Over the weekend we went to Otium Cellars in Loudoun County. Here’s a short video of our visit.
Over the weekend we went to Otium Cellars in Loudoun County. Here’s a short video of our visit.
Summer is indeed coming to a close, and what a wonderful summer it has been with few days above 90 degrees, humidity levels in check, and rainfall at near average levels. A few weeks of summer still remain, and it’s not too late to enjoy favorite Virginia sippers as summer fades into fall. Here are a few recommendations that we can make as a result of our recent trip to the Monticello area.
First Colony Winery: Lots of changes here with a renovated tasting room since our last visit. We enjoyed the crisp Rose 2013 with its bright strawberry aromas and flavors and refreshing acidity. Rose is excellent any time of the year, but we made sure to purchase a bottle for our last Wolftrap concert of the summer season. (Paul plans to sip this one while gyrating to the beat of the Gipsy Kings!) With an eye on fall menus, be sure to taste the 2012 Petit Verdot with its aromas of violet, dark berry and tobacco; plan to serve it with roasted meats and game.
Moss Vineyards: It was a treat for us to revisit this winery since our initial impressions were quite favorable. Once again, the Rose 2013 was our winner for the summer sipper award. Classic strawberry notes and a crisp finish suggest a pairing with a late summer sunset and a picnic. The Cabernet Franc 2012 was a lighter bodied offering that presented elements of raspberry, dried herbs and spice. Nice to sip on its own, but should partner well with Virginia ham and light cheeses.
Stinson Vineyards: Now is the time to enjoy tomato salads with fresh basil, and the Sauvignon Blanc 2013 should be the go to wine with this treat. Classic aromas of boxwood and citrus were noted along with a crisp, mineral finish. And yes, we liked the Rose 2013 here too. Stock up on dry rose and enjoy them year round—these are very versatile and tend to be crowd pleasers. We added a bottle of this one to our collection.
Plan a trip to Virginia wineries this Labor Day weekend. If you plan to be in the Monticello area, give the wineries listed here a try; be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.
In this video we present a food and wine pairing featuring the 2011 Cabernet Franc Reserve from Barboursville Vineyards. Check out the video and subscribe to our channel.
Claude Thibaut has earned a reputation for producing excellent sparkling wine. Claude is originally from France, and graduated from the University of Reims located in the Champagne region. He came to Virginia in 2003 to make the sparkling wines for Kluge winery; however, before then he had already sharpened his winemaking skills in California. While there, Claude worked at J, Iron Horse, and Kendall Jackson. The production of Claude’s sparkling wines currently takes place at Veritas winery. During a recent trip to the Monticello area, we were able to chat with Claude about the process of making sparkling wine from start to finish.
1. Grape varieties, vineyard sites, and preferred climates:
Chardonnay and pinot noir are the grape varietals that Claude uses to make sparkling wines. These are ready for harvest at least three weeks earlier than the same grapes used for still wines. Cooler nights, warm days, and low rainfall is what helps to provide the acid levels needed to produce quality sparkling wines that can age well. Claude considers the environmental challenges in Virginia on par with those he experienced in France.
2. Vintage versus non-vintage sparkling wines:
Most of the sparkling wine that Claude produces is non-vintage; however, grapes that are harvested during optimal growing seasons are used to produce a vintage sparkling. So does that mean that there will be a 2010 vintage sparkling from Claude? Remember, 2010 was very hot and dry. While those conditions are preferred for age-worthy red wines, they are not welcomed for sparkling wines. So which recent year produced a vintage harvest? 2011—while the year ended up being too wet for most Virginia winemakers, the 2011 growing season up until Hurricane Irene was quite favorable for production of a vintage sparkling wine.
From the vineyards, the grapes are crushed and then fermented in stainless steel tanks until bottling. However, at least 10% go to French oak barrels to produce a reserve sparkling wine. Once bottled, the tedious process of turning the bottles begins. This is known as remauge and is done so that the lees can eventually settle in the neck of the bottle. This task can be performed manually, but Claude uses a machine that allows for many bottles to be turned at the same time. While in the bottle, a second fermentation process that creates bubbles in the sparkling wines takes place, and this is known as the methode champenoise. Sediment is then removed from the neck of the bottle and the dosage is added. Dosage is the last chance to adjust the wine before labeling, and older wine is usually added to achieve this step; brandy can be added to boost the alcohol level. Once the wines are ready, they are labeled by hand and sent off to the wine shop. Claude’s current production level is about 3000 cases.
4. Future plans:
Claude continues to set goals for himself. He would like to have an independent facility that would allow him to boost production levels to at least 5000 cases. Thibaut-Jannison sparkling wines are now distributed in New York, and Claude would like to make what he called an “east coast blend” of wines from the best vineyard sites on the east coast. He also mused about making a Chablis-style still wine—-yes, Claude likes to stay busy making excellent wines.
Be sure to seek out Claude Thibaut’s excellent sparkling wines at your favorite wine shop, and mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.
We resumed our treks on the wine trails in style with a weekend stay at The Inn at Meander Plantation. We always reserve the well-appointed Madison Cottage with its European-style shower, and I look forward to sporting the plush robes that await guests in the cottage’s closet. Owners Suzie Blanchard and Suzanne Thomas also have a commitment to serving only Virginia wines in their dining room, and we made certain to reserve a table for a night of elegant fare and excellent Virginia wines. The Inn also offers gorgeous views of mountains framed by glorious sunrises and vivid sunsets. Early morning fog called to mind a scene from a Gothic novel. Paul created a video that captures these experiences:
What were our menu selections for dinner?
What did we order? I enjoyed the salad of romaine lettuce; the shaved fennel and citrus vinaigrette was the perfect match for the vino verdhe-style Green 2013 from Cardinal Point Vineyards. I love summer squash so the zucchini with basil soup was a no-brainer for me; its creamy texture matched that of the Chardonnay Reserve 2013 from Barboursville. Paul delighted in the tempura fried shrimp and noted that the batter-coated crustaceans were quite marvelous with the same Chardonnay.
We both ordered the same entree- – -the black angus filet mignon. The wine pairing was quite a mysterious yet wonderful surprise—-a Cabernet Sauvignon from Crow Mountain Vineyards. The vintage? 2011. I admit to not knowing anything about Crow Mountain Vineyards, but I do know quite a bit about the 2011 vintage. Hurricane Irene dumped tons of rain in the state that year, and red wine grapes took quite a hit throughout most Virginia vineyards. However, this 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon exhibited a depth in its color as well as its aroma and flavor profiles that we have not experienced from other 2011 red wines from Virginia. We would love to know more about this vineyard, so if any reader out there can enlighten us, we are eager to learn all about it! The dinner ended with the La Bete Noir, a flourless cake with fresh raspberry, and its pairing with the Gray Ghost Vineyards Adieu was classic.
We never look forward to ending our stay at the Inn at Meander Plantation; however, having to say good-bye always prompts us to look ahead to future visits. Looking for an elegant weekend in Virginia wine country? Plan to stay at The Inn at Meander Plantation; however, please mention to Suzie and Suzanne that Virginia Wine Time sent you.
If you haven’t figured it out, we are on vacation for a few weeks. However, that doesn’t stop us from enjoying Virginia wine while on vacation! Warren has been at Dauphin Island Alabama at the beach with his family. He took along lots of Virginia wine. Here he’s enjoying the 2013 Gray Ghost Riesling! We hope you are enjoying your summer vacation as well. We’ll return in a few weeks with new posts. Have fun!
The Fourth of July holiday is a great way to celebrate the birth of our nation and enjoy Virginia wine. We did just that.
We began the holiday by opening a bottle of the 2013 Jolie Blond from Breaux Vineyards. We enjoyed this with cheese and crackers. We lots of citrus and a mineral note on the nose. Sipping this wine revealed melon, lemon-lime notes, and a crisp finish. It certainly paired well with our cheese and crackers. The 2013 Jolie Blond is a great wine to enjoy on a warm summer afternoon.
For dinner we went with the traditional meal of hamburgers. We had potato chips, carrots, and baked beans to round out the meal. What wine did we serve with our Fourth of July meal? We selected the 2011 Red from Linden Vineyards. Jim Law wasn’t too pleased with quality of the fruit that was produced during the wet year of 2011. He decided not to produce any signal varietal wines. Instead he blended all the finest grapes from the year together to make Red. Red has become one of our favorite wines to enjoy with meals like burgers, pizza, and pasta. It’s very accessible and easy to drink. It’s fruit forward with a hint of spice. It’s a quaffable wine.
We enjoyed the last few sips of the 2011 Red just as the Falls Church fireworks began. We hope you enjoyed your Fourth of July as well. Happy Birthday, America! If you visit Breaux Vineyards or Linden Vineyards to pick up these wines, be sure to tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!
In this video we talk about a few summer sippers you might enjoy this summer.
Bruce and Silvia Miller, wine educators extraordinaire at Breaux Vineyards, invited us over to their lovely home for a food and wine pairing that featured Virginia wines from the stellar 2007 vintage. Fellow bloggers Alan Liska, Erica Johansen, and Kirsten Gansulous of Cellar Blog, and other wine guests joined us all for a wonderful evening of wine, food, and cheer.
Bruce and Silvia greeted guests with a glass of the Wild Board Sparkling Wine from Stone Tower Vineyards. However, this was simply the precursor to the evening’s main attractions—red wines from the 2007 harvest. Readers may recall that the 2007 growing season was hot and dry which allowed red grapes more time to hang on the vine before harvest. Robust red wines with depth and complexity were the result. Silvia prepared a plate of small bites that included flank steak, duck, beef tenderloin, cheeses, and macaroni and cheese. These were paired with the following 2007 red wines from Virginia:
2007 Rappahannock Vineyards Meritage
2007 Jefferson Vineyards Meritage
2007 Pollak Vineyards Meritage
2007 Pearmund Cellars Ameritage Reserve
2007 Octagon from Barboursville
2007 King Family Meritage
2007 Avenius from Linden
I did not take any notes on the wines, but I can say that the 2007 Pollak Vineyards Meritage generated the most buzz. Other comments suggested that the Jefferson Meritage and the King Family Meritage were also quite popular. After the seven from 2007 were poured, Silvia then opened up a buffet of food platters that included flank steak, beef tenderloin and potato salad; desert included chocolate cups filled with fresh berries. Bruce likewise expanded the wine buffet to include the following:
We enjoyed the flight of 2007 red wines from Virginia; for me, it was a good opportunity to taste some 2007 wines that are still on my own wine rack. I can assure readers that the 2007 red wines from Virginia can be enjoyed now but still have time to rest in the wine cellar. (In my case, that would be the closet in my office.) So you already drank your 2007 red wines from Virginia? Then visit the wineries listed in this post to replenish your stock with current releases. Be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.
Attending concerts at Wolf Trap’s Filene Center has become a summer ritual for us, and we start looking forward to our first concert as soon as spring arrives. We also try to attend and experience at least one new or unknown act each year. This year we decided that our first concert would be the performance by the Italian trio, Il Volo. We had never heard of them, but apparently they are billed as “popera” artists who mainly appeal to an older audience. I guess we qualify since Paul and I just turned 50 this year!
So did we bring Virginia wine along for the concert? Of course we did. The dry 2013 Blenheim Rose accompanied our picnic that included bowtie pasta tossed with chunks of grilled chicken, fresh Italian herbs and parmesan cheese. It all paired well with the young Italian trio who belted Italian classics as well as popular standards by Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and Barbra Streisand. We sometimes bring along an extra bottle of wine in case we want an extra splash to go with fruit and cheeses; this time, we enjoyed an extra pour from the 2012 Pollak Rose. This Rose was dry too; both shared similar profiles to boot—strawberry notes with a citrus twist and a crisp finish. Leftovers were taken home and enjoyed the next day!
Plan to attend a concert at Wolf Trap, and be sure to sit on the lawn so that you can enjoy food and Virginia wine at your leisure. Visit Virginia wineries beforehand, though to sure to stock up on favorite summer pours. Be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.