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Category: Wine Trail (page 5 of 7)

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!

New Website

There’s a new website specifically for Fauguier County wineries. When you visit you can find out all about the wineries in Fauquier County. They are divided by exits on route 66. You can also find out about the upcoming events at each winery. In addition to that information, you can also print out tasting sheets for each winery you plan to visit, and map out a trip to several wineries using tour tool. And on top of all that, you can join and be able to input your comments about each wine you tasted at each winery. You really need to check it out.

Gerhard von Fincke has this to say about the creation of this site:

“This site is an attempt to increase awareness and show visitors, mainly from the DC area east of Fauquier, how easy it is to reach “Virginia’s Wine Country” in Fauquier County in less than one hour by using I66 and their respective exits. The site is a combined effort by all wineries to show their locations and upcoming events with a user friendly format, so that visitors can plan winery tours through one single web site without going to each individual winery site to plan their route.”

If you are looking for information about Fauquier County wineries, check out the new website and sign up to save your comments!

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