Virginia Wine Time

We Enjoy Virginia Wine

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Bingler & Brown

During our most recent visit to King Family Vineyards we chatted with one of our favorite tasting room managers, Matt Brown. He has transitioned out of his role as Tasting Room Manager at King Family Vineyards and has begun a new adventure in the wine industry. Along with his business partner, Melissa Bingler, he is starting a wine management, consulting, and education firm in Charlottesville called Bingler & Brown.

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There are essentially three components to their business:

(1) They provide storage and management of private wine collections in their climate controlled warehouse. These collections can range from 1 case to 100 cases. Each case in their care is cataloged and clients will have access to their staff to discuss the ins and outs of their various bottles (value, when to drink, how to serve, what else they may like to try, etc..)

(2) They consult with local wine shops, restaurants, cafes, and bars about purchase decisions, wine lists, and proper wine service. They can provide training not only for owners but also for front line staff on how to present their wine programs in the best light.

(3) Knowledge is power! They will be offering numerous casual level classes for consumers who want to have a stronger understanding of what wine is all about. In addition, they will also be leading professional level classes for those who want to start a wine career or for people in the industry who want to take their careers to the next level. Initially this will start by offering a prep course for the Certified Specialist of Wine designation through the Society of Wine Educators. In the Spring, in conjunction with some other people, they will begin leading some of the Level I and Level II courses that are a part of the Wine & Spirit Education Trust curriculum.

Matt grew up in a family owned business, then graduated college to work for another family owned business, and is now starting his own small business. He is very excited about this new venture! Check out their website and see what they can do for your wine collection. And when you do, tell Matt and Melissa that Virginia Wine Time sent you!

We’re Baaaack!

We resumed our treks on the wine trails in style with a weekend stay at The Inn at Meander Plantation. We always reserve the well-appointed Madison Cottage with its European-style shower, and I look forward to sporting the plush robes that await guests in the cottage’s closet. Owners Suzie Blanchard and Suzanne Thomas also have a commitment to serving only Virginia wines in their dining room, and we made certain to reserve a table for a night of elegant fare and excellent Virginia wines. The Inn also offers gorgeous views of mountains framed by glorious sunrises and vivid sunsets. Early morning fog called to mind a scene from a Gothic novel. Paul created a video that captures these experiences:

What were our menu selections for dinner?

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What did we order? I enjoyed the salad of romaine lettuce; the shaved fennel and citrus vinaigrette was the perfect match for the vino verdhe-style Green 2013 from Cardinal Point Vineyards. I love summer squash so the zucchini with basil soup was a no-brainer for me; its creamy texture matched that of the Chardonnay Reserve 2013 from Barboursville. Paul delighted in the tempura fried shrimp and noted that the batter-coated crustaceans were quite marvelous with the same Chardonnay.

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We both ordered the same entree- – -the black angus filet mignon. The wine pairing was quite a mysterious yet wonderful surprise—-a Cabernet Sauvignon from Crow Mountain Vineyards. The vintage? 2011. I admit to not knowing anything about Crow Mountain Vineyards, but I do know quite a bit about the 2011 vintage. Hurricane Irene dumped tons of rain in the state that year, and red wine grapes took quite a hit throughout most Virginia vineyards. However, this 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon exhibited a depth in its color as well as its aroma and flavor profiles that we have not experienced from other 2011 red wines from Virginia. We would love to know more about this vineyard, so if any reader out there can enlighten us, we are eager to learn all about it! The dinner ended with the La Bete Noir, a flourless cake with fresh raspberry, and its pairing with the Gray Ghost Vineyards Adieu was classic.

We never look forward to ending our stay at the Inn at Meander Plantation; however, having to say good-bye always prompts us to look ahead to future visits. Looking for an elegant weekend in Virginia wine country? Plan to stay at The Inn at Meander Plantation; however, please mention to Suzie and Suzanne that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Vacation

beachIf you haven’t figured it out, we are on vacation for a few weeks. However, that doesn’t stop us from enjoying Virginia wine while on vacation! Warren has been at Dauphin Island Alabama at the beach with his family. He took along lots of Virginia wine. Here he’s enjoying the 2013 Gray Ghost Riesling! We hope you are enjoying your summer vacation as well. We’ll return in a few weeks with new posts. Have fun!

Fourth of July Wines

The Fourth of July holiday is a great way to celebrate the birth of our nation and enjoy Virginia wine. We did just that.

We began the holiday by opening a bottle of the 2013 Jolie Blond from Breaux Vineyards. We enjoyed this with cheese and crackers. We lots of citrus and a mineral note on the nose. Sipping this wine revealed melon, lemon-lime notes, and a crisp finish. It certainly paired well with our cheese and crackers. The 2013 Jolie Blond is a great wine to enjoy on a warm summer afternoon.

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For dinner we went with the traditional meal of hamburgers. We had potato chips, carrots, and baked beans to round out the meal. What wine did we serve with our Fourth of July meal? We selected the 2011 Red from Linden Vineyards. Jim Law wasn’t too pleased with quality of the fruit that was produced during the wet year of 2011. He decided not to produce any signal varietal wines. Instead he blended all the finest grapes from the year together to make Red. Red has become one of our favorite wines to enjoy with meals like burgers, pizza, and pasta. It’s very accessible and easy to drink. It’s fruit forward with a hint of spice. It’s a quaffable wine.

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We enjoyed the last few sips of the 2011 Red just as the Falls Church fireworks began. We hope you enjoyed your Fourth of July as well. Happy Birthday, America! If you visit Breaux Vineyards or Linden Vineyards to pick up these wines, be sure to tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Summer Sippers

In this video we talk about a few summer sippers you might enjoy this summer.

Seven From ‘07 at the Millers

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Bruce and Silvia Miller, wine educators extraordinaire at Breaux Vineyards, invited us over to their lovely home for a food and wine pairing that featured Virginia wines from the stellar 2007 vintage. Fellow bloggers Alan Liska, Erica Johansen, and Kirsten Gansulous of Cellar Blog, and other wine guests joined us all for a wonderful evening of wine, food, and cheer.

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Bruce and Silvia greeted guests with a glass of the Wild Board Sparkling Wine from Stone Tower Vineyards. However, this was simply the precursor to the evening’s main attractions—red wines from the 2007 harvest. Readers may recall that the 2007 growing season was hot and dry which allowed red grapes more time to hang on the vine before harvest. Robust red wines with depth and complexity were the result. Silvia prepared a plate of small bites that included flank steak, duck, beef tenderloin, cheeses, and macaroni and cheese. These were paired with the following 2007 red wines from Virginia:

2007 Rappahannock Vineyards Meritage
2007 Jefferson Vineyards Meritage
2007 Pollak Vineyards Meritage
2007 Pearmund Cellars Ameritage Reserve
2007 Octagon from Barboursville
2007 King Family Meritage
2007 Avenius from Linden

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I did not take any notes on the wines, but I can say that the 2007 Pollak Vineyards Meritage generated the most buzz. Other comments suggested that the Jefferson Meritage and the King Family Meritage were also quite popular. After the seven from 2007 were poured, Silvia then opened up a buffet of food platters that included flank steak, beef tenderloin and potato salad; desert included chocolate cups filled with fresh berries. Bruce likewise expanded the wine buffet to include the following:

2007 Fratelli from Fabbioli Cellars
2007 Gray Ghost Cabernet Sauvignon
2007 Hodder Hill from Glen Manor Vineyards

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We enjoyed the flight of 2007 red wines from Virginia; for me, it was a good opportunity to taste some 2007 wines that are still on my own wine rack. I can assure readers that the 2007 red wines from Virginia can be enjoyed now but still have time to rest in the wine cellar. (In my case, that would be the closet in my office.) So you already drank your 2007 red wines from Virginia? Then visit the wineries listed in this post to replenish your stock with current releases. Be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Virginia Wine at Wolf Trap

wolftrapwineAttending concerts at Wolf Trap’s Filene Center has become a summer ritual for us, and we start looking forward to our first concert as soon as spring arrives. We also try to attend and experience at least one new or unknown act each year. This year we decided that our first concert would be the performance by the Italian trio, Il Volo. We had never heard of them, but apparently they are billed as “popera” artists who mainly appeal to an older audience. I guess we qualify since Paul and I just turned 50 this year!

So did we bring Virginia wine along for the concert? Of course we did. The dry 2013 Blenheim Rose accompanied our picnic that included bowtie pasta tossed with chunks of grilled chicken, fresh Italian herbs and parmesan cheese. It all paired well with the young Italian trio who belted Italian classics as well as popular standards by Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and Barbra Streisand. We sometimes bring along an extra bottle of wine in case we want an extra splash to go with fruit and cheeses; this time, we enjoyed an extra pour from the 2012 Pollak Rose. This Rose was dry too; both shared similar profiles to boot—strawberry notes with a citrus twist and a crisp finish. Leftovers were taken home and enjoyed the next day!

Plan to attend a concert at Wolf Trap, and be sure to sit on the lawn so that you can enjoy food and Virginia wine at your leisure. Visit Virginia wineries beforehand, though to sure to stock up on favorite summer pours. Be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Saturday Winery Visits

On Saturday we visited three wineries. We visited Fabbioli Cellars, Lost Creek Winery, and Creek’s Edge Winery. Creek’s Edge added to our total number of wineries visited. We have now visited 169 Virginia wineries.

At Fabbioli we enjoyed the food pairing wine tasting. Of the wines tasted our favorites were the recently released 2012 Tre Sorelle and the Governor’s Cup Gold winner 2011 Tannat. The Tre Sorelle presented violet, cherry, and dried herb notes while the bigger Tannat showed smoke, plum, and clove flavors. We can see why it won a gold.

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After our tasting we got a chance to chat with Doug Fabbioli about his new plantings and other things wine. He informed us that he had just recently planted sangiovese in the vineyard closest to the road that leads to the winery. We also enjoyed the views and the new pergola while enjoying a glass of the 2013 Something White and the 2012 Tre Sorelle.

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Next we visited The Vineyards and Winery at Lost Creek. Here we enjoyed the 2012 Reserve Chardonnay and the 2011 Genesis. The 2012 Reserve Chardonnay gave us notes of pear, citrus, and honey. It had a nice mouth feel with a fuller body. We noted tobacco and earthy notes on the 2011 Genesis. We enjoyed a glass of the 2012 Reserve Chardonnay after our tasting. We also had the chance to taste the new 2012 Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Both show promise but could use a little more time on your wine rack.

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Our final visit was to Creek’s Edge Winery. This one was new to us so we were curious to see what they had on the tasting menu. Creek’s Edge Winery has a gorgeous new building atop a sloped hill with a vineyard that sits right in front of the building. It was obvious to us the building was built with group events in mind. When we arrived we were the only ones in the tasting room so we got all the attention from new winemaker Melanie Natoli. Her volunteer wine pourer walked us through the current release of wines. There were five wines on the tasting menu. We found out that Ben Renshaw made these five wines but Melanie would be taking on the next vintage of wines released. Of the wines tasted we enjoyed the 2011 Cabernet Franc with its raspberry, cherry, and spice notes. We also enjoyed the 2009 Chambourcin. This one presented smoke, ripe berry, anise, and a smooth oak finish. Creek’s Edge is heading in the right direction and we’ll plan to visit them again in the future.

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If you visit any of the wineries mentioned, please tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

The Ahhhhhh Experience

This is the only way to describe our Saturday afternoon at Glen Manor Vineyards. We both had a hectic week and looked forward to a relaxing getaway even if only for the afternoon. We decided to head out to Glen Manor Vineyards with a picnic in tow; we did not regret the decision.

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Our picnic required the perfect wine; of course, we had to taste them all to find out which one would partner with lunch. Our decision came down to two of them: the crisp 2013 Sauvignon Blanc and the dry 2013 Morales Rose. The 2013 Sauvignon Blanc continues the tradition of excellent results with the Sauvignon Blanc grape at Glen Manor Vineyards. It presented grassy notes with flavors of citrus and a crisp finish. Perfect for the afternoon that we had planned, and even better with shellfish. The 2013 Morales Rose is a blend of red grapes that include Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc. This rose is done in the Provence style—dry with lots of strawberry and melon flavors with a crisp finish. It screams summer yet is versatile enough to consider with a fall or holiday menu.

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So what was our decision? It was a close call, but we nabbed a bottle of the 2013 Morales Rose to enjoy with a variety of deli meats, cheeses, and crackers. We found a perfect shady spot beneath a canvass canopy, and the Adirondack chairs allowed us the comfort to sip and nibble as we enjoyed the gorgeous view that encompassed mountain slopes, vineyards, and grassy knolls from which birds and butterlies fluttered about. We decided to linger for as long as possible; if we had brought pillows and blankets, we might have taken naps! It was truly an Ahhhhh experience of excellent wine, delicious snacks, and relaxing landscapes.

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Consider your own Ahhhh moment at Glen Manor Vineyards. Remember to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Tasting Wines Of America

logoI attended the Wines of America event hosted by WineAmerica, an advocacy group that “serves the interests of wineries in all 50 states by leveraging its formidable grassroots strength to benefit the entire industry.” The event was held at the Longworth House Office Building, and this year 25 wineries participated in the event. These included wineries from the Northeast, Midwest, and Rocky Mountains. Yes, wines are made in states other than California, Washington, Oregon—and Virginia. Here is a brief wrap up of some standouts:

Arizona: 2011 Caduceus Cochise County “Sancha” Red Wine; 2012 Pillsbury Wine Company Viognier

California: 2011 Dierberg Chardonnay

Colorado: 2012 Stone Cottage Cellars West Elks Gewurtztraminer

Finger Lakes: 2013 Anthony Roads Rose

Idaho: 2009 Bitner Vineyards Snake River Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz

Missouri: 2011 Les Bourgeois Vineyards Chardonel; 2012 St. James Winery Ozark Highlands Norton

Nebraska: 2012 James Arthur Vineyards Vignoles

North Carolina: Biltmore Chardonnay (I neglected to record the vintage)

Oregon: 2012 Firesteed Pinot Gris; 2012 Cliff Creek Cellars MRV; 2010 Van Piezer Pinot Noir

Pennsylvania: South Shore Wine Company Gruner Veltliner

Washington: 2012 Basel Cellars Sauvignon Blanc/Semillion; 2011 L’Ecole Merlot

And how do wineries participate in this event? Public Affairs Director Michael Kaiser explained to me that WineAmerica puts out an all call to the state winery associations to send wines, and WineAmerica members also contribute wines to the event. The goal is to get at least 20 states to represent their wines at the event; needless to say, that goal was exceeded in 2014. I sampled wines from Georgia, Iowa, New Mexico and Texas. It was exciting to observe (and taste) the ever-expanding wine industry in America.

The event was well attended, and I was able to chat with wine critics Dave McIntyre and Richard Leahy who were also in swirling and sipping across America. I was also able to stand out on the building’s porch to enjoy a gorgeous view of the Capitol building; from here, I could also witness a spectacular horizon. Did I take any pictures? Well, Paul the photographer did not come along, and though I brought a camera with me, I neglected to snap a few shots. Use your imaginations—it was a lovely spring evening in the nation’s capital.

I did not get to taste every wine that was being poured, and yes, I did taste wines from Maryland and Virginia; however, we write about those wine all of the time. I though it would be an educational experience to focus on wines outside of my own comfort zone. Every state in the country boasts at least one winery; plan to visit any of the wineries mentioned in this post while travelling this summer. Be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

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