Virginia Wine Time

We Enjoy Virginia Wine

Category: Wines (page 3 of 72)

The Sparkling Master

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.

Claude1

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.

Claude4

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.

Claude3

3. Production:
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.

Claude2

Claude7

Claude8

Claude5

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.

Claude9

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’re Baaaack!

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?

Menu

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.

shrimp

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.

Vacation

beachIf 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!

Fourth of July Wines

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.

JolieBlond

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.

Red

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!

Summer Sippers

In this video we talk about a few summer sippers you might enjoy this summer.

Seven From ‘07 at the Millers

7at74

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.

7at71

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

7at72

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:

2007 Fratelli from Fabbioli Cellars
2007 Gray Ghost Cabernet Sauvignon
2007 Hodder Hill from Glen Manor Vineyards

7at73

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.

Virginia Wine at Wolf Trap

wolftrapwineAttending 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.

Saturday Winery Visits

On Saturday we visited three wineries. We visited Fabbioli Cellars, Lost Creek Winery, and Creek’s Edge Winery. Creek’s Edge added to our total number of wineries visited. We have now visited 169 Virginia wineries.

At Fabbioli we enjoyed the food pairing wine tasting. Of the wines tasted our favorites were the recently released 2012 Tre Sorelle and the Governor’s Cup Gold winner 2011 Tannat. The Tre Sorelle presented violet, cherry, and dried herb notes while the bigger Tannat showed smoke, plum, and clove flavors. We can see why it won a gold.

wineweekend1

After our tasting we got a chance to chat with Doug Fabbioli about his new plantings and other things wine. He informed us that he had just recently planted sangiovese in the vineyard closest to the road that leads to the winery. We also enjoyed the views and the new pergola while enjoying a glass of the 2013 Something White and the 2012 Tre Sorelle.

wineweekend3

wineweekend4

wineweekend2

Next we visited The Vineyards and Winery at Lost Creek. Here we enjoyed the 2012 Reserve Chardonnay and the 2011 Genesis. The 2012 Reserve Chardonnay gave us notes of pear, citrus, and honey. It had a nice mouth feel with a fuller body. We noted tobacco and earthy notes on the 2011 Genesis. We enjoyed a glass of the 2012 Reserve Chardonnay after our tasting. We also had the chance to taste the new 2012 Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Both show promise but could use a little more time on your wine rack.

wineweekend9

Our final visit was to Creek’s Edge Winery. This one was new to us so we were curious to see what they had on the tasting menu. Creek’s Edge Winery has a gorgeous new building atop a sloped hill with a vineyard that sits right in front of the building. It was obvious to us the building was built with group events in mind. When we arrived we were the only ones in the tasting room so we got all the attention from new winemaker Melanie Natoli. Her volunteer wine pourer walked us through the current release of wines. There were five wines on the tasting menu. We found out that Ben Renshaw made these five wines but Melanie would be taking on the next vintage of wines released. Of the wines tasted we enjoyed the 2011 Cabernet Franc with its raspberry, cherry, and spice notes. We also enjoyed the 2009 Chambourcin. This one presented smoke, ripe berry, anise, and a smooth oak finish. Creek’s Edge is heading in the right direction and we’ll plan to visit them again in the future.

wineweekend6

wineweekend5

wineweekend7

wineweekend8

If you visit any of the wineries mentioned, please tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

The Ahhhhhh Experience

This is the only way to describe our Saturday afternoon at Glen Manor Vineyards. We both had a hectic week and looked forward to a relaxing getaway even if only for the afternoon. We decided to head out to Glen Manor Vineyards with a picnic in tow; we did not regret the decision.

glenmanor3

Our picnic required the perfect wine; of course, we had to taste them all to find out which one would partner with lunch. Our decision came down to two of them: the crisp 2013 Sauvignon Blanc and the dry 2013 Morales Rose. The 2013 Sauvignon Blanc continues the tradition of excellent results with the Sauvignon Blanc grape at Glen Manor Vineyards. It presented grassy notes with flavors of citrus and a crisp finish. Perfect for the afternoon that we had planned, and even better with shellfish. The 2013 Morales Rose is a blend of red grapes that include Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc. This rose is done in the Provence style—dry with lots of strawberry and melon flavors with a crisp finish. It screams summer yet is versatile enough to consider with a fall or holiday menu.

glenmanor2

So what was our decision? It was a close call, but we nabbed a bottle of the 2013 Morales Rose to enjoy with a variety of deli meats, cheeses, and crackers. We found a perfect shady spot beneath a canvass canopy, and the Adirondack chairs allowed us the comfort to sip and nibble as we enjoyed the gorgeous view that encompassed mountain slopes, vineyards, and grassy knolls from which birds and butterlies fluttered about. We decided to linger for as long as possible; if we had brought pillows and blankets, we might have taken naps! It was truly an Ahhhhh experience of excellent wine, delicious snacks, and relaxing landscapes.

glenmanor1

Consider your own Ahhhh moment at Glen Manor Vineyards. Remember to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

A Melange of Sensory Experiences

What a lovely Sunday we all just enjoyed! Paul and I took advantage of the gorgeous weather and packed a light picnic lunch to enjoy in the Bishop’s Garden adjacent to the National Cathedral. Once there, we secured a private bench located just above the rose garden; a heavenly blue sky was speckled with fluffy white clouds and young green leaves swayed to the gentle flow of a refreshing breeze. The scent of blossoms fragranced the air as cerulean and lavender hued petals accented the landscape. As we unpacked our simple lunch that consisted of turkey and ham sandwiches spiced with peach chutney, the cathedral bells began to peal and announced that mid day had arrived. Of course, a bottle of Virginia wine enhanced the pleasant overload of sensory experiences. What did we bring along with us? The appropriately labeled Melange Blanc 2013 from Delaplane Cellars. The mélange (or blend) includes Chardonnay, Viognier, and Petit Manseng. Soft peach and pear notes were met with a whiff of citrus; tropical fruit flavors and a hint of almond at the finish presented a nice yet refreshing feel in the mouth. Paul recorded a brief recollection of our experience that you can enjoy below.

Plan your own blend of sensory experiences, and be sure to mention them to us. Perhaps you can do this while sampling the latest pours at Delaplane Cellars; after all, they do have a gorgeous view. If that is the plan, please mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Older posts Newer posts

© 2015 Virginia Wine Time

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑