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Tag: afton mountain

Happy Birthday Frank Morgan!

We spent this past weekend with fellow blogger Frank Morgan of Drink What You Like. He turned 40! Frank and his lovely wife Acada celebrated the milestone in the Charlottesville area with wine, food and friends.

We helped Frank ring in another new decade with a cellar tasting at Veritas Vineyards. Elliot, assistant to winemaker Emily Pelton, conducted our tasting and answered all of our questions. Sneak previews of newly harvested 2013 grapes now resting in their tanks begged us to ponder the possibilities of the 2013 vintage.
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After our tasting at Veritas, we headed to Afton Mountain Vineyards. Owner Tony Smith conducted our tasting. Lingering fall colors were appreciated through the windows that lined the tasting room. We later decided to share a bottle of the 2012 Cabernet Franc with cheeses and a baguette.
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The grand event was a birthday dinner at Tastings of Charlottesville. Keswick winemaker Stephan Benard and his wife Kat met us as did Bob Garsson, and his wife, of Project Sunlight. A gourmet feast awaited us along with a menu of excellent wines. I did not copy the labels and vintages, but I can attest that all of the wines poured that evening were excellent. They included a Cruet, a Mersault (my personal favorite), a Chenin Blanc from South Africa (selected with the help of South African native Stephan Benard), and a knock out Bordeaux. The evening’s highlight, though, was the intricate cake shaped like a wine bottle cradled in a straw-line box. Perfect for the occasion and also for the birthday boy who is indeed passionate about wine.
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We wish Frank Morgan all the best; however time does fly, and before we know it, he will turn 50! Yikes! By then, we will be hitting 30 (times 2). Anyway, plan your own special celebrations with a trip to Virginia wine country. Visit these wineries and a special dinner at Tasting of Charlottesville. Please mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Final Monticello Sweep

Yes, we close out our focus on the Monticello area with this post. Here we review our favorite wines at some oldies (but goodies):

Afton Mountain Vineyards: Gewurztraminer has been a solid grape for this winery, and the 2010 vintage continues to showcase this varietal at its best. Heady tropical fruit and orange peel aromas lead to similar flavors in the mouth perhaps with an extra splash of pineapple. Thanksgiving is not too far away, and this one will pair nicely with turkey and dressing. We also concurred on the favorite red wine, and this was the smoky 2010 Petit Verdot with its notes of dark plum, blackberry and vanilla; we noted caramel on the finish. The 2010 Petit Verdot was offered for club members, so we felt privileged to be given a sneak preview. I’d buy this one now and store on the rack for a couple of years. (In fact, Paul made off with a bottle or two himself.) Nice with hearty winter fare!



Blenheim Vineyards: We always enjoy tasting Kirsty Harmon’s wines, and this time was no exception. We both gave accolades to the crisp 201 Chardonnay with its pear and lime notes and a streak of mineral. Its nice acidity made for a refreshing finish, too. We reach a split verdict on the red wines. I preferred the Cabernet Franc 2011 and its cranberry nose; flavors of seed berries and black pepper presented a versatile, light bodied wine that should prove popular for holiday dinner parties that featured roasted chicken, turkey or pork. Paul was a fan of the Petit Verdot 2011 and noted aromas of cherry and pomegranate complimented by a palate of dark cherries, blackberries, black pepper, and a trace of mineral. For tasters in search of a bolder red wine, we both appreciated the complex Painted Red 2010 with its layers of dark cherries, blackberries, plum, tobacco, and then toffee at the finish.


DelFosse Vineyards: It had been two years since we visited the DelFosse Winery, so we were eager to sample the current releases here. There were 15 wines to try, so we made certain to hone in on certain favorites with careful note taking (and judicious use of the dump bucket). Of the white wines, my fave was the Reserve d’Oriane, a blend of Chardonnay, Viognier, and Petit Manseng. The blend is owner Claude DelFosse’s unique creation, and it is a heavenly cocktail of tropical fruit notes with just the faintest suggestion of vanilla. This is a dry, complex white wine with a fuller mouth feel that presents an alternative to a Chardonnay done in a similar style. And yes, another wine to consider with Mr. Turkey especially if served with a rich sauce. Paul’s preference was for the crisper 201 Sauvignon Blanc. He noted elements of citrus, mowed grass, and mineral. We did reach a joint decision on the red wine, and we gave the nod to the 2008 Grand Cru Olivier, a Merlot-based blend that includes all of the Bordeaux grapes. Elements of cherry, raspberry, licorice, sweet tobacco, and black pepper abounded with this one. Tired of turkey? Beef tenderloin with the Grand Cru Olivier might be an alternative. Our close second was the 2007 Merlot with its blackberry, cherry, and earthy characteristics. Paul likes Merlot, and you can be sure that a bottle of this one went home with him.



Fall is now in the air, and autumn hues fill the skylines. It’s time to consider wines appropriate for holiday menus, heartier meals, or a gathering of friends by the fireside. Consider some of these recommended wines or plan a visit to these wineries to find your own favorites. Please be certain to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Yet More on the Monticello Trail

Yes, it was a busy week of wine tasting last week. Somebody has to do it, right? In this post, we detail our experiences at Afton Mountain Vineyards and White Hall Vineyards.

Afton Mountain Vineyards: We’ve written about the positive changes that are ongoing at Afton Mountain Vineyards since Elizabeth and Tony Smith purchased the vineyards and winery. During our previous visit, I became a fan of the Tete de Cuvee and was interested in purchasing another bottle. Of course, this was my excuse to revisit and sample the latest releases at Afton Mountain Vineyards. Tony and Elizabeth graciously conducted our tasting which featured some upcoming releases that were not available for tasting at the time. Of the white wines, we still favored the Tete de Cuvee with its nonstop bubbles and toasted edge. It’s a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and done in the Methode Champenoise. Of the red wines, Paul preferred the 2008 Cabernet Franc with its dark cherry and pepper characteristics. I, however, opted for the 2009 Pinot Noir. Yes, I liked a Pinot Noir made from Virginia fruit! It presented a dark garnet color and a nose of dark cherry, currants, and anise with a whiff of smoke to boot. Similar flavors in the mouth with a medium body completed the experience. Look for this one to be released on Labor Day Weekend. Another upcoming release will be the 2009 Sangiovese, and we noted dark fruit characteristics and smooth tannins.

Like other winemakers and winery owners, the Smiths were optimistic about the 2010 harvest; in fact, they had already harvested the Chardonnay grapes. With vineyard manager Robbie Corpora and winemaker Lucien Dimani as part of the team, we expect great things to continue at Afton Mountain Vineyards. (And yes, I did purchase another bottle of the Tete de Cuvee before I left!)

White Hall Vineyards: An extensive menu is offered here, but the wines are well made. The first offering of the white wine selections was the crisp Pinot Gris 2008. “Clean” was the word that came to mind, and I noted a refreshing palate of orange and pineapple with a mineral finish. We both concurred that this was our gold star winner of the white wines, and on a day that hit 97 degrees, it was the perfect choice. (In fact, we shared a glass after our tasting.) Our tasting of the red wines found us at odds, though. Paul placed a star next to the Cabernet Franc 2008 with its aromas of violets and brambleberries. He also appreciated its smoky edge and medium finish. My own favorite, though, was the Touriga 2008. I’ve been a fan of White Hall’s Touriga in the past, and I remained a fan at this tasting. Touriga is a grape grown in Portugal, but pockets of Virginia’s micro-climates do well with this variety as well. I noted rich aromas of blackberry, raspberry, anise and tobacco with similar flavors in the mouth but with a touch of cedar. For tasters who have been a fan of White Hall’s Syrah, the 2008 vintage will be the last; at the $10.00 sale price, it might be worth stocking up. Ligher bodied but fruity with a spicy kick, it’s an accessible sipper.

So we’re almost done with our round up of tasting on the Monticello Trail. We should have one more post to finish our experiences from the past week, including a review of a newbie, Weston Farm Vineyard and Winery. Of course, the weekend is upon us, so plan to visit these Virginia wineries if you have the chance. Please mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

End of the Monticello Trail

So finally we revisit the oldies—wineries that we visit frequently while on the Monticello Trail. This will be a quick rundown of our personal favorites based on our recent tastings:

Afton Mountain Vineyards—Unoaked Chardonnay was Paul’s fave; crisp and refreshing

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Barboursville Vineyards—2005 Octagon; this Merlot-based Bordeaux-style blend is currently the subject of international acclaim. Also try the 2006 Cabernet Franc and the 2007 Viognier Reserve.

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Cardinal Point Vineyard and Winery—my own favorite was the 2008 A6, a crisp blend of Viognier and Chardonnay; Paul preferred the 2008 Quattro, an aromatic blend of Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Viognier, and Traminette.

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Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyard—we still detest the test tubes, but we do enjoy the wines. The bubbly 2004 Blanc de Blanc was my favorite, but Paul was in the mood for summer wines and gave the nod to the 2008 Albemarle Rose.

White Hall Vineyards—a very nice tasting staff allowed us a tasting even though we arrived a few minutes before closing time. The lush 2007 Petit Manseng won my gold star for the white wines while the jammy 2007 Touriga earned my award for favorite red wine. (Be sure to try the port-style 2006 Edichi, too.)

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Planning to visit these award-winning wineries soon? Be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

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