Every spring I look forward to attending The Wines of America event sponsored by WineAmerica and Winegrape Growers of America in conjunction with the Congressional Wine Caucus. It is at this event that tasters get to experiences wines from all over the country. Thirty eight wineries from 25 states poured their best at the Capitol Visitor’s Center, and while I did not come close to tasting all the wines poured that evening, I did keep notes on wines that I thought were quite good.
The Northeast Region includes wineries from Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. The stunner here was the 2012 Gruner Veltliner from South Shore Wine Company located in the Lake Erie area of Pennsylvania. Nice stone fruit and spice notes were accompanied by a mineral element—it was quite good! From Maryland, my fave was the 2014 Boordy Vineyards Dry Rose with its strawberry elements that heralded the arrival of spring.
The New York Wine Selections featured a refreshing 2013 Rose Sparkling wine from Bedell Cellars as well as a 2013 Cabernet Franc from the same winery; it presented characteristic aromas of fresh berries and spice. The Great Lakes Region presented very good examples of hybrids done well; one such case was the 2013 Blue Sky Vineyard Seyval Blanc (Illinois) and the 2013 Wollersheim Winery “Prairie Fume” Seyval Blanc (Wisconsin). Illinois Sparkling Company’s “Franken French Hybrid” is indeed a sparkling wine produced from the Chambourcin grape, and I was pleasantly surprised with the result. However, it was the 2013 Ferrante Grand River Valley Gruner Veltliner that most impressed me with its heady floral aromas and subtle peach notes.
After a break to nibble on cheeses and bread, I sampled the ware from the Midwest Region. Here I enjoyed the 2011 Les Bourgeois Vineyards Norton from Missouri and the 2013 Haak Vineyards Dry Blanc du Bois from Texas. The Blanc du Bois is a hybrid grape that mimics Alsatian varieties, and it can be rather acidic; it paired well with the cheeses on my plate. The Rocky Mountain Region finished my tasting across America, and here I enjoyed the 2014 Dos Cabezas WineWorks Meskeoli from Cochise County in Arizona. Lovely floral notes and tropical fruit flavors were the result of a blend that included Viognier, Muscat and Riesling. One sniff made me want to head out to the beach with a bottle of the Meskeoli, a fruit and cheese plate, and a good book! Anyway, I also enjoyed the complex 2012 Bookcliff Vineyards “Ensemble” Red wine from Colorado and the 2012 Bitner Vineyards Dry Riesling from the Snake River Valley in Idaho.
Yes, I did sample at least one Virginia wine, and that was the 2013 Viognier from Breaux Vineyards; my mission was to try wines from other states, so I did not make a point to try the range of Virginia wines. Likewise, I avoided offerings from California and Oregon. I wanted to step outside of my comfort zones and was glad that I did.
Planning a trip to any of the wineries mentioned in this post? Let us know what you think; of course, mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.
Paul and I hosted a blind tasting of five Cabernet Francs from Virginia (of course). Our amateur team was provided with a simple scoring sheet and after a brief discussion about the Cabernet Franc grape and its characteristics, the tasting began. The wines were wrapped in paper bags so that our tasters did not know which wines they were tasting, and these included the 2012 Barboursville Reserve, the 2013 Marquis de Lafayette by Breaux Vineyards, Gadino Cellars’ 2012 Cabernet Franc, a 2013 offering by King family, and 2013 Cabernet Franc by Zephaniah. Light fare was served as the tasting and scoring was conducted, and these allowed our team to see how the wines paired with cheeses, dried meats, and prosciutto-wrapped dates.
So which Cabernet Franc won the contest? Here is how they ranked:
Our team of sippers appreciated the brambleberry and tobacco notes of the Gadino Cabernet Franc; it also offered a generous length. I found it to be very lively with vibrant fruit elements. The Barboursville Reserve was a close second but was a bit tight at the beginning compared to the winner; lots of swirling coaxed out the cedar and pepper notes and eventually dark berry aromas and flavors.
Once the official tasting was done, we feasted on braised lamb shoulder chops flavored with fresh mint and green olives, couscous, and roasted green beans topped with roasted almond slivers. These paired quite well with the wines that were poured for the tasting.
It was fun to showcase one of Virginia’s premier grapes at this taste off. We did not take ourselves too seriously, and we enjoyed the conversation that the wines engendered.
Seek out these or other Cabernet Francs and hold your own wine tasting with family, friends, and food. Of course, always mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you! Watch the video of our tasting below and subscribe to our NEW YouTube Channel!
Paul and I have not posted lately because we’ve been preoccupied with a very special event—our wedding! Yes, we got married on February 20 and then hosted a celebration dinner on February 21 at Chef Geoff’s restaurant in DC. And yes, Virginia wines helped to make the event very memorable.
We were officially married at the DC Courthouse on February 20 at 11:30 AM. Our good friends, Jill and Michael Dail as well as family members that included my parents, sister, brother-in-law, nephew and Paul’s mom joined us to witness the brief ceremony. The Dails then treated us all to a spectacular lunch at Black Salt restaurant. A round of bubbles paired nicely with fresh oysters from both the New York and Rappahannock beds; seafood entrees that included crab cakes and pasta topped with ahi tuna proved to be perfect matches with the Michael Shaps Wild Meadow Vineyard Chardonnay 2010.
The celebration dinner was held on the next day, and Mother Nature threw a day’s worth of snow, ice, and freezing temperatures our way. However, we were not deterred, and family and friends gathered at Chef Geoff’s restaurant that evening. Dinner options included crab cakes, hanger steak, and pasta tossed with a walnut pesto. Barboursville’s Viognier Reserve 2012 and Cabernet Franc Reserve 2012 were poured for our guests. We all had a wonderful time in spite of the wintry mix falling outdoors; in fact, the evening seemed to fly by all too quickly. Before we knew it, Paul and I were cutting the wedding cake and bidding adieu to guests who made us feel very special.
Virginia wines have always played a special role in our relationship, and we were very excited to be able to enjoy these special wines during our very special weekend. Hosting a special occasion at a favorite venue? Ask the events planner to serve Virginia wine, and mention that Virginia Wine Time made the suggestion.
So our extraordinary weekend at Williamsburg Winery included a four-course dinner prepared by chef Ika Zaken and held in the Wedmore Place’s Café Provencal. The menu including wine pairings are presented here:
Vol-Au-Vent—creamed mushrooms, puff pastry, port reduction
Paired with: 2011 Matthew’s Chardonnay
Monk Fish with artichoke and Winter Green Risotto, snow peas, lobster cream
Paired with: 2013 Viognier (This was my favorite course and pairing of the night.)
Lamb Saddle with cannellini beans, baby kale, roasted tomatoes, lamb jus
Paired with: 2010 Trianon
Wild boar, daube provencal with carrots, pearl onions, forest mushroom, butternut squash polenta
Paired with: 2010 Adagio (ok—this ties with the second course as my favorite course and pairing of the night.)
Crème caramel with caramel sauce
Our appetites were certainly sated after the day’s culinary delights. However, a special word must be mentioned for the Wedmore Place and its wonderful staff. The Wedmore Place took us back to a colonial period but with modern amenities. Our room was decorated with period furnishing and warmed by a fireplace; the bathroom was first rate with refreshingly scented body products. Breakfast was continental style with the world’s fluffiest croissants and a wonderful quiche that complemented fresh-brewed coffee. The Wedmore staff could not have been more polite and accommodating, and we look forward to a future visit to the Wedmore Place.
The 6th Annual Virginia Sparkling Tasting concluded our weekend of food and wine; however, before we left the Williamsburg Winery and Wedmore Place, I made certain to purchase a few bottles of our favorite wines. Looking for a local getaway that includes world-class cuisine, wines, and accommodations? Then plan a visit to Williamsburg Winery and then book a stay at the Wedmore Place. Of course, please mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.
Wine tasting is an activity to be enjoyed by adults. We neither support nor condone the consumption of alcohol by minors.
Virginia Wine Time is a wine blog written by two wine enthusiasts who enjoy Virginia wine. Warren is the writer and Paul is the photographer and webmaster. All content and photographs are property of Virginia Wine Time and may not be used without prior permission.