Virginia Wine Time

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Tag: barboursville (page 2 of 3)

The First Lady Of Virginia’s FLITE Winery Tour

Today we were privileged to join Virginia’s First Lady Maureen McDonnell on a tour and tasting of wines on the Monticello Trail. We were joined by forty other participants involved in promoting the Virginia wine industry, and these included familiar faces such as Frank Morgan of Drink What You Like and Patrick Evans Hylton editor of Virginia Wine Lover magazine. This memorable day began with a continental breakfast at the historic Old City Hall, and we then boarded a luxury bus destined for three Monticello wineries: Pollak Vineyards, Barboursville Vineyards, and Keswick Vineyards.

We arrived at Pollak Vineyards amidst a flurry of media attention. Paul assumed that the television cameras were there to await his final word on Virginia wines; alas, they were there to greet First Lady Maureen McDonnell who has been a tireless and enthusiastic supporter of the Virginia wine industry. Winemaker Jake Busching was also on hand to greet us all, and we made our way to the tasting room. We were first treated to a tour of the barrel room complete with barrel samples of the stellar 2009 Cabernet Franc Reserve and the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon. The juicy Cabernet Franc has already won gold in a California competition, and we await its release.

We were then guided through a tasting in the main tasting room with the First Lady herself helping with the process. We are big fans of Pollak’s wines, so picking our favorites proved to be a tough task; however, we did favor the intense 2010 Viognier. The 2010 white vintages are already creating a buzz in the tasting rooms, and this Viognier present a reason why this is the case. Vibrant apricot and peach characteristics prevailed and it presented a full mouth feel no doubt aided by spending some time in neutral French oak barrels. Of the red wines, we enjoyed the smoky 2008 Merlot with its bold cherry flavors. However it is no longer for sale. Summer sippers will also enjoy the crisp 2010 Pinot Gris.

From Pollak Vineyards the entourage continued on to Barboursville Vineyards for lunch and wine at the heralded Palladio restaurant. Winemaker Luka Paschina guided us through the food and wine pairings, and what an exquisite experience! The salad course featured fresh greens tossed with morels and served atop asparagus spears; a sprinkle of grated pecorino completed the dish. Paired with this was the 2010 Sauvignon Blanc with it’s characteristic citrus, hay and mineral elements. The main dish was a lovely sweet pea risotto topped with seared rock fish, and this was partnered with the lush 2010 Viognier Reserve. Rich aromatics, exotic tropical fruit characters,and a creamy mouth feel best describe this perfect compliment to the equally rich risotto. A cheese course paired the decorated 2006 Octagon, the winery’s flagship Bordeaux-style blend, finished the menu.

The afternoon’s event ended at Keswick Vineyards, and winemaker Stephen Bernard presented his platinum and gold medal winning wines beneath an outdoor canopy that allowed tasters to enjoy a glorious spring afternoon. Stephen is one of our favorite winemakers, and selecting a favorite was a tough decision. The 2010 Verdejo was crisp and clean and should prove popular during the upcoming summer months. I enjoyed the fuller-bodied 2009 Viognier Reserve done in the Condrieu style, and Stephen confirmed that this one will only taste better with time. The complex 2007 Heritage earned my star of approval for the red wines. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, the elements of dark fruit, tobacco and cedar begged for a heavy beef dish.

As we sipped and savored through the afternoon, we learned that First Lady Maureen McDonnell has planted her own small vineyard at the Governor’s Mansion. Mrs. McDonnell opted to plant 15 second year vines in the Mansion’s garden. Why second year vines? The First Lady wishes to produce a wine to commemorate the Governor’s Mansion’s 200th anniversary; therefore, vines in their third year of growth would be necessary. Viticultural expert Lucie Morton provided input into the decision, so look forward to wines produced from the Governor’s garden!

The day ended too soon, and we thanked Annette Boyd, director of the Virginia wine board, for organizing the event and then inviting us to attend. Plan your own visit to these excellent wineries, and be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Winter Fare and Virginia Wines

This past weekend was probably the coldest days we’ve experienced in a winter that has been extremely cold. No wonder we sought out food and wines that kept us warm!

On Friday night, we dined on braised veal shanks (known as osso bucco) paired with the 2003 Nebbiolo Reserve from Barboursville Vineyards. Displaying the trademark brickish hue in the glass, this Nebbiolo revealed cherry, violet and tobacco aromas with lingering fruit on the finish.

Sunday was the day for Chrysalis‘ VIP members to attend a food and wine party hosted at the winery. Chef Hump Astorga had prepared a kale and Portuguese sausage soup to partner with the 2006 Rubiana and a barrel sample of the 2010 Barrel Select Norton. While we both appreciated the fruity, drink now Rubiana, it was the 2010 Barrel Select Norton that won our stars of approval. This one was a dead ringer for a lush, fruity Beaujolais made from the gamay grape. It’s sure to be a crowd favorite once it is bottled and released.

Plan your winter menus around favorite Virginia wines some of which may already be on your wine racks. If you need to stock up, visit Barboursville Vineyards and Chrysalis Vineyards; however, please mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Barboursville Sauvignon Blanc

From time to time we pack up a lunch and head to the Bishop’s Garden at the National Cathedral. Today was one of those times. We packed sliced ham and sliced turkey to have with a baguette and goat cheese. We also packed a bottle of the 2009 Barboursville Sauvignon Blanc. We were hoping to see some fall color while enjoying our lunch and wine. Unfortunately we had to enjoy the food and wine without the fall color. It might be too soon but we mostly saw green and a bit of yellow in the trees.

We seem to enjoy every Barboursville wine we open. We enjoyed the 2009 Sauvignon Blanc as well. On the nose we noted citrus, grass, and grapefruit. In the mouth we noted citrus, a hint of minerality, and lemon zest. We noticed some very small bubbles in our glasses. We wonder if this one was topped off with some C02. The Sauvignon Blanc paired well with the sliced meats and baguette.

We are able to get to Barboursville a few times a year and always plan to taste while we’re there. If you bring your glass back, the tasting is free! We always leave with several bottles. If you visit Barboursville, pick a bottle of the 2009 Sauvignon Blanc and tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Consistency

Today we started a trip to Virginia wine country. We are concentrating on the Monticello AVA. One of our first stops was Barboursville Winery. Well crafted wines provide a consistent hallmark at Barboursville.

All of the wines are very strong at Barboursville. We were able to taste several new wines…many were 2009s. Warren and I both selected the 2009 Pinot Grigio for a gold star for the whites. On a rare occurrence, we both selected the 2007 Cabernet Franc Reserve for a gold star for the reds.

After our tasting we selected the 2009 Pinot Grigio for a closer look. On the nose we noted pineapple and pear. In the mouth we detected a stone fruit, melon, and pear. It was crisp and perfect for a warm afternoon.

If you visit Barboursville please tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you. We will continue to post from the Monticello AVA for the next few days.

Reflections on The Drink Local Conference

Paul certainly captured the spirit of the Drink Local Wine Conference that was held at the Lansdowne Resort this past Sunday. I thought that I would add a few of my own thoughts on the event:

1. We’re on the verge of something really big!
Readers of our blog know that we’ve been heralding Virginia wines for five year now, and the treat for us has been to witness the tremendous growth in the local wine industry. The number of wineries and vineyards in the area has exploded in the past few years; however, the most successful wineries have kept a focus on wine quality. It was fascinating to me to listen to and even interact with successful owners and winemakers such as Mathieu Finot of King Family, Jenni McCloud of Chrysalis, Luca Paschina of Barboursville and Jordan Harris of Tarara. Their quest is to discover what varietals work for Virginia, to experiment and take risks, and to ultimately put Virginia on the map as a region that produces unique yet world-class wines. Which ones will be the flagship grapes? Opinions seem to converge on Viognier, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot with Merlot and Chardonnay in the running. The panel discussions with wine makers and social media experts confirmed what I have known for years now—Virginia is on the verge of something big!

2. Social Media connects consumers to local wines.
Ok—I must admit that I am not a Twitter or Facebook fan. Paul handles all of that for Virginia Wine Time. However, after Sunday’s panel discussion on social media, I am now a fervent believer that Twitter, Facebook, and blogs fill the gap between local wineries and traditional media. Virginia wineries may not be headlining Wine Spectator, but then again most wine drinkers don’t really care. A tweet about a favorite Virginia wine creates a buzz that Wine Spectator could never create. Jenn Breaux Blosser of Breaux Vineyards is by far the most engaged with social media, and she had never been shy about networking via Twitter and Facebook. I do believe the testimonial that she delivered at the conference—social media pulls in customers that she could never reach via traditional media.

There are exceptions, though. I was thrilled to meet Dave McIntyre, wine critic for the Washington Post. Dave’s wine column in Wapo’s food section is one that I never miss, and he has been an active promoter of local wines. I’ll take Dave’s word about wine over Robert Parker’s any day of the week. However, I’d apply the same standard to bloggers and “tweeters” and admit that an expert palate like Dave McIntyre’s certainly trumps mine; so, if Dave recommends a Virginia wine, trust him—it’s really good and worth seeking out!

3. Virginia (and Maryland) makes some excellent wines.
The highlight of the day had to be the wine “Twitter Taste-Off” when we all got to sample the best wines that 21 local wineries had to offer. Paul noted that Breaux Vineyards’s 2002 Reserve Merlot and Chrysalis’ 2008 Albarino took top honors, and those were certainly excellent pours. However, there were a number of outstanding wines that included Michael Shaps’ Viognier (my own personal fave), King Family’s 2008 Meritage (which may give the successful 2007 vintage a run for its money), and Boxwood’s 2007 Topiary. The sleepers of the event had to be the 2005 Petit Verdot from Ingleside and the current Syrah from Maryland’s Black Ankle. (For those who like a fuller-bodied Chardonnay, Maryland’s Elk Run offering may be worth a try, too.)

I was definitely inspired by the day’s events, and now I am even more anxious to hit the wine trails to discover the quality wines that Virginia wineries have to offer. And now I am determined to visit Maryland wineries, too! Of course, another pleasure was to meet other bloggers, and who knew that we would be dubbed the “wine mafia”! Could this be a movie in the making? The Winefather?

Be sure to visit Virginia wineries this spring, and mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Monticello Wine Trail Day One

We are in Charlottesville! Today we visited Barboursville, Horton, Keswick, Jefferson and Blenheim. Here’s a quick recap of the gold stars we handed out and a few notes we made during our visits.

At Barboursville I gave my gold star to the 2009 Sauvignon Blanc and Warren awarded his to the 2008 Viognier Reserve. For the reds I gave my gold star to the 2008 Sangiovese and Warren gave gave out two gold stars. One to the Octagon 2005 and one to the Cabernet Franc Reserve 2007. All the wines at Barboursville are strong. We enjoy them all. However, something must be done with the flow of the tasting room. Big crowds slow things down and hamper the tasting experience. It might be time to consider a different plan or layout for tasting. There’s got to be a better way to conduct their tastings. Just a thought.

It’s always an adventure at Horton Cellars. They have so many wines to choose from. We have to be selective or we’ll have to get a driver. We did try a few of the whites and a few of the reds. This time our gold stars went to the same wines. We awarded the 2008 Viognier a gold star and the 2007 Cabernet Franc Reserve a gold star. We purchased a few bottles before leaving.

Our next stop was Keswick Vineyards. We always enjoy our tastings there. They had six wines to taste this time and they were all new to use. I gave my gold star for the whites to the recently released 2009 Verdejo and my gold star for the reds went to the 2008 Cabernet Franc. Warren selected the 2008 Chardonnay Reserve and the 2008 Consensus for his gold star winners. After our tasting we enjoyed a bottle of the 2008 Cabernet Franc. Warren noted currents, plums, dried herbs on the nose and similar qualities on the palate. He said, “It tastes like it smells.” We enjoyed it with some delicious white cheddar cheese and crackers.

Our next stop was at Jefferson Vineyards. Jefferson was packed! It was a very popular place today. We found a spot at the tasting bar and began our tasting. We met some nice ladies from California next to us and enjoyed chatting about wine with them. Once again our choices for gold stars were split. It’s probably a good thing we like so many different Virginia wines. I gave my gold stars to the 2008 Pinot Gris and the 2007 Meritage while Warren gave his gold stars to the 2008 Viognier and the 2007 Merlot. Usually Warren likes the meritages and I like the merlots but we mixed it up this time. The weather was beautiful today so we shared a glass of the 2008 Viognier on their deck.

Trying to make the most of the beautiful weather and squeeze in as many wineries as we can on this trip, we finished the day at Blenheim. Kirsty Harmon is doing some wonderful things at Blenheim. It’s another winery that has become very popular. Our tasting associate, Pete, guided us through the current offerings at Blenheim. There were two new wines on the list: White Table Wine and Painted Red 2008. The Painted Red 2008 intrigued us with his big fruity nose and flavors. We described it as beaujolais style. Warren and I both gave our gold stars to the 2008 Viognier but for the reds we were split again. I gave mine to the Blenheim Farm Petit Verdot 2008 and Warren gave his to Painted Red 2008. After our tasting we enjoyed a glass of the Painted Red 2008 on the deck. Kirsty came out and joined us and we chatted about wine of course. We always have a great time at Blenheim.

That was our first day in Charlottesville. A lot of wineries, I know but we have to make the best use of our time. Tomorrow we are headed to three more wineries. I’ll update you then with our findings. If you find yourself at any of these wonderful wineries, please tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

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