Paul and I hosted a blind tasting of five Cabernet Francs from Virginia (of course). Our amateur team was provided with a simple scoring sheet and after a brief discussion about the Cabernet Franc grape and its characteristics, the tasting began. The wines were wrapped in paper bags so that our tasters did not know which wines they were tasting, and these included the 2012 Barboursville Reserve, the 2013 Marquis de Lafayette by Breaux Vineyards, Gadino Cellars’ 2012 Cabernet Franc, a 2013 offering by King family, and 2013 Cabernet Franc by Zephaniah. Light fare was served as the tasting and scoring was conducted, and these allowed our team to see how the wines paired with cheeses, dried meats, and prosciutto-wrapped dates.
So which Cabernet Franc won the contest? Here is how they ranked:
Our team of sippers appreciated the brambleberry and tobacco notes of the Gadino Cabernet Franc; it also offered a generous length. I found it to be very lively with vibrant fruit elements. The Barboursville Reserve was a close second but was a bit tight at the beginning compared to the winner; lots of swirling coaxed out the cedar and pepper notes and eventually dark berry aromas and flavors.
Once the official tasting was done, we feasted on braised lamb shoulder chops flavored with fresh mint and green olives, couscous, and roasted green beans topped with roasted almond slivers. These paired quite well with the wines that were poured for the tasting.
It was fun to showcase one of Virginia’s premier grapes at this taste off. We did not take ourselves too seriously, and we enjoyed the conversation that the wines engendered.
Seek out these or other Cabernet Francs and hold your own wine tasting with family, friends, and food. Of course, always mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you! Watch the video of our tasting below and subscribe to our NEW YouTube Channel!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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%).
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!