip to visit the Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail. And if you visit the wineries we’ve mentioned, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail Continues

In addition to our new visits, we also sneaked in some re-visits to other wineries on the Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail.  Here are the reviews:

Athena Vineyards:  The favorite here was the Nightingale Chardonnay which was fermented in stainless steel tanks.  Crisp with pear aromas and flavors noted with this Chardonnay, and it should be prove to be a popular summer wine especially if served with shellfish.  Dessert wine lovers might enjoy Mellow Notes which is a fortified Vignoles.  Floral aromas, pear flavors and an almond finish make for a distinctive pour.  (Mellow Notes comes in a unique bottle that is shaped like a saxophone.)

Oak Crest Vineyards and Winery:  The Symphony wines continue to be the strongest offerings here, and this hybrid grape produces an Alsatian-style white wine. Symphony Dry has no residual sugar and presents a floral nose, pear flavors, and a crisp feel.  Moonlight Sonata is another wine produced from the Symphony grape but includes 3% residual sugar. 

White Fences: The Meteor Glow was our summer sipper favorite here.  Made from Chardonnay grapes, this lightly oaked (9 months) white wine offered lingering pear flavors and a subtle toasty edge.  Of course, the Blue Jimmy wines won our Michael Tyler designation; readers may recall that our friend Michael prefers sweeter wines.  Blue Jimmy Red is made from Chambourcin and aged in French oak barrels to produce lingering rich berry flavors with a sugar level of five percent.  Blue Jimmy White is produced from the Chardonel grape and is done in stainless steel with similar sugar levels as the red. We noted melon and apple flavors.

Planning a trip to any of these wineries? Be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

One More

Our Monticello Wine Trail trip ended today. After about 500 miles and three cases of new wines, we ended our trip at Prince Michel. It was on the way home so we decided to see what was new since our last visit.

Usually when we visit Prince Michel the wines a very solid and you can count on some nice ones on the tasting menu. This was also the case during this visit. We were the only ones in the tasting room and were lucky enough to have three different tasting associates help guide us through our tasting.

Our gold stars were split on the whites. I selected the 2008 Pinot Grigio for it’s hints of lime and mineral qualities. Warren awarded his to 2006 Barrel Select Chardonnay. He noted toast on the nose with some vanilla and a slight oak presence on the palate. Warren and I both selected the 2007 Petit Verdot as our gold star winner for the reds. This wine presented a dark garnet color, had a berry fruit nose, with plums, dark fruit and smooth tannins on the palate. The grapes for this wine came from the Mt. Juliet Vineyard in Crozet Virginia.

With our tasting complete, we decided to share a glass of the 2007 Petit Verdot to enjoy with some crackers and cheese. After our treat, we made our purchases and continued the trip home. If you stop by Prince Michel on your way home from Charlottesville tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Monticello Wine Trail-Last Day

Our third and final day on the Monticello Wine Trail took us first to Lovingston Winery then to Wintergreen Winery and finally to Cardinal Point Winery.

At Lovingston Winery we were able to talk to Riaan Rossouw, the winemaker. He introduced us to the wines he’s created for Lovingston. While tasting the wines he shared his passion for winemaking. He says, “You have to be in sync with the wine.”

We tasted the 2009 Wahoo White, 2007 Cabernet Franc, 2006 Merlot, 2007 Rotunda Red, 2006 Reserve Merlot, and the 2009 Petit Manseng. All of the wines are very strong and we could describe them all but we’ll just tell you our gold star winners and you will have to plan a trip to taste the Lovingston wines. I placed a gold star on the 2009 Petit Manseng with it’s mineral/sauvignon blanc nose, tropical fruit flavors, and creamy texture. I also placed a gold star on the 2006 Merlot Reserve which presents layers on the nose and on the palate with a hint of tobacco and silky tannins. Warren also chose the 2009 Petit Manseng for one of his gold stars. The 2007 Rotunda Red received his other gold star. He noted sea shells and ripe berries nose and similar characteristics on the palate. He liked this one so much that he had a glass of it with lunch at the Devils Backbone Brewing Company with one of their gourmet burgers.

After our tasting Riaan had us taste one more wine. This one he’s been working on for a few years and will be releasing under his own label. He told us nothing about the wine before we tasted it. Warren and I both tasted the wine and noted flavors, a nose, and mouth feel of a cabernet sauvignon. We even guessed a possible year! Once we shared our predictions Riaan informed us that actually we were tasting a chambourcin. We were surprised! Riaan was able to get cabernet sauvignon from a chambourcin! That comes for the skill and knowledge of a fine winemaker. We really enjoyed our time tasting the wines and talking with Riaan. If you haven’t tasted the Lovingston wines, you need to make an appointment. You will not be disappointed.

Our second stop today was Wintergreen Winery. We did not have this one on our list but we hadn’t been there in so long it was time to stop and check out the changes. With gold stars in hand we did a tasting of their line up of wines and awarded our gold stars. I awarded one of my gold stars to the 2008 Black Rock Chardonnay Reserve with it’s crisp fruitiness and it’s hint of oak. I awarded my other gold star to the 2008 Brent’s Mountain Merlot with it’s soft but full tannins with plum and cherry notes. Warren awarded his gold star to the Thomas Nelson White as a refreshing summer sipper. He had Wolf Trap on his mind while trying this one. After our tasting we purchased a few bottles and headed down the road to our final stop, Cardinal Point.

We always enjoy stopping at Cardinal Point Winery to see what new wines Tim and Sarah Gorman have on the menu. When we stopped today we weren’t able to see Tim and Sarah but we were able to taste all the new releases. Our tasting associate Brianna expertly guided us through the tasting menu. All of the wines are wonderful and we had a hard time selecting our gold star winners. I selected the 2008 A6 from the whites for my gold star. My notes show the word APPLE in big letters with exclamation points and underlines. It has a long finish and is crisp! Warren selected the 2009 Quattro (which hasn’t been released yet) for his gold star. He noted a floral nose with peach on the palate and a “just right” residual sugar level. For the reds we both picked the 2007 Cabernet Franc with it’s plum, cherry and tobacco notes and dark extracted fruit.

During our tasting Brianna let us taste a few new wines that haven’t been released yet (like the 2009 Quattro). Even though they aren’t out yet, we need to mention a few. The 2009 Viognier present classic floral notes but provided sauvignon blanc characteristics that included some citrus and minerality. The 2009 Rockfish Red reminded us of a beaujolais style red that captures the essence of the gamay grape with bright berry flavors.

Our trip to Cardinal Point wouldn’t be complete without a glass of the 2009 Rockfish Red to sip on the patio. We enjoyed the 2009 Rockfish Red while tweeting and posting to Facebook and deciding on which wines to bring home. After making our purchases and saying our goodbyes, the final day of our Monticello Wine Trail trip came to an end. When planning your trip to Charlottesville, please put Cardinal Point, Wintergreen and Lovingston on your list of wineries to visit. And tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Monticello Wine Trail Day Two

Our second day on the Monticello Wine Trail found us visiting Afton Mountain, Pollak Vineyards, and King Family Vineyards.

We arrived at Afton Mountain, and we were surprised with the changes that have already taken place under the new ownership. The most obvious change? The new tasting room. Current owners Tony and Elizabeth Smith have converted the previous owners’ home into a classy, sophisticated tasting room that includes antique furnishings and oil paintings. And the view from the new tasting facility cannot be surpassed—mountains, streams, and vineyards greet the eyes and need only to be appreciated. Nick Crutchfield directed our tasting, and the current offerings were quite impressive. Of course, we only carry a few gold stars to each tasting room, and we are very selective with our eventual winners. Our gold star for the whites went to the 2006′ Tete de Cuvee Brut. What an amazing bubbly! Crisp and effervescent with apple flavors and non-stop bubbles, we dreamed of Sunday morning mimosas. Warren had already determined that a bottle of the Cuvee was going home with him; however, we had other white wine to sample. Paul’s own award was presented to the 2008 Gewurztraminer with its pineapple and spice characteristics.

So on to the red wines, and here we reached a unanimous decision. Our gold star for the reds went to the 2008 Cabernet Franc. This award winning wine presented rich cherry flavors with some black pepper and finished with smooth tannins. Warren’s close second was the Festa id Bacco from the Bacchanal vineyard with its characteristics of dark fruit, anise, and violet.

After our detailed tasting we enjoyed a bottle of the 2008 Cabernet Franc with some warm bread and white cheddar cheese. We had a chance to chat with both Tony and Elizabeth Smith, the owners of Afton Mountain, and their son Hunter. Elizabeth and Tony shared with us that their plan to be winemakers within three to five years was accelerated with the availability of the Afton Mountain property. The three to five year plan became a three to five month dream come true. The result? Quality wines. At the end of our visit we made a few purchases and headed down the road to Pollak. If you find yourself in the Charlottesville area you simply MUST plan a visit to Afton Mountain. The changes are so evident in the surroundings and the wine. Get yourself to Afton!

Pollak Vineyards is one of our favorite wineries in Virginia. We always feel like family when we visit Pollak. This trip we began with a barrel tasting with Jake Busching. We were able to taste the 2009 Chadonnay, 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2008 Meritage, 2007 Meritage and the 2009 Mille Fleur. Jake also gave us a taste of the 2008 Mille Fleur. My white gold star for the barrel tasting went to the 2009 Chardonnay with it’s minerality, nice acidity at the end with citrus flavors. My red gold star went to the 2007 Meritage with it’s dirt nose, tight tannins, and dark fruit flavors. After our informative barrel tasting we decided to do a regular tasting. My gold stars went to the 2008 Durant White and the 2007 Cabernet Franc. Warren awarded his to the 2008 Rose` and the 2008 Native Yeast Chardonnay. After our tasting I enjoyed a glass of the 2008 Cabernet Franc and Warren had the 2008 Chardonnay Reserve. We enjoyed these wines with a warm baguette. When it came time to make our purchases I was disappointed to find out the 2008 Viognier was sold out. No problem though. I enjoy all their wines. I mixed and matched to make up a case. We have have plans to return in July when there will be many new releases.

King Family was our final stop for today. We love the wines from King Family and this time they did not disappoint. Ali was our tasting associate and she was so rehearsed, she knew everything about the wines. We both selected the 2009 Crose` for a gold star. I selected the 2007 Merlot and Warren selected the 2008 Meritage for gold stars. Even though it was a rainy cold afternoon, we enjoyed a glass of the Crose` on the covered patio. We were Tweeting about your experience at King Family. Before leaving we secured a few bottles for our wine racks. While make our purchases we ran into Matthiew Finot, the winemaker. We were able to chat with him about the 2007 Meritage which won the 2010 Governor’s Cup. We informed him we had just had the 2009 Crose`. We agreed the Crose` with it’s sauvignon qualities makes a great summer wine. We left with a few bottles for the summer. We plan to return to King Family in the summer to taste all the new releases.

Tomorrow our trip continues with a stop at Lovingston Vineyards, Cardinal Point, and First Colony.

Monticello Wine Trail Day One

We are in Charlottesville! Today we visited Barboursville, Horton, Keswick, Jefferson and Blenheim. Here’s a quick recap of the gold stars we handed out and a few notes we made during our visits.

At Barboursville I gave my gold star to the 2009 Sauvignon Blanc and Warren awarded his to the 2008 Viognier Reserve. For the reds I gave my gold star to the 2008 Sangiovese and Warren gave gave out two gold stars. One to the Octagon 2005 and one to the Cabernet Franc Reserve 2007. All the wines at Barboursville are strong. We enjoy them all. However, something must be done with the flow of the tasting room. Big crowds slow things down and hamper the tasting experience. It might be time to consider a different plan or layout for tasting. There’s got to be a better way to conduct their tastings. Just a thought.

It’s always an adventure at Horton Cellars. They have so many wines to choose from. We have to be selective or we’ll have to get a driver. We did try a few of the whites and a few of the reds. This time our gold stars went to the same wines. We awarded the 2008 Viognier a gold star and the 2007 Cabernet Franc Reserve a gold star. We purchased a few bottles before leaving.

Our next stop was Keswick Vineyards. We always enjoy our tastings there. They had six wines to taste this time and they were all new to use. I gave my gold star for the whites to the recently released 2009 Verdejo and my gold star for the reds went to the 2008 Cabernet Franc. Warren selected the 2008 Chardonnay Reserve and the 2008 Consensus for his gold star winners. After our tasting we enjoyed a bottle of the 2008 Cabernet Franc. Warren noted currents, plums, dried herbs on the nose and similar qualities on the palate. He said, “It tastes like it smells.” We enjoyed it with some delicious white cheddar cheese and crackers.

Our next stop was at Jefferson Vineyards. Jefferson was packed! It was a very popular place today. We found a spot at the tasting bar and began our tasting. We met some nice ladies from California next to us and enjoyed chatting about wine with them. Once again our choices for gold stars were split. It’s probably a good thing we like so many different Virginia wines. I gave my gold stars to the 2008 Pinot Gris and the 2007 Meritage while Warren gave his gold stars to the 2008 Viognier and the 2007 Merlot. Usually Warren likes the meritages and I like the merlots but we mixed it up this time. The weather was beautiful today so we shared a glass of the 2008 Viognier on their deck.

Trying to make the most of the beautiful weather and squeeze in as many wineries as we can on this trip, we finished the day at Blenheim. Kirsty Harmon is doing some wonderful things at Blenheim. It’s another winery that has become very popular. Our tasting associate, Pete, guided us through the current offerings at Blenheim. There were two new wines on the list: White Table Wine and Painted Red 2008. The Painted Red 2008 intrigued us with his big fruity nose and flavors. We described it as beaujolais style. Warren and I both gave our gold stars to the 2008 Viognier but for the reds we were split again. I gave mine to the Blenheim Farm Petit Verdot 2008 and Warren gave his to Painted Red 2008. After our tasting we enjoyed a glass of the Painted Red 2008 on the deck. Kirsty came out and joined us and we chatted about wine of course. We always have a great time at Blenheim.

That was our first day in Charlottesville. A lot of wineries, I know but we have to make the best use of our time. Tomorrow we are headed to three more wineries. I’ll update you then with our findings. If you find yourself at any of these wonderful wineries, please tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

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