Annefield 2008 Red

Lately I’ve been enjoying reds on my wine rack. I’ve been looking for wines that are sippers and won’t really need food. I’m trying to take advantage of the idea that red wine has many health benefits by enjoying two glasses each evening. Reds that can be enjoyed without food help with this idea.

I found my last bottle of the 2008 Red from Annefield Vineyards and decided it would be my evening sipper. We have mentioned this wine before but usually with food items in mind. I remembered it’s smooth ending and decided it would be fine for an evening sipper. The 2008 Red is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. It presents dark berry notes with hints of tobacco with round tannins. It was a perfect sipper! Again it reminded me of why I love the 2008 reds from Virginia. It’s a perfect example of a typical growing season in Virginia. I need to get myself a few more bottles. Luckily Annefield reminded me on Twitter that you can get their wines on their website or from the Twisted Vine Bottleshop and Bistro in Arlington. I will need to plan a trip there soon to stock up on the 2008 Red before it’s gone! If you visit Annefield Vineyards, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Swirl at Twisted Vines

We always like to applaud local establishments that promote local wines, and Twisted Vines is just such a place. Twisted Vines is a wine bar in Arlington owned by Josh and Sybil Robinson, and they maintain a wine list that always includes at least eight Virginia wines; as an added “twist”, they also host a monthly program called Swirl. Swirl events pair local wine with local art, and we were able to attend this month’s showcase that featured wines by Annefield Vineyards and photography by artist Daniel Taylor. Annefield Vineyards owners Stephen Ballard and Michael Leary were on hand to pour their wines which included the 2010 Viognier, the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, and the 2008 Annefield Red.

We’ve praised the wines from Annefield Vineyards in the past, and we were excited to sample these wines again at Swirl. The fruity Viognier, earthier Cabernet Sauvignon, and complex Annefield Red continue to show well and showcase the winemaking talents of winemaker Michael Shaps. We were also able to chat with Stephen and Michael about the 2011 season and their expectations for releases from that harvest. Their part of the state, which is in the south, was spared the constant rainfall and dismal weather that plagued vineyards in the eastern part of the state. Consequently, they were fairly optimistic about the wines that will be produced. Of course, we look forward to sampling them!

As we swirled away, we also took in the photography of Daniel Taylor. His photographs captured the action at bullfights that he attended while visiting the Yucatan Peninsula. Checkout his website to find out more.

After our tasting, we also chatted with Twisted Vines owner Josh Robinson. Josh is committed to a “local” philosophy that includes not only wine and art but also food. Meats and cheeses on his menu were also locally produced. Of course, we were interested in hearing how Virginia wines are received at the wine bar, and his assessment was pretty much what we expected. According to Josh, though it sometimes takes some encouragement (and educating) to convince customers to try Virginia wines, once they do, they are convinced that the state does indeed produce quality wines. He has also hosted wine dinners that feature Virginia wines; on one such occasion, Linden wines were poured with heralded winemaker Jim Law on hand to present his wines.

We completed our afternoon at Swirl by enjoying a glass of the 2008 Annefield Red with charcuterie that included mild salami and a plate of white cheddar cheese. The buzz continued to swell as customers came in to taste wine and view art. For Annefield Vineyards, an opportunity to reach new tasters was achieved.

Our afternoon of wine and art was both tasty and enlightening. We weren’t familiar with Twisted Vines before, but we now have them on our radar for future events. And getting to taste the Annefield wines with Mike and Stephan was a bonus! Be sure to check out Twisted Vines in Arlington and plan to visit Annefield Vineyards. Be sure to tell them both Virginia Wine Time sent you!

More Hitmakers From Virginia

I recently posted about Virginia wines earning solid scores from Wine Spectator magazine, and I can report that Wine Enthusiast has likewise given impressive scores to several Virginia red wines. Annefield Vineyards, Bogati Bodega Winery, Keswick Vineyards, Lovingston Winery, Potomac Point Vineyard and Winery, and Veramar Vineyard produced the wines that are featured in this month’s issue.

Potomac Point 2009 Richland Reserve Heritage Bordeaux-style Red Blend (Virginia)-Pungent dark char amidst firm black plum on this Virginia Bordeaux blend brings to mind flavors of smoked meats and strong black coffee. Full bodied and masculine in profile, it’s quite tannic, yet concentrated enough to handle it well. — A.I. (12/1/2011) — 86

Veramar 2009 Estate Club Merlot (Virginia)-Warm and spicy on the nose and palate, this Virginia Merlot boasts a sour cherry aroma combined with hints of gingersnap cookie and ripe bramble. Ample and rich with slightly stewed black fruit notes, the palate is bathed in waves of anise and cinnamon that linger on the finish. — A.I. (12/1/2011) — 86

Veramar 2009 Estate Club Ameritage Red Blend (Virginia)-While soft and ripe on the nose and palate with loads of soft red fruit and hints of mocha and milk chocolate, this Virginia Ameritage doesn’t have a lot of structure, but its smooth, warm style is still eager to please. — A.I. (12/1/2011) — 86

Veramar 2008 Estate Club Cabernet Sauvignon (Virginia)-Ripe and rich on the nose with a harmonious black fruit and sweet vanilla bean aroma, this Virginia Cab is clean and pure with a remarkably pristine fruit profile. Bright and fresh with balanced acidity and a nicely concentrated midpalate. — A.I. (12/1/2011) — 86

Annefield Vineyards 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon (Virginia)-Aromas of espresso and burnt biscotti entice on this dark yet elegant Cab. On the palate, fresh violets linger amidst layers of ripe black fruit, smoke and char towards a stout, moderately tannic finish. Quite pleasant now, but could improve with 3–5 years of bottle aging. — A.I. (12/1/2011) — 87

Bogati 2009 Collection I Bordeaux-style Red Blend (Virginia)-Sweet red cherry fruit melds with whiffs of graham cracker crumb and leather on this ripe, full bodied red from Bogati. There’s a thin vein of green that trails throughout, but the palate is nicely structured with a dose of warm pepper notes and mouthcoating tannins on the finish. — A.I. (12/1/2011) — 86

Lovingston 2008 Josie’s Knoll Estate Reserve Bordeaux-style Red Blend (Monticello)-Lush, ripe blueberries and plums meld into hints of dark chocolate and lavender on Lovingston Estate’s lovely Josie’s Knoll Estate Reserve. It seems a bit soft on entry, yet bright acidity and smooth, furry tannins give the black fruit palate substance and style. — A.I. (12/1/2011) — 89

Keswick Vineyards 2009 Merlot (Monticello)-Hints of anise, black pepper and toasted coconut make this dark, smoky Merlot a bit exotic and unexpected. Full-bodied with a concentrated yet vibrant black fruit palate, it ends with flair on a rather tropical coconut finish. — A.I. (12/1/2011) — 87

Lovingston 2008 Josie’s Knoll Merlot (Monticello)-Intensely aromatic with notes of sweet pomegranate and fresh violets, Lovingston’s standard label Josie’s Knoll is soft and a tad sweet on entry with a ripe black cherry juice note. Hints of fresh herbs on the midpalate combine with grippy tannins on the finish, adding a dose of style and structure. — A.I. (12/1/2011) — 86

Do non-believers in Virginia wines ever challenge you to prove that the state makes great wines? Don’t suffer through the experience. Tell them to read some of the industry magazines, or even better, refer them to Virginia Wine Time. They just need to be educated on the matter.

Visit the outstanding wineries that are mentioned in this post, and be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Solid Wines at Annefield Vineyards

Our late summer swing through the distant wines regions of Virginia brought us to the Southern Virginia Region and a trip to Annefield Vineyards. We’ve sampled Annefield’s wines at wine festivals, but we have never been able to trek out to the tasting room for a full tasting of wines. Owners Stephen Ballard and Michael Leary graciously accommodated a Monday tasting for us, and at the end of our tasting, a case of Annefield Vineyards’ wine found its way into the car!

The vineyards and tasting room are located on historic countryside property south of the James River. The tasting room was renovated by Ballard and Leary to reflect its 19th century elegance and grace and in fact was once a plantation house built in 1858. Ballard and Leary purchased the house in 2005 after it had been neglected for many years, and they restored the house so that it could be used as both a weekend home and tasting room. It is worth the effort to visit the winery’s website to compare photographs of the house in its dilapidated state with those of the current house in its restored glory. The contrast is quite remarkable! And the interior is well appointed with antique pieces that could fit quite easily into a traditional-contemporary setting. All that we needed to feel at home was a glass of wine!

And wine we did receive! On tap for tasting were four white wines that included the 2009 Chardonnay, 2009 Viognier, 2010 Viognier, and the Annefield White. All were well crafted. The elegant 2009 Chardonnay was an immediate favorite with its tropical notes and vanilla finish. Nice on its own, I’d like a glass of this one with shellfish. Of the Viogniers, Paul liked the 2009 Viognier with its melon flavors and crisper finish; however, I preferred the 2010 Viognier with its bright honeysuckle nose, tropical fruit flavors and fuller mouth feel. Poultry or fish served with a cream sauce should partner well with this more complex Viognier. While we expect summer to fade into fall, the Annefield White, a blend of Chardonnay, Rkatziteli and Vidal Blanc is a fruity crowd pleaser and could be served on the patio after work or before dinner alongside appetizers.

The red wines were likewise well made, and these included the 2009 Cabernet Franc, 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2008 Annefield Red. We both agreed that the well-structured 2009 Cabernet Franc was the favorite; it presented classic raspberry and plum characteristics with nuances of dried herbs and black pepper. With fall around the corner, consider the 2009 Cabernet Franc as an option for Thanksgiving dinner! It’s still summer, though, and with steaks or chops still sizzling on the grill the 2008 Annefield Red should pair nicely. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot, this Bordeaux-style blend with its dark berry elements and tobacco notes was fuller-bodied yet accessible.

Owners Stephen Ballard and Michael Leary have assembled an outstanding team of experts who have created a solid line up of wines. Renowned winemaker Michael Shaps crafts the wines for Annefield Vineyards, and expert viticulturist Joyce Rigby serves as winery consultant. Of course, excellent wines are made in the vineyard, and the Annefield Vineyards benefit from excellent rocks and soils that date back to the Precambrian period. The soils profiles include descriptors as “strongly acid” and “low in natural fertility”, qualities that are much desired for wine-producing grapes. In addition, a 500-foot elevation provides for optimal air drainage., Ballard and Leary started the vineyards in April 2006 with plantings of Viognier, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and additional plantings were added in 2011 that include Vermentino, Pinot Grigio, and Vidal Blanc.

With our tasting done and case of wine procured, we bid adieu to Annefield Vineyards with a promise to return. Be certain to visit Annefield Vineyards and mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Friday Sips

Our Friday evening began with the 2008 Seyval from Linden Vineyards. We realized that we still had this older 2008 gem from Linden on the wine rack. The rack life for seyval blanc may not be too long, and we should have popped this open a while ago. However, it still retains characteristic citrusy elements and made for a nice partner with soft goat cheese and baguette.

For dinner we selected the 2009 Chardonnay from Annefield Vineyards. When Michael Shaps is your winemaker, quality wines are the result. We enjoyed this one with parmesan encrusted tilapia and pasta. We noted elements of pear, apple, and honey. We also detected a mineral edge and some vanilla. We thought it paired nicely with our meal.