Lasagna Lunch at Naked Moutain

Last weekend our friends Jill and Michael (wine club members) and their son invited us to join them for a tasting and lasagna lunch at Naked Mountain Vineyards. Each year we try to get to Naked Mountain in the winter time to enjoy the lasagna lunch. We were happy to accept their invitation.

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We tasted the current line up of wines before our lunch. From the tasting we all decided our favorites were the 2013 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay and the 2012 Raptor Red. We were also surprised by how much we liked the 2013 Birthday Suit. We weren’t looking for a white wine to sip on on a warm spring day but this wine made us think of just that. It was crisp and fruity.

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After our tasting we sat down to enjoy the lasagna lunch. We all agreed to enjoy a bottle of the 2012 Raptor Red with our pasta. We noted blueberry, spice, plum, and toasted oak. It paired deliciously with our lasagna. If you haven’t been out to Naked Mountain lately, be sure to get there during the winter so you can enjoy the lasagna lunch. And when you do, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Happy New Year!

margauxEvery December 30th for the last 6 years many of our wine friends have gathered at our friend Susan’s house for a final wine dinner of the year. Last night we enjoyed a wonderful dinner with friends and some amazing wines.

The star of the evening was the 1990 Chateau Margaux. It had a brown, brick edge in the color, due to age. Warren noted on his first impression tobacco and earthy elements; third swirl and air revealed cherry on the palate with sweet tobacco and good acidity. Paul and Bruce noted cranberry while Sylvia caught a whiff of geraniums. It was a wonderful wine that everyone enjoyed! What a great way to end the year!

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Happy New Year to all our readers! Thank you for continuing to return to our blog and read about our wine adventures! Cheers!

Tree Decorating and A6

A6One of our traditions at this time of the year is to spend a Friday evening decorating my Christmas tree. We plan to have ham, yams, and cranberry sauce. And the wine we try to have every year is the A6 from Cardinal Point Vineyard.

The A6 is a blend of viognier and chardonnay…two of our favorite grapes. The Viognier spends time in oak and the Chardonnay is stainless steel aged. This blend creates rich fruit at the beginning and a long, crisp finish. It paired well with our ham dinner. Unfortunately this was my last bottle. We’ll have to plan a trip to Cardinal Point to pick up a few more bottles. This isn’t a problem though. We always enjoy visiting Cardinal Point and getting to visit with Sarah Gorman.

Do you have a tradition of wine and tree decorating? What wine do you enjoy while decorating your tree? If you haven’t tried the A6 recently, we recommend you pick up a bottle or two and enjoy it at this time of the year. And if you visit Cardinal Point, be sure to tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Lodi Comes To Virginia

LodiWell, not quite. We recently savored a bottle of Oak Ridge Winery’s 2012 OZV (Old Zinfandel Vines) with a hearty beef dish topped with sautéed mushrooms and served beside herb-roasted potatoes. This sort of dish was just what the doctor ordered on a chilly night, and we decided to go outside of our Virginia wine comfort zone to try something new. Wait—we actually tried something old. Oak Ridge Winery is located in the Lodi region of California, and the old zinfandel vines that crafted this wine were over 50 years old. Like old people, old vines do struggle a bit more to get by; older vines also tend to produce smaller, more delicate clusters. However, despite their age, old vine wines still have much to offer. With this in mind, we opened the 2012 OZV an hour before dinner to give the old timer a chance to breathe for a spell. The 2012 OZV proved to us that old timers still rock! (To a couple of 50-somethings, it was quite inspiring!)

So on to the wine. We appreciated its dense color and notes of dark cherry, all spice, and vanilla. Flavors of brambleberries dipped in chocolate and fall spices filled the mouth and complemented the herbed dishes quite well. The finish was quite lengthy to boot. Braised dishes should also pair well with the Oak Ridge 2012 OZV; however, I would not relegate this oldie but goodie to winter menus. I’d serve this with any grilled meats topped with barbeque sauce on a warm summer’s day. Old yet charming and quite versatile, we enjoyed the Oak Ridge Winery 2012 OZV.

Ask for Oak Ridge Winery’s 2012 OZV at your local wine shop. Of course, this should be in addition to a purchase of your favorite Virginia wine. Just mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you!

National Beaujolais Day

beaujolaisToday is National Beaujolais Day! We were sent a bottle of the Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau 2014. In celebration of National Beaujolais Day we decided to open the bottle and give it a taste.

While we are generally not huge fans of Beaujolais, it does make for a simple sipper and pairs well with simple foods. We enjoyed our Beaujolais by itself. It has a cherry red/purple color in the glass. As the tasting notes suggested, we got lots of strawberries on the nose and on the palate. It’s a causal sipper that would actually pair well with light meals like a hamburger or even pepperoni pizza.

The 2014 Beaujolais Nouveau is on sale now for a suggested retail price of $10.99. You can’t beat that when looking for a light sipper to enjoy with some light fair. Will you be enjoying a favorite Beaujolais today? Tell us what you’ll be having in the comments!

Blenheim Vineyards

During our most recent visit to Charlottesville we stopped at Blenheim Vineyards to both pick up club wines and to taste what was new on the menu.

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Of the white wines we tasted we really enjoyed the 2013 Viognier. We noted apple, pear, tropical fruit, minerality, and a full mouth feel. Warren also enjoyed the 2013 Roussanne. I’m not a big fan of Roussanne but Warren enjoyed the orange and tangerine notes.

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We couldn’t settle on just one favorite red. Of the red wines we tasted we both really enjoyed the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2012 Painted Red. The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon presented plum and raspberry notes while the 2012 Painted Red presented notes of cedar, violet, smoke and tobacco. We decided to enjoy a bottle of the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon with our lunch.

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Before leaving I picked up my club wines and purchased more of our favorites. Blenheim Vineyards is always on the list of wineries to visit when we find ourselves in Charlottesville. The next time you visit Blenheim Vineyards, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Keswick Vineyards

Keswick Vineyards is one of our favorite wineries. We try to visit them each time we travel to Charlottesville. During our last visit to Charlottesville over the Columbus day weekend, we were able to stop by Keswick to see what was new.

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We elected to do a tasting of the current offerings in the tasting room. As is always the case, we started with the white wines. Of these we both preferred the 2013 Trevillian White. This is a blend of 55% Viognier, 25% Chardonnay, and 20% Pino Gris. We noted lots of tropical fruit, a floral nose, and nutty/toasty finish. We thought this one would be perfect on a warm fall afternoon. We also enjoyed the 2012 Viognier Reserve with it’s fuller mouth feel and food friendly full mouth feel.

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Of the reds we both enjoyed the 2013 Norton. I’m not a huge norton fan but this one was a bit lighter and had notes of cranberry that I enjoyed. Warren noted that this wine could even be a sipper on it’s own.

After our tasting at the bar, winemaker Stephen Barnard invited us back to the barrel room to sample some of the 2013 vintages and 2014 vintages. We tasted several 2013 Cabs and cab francs. We also tasted the 2014 Verdajo, Viognier, Chardonnay, Cab Sauv, Chambourcin, Merlot, and Petit Verdot. While these were all wonderful wines and are progressing well in the barrel, the Petit Verdot stood out to me as the winner. It has an amazing color, notes of dark fruit, and firm tannins! I was surprised at how delightful it was after only a short time in the barrel!

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We always enjoy our time at Keswick Vineyards. We have a great time talking about and tasting wines with Stephen. Plus, he makes some great wines! After our time with Stephen we enjoyed a glass of the Trevillian on the porch. Some of the harvesters were enjoying some well deserved rest on the porch as well. They let me take photo of their hardworking hands.

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The next time you travel to the Charlottesville area, be sure to plan a stop at Keswick Vineyards. And when you do, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Chestnut Oak in Full Bloom

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Red Wines Shine At Whole Foods

Virginia Wine Month logoOctober 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!

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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.

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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.

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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!