Slater Run Vineyards

A few weeks ago we found ourselves in Middleburg visiting wineries. We realized that Upperville was just a bit farther up the road so we decided to visit Slater Run Vineyards. We’d heard good things about them from others so it was time.

Slater Run has 12 acres of vineyards on a family farm located in Upperville. The vineyards were planted in 2010 and their first wines were released in 2014. Lucie Morton is a consultant and the winemaker is Katell Griaud. We have tasted other wines crafted by Kate so we were looking forward to trying the wines here. Currently you can taste their wines at The Local Taste, their tasting room and wine shop, in downtown Upperville. That is where we tasted their current lineup of wines.

Julien Lacaze conducted our tasting. He’s a very knowledgeable wine steward. Of the white wines, Warren enjoyed the 2015 Pinot Gris with it’s lemon, pear and apple notes. We both really enjoyed the 2015 Chardonnay. We noted pear and apple and particularly enjoyed the creaminess on the finish.

The stand out red that we both enjoyed was the 2014 Roots. It’s a blend of 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Cabernet Franc, 18% Merlot and 16% Petit Verdot. We noted dark fruit, leather, and some tobacco. We know this one will rest on our wine rack for several years and will get better with time.

Before leaving we purchased our favorites and promised to return. We left with half a case of wine! We’ll definitely be back. If you find yourself in Middleburg, continue up the road to Upperville and stop by the Slater Run Vineyards tasting room. And when you do, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Location, Location, Location

Location means everything in the wine world, and the concept behind Locations wine is all about location. Winemaker and owner of Locations, Dave Phinney, has championed a concept that great wines can be made by sourcing grapes from the best vineyard sites located on the planets’ best wine producing regions. Phinney purchases quality grapes from various wine growing regions and then produces excellent wines from his facility in St. Helena, California. Thanks to Balzac Communications we were able to sample these wines.

The labels look like the alphabet chart that we all saw in kindergarten—-F, I, P, etc with some blends thrown in for good measure. These include OR, AR and TX. However, these wines are anything but elementary. We have been a fan of these wines for quite some time and appreciate their accessibility without sacrificing quality. They also are able to express a sense of place. We will be reviewing three of our favorites from this lineup starting with F.

So what is F? Well, it follows the letter E; in addition, F is a rose produced from France. Hence, it earns the F designation on the label. F is produced from the Grenache grape grown in the vineyards of southern France. It presents a translucent pink tone in the glass that suggests summer but in reality is quite versatile all year round. We recently enjoyed it on a colder winter evening with pasta tossed with olive oil, thinly sliced ham, parmesan cheese, and Italian herbs. Floral notes were accompanied by aromas of strawberry and peach fuzz. Bright red berry and melon flavors played well with a flinty edge that made for a refreshing, dry rose. I love these kinds of roses in the summer, but I always make certain to have a stash of these on hand for Thanksgiving or any larger gathering where a variety of dishes may be served but different wine palates will have to be satisfied.

Dry roses are versatile and can/should be served year round. Seek out F at your local wine shop, and mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you! Oh—-stay tuned for other letters of the alphabet!

Black Friday Shopping

Instead of fighting the crowds at the mall on Black Friday, we decided to do our shopping at some wineries. We decided to head to two of our favorites, Gray Ghost Vineyards and Gadino Cellars.
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It’s become somewhat of a tradition to go to Gray Ghost Vineyards the day after Thanksgiving. Warren’s parents visit for Thanksgiving each year. His mother makes Al a pecan pie and we take it to him the day after Thanksgiving. During this visit we did just that. Al always enjoys the pie and we enjoy catching up with the Kellerts. Al even did our tasting!
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We always enjoy all of the wines at Gray Ghost but this time we were there to taste the newly released 2014 Petit Verdot. It was the released the day before Thanksgiving. I’m a huge fan of Petit Verdot and Gray Ghost’s is one of my favorite. We noted blackberry, dark currents and blueberries as well as a lengthy finish. We think this vintage will stand up to aging and maybe could even use a little time before enjoying it. Do what I did and get a case so that you can enjoy the changes over time.
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After our tasting we enjoyed some lunch nibbles with the 2014 Reserve Chardonnay, another of our favorites. I opted for a glass of the Petit Verdot as well, you know, for research and note taking. Before leaving we purchased our favorites and promised to return December 3rd or 4th for the Christmas Cork and Cheese Celebration. We always enjoy our time at Gray Ghost. And we always encourage our readers to give them a visit sometime.

Our second stop on our Black Friday shopping was Gadino Cellars. After a time since our last visit, it’s always nice to see Stephanie when we walk in the tasting room. We
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Stephanie conducted our tasting. One of our favorite whites on the menu was the 2014 Petit Manseng. We noted the bright pineapple and citrus palate and the dry style. Another favorite was the 2013 Chardonnay. Warren noted the granny smith apple and the creamy finish. The favorite red on the menu was the 2013 Delfino Rosso. This is a blend of cab franc, petit verdot, and cab sauv. We noted blackberry, cherry, anise, and fruit through the palate. Warren noted some vanilla on the finish. I noted the smooth ending. I quickly decided I needed to bring some of this home.
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After our tasting I enjoyed a glass of the Delfino Rosso and Warren enjoyed the Chardonnay on the deck while we watched the sun lower in the sky. The view was gorgeous. Before leaving we purchased our favorites and said our goodbyes. We had a great time shopping on Black Friday! We hope you’ll check out the wines at Gray Ghost Vineyards and Gadino Cellars soon! And tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Always A Favorite

We haven’t been on the wine trail since Columbus Day weekend! Yesterday we decided to go to Linden Vineyards. We’ve had a busy couple of weeks and we wanted to relax and enjoy some wonderful wines. As usual, Linden didn’t disappoint.
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As we drove up the driveway we saw Jim Law out in the vineyard he had just ripped up. He pulled out 20 to 30 year old Cabernet vines and plans to replace them in 2018 with new Cabernet vines. The vines that were ripped up and been grafted from Chardonnay vines. Some took, some didn’t. Over the years they had vines ripening before others in the same field. Jim made the decision to start over. This time he’ll plant them in a north/south orientation to take advantage of the sun. According to his newsletter and Jim himself, look for this vineyard to be in the bottle by 2022 or 2023.
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Upon entering the tasting room we saw Shari Avenius, always smiling and ready to talk wine. We were lucky enough to have her begin our tasting. But before the tasting began we signed up for the cellar tasting. This time it would be with Jim Law himself. On the tasting menu we tasted the 2015 Rose, 2015 Riesling Vidal, 2014 Claret, 2011 and 2013 Petit Verdots. Of course all the wines were wonderful but the 2014 Claret stood out to me. It was smooth and fruity and definitely a food friendly wine. It was my kind of red. Not too heavy and not too light. It was just right.
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After our tasting we joined Jim Law in the cellar. Here we tasted the 2015 Sauvignon Blanc compared to the 2015 Avenius Sauvignon Blanc, then the 2012 Hardscrabble Red compared to the 2013 Hardscrabble Red and finally the 2009 Late Harvest Vidal with the 2012 Late Harvest Petit Manseng. Warren and I actually came to the same conclusion on these. We both enjoyed the 2015 Avenues Sauvignon Blanc. We enjoyed the citrus (lemon-lime) and mineral notes. It was fresh and crisp! We both also enjoyed the 2012 Hardscrabble Red. We found it to be soft and fruity with bright berry notes. Jim described it as feminine and we agreed. We thought the 2013 needed a bit more time to enjoy. We finished the cellar tasting by agreeing the 2009 Late Harvest Vidal was the winner of the dessert wines.

We were so lucky to have Jim do our cellar tasting. We were the only ones at that tasting time so we had the opportunity to chat with him about all sorts of things. We always enjoy spending time with Jim. We suggested he come to DC and we’d take him out to dinner!
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After our cellar tasting we enjoyed a nibbles tray with a bottle of the 2012 Hardscrabble Red. Perfect pairing with the cheeses and meats on the tray. Of course we enjoyed the view as well! Linden Vineyards is definitely very high on our favorites list. We always have a great time and always enjoy the wonderful wines. If you haven’t been Linden Vineyards lately, it’s time to return. And when you do, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Wineries That Keep Us Blogging

The tenth year of Virginia Wine Time has given us cause to celebrate, and our visits with the wonderful winemakers who inspired us to blog has been a pleasure. We will also take time to honor wineries and winemakers who inspire us to continue blogging, and these will be either newer wineries that have recently opened or wineries that have experienced a renaissance due to a new direction and renewed purpose. The two wineries featured in this post belong in the latter category, and they are Casanel Vineyards & Winery and The Vineyards and Winery at Lost Creek.

Casanel Vineyards & Winery: There is no doubt in our minds that Katie de Souza has a passion for winemaking, and the wines there have taken a profound turn for the wonderful under her leadership. We visited with Katie last fall, and we were very impressed with the line up of premiere wines. In addition, the new tasting room offers a more accessible yet elegant tasting experience. I was most impressed with the Chardonnay; Paul favored the Petit Verdot, and we both fell in love with the limited edition Carmenere. Pay attention to this winery; we plan to visit very soon to sample the latest releases.

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The Vineyards and Winery at Lost Creek: We remembered the old Lost Creek Winery as a place to go to enjoy picnic wines that tended to be on the sweeter side. We also admired the landscaping! However, the new and improved Lost Creek Winery under the direction of Aimee and Todd Henkle features more serious wines. Dry, complex, nuanced—-these are the descriptors that can now be used in association with these wines. Aimee Henkle conducted our tasting when we visited the winery in January, and I was a fan of the 2014 Reserve Chardonnay with its pear notes and buttery finish. The Genesis, a red blend, was rich and complex with a smoky nose and dark fruit flavors. Drink now or age for later; I have opted to age for a while. We were also treated to a barrel sample of the 2014 Provenance which spent 26 months in oak barrels. Bramble berry notes with a whiff of cedar were quite evident; we intend to return upon release of this one.

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We plan to visit these wineries very soon and know that they continue to strive for excellence. Plan to visit Casanel Vineyards & Winery and The Vineyards and Winery at Lost Creek too; mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Winery Happenings

We have managed to attend some winery events in the midst of our 10 Anniversary (Blogiversary) celebration in addition to some wacky and unpredictable winter weather. Two relatively recent events that we attended included an enhanced tasting at Veramar Vineyard and a Nebbiolo Vertical tasting at Breaux Vineyards.

veramarOn March 5, we accepted an invitation to attend the Enhanced Tasting experience at Veramar Vineyard. The enhanced tasting is a re-vamped version of the reserve tasting held at the winery in the past. This tasting includes foods paired alongside limited production (reserve) wines and wines featured on the regular tasting menu. At this particular tasting, a 2014 Fume Blanc was partnered with french olives, a chambourcin-based rose was paired with prosciutto, the 2013 Merlot stood alongside duck rilles, and a non-vintage Bordeaux blend called Rooster Red made fast friends with manchego cheese and fig spread. In the end, I found that all of the foods paired well with each of the wines; however, the wines that impressed me the most were the 2014 Fume Blanc and the 2013 Merlot. The Fume Blanc, made from Sauvignon Blanc grapes grown in Loudoun County, presented elements of citrus and fresh grass along with a mineral note. It was aged in neutral oak for 17 months so it possessed a richer mouth feel than the leaner Sauvignon Blancs that most drinkers may associate with the grape. The 2013 Merlot presented a smoky nose with notes of tobacco, bramble berry and cherry. The Merlot grapes were estate grown and aged for 18 months in French oak barrels, with some time in neutral oak barrels. In the end, I thought that all of the food items paired just fine with all of the wines; so, I felt free to play around and enjoyed the olives with the rose but noshed on the salty prosciutto with the Rooster Red.

Anyway, we enjoyed our enhanced tasting at Veramar Vineyards and made off with bottles of the Fume Blanc and Merlot.

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Breaux Vineyards always hosts a series of vertical tastings that include Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Nebbiolo. On April 2, we attended the Nebbiolo tasting that featured Nebbiolo wines from the 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2010 vintages. We both were impressed with the staying power of the older vintages from 2000, 2001, and 2005. Of these, I favored the classic 2005 vintage with its characteristics of spice, tar, clover, and bramble berries. Tannins were still quite pronounced too! Of course, the 2001 is Breaux’s champion vintage of the grape, and it did not disappoint either. How did these compare with the younger vintages? I will predict that the 2010 vintage will be one of the classic on par with the older siblings. 2007 still needs time; harvested from a very hot growing season, the alcohol level was the most pronounced of the lineup. (We’ve enjoyed this one at home but made sure to decant for a while before serving; pair with something fatty too! ) The 2006 vintage proved to be the most fruit forward, most versatile, and most ready to drink now. The food pairings were delicious and included a pork-stuffed cannelloni, duck with polenta, and a roasted lamb chop with roasted veggies. So what paired well with the cannelloni with its shredded pork and rich cheese? Any of the older vintages particularly the 2001. The duck with the creamy texture of polenta? I seemed to keep grabbing the 2005 and 2010. The fattier, gamy lamb chop? 2007 shined. The 2006 seemed to play well with everything that was served.

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Plan an enhanced tasting at Veramar Vineyards or sign up for a vertical tasting at Breaux Vineyards. Experiment with food and wine; do be afraid to go rogue while you’re at it! However, please mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.