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Monticello Wrap Up

It’s hard to believe that another Virginia Wine Month is over! We made sure to enjoy as much of it as possible. We opened the month with a swing through the Monticello area, and we posted about some of the wineries that we visited. Today we finish our write up about that trip.

Blenheim Vineyards: We always look forward to tasting the latest releases by winemaker Kirsty Harmon. On this particular visit, Paul enjoyed the crisp Viognier 2012 with its tropical fruit characteristics. I preferred the Chardonnay 2012 and its fuller mouth feel and pear flavors. We both concurred that the Cabernet Sauvignon was the favorite red. Juicy with lots of plum and berry flavors, it was quite delicious. We got a chance to chat with Kirsty, and we asked her about the 2013 harvest that was then toward its grand finale. She echoed what many winemakers have shared with us—the biggest challenge was not the late frost or the early summer rains. It was the hungry wild life such as raccoons and bears that caused the biggest headaches. However, Kirsty was pleased with the way that the summer trended toward warm, dry days and cooler nights and expressed optimism that the vintage would be a good one.
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King Family Vineyards: Another favorite of ours—we are big fans of Mathieu Finot’s wines. It really is not hard to simply state “all of the above” when pondering our preferred wines here. Matt is our preferred wine educator at King Family, and he skillfully guided us through our tasting. Paul was a fan of the 2012 Viognier, 10% of which was done in a concrete egg. It spent time in both stainless steel tanks and neutral French oak barrels and presented elements of peach, melon and white pepper. I was a bigger fan of the 2012 Chardonnay (no suprises here—I do enjoy Chardonnay.) Citrus notes were complimented by characteristics of pear and spice; a creamy mouth feel led to a longer finish. My kind of Chardonnay! We both enjoyed the 2012 Crose, a dry rose with notes of grapefruit, bright berry, and peach. With Thanksgiving around the corner, a light-bodied Cabernet Franc might be in order, and the 2012 Cabernet Franc should fit the bill. Red berry flavors with characteristic pepper notes make for the perfect partner with turkey and cranberry sauce. Matt also took us on a private tour of the new facility showing us all the new equipment, the huge barrel room, and new crush pad. Thank you, Matt!
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Pollak Vineyards: Okay—so we visit this lots and lots too. Casey, as always, provided us with an excellent tasting experience. We can report that the 2011 Chardonnay is still tasting quite well; however, we were both impressed with the 2012 Pinot Gris with its floral notes and stone fruit elements. The dry 2012 Rose caught my attention, and it displayed aromas of strawberry and spice that should delight any rose lover. This one should prove to be a popular option for Thanksgiving, but the lighter bodied 2011 Cabernet Franc might also be a quite choice. We were given a sample of the 2010 Meritage, and it ended up being my favorite of the red wines. I have a bottle of this one on my rack, so this gave me a chance to monitor its progress. Concentrated fruit aromas with hints of anise and tobacco led to flavors of black cherry, blackberry, and spice. Nice tannins too. I noted a subtle vanilla note at the end to boot. (Note to self—age for a bit longer and enjoy with prime rib.)
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White Hall Vineyards: The price points always impress us here. I liked the Pinot Gris 2011 that was fermented 50% in neutral oak and 50% in stainless steel. Pear and soft apricot notes led to a whiff of hay on the nose. I was surprised that Paul preferred the crisp Chardonnay 2012 with its pear and citrus aromas and flavors. It was fermented and aged in both French and American oak barrels; however, it still proved to more crisp than creamy—probably why Paul enjoyed it so much. Of the red wines, the Merlot 2012 was very accessible. It was blended with small amounts of Malbec and Chambourcin and presented aromas of violet, tobacco, and dried herbs. Spice notes complemented the cherry and blackberry flavors. Nice on its own or with a beef dish.
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Moss Vineyards: Our final stop was Moss Vineyards. It was also winery number 163 for us. They have been open for a bit more than a year. Our favorite white here was the 2012 Viognier. It was crisp and elegant. Our favorite red was the 2010 Architettura Reserve. We noted dried plum, concentrated flavors and tight tannins. They have 52 acres of property with 9 acres cleared and 7000 vines planted. They grow cab suav, cab franc, merlot, petit verdot, viognier and vermintino. We will plan to visit them again soon to see how the wines are developing and what new wines they have on the tasting menu. We had a great time chatting about wine and their adventure into Virginia wine.
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We always enjoy visiting wineries in the Monticello area. Plan to visit these and other nearby wineries to stock up on holiday favorites. Please mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Dinner at Black Salt

Last week we went to Black Salt. Black Salt is a fish market and restaurant in NW DC. Michelle Obama and three friends dined at Black Salt back in April and enjoyed halibut, clams, and coconut cream pie. We decided to eat at Black Salt because they serve Virginia wines.

From the menu Warren selected seared scallops with mushrooms and gnocchi. Our wonderful waitress Beth helped me select pan seared fluke flounder with roasted potatoes. With our meal selections, we went with the 2008 Blenheim Farm Chardonnay from Blenheim Vineyards. We noted apple and pear on the nose and in the mouth we noted a creamy mouth feel. It was the perfect selection for our meal. We are looking forward to tasting Blenheim’s Viognier during Viognier Night: A Virtual Tasting of Virginia Viogniers on Thursday night.

Fourth of July Wines

I know the 4th of July was a few days ago but I thought we’d share what we enjoyed on our nations’s birthday. The 4th of July this year (as in many years) was hot and humid. We were looking for a cool sipper to enjoy before dinner and a wine to go with our burgers for dinner.

We selected the 2010 Hildersham Sauvignon Blanc from Aspen Dale Winery for our pre-dinner sipper. It had a light straw color with a floral nose with citrus notes and a hint of grass. On the tongue we noted large citrus flavors, minerality, crisp acidity and some stone fruit. We paired this with manchego cheese, crackers, and strawberries. It accompanied our food selections nicely.

For dinner, we decided on the Red Table Wine from Blenheim Vineyards. This is a blend of 66% Merlot, 16% Malbec, 14% Syrah, 4% Cabernet Franc and aged in stainless steel. On the nose we noted berry fruit and hint of violets. In the mouth we picked up more berry fruit and very smooth tannins. This light bodied red sipper went perfectly with our burgers. We did not want a big heavy red with our burgers and this was the right choice. What did you enjoy on the fourth? If you visit Aspen Dale or Blenheim anytime soon, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Friday Sips

Our Friday sips consisted of the 2009 Pinot Gris from Pollak Vineyards and the 2009 Syrah from Blenheim Vineyards.

We had the 2009 Pinot Gris with bread and cheese. I’m a big fan of the stainless whites and this one doesn’t disappoint. I. Noticed the flowery nose and lit color. In the mouth I noticed the crisp mouth feel, grapefruit flavors, and nice acidity. I thought it paired nicely with our before dinner nibbles.

We had the 2009 Syrah with pasta and red sauce. We weren’t sure of the pairing but it went very well with our meal. We noted a floral nose with bright red fruit and spice on the tongue. It’s a smooth, lighter bodied red. We tasted this back in February and enjoyed it then.

We will be back on the wine trail this weekend so stay tuned for updates from the road. And if you visit Pollak or Blenheim tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Saturday Sips

Just recently we visited Blenheim Vineyards (more details to come) and picked up a few bottles of the White Table Wine. I decided we would begin our evening with this wine.

The White Table Wine from Blenheim VIneyards is 100% chardonnay.On the nose we noted pear, floral notes, peach, and stone fruit. In the mouth we noted stone fruit, peach, apricot, and a nice round mouth feel. We had this with goat cheese and baguette. It was a perfect pairing with our evening nibbles.

For dinner we were having parmesan encrusted tilapia with wild rice and mixed vegetables. We opted for the 2009 Viognier Water Bent Barrels from Breaux Vineyards from the Wine Club Selection. Right away we noticed the very light color. On the nose I wrote down light airy fruit. Warren noted floral qualities with some ripe fruit. In the mouth we noted floral notes, hints of honeysuckle, mango, apricot, and a nice mouth feel. It was very crisp and paired very well with our meal. We also noticed that as this one warmed up in our glasses, the flavors were much more pronounced. We really enjoyed this bottle of wine!

Busy Day on the Monticello Wine Trail

We took advantage of the close clustering of wineries on the Monticello Wine Trail and planned an aggressive agenda for yesterday’s wine tastings. We’ll comment on each tasting by providing our gold star favorites and share other important revelations such as upcoming releases and the outlook for the 2010 harvest.

Jefferson Vineyards: Wines here are always well-crafted. Today’s tasting provided us with samples of a few new pours. My favorite white wine was the floral-nosed 2009 Viognier with its apricot flavors and weightier texture. Paul gave the nod to the 2009 Pinot Gris; he appreciated its crisp acidity and citrus characteristics. Of the red wines, my gold star was awarded to the 2007 Meritage, a gold medal winner in the 2010 San Diego International. I noted layers of dark fruit with complements of mocha and dried herbs. Quite complex, and a good candidate for aging, too! Paul favored the 2008 Petit Verdot with its notes of spice and tobacco.

Blenheim Vineyards: We’re always fans of Kirsty Harmon’s wines, and we were eager to sample the latest at Blenheim Vineyards. Mitzi conducted our tasting today; of course, we started with the white wines. Paul’s gold-star fave was the crisp 2009 Blenheim Farms Chardonnay which is a blend of wines from stainless steel tanks and oak barrels. Pear flavors with a slight lime edge make this one a refreshing pour. My own favorite was the heavier-bodied 2008 Blenheim Chardonnay with its pear flavors and toasted almond finish. This Chardonnay is actually the result of careful blending from American, French, and Hungarian oak barrels to present a more food-friendly wine. (I also enjoyed the dry 2009 Rose with its flavors of melon and strawberry.) Mitzi skillfully moved us on to the red wines, and we started with the light-bodied and accessible Red Table Wine. Candy bar aficionado Paul made note of Mitzi’s creative pairing with this one—a Snickers bar! He’ll be sure to give it a try, too. Anyway, as we began to sample the reds, we were joined by Kirsty Harmon who provided testimony to the fact that the 2010 harvest will be an earlier one than usual with white varieties coming in from the vineyard as we spoke. She also brought along two upcoming releases, the 2009 Cabernet Franc and the 2009 Merlot. The fruity 2009 Cabernet Franc ended up being our gold-star favorite. Bright cherry and raspberry flavors were noted with some characteristic spice notes, too. It should be the perfect partner for Thanksgiving dinner, too. The 2009 Seven Oaks Merlot was still a bit tight and revealed itself after a few swirls; however, we noted the dark cherry and earthy characteristics that will prevail with this one.

Kluge Estate: Tasting room manager Tammy warmly greeted as we entered the cottage that serves as the tasting room. We were very hungry, too; Tammy took our orders for food and wine tasting as we made our way to a table. Two flights are offered for tasting: a) the Albemarle flight, and b) the Kluge flight. The Kluge flight featured the sparkling wines, and it was this flight that we opted to enjoy with our lunch. We’re not fans of the tasting “test tubes”, though, and Tammy kindly obliged our request for wine glasses along with our rack of tasting tubes. We simply poured the contents from the tube into the glass, and all was made better. Lunch arrived in time for us to pair our sparkling wines with food which included crab cakes and cheeses. Our gold star favorite was the Kluge Estate SP Rose 2007; we’re going to review this one in an upcoming ‘back to school” post, so more on this sparkling wine later on. I will say that made for a perfect marriage with the crabcakes! With the harder cheeses, we both concurred that the Kluge Estate New World 2002 was the winner. Blackberry, dark cherry, tobacco, and mocha were noted characteristics. Tammy joined us for banter about the wines, and her sense of humor made for some lively conversation! We shared with her that in summer months, we like to make note of summer sippers, and Tammy provided us with samples of the classic Albemarle Rose 2009. Dry and crisp with bright berry and melon notes, it did indeed qualify as a quality summer sipper!

I’ll wrap up this post here, but we did manage to complete tastings at First Colony and Virginia Wine Works. Stay tuned for my next post about those wineries. In the meantime, visit the wineries presented in this article; of course, mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

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