Virginia Wine Time

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Category: Winery (page 2 of 59)

Breaux Kicks Off Its Vertical Tastings

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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%).

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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!

Wine Pick Up at Deplane Cellars

After our lasagna lunch at Naked Mountain we decided to stop at Depaplane Cellars to pick up our club wines and enjoy a tasting with our friends Jill and Michael.

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Our favorites from the tasting were the 2013 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay and the 2012 Williams Gap. The 2013 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay presented apple and pear notes and a lightly creamy ending. The 2012 Williams Gap is a Bordeaux style blend of 4 of the 5 Bordeaux grapes. The only one missing is Malbec. We noted tobacco, earthy notes with blackberry and raspberry. It had a toasty oak finish with pepper hints.

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After our tasting we decided to enjoy the 2013 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay and the 2013 Melange Rouge with some nibbles. Before leaving we picked up our wine club wines and a few other bottles. We always enjoy our time at Delaplane Cellars. If you haven’t been lately, plan a trip soon. And tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Lasagna Lunch at Naked Moutain

Last weekend our friends Jill and Michael (wine club members) and their son invited us to join them for a tasting and lasagna lunch at Naked Mountain Vineyards. Each year we try to get to Naked Mountain in the winter time to enjoy the lasagna lunch. We were happy to accept their invitation.

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We tasted the current line up of wines before our lunch. From the tasting we all decided our favorites were the 2013 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay and the 2012 Raptor Red. We were also surprised by how much we liked the 2013 Birthday Suit. We weren’t looking for a white wine to sip on on a warm spring day but this wine made us think of just that. It was crisp and fruity.

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After our tasting we sat down to enjoy the lasagna lunch. We all agreed to enjoy a bottle of the 2012 Raptor Red with our pasta. We noted blueberry, spice, plum, and toasted oak. It paired deliciously with our lasagna. If you haven’t been out to Naked Mountain lately, be sure to get there during the winter so you can enjoy the lasagna lunch. And when you do, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Tree Decorating and A6

A6One of our traditions at this time of the year is to spend a Friday evening decorating my Christmas tree. We plan to have ham, yams, and cranberry sauce. And the wine we try to have every year is the A6 from Cardinal Point Vineyard.

The A6 is a blend of viognier and chardonnay…two of our favorite grapes. The Viognier spends time in oak and the Chardonnay is stainless steel aged. This blend creates rich fruit at the beginning and a long, crisp finish. It paired well with our ham dinner. Unfortunately this was my last bottle. We’ll have to plan a trip to Cardinal Point to pick up a few more bottles. This isn’t a problem though. We always enjoy visiting Cardinal Point and getting to visit with Sarah Gorman.

Do you have a tradition of wine and tree decorating? What wine do you enjoy while decorating your tree? If you haven’t tried the A6 recently, we recommend you pick up a bottle or two and enjoy it at this time of the year. And if you visit Cardinal Point, be sure to tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Lodi Comes To Virginia

LodiWell, not quite. We recently savored a bottle of Oak Ridge Winery’s 2012 OZV (Old Zinfandel Vines) with a hearty beef dish topped with sautéed mushrooms and served beside herb-roasted potatoes. This sort of dish was just what the doctor ordered on a chilly night, and we decided to go outside of our Virginia wine comfort zone to try something new. Wait—we actually tried something old. Oak Ridge Winery is located in the Lodi region of California, and the old zinfandel vines that crafted this wine were over 50 years old. Like old people, old vines do struggle a bit more to get by; older vines also tend to produce smaller, more delicate clusters. However, despite their age, old vine wines still have much to offer. With this in mind, we opened the 2012 OZV an hour before dinner to give the old timer a chance to breathe for a spell. The 2012 OZV proved to us that old timers still rock! (To a couple of 50-somethings, it was quite inspiring!)

So on to the wine. We appreciated its dense color and notes of dark cherry, all spice, and vanilla. Flavors of brambleberries dipped in chocolate and fall spices filled the mouth and complemented the herbed dishes quite well. The finish was quite lengthy to boot. Braised dishes should also pair well with the Oak Ridge 2012 OZV; however, I would not relegate this oldie but goodie to winter menus. I’d serve this with any grilled meats topped with barbeque sauce on a warm summer’s day. Old yet charming and quite versatile, we enjoyed the Oak Ridge Winery 2012 OZV.

Ask for Oak Ridge Winery’s 2012 OZV at your local wine shop. Of course, this should be in addition to a purchase of your favorite Virginia wine. Just mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you!

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!

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