We always look forward to trying new wineries especially those that seem to have making quality wines at the top of the agenda. These days we frequently encounter the “events first” philosophy in which hosting weddings and parties seem to trump making wine. At Chestnut Oak Vineyard, we encountered a tasting room still in construction but good wines already in the bottle.
Chestnut Oak opened to the public six weeks ago. Tyler, our wine educator and assistant to winemaker David Eiserman, conducted our tasting; I must admit that I was impressed with his passion for the wines at Chestnut Oak. Premier winemaker Michael Shaps made the current wine offering; however, the 2014 vintages will feature estate grown grapes crafted by Eiserman. The tasting began with a very fruity 2010 Rose that was a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Manseng. At 1% residual sugar, it was a pleasing sipper. Three vintages of Petit Manseng were next on tap, and these included pours from 2009, 2011, and 2012. These were all quite distinctive growing seasons with 2011 proving to be the trickiest of the three. After all is was the year that Hurricane Irene came calling with howling winds and tons of rain right at harvest time. So call me weird, but the 2011 Petit Manseng was my favorite of the bunch with the 2012 a close second. The 2011 vintage presented a delicate fruity nose with tropical fruit notes and a pleasant acidity; in the end, I found it to be the most balanced wine of the trio.
The red wines included the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, and this provided yet another contrast in growing seasons. The 2009 growing season proved to be a classic Virginia summer with average rainfall, warm days, and muggy nights. The 2010 season was a blockbuster for red wines; it was hot and dry with California-like conditions for all of the summer. The 2009 vintage was the lighter-bodied of the two with tobacco and sandalwood notes and a cherry palate that lingered for a while in the mouth. It contrasted with the bolder 2010 vintage with its dark fruit elements, tobacco notes, and chewier tannins. Paul favored the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon; I gave a nod to the more complex 2010 vintage.
Of course, as we asked Tyler lots of questions as we sipped and savored. Current case production is about 90 cases per varietal. The 2014 vintages created by Eiserman will continue to showcase Petit Manseng and Cabernet Sauvignon; however, other varietals grown on the estate include Nebbiolo, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and the state grape, Viognier. The goal is to create limited production wines that best feature the terrior on the Chestnut Oak estate.
During our chat, Paul and I admired the murals that lined the interior walls of a tasting room that is still in the finishing stages. We sense a bright future for Chestnut Oak Vineyard and know that we will return soon. Plan a visit to this up and coming winery, and mention to Tyler that Virginia Wine Time sent you!
October is Virginia Wine Month, and on this past Wednesday the Whole Foods Tysons in Falls Church capitalized on the celebration by featuring red wines from Pearmund Cellars. These included the 2012 Cabernet Franc and the 2012 Petit Verdot. Marketing director Neche Harris invited us to participate in the event, and we eagerly accepted. We’ve been to a few Virginia wineries; of course, we were in our element!
So what were our impressions of the wines? The 2012 Cabernet Franc was lighter-bodied with brambleberry notes and spicy characteristics—typical for a well-crafted Virginia Cabernet Franc. The 2012 Petit Verdot presented a more fruit-forward profile with dark fruit on the palate along with hints of licorice; oak nuances added a bit of complexity. Our favorites? Depends on food. The versatile Cabernet Franc would certainly pair well with lighter fare, cheese plates, or even Thanksgiving dinner with its herbed turkey and numerous side dishes. Grilled meats or game? The Petit Verdot by a mile.
We enjoyed mingling with customers many of whom had already experienced Virginia wines and spoke favorably of them. We can recall the early days of our blog when very few folks had tasted Virginia wines, and their impressions were not so wonderful. We can also note that according to our very rough estimate, most of the tasters at the Whole Foods event preferred the 2012 Petit Verdot.
We applaud Neche Harris and Whole Foods Tysons staff for promoting Virginia wines. Can’t find your Virginia wine at your local market? Shop at the Whole Foods in Falls Church, and be sure to tell Neche Harris that Virginia Wine Time sent you!
Every Columbus Day weekend we travel to Charlottesville to visit with family and to revisit some of our favorite wineries. Sometimes we even visit new wineries. This past weekend we did just that. We visited several of our favorites and a new winery. Over the next few posts we’ll recap our visits and share with you the wines we enjoyed at each winery.
Barboursville Vineyards is always a must visit when traveling to Charlottesville. We try to stop there each time we visit. This time we went early on Saturday to do a tasting to find out what new wines were on the menu and what our new favorites would be. Barboursville has been working hard to make the tasting experience better and not like a cattle call like it has for us in the past. This time was different. The stations were set up efficiently and we moved easily from tasting to tasting. There are so many wines to taste on the menu that you need to be sure to us the dump bucket or select only those you are interested in tasting.
From the white wines on the menu we both thoroughly enjoyed the 2013 Chardonnay Reserve. We noted pear, citrus, good acidity, and a toasty finish. We also noted a lengthy finish. Warren has always been a fan of bigger chardonnays and I am slowly joining the band wagon.
Of the red wines we both preferred the 2012 Cabernet Franc Reserve. We noted raspberry, tobacco, cedar, cherry and a smooth ending. We both thought this wine would go well with light fare or even on its own.
Before leaving we purchased our favorite wines and a few others. We know we’ll return in the near future. If you find yourself in Charlottesville you should plan a trip to Barboursville Vineyards. And when you do, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!
We last visited Cardamon Family Vineyards and Maggie Malick Wine Caves a year ago. We thought we would check back in and see how these two wineries have evolved over the year since our last visit. On Saturday after we picked up club wines at Breaux Vineyards, we visited both Cardamon and Maggie Malick.
Cardamon Family Vineyards – Upon entering the parking lot at Cardamon Chuck Cardamon met us and welcomed us back to the winery. He remembered us from our last visit. Things are moving along at Cardamon. They have several new wines and the tasting continues to show progress. Chuck says he has stopped giving opening dates for the tasting room because one thing or another keeps from getting the tasting room finished. He gave us a tour of the unfinished space. Check out the pictures to see the progress. Of the wines we tasted (with salsa pairings of course!) we really enjoyed the RKatz. It was crisp and fruity and made us think of warmer days. It was quite chilly on Saturday when we visited but that did not stop us from enjoying the RKatz. If you visit them soon, be sure to try the RKatz!
Maggie Malick Wine Caves – Our second stop of the day was at Maggie Malick Wine Caves. We also visited them a year ago. The tastings still take place in the wine cave. There were 11 wines to taste. That’s a few less than last year but still plenty to get a good idea of how the wines are progressing. Our favorite white this visit was the 2011 Viognier. We noted toasty oak and pear. Warren thought this would be a nice wine with Thanksgiving dinner. Our favorite red was the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon. We noted smoke, tobacco, and violet and firm tannins.
It’s always a good idea to revisit wineries you’ve visited to see how the wines are progressing and taste the new wines on the menu. We enjoyed our time at Cardamon Family Vineyards and Maggie Malick Wine Caves. Plan to visit them soon and taste the new wines. And when you do, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!
In this post we share our experiences at three wineries that we visited within the past month. It includes one newbie, too!
Granite Heights Winery: Always a treat to visit Luke and Toni at Granite Heights. We enjoyed the crisp 2012 Chardonnay with its characteristics of pear and citrus with a flinty finish. Look out for the 2013 Petit Manseng that is a blend of 60% malolactic fermented wine and 40% non-malolactic fermented wine. Like Mae West, it is round, full-bodied and sensual. Rich tropical fruit notes with a creamy mouth feel should make this one a fine pairing with Thanksgiving dinner if turkey and gravy are on the menu. Of the red wines, the 2010 Cabernet Franc captured our attention with its smoky nose and notes of blackberry, leather and anise. It presented quite a lengthy finish to boot. Buy now and serve later—it is certainly age-worthy.
Magnolia Vineyards: And this is the newbie. This winery recently opened to the public, and we had a chance to visit here with our friends, Jill and Michael. Glenn and Tina Marchione operate this small winery that currently has four acres planted in vines. Doug Fabbioli serves as wine consultant; however, Tina Marchione is full time winemaker. We gave our nods to the 2012 vintages including the 2012 Black Walnut White made from Traminette grapes. We also enjoyed the 2012 Cabernet Franc Reserve with its notes of seed berries, dried herbs, and spice. It was blended with Cabernet Sauvignon (10%) and Merlot (5%). Grilled beef should pair well with this one. In fact, we enjoyed this one so much that we all shared a bottle after our tasting!
Morais Vineyards and Winery: It had been over a year since our last visit to Morais; needless to say, all wines that we tasted were new to our palates. Candace, our tasting associate, skillfully guided us through our tasting of wines. It was a rainy yet warm day, and our summer taste buds preferred the 2012 Battlefield Green, a white wine done in the Vinho Verde style. This is a blend of Albarino and Vidal Blanc grapes and presented notes of green apple, citrus, and freshly cut grass. Paul enjoyed the light-bodied 2013 Merlot with its bright cherry nose and elements of dried herbs and sweet tobacco. I found the cherry wine to be the most intriguing. This dessert wine was made with morello cherries; it was aged in stainless steel. In the tasting room, this tasty treat is served inside of a chocolate cup! Decadent indeed! I made certain to purchase a bottle to serve with a favorite chocolate dessert.
As summer begins to give way to fall, we conclude our roundup of winery visits to the Monticello area. Here we summarize our visits to two favorites and a meeting with an old friend. Read on to find out more!
Blenheim Vineyards: We always look forward to a tasting here. We enjoyed all of the wines that we tasted, but we must select favorites. Paul favored the Chardonnay 2013 with its characteristics of citrus, apple and pear. This Chardonnay was a blend of barrel-aged wine (25% barrel aged for 5 months) and tank aged (75%) to present a wine crisp yet presented a nice mouth feel. I preferred the Painted White 2012, a blend of Viognier (44%), Roussane (30%), and Marsanne (26%); it was aged for 10 months in French, American and Hungarian oak barrels. Floral notes with elements of tropical fruit and hint of mineral made for a more complex white wine. We were both fans of the dry Rose 2013 which was produced from a blend of some unique grapes in Virginia—Mouvedre (21%), Petite Syrah(21%) and Pinot Noir (4%). Merlot made up the rest of the blend. The Painted Red 2012 captured our attention as we look forward to fall menus. A blend of Cabernet Franc (29%), Merlot (29%), Petit Verdot (21%), Cabernet Sauvignon (18%), and Mouvedre (3%), the Painted Red gave aromas of clove and nutmeg along with notes of blackberry and plum. Roasted fare should pair quite nicely with this one.
King Family Vineyards: It would be easy to say all of the above here as all of Mathieu Finot’s wines are well crafted. I was a fan of the Chardonnay 2013 that was aged for 9 months in French oak barrels with full malolactic fermentation. Pear notes and a fuller mouth feel were complimented by a hint of fall spices. With fall about to arrive, it was hard to ignore the plumy Petit Verdot 2012 with its whiff of violet and notes of cedar and spice. Game meats should play well with this Petit Verdot. However, summer is still hanging on, and we did not forget the sample the Crose 2013. Dry and crisp with flavors of strawberry and melon, this versatile rose is always a crowd pleaser regardless of the season.
Old House Vineyards: It was here that we met an old friend, Andy Reagan. Andy is now the winemaker at Old House, and we got to catch up with Andy while we were in the tasting room. Andy seemed eager to take the helm as winemaker at Old House, and we know that the vintages crafted by Andy will be as superb as his wines at Jefferson Vineyards. We also got to sample the current releases at Old House, and our favorite was the Clover Hill, a dry Vidal Blanc with peach notes and a mineral presence on the finish. Chambourcin fans will love the smoky Wicked Bottom 2012 that was aged for one year on American oak. Flavors of candied cherry presented an approachable red wine; however, a bit of spice on the finish provided some complexity that made it very food friendly wine.
Celebrate the final days of summer with a visit to these wineries, and be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.