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Tag: blenheim (page 2 of 2)

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.

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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