On a recent trip to Charlottesville, Virginia we had the chance to chat with and catch up with Jake Busching, winemaker at Michael Shaps Wineworks.
We had the chance to sit down and chat with Stephen Barnard from Keswick Vineyards. He is the most recent winner of the Virginia Governor’s Cup.
The tenth year of Virginia Wine Time has given us cause to celebrate, and our visits with the wonderful winemakers who inspired us to blog has been a pleasure. We will also take time to honor wineries and winemakers who inspire us to continue blogging, and these will be either newer wineries that have recently opened or wineries that have experienced a renaissance due to a new direction and renewed purpose. The two wineries featured in this post belong in the latter category, and they are Casanel Vineyards & Winery and The Vineyards and Winery at Lost Creek.
Casanel Vineyards & Winery: There is no doubt in our minds that Katie de Souza has a passion for winemaking, and the wines there have taken a profound turn for the wonderful under her leadership. We visited with Katie last fall, and we were very impressed with the line up of premiere wines. In addition, the new tasting room offers a more accessible yet elegant tasting experience. I was most impressed with the Chardonnay; Paul favored the Petit Verdot, and we both fell in love with the limited edition Carmenere. Pay attention to this winery; we plan to visit very soon to sample the latest releases.
The Vineyards and Winery at Lost Creek: We remembered the old Lost Creek Winery as a place to go to enjoy picnic wines that tended to be on the sweeter side. We also admired the landscaping! However, the new and improved Lost Creek Winery under the direction of Aimee and Todd Henkle features more serious wines. Dry, complex, nuanced—-these are the descriptors that can now be used in association with these wines. Aimee Henkle conducted our tasting when we visited the winery in January, and I was a fan of the 2014 Reserve Chardonnay with its pear notes and buttery finish. The Genesis, a red blend, was rich and complex with a smoky nose and dark fruit flavors. Drink now or age for later; I have opted to age for a while. We were also treated to a barrel sample of the 2014 Provenance which spent 26 months in oak barrels. Bramble berry notes with a whiff of cedar were quite evident; we intend to return upon release of this one.
We plan to visit these wineries very soon and know that they continue to strive for excellence. Plan to visit Casanel Vineyards & Winery and The Vineyards and Winery at Lost Creek too; mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.
As part of our Blogiversary series of videos, we sit down with Jen Breaux and talk about Breaux Vineyards.
As part of our Blogiversary series of videos with winemakers and winery owners, we sit down with legendary winemaker, Jim Law of Linden Vineyards for a chat. Check out this rare conversation.
We have managed to attend some winery events in the midst of our 10 Anniversary (Blogiversary) celebration in addition to some wacky and unpredictable winter weather. Two relatively recent events that we attended included an enhanced tasting at Veramar Vineyard and a Nebbiolo Vertical tasting at Breaux Vineyards.
On March 5, we accepted an invitation to attend the Enhanced Tasting experience at Veramar Vineyard. The enhanced tasting is a re-vamped version of the reserve tasting held at the winery in the past. This tasting includes foods paired alongside limited production (reserve) wines and wines featured on the regular tasting menu. At this particular tasting, a 2014 Fume Blanc was partnered with french olives, a chambourcin-based rose was paired with prosciutto, the 2013 Merlot stood alongside duck rilles, and a non-vintage Bordeaux blend called Rooster Red made fast friends with manchego cheese and fig spread. In the end, I found that all of the foods paired well with each of the wines; however, the wines that impressed me the most were the 2014 Fume Blanc and the 2013 Merlot. The Fume Blanc, made from Sauvignon Blanc grapes grown in Loudoun County, presented elements of citrus and fresh grass along with a mineral note. It was aged in neutral oak for 17 months so it possessed a richer mouth feel than the leaner Sauvignon Blancs that most drinkers may associate with the grape. The 2013 Merlot presented a smoky nose with notes of tobacco, bramble berry and cherry. The Merlot grapes were estate grown and aged for 18 months in French oak barrels, with some time in neutral oak barrels. In the end, I thought that all of the food items paired just fine with all of the wines; so, I felt free to play around and enjoyed the olives with the rose but noshed on the salty prosciutto with the Rooster Red.
Anyway, we enjoyed our enhanced tasting at Veramar Vineyards and made off with bottles of the Fume Blanc and Merlot.
Breaux Vineyards always hosts a series of vertical tastings that include Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Nebbiolo. On April 2, we attended the Nebbiolo tasting that featured Nebbiolo wines from the 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2010 vintages. We both were impressed with the staying power of the older vintages from 2000, 2001, and 2005. Of these, I favored the classic 2005 vintage with its characteristics of spice, tar, clover, and bramble berries. Tannins were still quite pronounced too! Of course, the 2001 is Breaux’s champion vintage of the grape, and it did not disappoint either. How did these compare with the younger vintages? I will predict that the 2010 vintage will be one of the classic on par with the older siblings. 2007 still needs time; harvested from a very hot growing season, the alcohol level was the most pronounced of the lineup. (We’ve enjoyed this one at home but made sure to decant for a while before serving; pair with something fatty too! ) The 2006 vintage proved to be the most fruit forward, most versatile, and most ready to drink now. The food pairings were delicious and included a pork-stuffed cannelloni, duck with polenta, and a roasted lamb chop with roasted veggies. So what paired well with the cannelloni with its shredded pork and rich cheese? Any of the older vintages particularly the 2001. The duck with the creamy texture of polenta? I seemed to keep grabbing the 2005 and 2010. The fattier, gamy lamb chop? 2007 shined. The 2006 seemed to play well with everything that was served.
Plan an enhanced tasting at Veramar Vineyards or sign up for a vertical tasting at Breaux Vineyards. Experiment with food and wine; do be afraid to go rogue while you’re at it! However, please mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.
As part of our 10 year blog anniversary we are sharing wineries and winemakers who have influenced us and kept us coming back to their wineries because of their fine wines. This time we share Gray Ghost Vineyards with you.
Frank Morgan of Drink What You Like has organized a sparkling tasting for several years now, and this year the annual event continued. This year the tasting off was held at Stone Tower Vineyards in Loudoun County. Winemaker Jordan Harris landed his expertise to the whole affair, and other palates included fellow bloggers Terry and Kathy Sullivan, Pam Riley, and wine distributor Lucinda Smith.
This year’s lineup featured only Virginia sparkling produced from the Chardonnay grape (or blanc de blanc), and nine sparkling were offered by local wineries for the taste off. These included:
Boneyard Bubbles by Tarara
Greenhill Blanc de Blanc
King Family Brut
Stone Tower 2009 Wild Boar
Trump 2008 Blanc de Blanc
Trump 2008 Reserve
Trump 2009 Blanc de Blanc
Veritas Scintilla NV
So how did they rank? My personal top three were: 1) Trump 2009 Blanc de Blanc; 2) Boneyard Bubbles, and 3) Trump 2008 Reserve. Paul’s top three included: 1) Trump 2008 Reserve; 2) Thibaut Jansson NV, and 3) Stone Tower 2009 Wild Boar. Overall ranking were as follows:
1. Stone Tower 2009 Wild Boar
2. Trump 2009 Blanc de Blanc
3. Boneyard Bubbles
4. King Family Brut
5. Trump 2008 Reserve
6. Thibaut Jansson NV
7. Veritas Scintilla NV
8. Greenville Blanc de Blanc
9. Trump 2008 Blanc de Blanc
Virginia wineries are producing some excellent sparkling wines; visit these wineries to taste these bubblies for yourself. Please mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you!