On Good Friday I had the chance to visit the Walsh Family Wine in Loudoun County to tour the vineyards, taste some wines and hear what’s going on from Nate Walsh.
I met our wine friends Kurt and Carol from Wine About Virginia on a very windy hill at Walsh Family Vineyards. We made plans to meet up with our wine friend Susan McHenry. She was running late. We said our hellos and followed Nate Walsh out to the vineyards. The site we visited is known as Bethany Ridge. Nate told us there are 20 acres planted with Albarino, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Viognier, Petit Manseng, (and a teeny bit of Gruner Veltliner), Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Tannat.
Nate told us of another vineyard not far away called Twin Notch Farm. This site has 8 acres planted with Sauvignon Blanc, Petit Manseng, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.
Nate talked about the recent deal with Northgate Vineyards. He will be making the wine there and keeping the winery running since Mark and Vicki Fedor have decided to move on to their next chapter. He plans to keep things the same and maybe eventually have Walsh Family Wines involved in some way.
After our vineyard tour and talk, we joined others at the picnic tables to taste some wines. We were able to taste the 2017 Sauvignon Blanc, 2017 Rosé, the 2016 Viognier and finally a red blend created from tannat and cab sauvignon that was blended for the Tarara wine club. All of the wines were very good and I favored the 2017 Sauvignon Blanc and the 2017 Rosé.
After tasting the wines and chatting more with Nate, it was time to buy some wines and head home. We hope to see more of Nate soon at Northgate and we look forward to tasting the wines he creates. If you visit Walsh Family Wine or see Nate, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!
Seven years ago we attended the groundbreaking event for Big Cork Vineyards. We had not been back since then. After the most recent snow we made plans to visit and were so glad we finally made it back to Big Cork Vineyards.
Randy Thompson and Dave Collins have certainly created an amazing experience at Big Cork Vineyards. While they made almost two dozen different wines, the tasting menu is tastefully limited to six nice choices. We thoroughly enjoyed the wine tasting at the expansive tasting bar. We particularly enjoyed the 2017 Sauvignon Blanc and the 2015 Nebbiolo. We were very impressed with the wines crafted by Dave Collins. We were already familiar with his work because of our membership at Breaux Vineyards where Dave was the winemaker for 14 years. We wanted to try the 2016 Reserve Chardonnay but it was only available to club members. I was very curious about the 2016 Reserve Chardonnay that I decided to join the club so that we could enjoy the chardonnay with some lunch items.
After our tasting we crossed the tasting room to the market area. We selected some items for lunch and picked up the bottle of the 2016 Reserve Chardonnay. It was everything we had hoped it would be. And it paired well with our lunch items. In the market area there is a comfortable seating area. There is also a covered patio area for warmer times. The day we were there they had live music out on the patio. The patio has wonderful views of the vineyards.
Before leaving we picked up our club wines and purchased a few more. We do plan to return to Big Cork Vineyards but sooner than seven years. If you happen to visit Big Cork Vineyards in Maryland, please tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!
Wintry mixes, gale force winds, and wild temperatures have not deterred us from hitting the wine trails in 2018. In recent weekends, we visited Tarara Winery, Gray Ghost Vineyards, and Rappahanock Cellars; along the way, we met up with fellow bloggers Kurt and Carol of Wine About Virginia and supreme oenophile/good friend Susan McHenry.
Our trip to Tarara Winery was threatened by a winter advisory that was issued for later in the afternoon. However, we decided to go with the intent to get their early and then leave early before the winter weather arrived. Danielle, our wine educator, gave us an expert tasting of winemaker Jordan Harris’ excellent wines. Of the white wines, the 2015 Viognier and the 2013 Neveah White were my favorites. The Viognier presented floral aromas with notes of tropical fruit and honey. On the palate, I noted tropical fruit with a nice, round mouth feel. The Neveah White is a blend of Chardonnay and Viognier; it displayed ripe pear and pineapple characteristics with a touch of oak on the finish. Favorite red wines included the 2015 Long Bomb 9, a red blend led by Cabernet Sauvignon followed by Merlot, Syrah and Tannat. Notes of tobacco, clover, blackberry and anise gave way to a fruity palate with pepper on the finish; it was also a bit “chewy”. I’d recommend decanting before serving. The 2012 Neveah Red was a juicy treat with elements of blackberry, currants, tobacco and cedar. Oh—-the wintry mix? In keeping with the fickle winter that has been 2018, it never materialized.
However, our winter hurricane did strike the area, and many wineries were closed due to power outages. Gray Ghost Vineyards was able to operate thanks to a generator, so we were able to attend their annual barrel tasting. Here we met bloggers Kurt and Carol Jensen and dear friend Susan McHenry. Group favorites were the 2016 Petit Verdot and the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon. I was also a fan of the lighter-bodied and fruity 2017 Cabernet Franc that was still in the barrel but oh so ready to enjoy. From Gray Ghost Vineyards we made our way to Rappahanock Cellars. Rappahanock Cellars has added sparkling wines to their lineup of quality wines, and I enjoyed the Sparkling Rose with its strawberry flavors and bright acidity. The dry Rose Reserve and the 2015 Cabernet Franc were other standouts; however, at the end of our tasting, the group was in the mood for Chardonnay, and the 2015 Chardonnay did not disappoint. Pear flavors with a rich mouth feel and an oak kiss paired well with the platter of cheeses that we ordered to finish the wonderful (and less windy) afternoon.
Spring is around the corner, and the finicky winter of 2018 will be history. Plan to visit these wineries as we transition to warmer days and spring landscapes colored with fragrant blossoms. Of course, mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.
Congratulations to outstanding winemaker, Matthieu Finot, for winning the Virginia Governor’s Cup. It was Finot’s 2014 Meritage that earned the coveted Cup!
We are fortunate to already have a bottle of the big winner on our wine rack, and we intend to hold on to it for a while longer. Merlot leads the way with this blend (50%) followed by Petit Verdot (23%), Cabernet Franc (21%), and Malbec (6%).
Be sure to visit King Family Vineyards to experience this top of the class red blend for yourself, and please mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you!
Time flies when you are having a blast with your best friend who also happens to be your spouse. That is the only way that I can describe the past three years with my best friend and husband, Paul. Well, to be completely honest, it has been 13 years since we have been friends and partners; however, three years ago we decided to marry on the exact date of our first date. That occurred on February 20, 2005 when a reluctant Paul agreed to a date with me to view art exhibits at the National Gallery of Art. Later that evening, we had charcuterie and cheeses with a bottle of red wine—-a Merlot from Gray Ghost Vineyards to be exact. This year is our third wedding anniversary and we thought it appropriate to celebrate with a Virginia red wine aptly named 3.
3 was a joint venture of three highly regarded Virginia wineries that included King Family Vineyards, Veritas Vineyards, and Grace Estate. The 2010 vintage was our last bottle of this joint effort. Virginia wine aficionados may remember that the 2010 growing season resembled Napa more so than Virginia. The summer was hot and dry, and drought was the word being bandied about by weathermen at the time. Virginia red wines from this vintage tend to be fuller bodied but higher in alcohol; in fact, we have opened very few Virginia red wines from the 2010 vintage. However, 3 struck us as appropriate for the occasion, and we were not disappointed with our decision to open it. I plopped an aerating device atop the bottle and then poured it into the decanter about an hour before dinner; we gave 3 a lot of time to breathe. Dinner included filet mignon served beside potatoes au gratin and roasted asparagus.
So what were our impressions? We poured 3 from the decanter into Bordeaux glasses (ok—-we were trying to be pretentious), and I noted aromas of blackberry, menthol and cedar. Generous blackberry jam greeted the palate with a bit of blueberry noted at mid-palate. A nice, lengthy finish complemented our meal. Our only regret was that this was the last bottle of 3 in our collection. Note to readers who still have 3 on the wine rack—-this is still aging well, so hang on to it for a bit longer if you wish.
We enjoyed celebrating three years of marriage with 3. It gave us the chance to visit memory lane to recall our time together. Virginia wines have always been a special part of our lives together. We hope that readers can recall similar special moments. Visit these three excellent wineries, and mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.
I was a member of the Casanel Vineyards and Winery wine club for a year and then a few more months went by and I was out. You need to buy a case within the year to be in the club. Well I had forgotten. So we went back to Casanel to get back in the club.
We began at the tasting bar. Our very knowledgable tasting associate Erik, guided us through our tasting. Between the two Pinot Gris’ they have, we both preferred the Ellianna. We noted a full palate with notes of pear, apricot and some lime zest. It was lean and ended with some mineral notes. It’s perfect for a late spring day or summer time. But we’ll enjoy it year round.
We really enjoyed the 2016 Chardonnay. It’s a blend of stainless and oak aging. We noted pineapple, pear and lemon with a lingering finish and a kiss of oak at the end. As I tasted this one, I knew I’d be adding several bottles to my case.
Onto the reds. We tasted the 2015 K2 Red Blend, the 2013 Bergerac Red, the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2015 Petit Verdot. While all the reds were wonderful, my favorite was the 2015 Petit Verdot. I noted plum, blackberry, cedar and a whiff of violet. I could see this one as both a sipper and pairing well with beef. We were also treated to a taste of the 2014 Carménère. Warren wrote down fleshy red fruit, plum, black pepper and thought it would pair well with a flank steak.
After our tasting we shared a bottle of the 2016 Chardonnay with cheese and a baguette. While enjoying out wine and snacks, Nelson joined us and told us his life story and shared his words of wisdom. It was great talking with him and hearing his stories.
Before leaving we made our decisions for the case. We liked the wines so much we’ll probably be back sooner than later to get another case! I’m back in the club now! Be sure to visit Casanel soon and when you do, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!