Blenheim Vineyards

During our most recent visit to Charlottesville we stopped at Blenheim Vineyards to both pick up club wines and to taste what was new on the menu.

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Of the white wines we tasted we really enjoyed the 2013 Viognier. We noted apple, pear, tropical fruit, minerality, and a full mouth feel. Warren also enjoyed the 2013 Roussanne. I’m not a big fan of Roussanne but Warren enjoyed the orange and tangerine notes.

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We couldn’t settle on just one favorite red. Of the red wines we tasted we both really enjoyed the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2012 Painted Red. The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon presented plum and raspberry notes while the 2012 Painted Red presented notes of cedar, violet, smoke and tobacco. We decided to enjoy a bottle of the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon with our lunch.

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Before leaving I picked up my club wines and purchased more of our favorites. Blenheim Vineyards is always on the list of wineries to visit when we find ourselves in Charlottesville. The next time you visit Blenheim Vineyards, tell them 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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Barboursville Vineyards

Virginia Wine Month logoEvery Columbus Day weekend we travel to Charlottesville to visit with family and to revisit some of our favorite wineries. Sometimes we even visit new wineries. This past weekend we did just that. We visited several of our favorites and a new winery. Over the next few posts we’ll recap our visits and share with you the wines we enjoyed at each winery.

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Barboursville Vineyards is always a must visit when traveling to Charlottesville. We try to stop there each time we visit. This time we went early on Saturday to do a tasting to find out what new wines were on the menu and what our new favorites would be. Barboursville has been working hard to make the tasting experience better and not like a cattle call like it has for us in the past. This time was different. The stations were set up efficiently and we moved easily from tasting to tasting. There are so many wines to taste on the menu that you need to be sure to us the dump bucket or select only those you are interested in tasting.

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From the white wines on the menu we both thoroughly enjoyed the 2013 Chardonnay Reserve. We noted pear, citrus, good acidity, and a toasty finish. We also noted a lengthy finish. Warren has always been a fan of bigger chardonnays and I am slowly joining the band wagon.

Of the red wines we both preferred the 2012 Cabernet Franc Reserve. We noted raspberry, tobacco, cedar, cherry and a smooth ending. We both thought this wine would go well with light fare or even on its own.

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Before leaving we purchased our favorite wines and a few others. We know we’ll return in the near future. If you find yourself in Charlottesville you should plan a trip to Barboursville Vineyards. And when you do, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Re-visting Wineries

We last visited Cardamon Family Vineyards and Maggie Malick Wine Caves a year ago. We thought we would check back in and see how these two wineries have evolved over the year since our last visit. On Saturday after we picked up club wines at Breaux Vineyards, we visited both Cardamon and Maggie Malick.

Cardamon Family Vineyards – Upon entering the parking lot at Cardamon Chuck Cardamon met us and welcomed us back to the winery. He remembered us from our last visit. Things are moving along at Cardamon. They have several new wines and the tasting continues to show progress. Chuck says he has stopped giving opening dates for the tasting room because one thing or another keeps from getting the tasting room finished. He gave us a tour of the unfinished space. Check out the pictures to see the progress. Of the wines we tasted (with salsa pairings of course!) we really enjoyed the RKatz. It was crisp and fruity and made us think of warmer days. It was quite chilly on Saturday when we visited but that did not stop us from enjoying the RKatz. If you visit them soon, be sure to try the RKatz!

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Maggie Malick Wine Caves – Our second stop of the day was at Maggie Malick Wine Caves. We also visited them a year ago. The tastings still take place in the wine cave. There were 11 wines to taste. That’s a few less than last year but still plenty to get a good idea of how the wines are progressing. Our favorite white this visit was the 2011 Viognier. We noted toasty oak and pear. Warren thought this would be a nice wine with Thanksgiving dinner. Our favorite red was the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon. We noted smoke, tobacco, and violet and firm tannins.

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It’s always a good idea to revisit wineries you’ve visited to see how the wines are progressing and taste the new wines on the menu. We enjoyed our time at Cardamon Family Vineyards and Maggie Malick Wine Caves. Plan to visit them soon and taste the new wines. And when you do, tell them 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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

Labor Day Wines

Summer is indeed coming to a close, and what a wonderful summer it has been with few days above 90 degrees, humidity levels in check, and rainfall at near average levels. A few weeks of summer still remain, and it’s not too late to enjoy favorite Virginia sippers as summer fades into fall. Here are a few recommendations that we can make as a result of our recent trip to the Monticello area.

First Colony Winery: Lots of changes here with a renovated tasting room since our last visit. We enjoyed the crisp Rose 2013 with its bright strawberry aromas and flavors and refreshing acidity. Rose is excellent any time of the year, but we made sure to purchase a bottle for our last Wolftrap concert of the summer season. (Paul plans to sip this one while gyrating to the beat of the Gipsy Kings!) With an eye on fall menus, be sure to taste the 2012 Petit Verdot with its aromas of violet, dark berry and tobacco; plan to serve it with roasted meats and game.

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Moss Vineyards: It was a treat for us to revisit this winery since our initial impressions were quite favorable. Once again, the Rose 2013 was our winner for the summer sipper award. Classic strawberry notes and a crisp finish suggest a pairing with a late summer sunset and a picnic. The Cabernet Franc 2012 was a lighter bodied offering that presented elements of raspberry, dried herbs and spice. Nice to sip on its own, but should partner well with Virginia ham and light cheeses.

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Stinson Vineyards: Now is the time to enjoy tomato salads with fresh basil, and the Sauvignon Blanc 2013 should be the go to wine with this treat. Classic aromas of boxwood and citrus were noted along with a crisp, mineral finish. And yes, we liked the Rose 2013 here too. Stock up on dry rose and enjoy them year round—these are very versatile and tend to be crowd pleasers. We added a bottle of this one to our collection.

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Plan a trip to Virginia wineries this Labor Day weekend. If you plan to be in the Monticello area, give the wineries listed here a try; be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.