Wine bars are the rage right now, and one of my favorite wine bars is Eno located in Georgetown. Eno boasts a very eclectic wine list that also includes local wines, and last Wednesday, the bar hosted a wine tasting for Old Westminster located in Westminster, Maryland. We’ve written about Old Westminster’s excellent wines in the past, so I was excited to attend the tasting at a favorite wine bar.
Drew Baker was on hand to pour three Old Westminster wines, and these included the 2013 Albarino, the NV Tapestry, and the 2013 Crushed. I became an immediate fan of the 2013 Albarino that took a gold medal in the Maryland Governor’s Cup competition. Citrus and melon notes and a refreshing acidity gave way to a more complex, creamier finish due to lees contact for six months. Albarino is a varietal that seems to do well in local vineyards, and Drew shared with me that Old Westminster has planted more of the grape on its estate. He cited its winter hardiness as a key factor for its success in the area’s vineyards. The Old Westminster 2013 Albarino is destined to please during the hot summer months especially if shellfish is to be enjoyed at the dinner table.
The non-vintage Tapestry is actually a blend of red grapes from several vineyards and vintages, and it features Syrah as part of the mix. It presented black fruit aromas along with a tobacco note; Merlot added a brighter cherry note to the palate. I’d pair this one with barbeque fare. In fact, I enjoyed it with the mushroom bruchetta that I ordered from the Eno menu.
The third wine poured was also my favorite, and it was the 2013 Crushed created from a blend that includes the Bordeaux varietals with Cabernet Franc and Merlot taking on the star roles. A whiff of cedar as followed by aromas of blackberry, currants and licorice; accessible tannins and a generous length supported a very juicy entry. Grilled steaks with mushrooms should shine with this one. The 2013 Crushed is also poured at Eno, so consider a glass with a charcuterie and cheeses. It was my wine of choice with a margherita flatbread served from the Eno kitchen.
Plan a visit to Eno during the summer to enjoy a favorite wine; I suggest trying any of the wines from Old Westminster. Going on the Maryland wine trail this summer? Plan a stop at Old Westminster, and mention to Drew Baker that Virginia Wine Time sent you.
Michael Shaps Wineworks announced today (June 12, 2015) that Jake Busching has joined the winery as the new Head Winemaker & General Manager. Jake Busching comes with 17 years experience and an outstanding reputation in the Virginia wine industry. He most recently held the position of General Manager, Winemaker and Vineyard Manager at Grace Estate, and prior to that he performed similar roles at Pollak Vineyards and Keswick Vineyards. Working alongside Jake, our current enologist Joy Ting will take on a more elevated role of Production Manager & Head Enologist. Joy will work closely with Jake to ensure that the logistics of the production facility and the cellar crew are managed efficiently. Working directly under Joy, Jessica Trapeni will be our new full time lab technician, performing the daily functions of the laboratory to maintain and ensure our high standard of wine quality.
“I have known Jake both personally and professionally for nearly twenty years in his various roles of vineyard manager and winemaker and am very enthusiastic about the future of our winery” comments owner Michael Shaps. “Jake’s wealth of experience and industry knowledge has already made him a key addition to the Wineworks family. The increasing demand from our custom winemaking clients led us to look for an addition to our team who will fit in with our standards of innovation and exceptional service and quality. I feel very fortunate to work with such a talented team and have the utmost confidence in them.”
Located just south of Charlottesville, Virginia, Michael Shaps Wineworks is Virginia’s largest custom contract winemaking operation, with a total production reaching 30,000 cases per year with over a dozen clients. Known for his innovation in the industry, Michael Shaps introduced the “bag in a box” to Virginia wine consumers and most recently introduced a refillable wine growler. In addition to the Virginia winery, Michael owns a winery in Burgundy, France (www.maisonshaps.com) and imports these wines to the United States, where they are sold throughout Virginia and in the tasting room at Michael Shaps Wineworks.
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!
P.S. This is post number 900!
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!
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.
So the day before the 6th Annual Sparkling Tasting, bloggers, writers, and other wine industry folks were invited to a lunch, wine tasting, and dinner at Williamsburg Winery. The event allowed winemaker Matthew Meyer to showcase his excellent winemaking talents; however, chef Ika Zaken’s superb skills in the kitchen allowed for Meyer’s wines to shine even more brightly.
The food and wine event began with lunch at the Gabriel Archer Tavern located across from the Williamsburg tasting room. Winemaker Matthew Meyer treated guests to a glass of Thibaut-Jannison sparkling wine as we all mingled. The lunch began with a BLT accented with guacamole and served with the 2011 Acte Chardonnay; ripe pear and mineral notes gave way to a rich mouth feel that matched well with the smoky bacon and creamy avocado. The next course featured a favorite concoction that chef Ika Zaken learned while in the army, and it can only be described as a stewed tomato dish topped with a poached egg and served with fresh herbs. It was a hit when paired with the 2007 Gabriel Archer Reserve with its smoky notes and aromas of dried fruit and cedar. I also caught a whiff of licorice. Lunch ended with a medley of cheeses served with the 4 Barrel Cuvee, a blend of Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Franc. (This cuvee is offered to club members—perhaps an incentive to join!)
As we sipped and noshed, Matthew Meyer fielded questions from guests and provided the best quote of the afternoon when asked to compare Virginia wines and Williamsburg wines in particular to other wines regions. He replied, “Virginia can bridge both old world and new world.” Meyer forecasted a bright future for Petit Verdot and held high hopes for Tannat.
After lunch, guests were lead through the barrel room to a private tasting room where we sampled Williamsburg’s premier wines. These included the Viognier 2013, Traminette 2013, Malbec 2012, Petit Verdot 2012, Trianon 2010, and the Governor’s Cup Winner and flagship wine, the Adagio 2010. So which ones were my preferences? It was tough to beat the 2013 Viogner with its rich floral aromas, stone fruit notes, and tropical fruit flavors topped with a coconut finish. Its full mouth feel makes for a food friendly wine, too. Of the red wines, these were all very good; however, the top two for both Paul and me were the 2010 Trianon and the 2010 Adagio. The 2010 Trianon is comprised of mostly Cabernet Franc (78%) with Merlot (12%) and Petit Verdot (10%) serving as sidekicks. Lots of juicy seed berries were noted on the nose and palate along with aromas of tobacco and dried herbs. I noted a caramel kiss at the finish. (History buffs may know that Trianon was the retreat frequented by the ill-fated queen of France, Marie Antoinette; it was also the site of one of the settlements that ended the First World War.) The 2010 Adagio was by far the most complex of the red wines that we tasted. It was still quite tight, but lots of swirling coaxed elements of dark plum and black cherries to emerge along with more evident notes of sandalwood and cedar. This is certainly an age-worthy wine, and it must be noted that has been one of the few Virginia wines to be poured in London.
The tasting concluded with a tour of the barrel room and then tasters were led to a tasting of other wines from wineries along the Colonial Trail. These included James River Winery, New Kent Winery, and Saude Creek Vineyards. My favorites here included the Gewurztraminer from James River, the newly bottled Chardonnay from New Kent, and the Traminette from Saude Creek.
So much wine and food—what did we do next? Rest. A few hours of rest preceded the feature event of the day—a food and wine dinner at the Café Provencal located in the King Alfred Room at the Wedmore Place. What was served? What wines were poured? Stay tuned to find out. In the meantime, seek out the wines mentioned in this post at your local wine shop; better yet, plan a visit to Williamsburg Winery to taste them for yourself. Mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you!
We participated in the 6th Annual Virginia Sparkling Blind Tasting this past weekend. We always look forward to this event that is planned by Frank Morgan of Drink What You Like. Williamsburg Winery hosted this year’s tasting with Williamsburg winemaker Matthew Meyer serving as one of the judges.
So of the ten sparklings presented for judging, which one was at the top of the heap and which one finished last? The complex Trump 2009 Blanc de Blanc finished first this year followed by Veritas’ Scintilla. Third place went to Thibaut-Janisson’s NV Blanc de Blanc. Here is how the other’s ranked:
4th place—Stone Tower 2009 Blanc de Blanc (Wild Boar)
5th place—Trump 2007 Reserve
5th place(tie)—Trump 2008 Blanc de Blanc
7th place—Afton Mountain Bollicine
7th place (tie)—Boneyard Bubbles (Tarara Vineyards)
9th place—Thibaut FIZZ NV
10th place—Thibaut-Janisson Extra Brut
How did my own rankings compare? I must have been in the mood for a light and zesty bubbly since the tasting occurred at 10:30 AM, because my top choice was the Afton Mountain Bollicine. However, my second preference was at the opposite end of the spectrum—the weighty, oakier Trump 2007 Reserve. My third place winner was the Scintilla by Veritas Vineyards. The Thibaut-Janisson Extra Brut finished last on my list.
Sunday’s sparkling tasting actually completed a weekend of wonderful wines and delicious cuisine enjoyed by us and other bloggers, magazine writers, and wine industry people. On top of that, we were able to rest and relax at the Wedmore Place, a country hotel located at the Williamsburg Winery. I will share details on all of the above in the next post. In the meantime, seek out the sparkling wines listed above at your local wine shop; better yet, plan to visit the wineries that produce them and sample for yourself before buying—be your own judge! Just mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.
Breaux Vineyards host three vertical tastings every year, and these present tasters a chance to compare vintages of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Nebbiolo. This year’s vertical started with a lineup of Cabernet Sauvignon that included the 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2012 vintages. The 2012 was a tossed in as a pre-release, and also included in the lineup was a barrel sample of the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon. A Cajun flare was added to the mix with the 2013 Zydeco, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Chamourcin. Cuisine from Grandale Farm restaurant was served with the stellar cast of Cabernet Sauvignons.
Winemaker Heather Munden introduced herself and the wines that were served alongside the courses of food. A twist to this year’s Cabernet Sauvignon vertical tasting was that no particular course was intended to pair with a particular vintage; the intent was to allow tasters to decide which wines paired best with which course. So what did we all conclude? The run away winner for best and most versatile Cabernet Sauvignon was the 2008 vintage with its ripe mixed berry nose and flavors; silky tannins and an oak kiss made for a nice yet lengthy finish. Its fruity profile certainly made for a perfect play partner with the first course, a spicy sausage and shrimp brochette over celeriac puree with port reduction. However, I also enjoyed the fruit-driven 2013 Zydeco with this spicy dish; the fruitiness tended to cool down the kick provided by the peppery first course.
The second course presented pork lollipop raised with fig and cippolini onions served overt tarragon gnocci and ginger oil. Here again, the 2008 paired quite well, but the chewy nature of the lollipop tended to favor the chewier wines—the still young 2010 and the even younger 2012. I kept returning to the 2010 vintage as I nibbled on this course. The 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon was still tight on the nose but swirling coaxed elements of tobacco and dark fruit. Tannins were still a bit on the chewy side too—no wonder it paired with the braised pork.
The third course featured grilled lamb chops over stewed carrots and brussel sprouts with chimi churri and demi. More spices meant more opportunities for the fruit-driven 2008 vintage to shine; however, I gave a nod to the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon with its notes of dark plums and cherries and whiffs of cedar and sandalwood; it presented a full mouth feel and a nice length to complement the chops and stewed veggies. Paul is a fan of both lamb chops and brussel sprouts, and he favored the 2013 Zydeco with this course.
Of course, a Cajun feast would not be complete without something extra or lagniappe. Here the lagniappe was the port-style lineage, 1st edition. Enjoy a sip of this on its own or pair with a strong cheese; dark chocolate should also pair quite well.
Other Virginia wine lovers attended the vertical tasting including our friends Susan McHenry and Erica Johannsen. The next vertical tasting at Breaux Vineyards will feature a cast of Merlot vintages followed by a lineup of Nebbiolo vintages in April. Plan a visit to Breaux Vineyards and be sure to sign up for a vertical tasting; please mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.