So we’re back on the wine trails and taking advantage of some crisp weather for this time of the year. Warm breezy days have replaced the usually hot muggy weather, and we’re not complaining! We still have summer activities planned, and we are still on the quest for summer wines. Here are a few recommendations from this weekend’s tastings:
8 Chains North: Our favorite summer white wine here was the 2012 Sauvignon Blanc made from estate grown grapes. It was half fermented and aged in neutral French oak barrels and half in stainless steel. We appreciated its aromas of lemon/lime and hay; we also detected a mineral note. Crisp and refreshing due to its nice acidity, this should be perfect on a hot day with shellfish or poultry. I also liked the dry 2012 Pink Lady, a rose wine with delightful strawberry aromas and flavors. Big juicy steaks on the grill? Try the 2010 Furnace Mountain Red, a blend of Malbec, Petit Verdot, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Elements of dark plum and blackberry and tobacco prevailed; I also detected some anise in the mouth. Full bodied and still young to boot, so open early or decant if you intend to enjoy this one now.
Breaux Vineyards: 2012 Reflection is a new release for Breaux Vineyards and called Reflection because it represents the best representation of Breaux’s terrior. A blend of Viognier, Muscat, Sauvignon Blanc, Vidal Blanc, and Chardonnay, Reflection was very aromatic with notes of orange blossom and honeysuckle; tropical fruit flavors pleased the palate. I labeled this one the ultimate summer white wine. I must admit that we tasted this one as part of the complimentary tasting for club members; as part of that tasting, we also sampled the 2012 Zydeco, a blend of Chambourcin (90%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (10%). Very fruity with tobacco notes, this softer and easy to drink red wine should be perfect for a summer barbeque or picnic.
Hillsborough Vineyards: The golden hued 2011 Carnelian earned my summer wine award here. The Carnelian is made from 100% Rousanne grapes. Floral aromas with notes of lime and fresh hay make for a wine that is perfect on a warm day and paired with fish, pork, or gamey cheeses. The Bloodstone 2010 made from Fer Servadou (94%) and Tannat (6%) should please red wine sippers who prefer a fruitier red wine to pair with grilled fare. A fruity nose and palate were complemented by whiffs of violet and dried herbs.
Be sure to visit these wineries to stock up on your own summer favorites. Be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.
Our focus for the next few posts will be Loudoun County wineries and will include the newest winery in the county, The Barns at Hamilton Station Vineyards. This post, though, will feature updates on two familiar wineries: 8 Chains North and Loudoun Valley Vineyards. Of course, our focus continues to be on wines that are appropriate for the summer.
8 Chains North: Ben Renshaw always presents a solid lineup of wines, and we were not disappointed with our tasting experience. We both favored the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc with its lemon notes and refreshing minerality. Its vibrant acidity allowed for a crisp finish. This Sauvignon Blanc was half fermented and aged in neutral French oak and the other half in stainless steel tanks. Perfect partner with a tomato-basil salad, crab cake, or herb-seasoned poultry. Dry Rose fans will enjoy the 2011 Pink Link made from Merlot grapes; our taste buds were treated to strawberry and melon flavors. I have a soft spot for dry Rose as I do think that they are under-appreciated; however, they are versatile and will pair with almost anything. The 2011 Pink Link is an example and should prove to be a willing partner with light fare, salads, and anything on the grill. The popular LoCo Vino was also available for tasting, and the 2010 vintage was very fruity; serve well chilled while relaxing on the deck especially on a warm day.
Loudoun Valley Vineyards: Big changes continue at Loudoun Valley Vineyards. Winemaker Bree Moore will be breaking ground on a new tasting room soon and will be planting new vines to replace the depleted, older vines on the property. The new tasting room should be ready by the spring of 2013. In the meantime, though, the current tasting room offers wines for all seasons including the summer. The Classic White is a blend of Seyval Blanc and Traminette, and it breathes floral, fruity notes. Elements of citrus and subtle spice were noted too. Nice on its own, enjoy with crab cakes or poultry. Spicy barbeque and hot afternoon may require cooler reds, and the fruity Route 9 Red should do the trick. The Route 9 Red was crafted from Chambourcin grapes and presented cherry and cranberry notes with an earthy edge. With a 1.5% residual sugar level, I’d recommend a quick chill before serving with barbeque-laced fare, chili, or anything else that includes peppers. I became a quick fan of the Vin de Pomme, an apple wine made from granny smith, honey crisp and gala apples. Serve with dessert or as dessert—tart and crisp yet refreshing, I bought a bottle to have as a dessert option or possible a pairing for Thanksgiving dinner.
Be sure to visit these wineries during these toasty days of summer especially if you plan to host a cook out, crab feast, or wine and cheese party. Of course, mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you. Stay tuned for our next post that will feature our visit to the newly opened Barns at Hamilton Station Vineyards.
After a recent stop at Breaux Vineyards to pick up my cellar club selections, we decided to stop at 8 Chains North to check out the latest wines. We hadn’t been there in quite some time. We needed to see what Ben Renshaw had in bottle.
It’s nice to be remembered when we head to the tasting bar. Our tasting associate remembered conducting our tasting the last time we visited 8 Chains North. She began with the white wines of course. First up was the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc. This one quickly became our favorite white. We enjoyed the citrus, pear, and grapefruit notes as well as the well balanced acidity. We can see this one being part of our summer sippers.
Next we tasted the 2011 Pink Link. Now, this isn’t a rose or a blush. It’s made from merlot and is very light. It’s almost clear. We noted some strawberry on the nose. It’s crisp and dry and very light on the tongue. We then tasted the 2010 Loco Vino. This one has always been one of our favorites. We noted lemon and pear notes. It’s very lightly sweet. This will be another one on our summer sipper list.
The reds began with the 2009 Merlot. We noted smoke, dried herb, raspberry, and cherry. It was aged for 11 months in French and American oak. The 2009 Furnace Mountain Red was next. This is a true bordeaux blend. It’s a pretty big red with firm tannins. We thought of meat while tasting this one. The final red was the 2009 Furnace Mountain Red Reserve. Yet another big wine that could benefit from food. We noted chocolate, vanilla, and ripe black cherry. Just when we thought the reds were finished, we got a taste of the 2008 Furnace Mountain Red. As I was expecting, I enjoyed the fruity smooth nature of this wine. It reminded me slightly of the reserve version which is no longer for sale. However, our tasting associate gave Ben a call and I was able to secure a bottle of the 2008 Furnace Mountain Red Reserve! I felt so special! I really enjoyed this wine when it was released and wished I had more of it on my rack. Now I do! I’ll be holding on to this one awhile longer.
After our tasting we each enjoyed a glass. Warren had a glass of the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc and I enjoyed the 2009 Merlot. It’s always fun to see what Ben Renshaw has been working on and has in the bottle. We certainly enjoyed our time at 8 Chains North. If you haven’t been to 8 Chains North lately, consider planning a trip soon. And be sure to tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!