Virginia Wine Time

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Breaking News!

BREAKING NEW: VIRGINIA WINES HIT 90 POINTS IN WINE SPECTATOR!

Yes, the headline is correct. The current issue of the well-respected wine magazine reviewed nine Virginia wines in its current issue. Of the nine, one scored 91 points, three others scored 90 points, and the rest earned between 87-89 points. These results are excellent and prove what we have been writing about for almost nine years—Virginia makes excellent wines. So who’s on the honor roll?

1. 91 points Barboursville Octagon 2010
2. 90 points RdV Vineyards Lost Mountain 2010
3. 90 points RdV Rendezvous 2010
4. 90 points Sunset Hills Mosaic 2010
5. 89 points Barboursville Malvaxia Passito 2008
6. 89 points Barren Ridge Meritage 2009
7. 88 points Keswick Viognier Monticello Signature Series
8. 87 points King Family Meritage 2011 (yes, 2011)
9. 87 points Virginia Cellars Viognier Viognier Annefield Vineyards 2013

Congratulations to these talented winemakers who produced these stellar wines. Plan to visit these wineries soon to taste them for yourself, but mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Fall Wines

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!

Red Wines Shine At Whole Foods

Virginia Wine Month logoOctober is Virginia Wine Month, and on this past Wednesday the Whole Foods Tysons in Falls Church capitalized on the celebration by featuring red wines from Pearmund Cellars. These included the 2012 Cabernet Franc and the 2012 Petit Verdot. Marketing director Neche Harris invited us to participate in the event, and we eagerly accepted. We’ve been to a few Virginia wineries; of course, we were in our element!

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So what were our impressions of the wines? The 2012 Cabernet Franc was lighter-bodied with brambleberry notes and spicy characteristics—typical for a well-crafted Virginia Cabernet Franc. The 2012 Petit Verdot presented a more fruit-forward profile with dark fruit on the palate along with hints of licorice; oak nuances added a bit of complexity. Our favorites? Depends on food. The versatile Cabernet Franc would certainly pair well with lighter fare, cheese plates, or even Thanksgiving dinner with its herbed turkey and numerous side dishes. Grilled meats or game? The Petit Verdot by a mile.

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We enjoyed mingling with customers many of whom had already experienced Virginia wines and spoke favorably of them. We can recall the early days of our blog when very few folks had tasted Virginia wines, and their impressions were not so wonderful. We can also note that according to our very rough estimate, most of the tasters at the Whole Foods event preferred the 2012 Petit Verdot.

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We applaud Neche Harris and Whole Foods Tysons staff for promoting Virginia wines. Can’t find your Virginia wine at your local market? Shop at the Whole Foods in Falls Church, and be sure to tell Neche Harris 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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