On Sunday we decided to visit Paradise Springs Winery in Clifton, Virginia. We hadn’t been to Paradise Springs in a long time and it was time to check out the new wines.
Upon entering the tasting room we were waved at by one of the wine educators, Joey. He waved us over to his tasting station. He informed us that he knew us from our blog! That was so cool! Joey turned out to be a very knowledgable wine educator. Not only was he an expert on the wines at Paradise Springs, but he also knows a lot about wine in general. Throughout our tasting he shared tidbits of information about Paradise Springs and their whole winemaking process. He was one of the most knowledgable wine educators we’ve ever had. We thoroughly enjoyed our tasting experience with Joey.
From our tasting we selected a few favorites. Our favorite white was the 2013 Chardonnay. We noted pear, citrus, a hint of mineral and a lengthy finish with a round mouth feel. Our favorite red was the 2013 Cabernet Franc. It was smokey and we noted cherry, red raspberry, and eucalyptus. We also enjoyed (and always do enjoy) the 2014 Nana’s Rose. We noted strawberry, melon, with a crisp mouth feel. We enjoyed it so much we enjoyed a bottle with some nibbles after our tasting.
After our tasting Joey gave us a quick tour of the wine making area. The new floor looked great and the plan for future expansion of tanks will be a great addition. After enjoying our Nana’s Rose with some nibbles, we purchased our favorites and said goodbye to Joey. We consider Joey our newest wine friend! If you haven’t been to Paradise Springs in awhile, it’s time to plan a visit. Be sure to ask for Joey and when you do, tell him Virginia Wine Time sent you!
Our friends Jill and Michael are club members at Naked Mountain Winery and Vineyards. On Sunday we joined them to pick up their club wines and enjoy the new club space at the winery.
Since we were their guests we were able to taste the club wines. We really enjoyed the 2014 Aerie White which is a blend of 72% Viognier, 20% Vidal Blanc, and 8% Chardonnay. It was crisp and light with lemon-lime, mango, and melon flavors. We also enjoyed the 2010 Tannat Reserve. Dark fruit, medium tannins, and a hint of sweet raisin were the flavors we noted. This Tannat won a gold medal at the Governor’s Cup a couple of months ago. We can see why.
After our tasting we enjoyed the Tannat and the Aerie White with some nibbles while enjoying the sunny early summer afternoon. If you haven’t been to Naked Mountain lately, plan a trip soon and tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!
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!
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.