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Category: Winemakers (page 3 of 31)

Sophistication and Elegance Offered at RdV

We finally made it out to RdV Vineyards! The winery has been on our list of wineries to visit for quite a while, and we made an appointment for the weekend after a wintry week of snow and frigid temperatures. We bundled up and headed out to the winery; as we wound our way up to the facility, we were awed by the beauty of the wintry landscape. Before long, we were at the gates of RdV Vineyards, which gracefully swung open to welcome us.


As we drove up to the parking area, we were immediately impressed with the architecture of the facility. At the center was a silo that serves as the hub for other refurbished structures that include the tasting room. The white snow on the ground and surrounding mountainside complemented the white structures to create a wintry glow that suggested both warmth and sophistication. We were not disappointed when Connie, our tasting associate, greeted us and invited us into the well-appointed tasting room and gave us a moment to warm up next a roaring fire. Glasses of champagne were handed to us, and these said, “hello” as their bubbles danced to the top of the glass as though to compete with the rising flames within the fireplace.


Connie rejoined us to begin our tour of the facility, and this included a brief biography of owner Rutger de Vink, a man of Dutch heritage who gave up the 9 to 5 life of a .com executive to establish a vineyard in Virginia. De Vink tutored under wine master Jim Law in the early 2000s and by 2006 found a vineyard site thanks to the expertise of noted viticulturist Lucie Morton. De Vink’s vineyard is located on a former farm site noted for its graphite soil composition—poor stuff for most fruits and vegetables but perfect for a vineyard. Graphite is the stuff that makes vines struggle for water and nutrients and thus well suited for producing grapes that produce world-class wines. Sixteen acres of the RdV site is devoted to growing four of the five Bordeaux varietals, and these include Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot. And the name RdV? These are the initials of owner Rutger de Vink!




The tour continued into the wine caves where tanks, barrels, and caged bottles are stored. State of the art tanks include individual digital monitors; it was here that we learned that grapes are harvested in lots and therefore ferment in tanks when the lot is picked—grapes for each lot are harvested only when they are ready. From tanks the grape juice continues to evolve in French oak barrels some of which are new while others are older and therefore more neutral. From barrels the wines then go into bottles where they age in cages until ready for release. Wines typically age for about two years in French oak barrels before they are bottled and released.




So what about the wines, you ask? Connie returned us to the tasting room and its roaring blaze; windows encased the entire room to allow for the full afternoon sun to provide further warmth and ambiance. On coffee tables rested two wine glasses and a plate of cheeses, bread, and olives. The glasses were filled with samples of the two wines that RdV produces—the Merlot-based Rendez-vous and the right-bank inspired Lost Mountain. Rendezvous 2010 was the more accessible of the two with dark cherry notes and a rounder mouth feel; dark fruit flavors were noted in the mouth with soft tannins to boot. The blend included Merlot (44%), Cabernet Sauvignon (24%), Petit Verdot (20%), and Cabernet Franc (12%). The 2010 Lost Mountain presented more complexity with a denser hue; swirling coaxed out elements of blackberry, dark cherry, and tobacco. The tannins were also more evident yet still velvety. Plan to cellar this one! The blend includes Cabernet Sauvignon (64%) and Merlot (36%).




The wines matched the elegance and sophistication of the RdV facility. As we sipped and savored our wines, it was not hard to imagine that we had been whisked away to a Swiss chalet as we beheld the snow-covered landscape from the tasting room. In time, our tour and tasting came to an end, and we made certain to purchase a bottle each of the 2010 Rendezvous and the 2010 Lost Mountain. Be sure to reserve your own tasting at RdV, and mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Keswick Vineyards

Keswick Vineyards is one of our favorite wineries. We try to visit them each time we travel to Charlottesville. During our last visit to Charlottesville over the Columbus day weekend, we were able to stop by Keswick to see what was new.


We elected to do a tasting of the current offerings in the tasting room. As is always the case, we started with the white wines. Of these we both preferred the 2013 Trevillian White. This is a blend of 55% Viognier, 25% Chardonnay, and 20% Pino Gris. We noted lots of tropical fruit, a floral nose, and nutty/toasty finish. We thought this one would be perfect on a warm fall afternoon. We also enjoyed the 2012 Viognier Reserve with it’s fuller mouth feel and food friendly full mouth feel.


Of the reds we both enjoyed the 2013 Norton. I’m not a huge norton fan but this one was a bit lighter and had notes of cranberry that I enjoyed. Warren noted that this wine could even be a sipper on it’s own.

After our tasting at the bar, winemaker Stephen Barnard invited us back to the barrel room to sample some of the 2013 vintages and 2014 vintages. We tasted several 2013 Cabs and cab francs. We also tasted the 2014 Verdajo, Viognier, Chardonnay, Cab Sauv, Chambourcin, Merlot, and Petit Verdot. While these were all wonderful wines and are progressing well in the barrel, the Petit Verdot stood out to me as the winner. It has an amazing color, notes of dark fruit, and firm tannins! I was surprised at how delightful it was after only a short time in the barrel!


We always enjoy our time at Keswick Vineyards. We have a great time talking about and tasting wines with Stephen. Plus, he makes some great wines! After our time with Stephen we enjoyed a glass of the Trevillian on the porch. Some of the harvesters were enjoying some well deserved rest on the porch as well. They let me take photo of their hardworking hands.




The next time you travel to the Charlottesville area, be sure to plan a stop at Keswick Vineyards. And when you do, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Chestnut Oak in Full Bloom

We always look forward to trying new wineries especially those that seem to have making quality wines at the top of the agenda. These days we frequently encounter the “events first” philosophy in which hosting weddings and parties seem to trump making wine. At Chestnut Oak Vineyard, we encountered a tasting room still in construction but good wines already in the bottle.


Chestnut Oak opened to the public six weeks ago. Tyler, our wine educator and assistant to winemaker David Eiserman, conducted our tasting; I must admit that I was impressed with his passion for the wines at Chestnut Oak. Premier winemaker Michael Shaps made the current wine offering; however, the 2014 vintages will feature estate grown grapes crafted by Eiserman. The tasting began with a very fruity 2010 Rose that was a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Manseng. At 1% residual sugar, it was a pleasing sipper. Three vintages of Petit Manseng were next on tap, and these included pours from 2009, 2011, and 2012. These were all quite distinctive growing seasons with 2011 proving to be the trickiest of the three. After all is was the year that Hurricane Irene came calling with howling winds and tons of rain right at harvest time. So call me weird, but the 2011 Petit Manseng was my favorite of the bunch with the 2012 a close second. The 2011 vintage presented a delicate fruity nose with tropical fruit notes and a pleasant acidity; in the end, I found it to be the most balanced wine of the trio.


The red wines included the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, and this provided yet another contrast in growing seasons. The 2009 growing season proved to be a classic Virginia summer with average rainfall, warm days, and muggy nights. The 2010 season was a blockbuster for red wines; it was hot and dry with California-like conditions for all of the summer. The 2009 vintage was the lighter-bodied of the two with tobacco and sandalwood notes and a cherry palate that lingered for a while in the mouth. It contrasted with the bolder 2010 vintage with its dark fruit elements, tobacco notes, and chewier tannins. Paul favored the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon; I gave a nod to the more complex 2010 vintage.


Of course, as we asked Tyler lots of questions as we sipped and savored. Current case production is about 90 cases per varietal. The 2014 vintages created by Eiserman will continue to showcase Petit Manseng and Cabernet Sauvignon; however, other varietals grown on the estate include Nebbiolo, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and the state grape, Viognier. The goal is to create limited production wines that best feature the terrior on the Chestnut Oak estate.


During our chat, Paul and I admired the murals that lined the interior walls of a tasting room that is still in the finishing stages. We sense a bright future for Chestnut Oak Vineyard and know that we will return soon. Plan a visit to this up and coming winery, and mention to Tyler that Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Winery Visit Roundup

In this post we share our experiences at three wineries that we visited within the past month. It includes one newbie, too!

Granite Heights Winery: Always a treat to visit Luke and Toni at Granite Heights. We enjoyed the crisp 2012 Chardonnay with its characteristics of pear and citrus with a flinty finish. Look out for the 2013 Petit Manseng that is a blend of 60% malolactic fermented wine and 40% non-malolactic fermented wine. Like Mae West, it is round, full-bodied and sensual. Rich tropical fruit notes with a creamy mouth feel should make this one a fine pairing with Thanksgiving dinner if turkey and gravy are on the menu. Of the red wines, the 2010 Cabernet Franc captured our attention with its smoky nose and notes of blackberry, leather and anise. It presented quite a lengthy finish to boot. Buy now and serve later—it is certainly age-worthy.

Magnolia Vineyards: And this is the newbie. This winery recently opened to the public, and we had a chance to visit here with our friends, Jill and Michael. Glenn and Tina Marchione operate this small winery that currently has four acres planted in vines. Doug Fabbioli serves as wine consultant; however, Tina Marchione is full time winemaker. We gave our nods to the 2012 vintages including the 2012 Black Walnut White made from Traminette grapes. We also enjoyed the 2012 Cabernet Franc Reserve with its notes of seed berries, dried herbs, and spice. It was blended with Cabernet Sauvignon (10%) and Merlot (5%). Grilled beef should pair well with this one. In fact, we enjoyed this one so much that we all shared a bottle after our tasting!





Morais Vineyards and Winery: It had been over a year since our last visit to Morais; needless to say, all wines that we tasted were new to our palates. Candace, our tasting associate, skillfully guided us through our tasting of wines. It was a rainy yet warm day, and our summer taste buds preferred the 2012 Battlefield Green, a white wine done in the Vinho Verde style. This is a blend of Albarino and Vidal Blanc grapes and presented notes of green apple, citrus, and freshly cut grass. Paul enjoyed the light-bodied 2013 Merlot with its bright cherry nose and elements of dried herbs and sweet tobacco. I found the cherry wine to be the most intriguing. This dessert wine was made with morello cherries; it was aged in stainless steel. In the tasting room, this tasty treat is served inside of a chocolate cup! Decadent indeed! I made certain to purchase a bottle to serve with a favorite chocolate dessert.

Old Favorites and an Old Friend

As summer begins to give way to fall, we conclude our roundup of winery visits to the Monticello area. Here we summarize our visits to two favorites and a meeting with an old friend. Read on to find out more!

Blenheim Vineyards: We always look forward to a tasting here. We enjoyed all of the wines that we tasted, but we must select favorites. Paul favored the Chardonnay 2013 with its characteristics of citrus, apple and pear. This Chardonnay was a blend of barrel-aged wine (25% barrel aged for 5 months) and tank aged (75%) to present a wine crisp yet presented a nice mouth feel. I preferred the Painted White 2012, a blend of Viognier (44%), Roussane (30%), and Marsanne (26%); it was aged for 10 months in French, American and Hungarian oak barrels. Floral notes with elements of tropical fruit and hint of mineral made for a more complex white wine. We were both fans of the dry Rose 2013 which was produced from a blend of some unique grapes in Virginia—Mouvedre (21%), Petite Syrah(21%) and Pinot Noir (4%). Merlot made up the rest of the blend. The Painted Red 2012 captured our attention as we look forward to fall menus. A blend of Cabernet Franc (29%), Merlot (29%), Petit Verdot (21%), Cabernet Sauvignon (18%), and Mouvedre (3%), the Painted Red gave aromas of clove and nutmeg along with notes of blackberry and plum. Roasted fare should pair quite nicely with this one.



King Family Vineyards: It would be easy to say all of the above here as all of Mathieu Finot’s wines are well crafted. I was a fan of the Chardonnay 2013 that was aged for 9 months in French oak barrels with full malolactic fermentation. Pear notes and a fuller mouth feel were complimented by a hint of fall spices. With fall about to arrive, it was hard to ignore the plumy Petit Verdot 2012 with its whiff of violet and notes of cedar and spice. Game meats should play well with this Petit Verdot. However, summer is still hanging on, and we did not forget the sample the Crose 2013. Dry and crisp with flavors of strawberry and melon, this versatile rose is always a crowd pleaser regardless of the season.


Old House Vineyards: It was here that we met an old friend, Andy Reagan. Andy is now the winemaker at Old House, and we got to catch up with Andy while we were in the tasting room. Andy seemed eager to take the helm as winemaker at Old House, and we know that the vintages crafted by Andy will be as superb as his wines at Jefferson Vineyards. We also got to sample the current releases at Old House, and our favorite was the Clover Hill, a dry Vidal Blanc with peach notes and a mineral presence on the finish. Chambourcin fans will love the smoky Wicked Bottom 2012 that was aged for one year on American oak. Flavors of candied cherry presented an approachable red wine; however, a bit of spice on the finish provided some complexity that made it very food friendly wine.



Celebrate the final days of summer with a visit to these wineries, and be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

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