6 Tasters, 5 Cabernet Francs, 1 Winner

Paul and I hosted a blind tasting of five Cabernet Francs from Virginia (of course). Our amateur team was provided with a simple scoring sheet and after a brief discussion about the Cabernet Franc grape and its characteristics, the tasting began. The wines were wrapped in paper bags so that our tasters did not know which wines they were tasting, and these included the 2012 Barboursville Reserve, the 2013 Marquis de Lafayette by Breaux Vineyards, Gadino Cellars’ 2012 Cabernet Franc, a 2013 offering by King family, and 2013 Cabernet Franc by Zephaniah. Light fare was served as the tasting and scoring was conducted, and these allowed our team to see how the wines paired with cheeses, dried meats, and prosciutto-wrapped dates.

So which Cabernet Franc won the contest? Here is how they ranked:

Gadino Cellars 2012
Barboursville Vineyards 2012 Reserve
Breaux Vineyards 2013 Marquis de Lafayette
King Family Vineyards 2013
Zephaniah Vineyards 2013

Our team of sippers appreciated the brambleberry and tobacco notes of the Gadino Cabernet Franc; it also offered a generous length. I found it to be very lively with vibrant fruit elements. The Barboursville Reserve was a close second but was a bit tight at the beginning compared to the winner; lots of swirling coaxed out the cedar and pepper notes and eventually dark berry aromas and flavors.

Once the official tasting was done, we feasted on braised lamb shoulder chops flavored with fresh mint and green olives, couscous, and roasted green beans topped with roasted almond slivers. These paired quite well with the wines that were poured for the tasting.

It was fun to showcase one of Virginia’s premier grapes at this taste off. We did not take ourselves too seriously, and we enjoyed the conversation that the wines engendered.

Seek out these or other Cabernet Francs and hold your own wine tasting with family, friends, and food. Of course, always mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you! Watch the video of our tasting below and subscribe to our NEW YouTube Channel!

Breaux Kicks Off Its Vertical Tastings

Breaux Vineyards host three vertical tastings every year, and these present tasters a chance to compare vintages of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Nebbiolo. This year’s vertical started with a lineup of Cabernet Sauvignon that included the 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2012 vintages. The 2012 was a tossed in as a pre-release, and also included in the lineup was a barrel sample of the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon. A Cajun flare was added to the mix with the 2013 Zydeco, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Chamourcin. Cuisine from Grandale Farm restaurant was served with the stellar cast of Cabernet Sauvignons.

breauxvertical1

Winemaker Heather Munden introduced herself and the wines that were served alongside the courses of food. A twist to this year’s Cabernet Sauvignon vertical tasting was that no particular course was intended to pair with a particular vintage; the intent was to allow tasters to decide which wines paired best with which course. So what did we all conclude? The run away winner for best and most versatile Cabernet Sauvignon was the 2008 vintage with its ripe mixed berry nose and flavors; silky tannins and an oak kiss made for a nice yet lengthy finish. Its fruity profile certainly made for a perfect play partner with the first course, a spicy sausage and shrimp brochette over celeriac puree with port reduction. However, I also enjoyed the fruit-driven 2013 Zydeco with this spicy dish; the fruitiness tended to cool down the kick provided by the peppery first course.

breauxvertical2

breauxvertical3

The second course presented pork lollipop raised with fig and cippolini onions served overt tarragon gnocci and ginger oil. Here again, the 2008 paired quite well, but the chewy nature of the lollipop tended to favor the chewier wines—the still young 2010 and the even younger 2012. I kept returning to the 2010 vintage as I nibbled on this course. The 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon was still tight on the nose but swirling coaxed elements of tobacco and dark fruit. Tannins were still a bit on the chewy side too—no wonder it paired with the braised pork.

breauxvertical4

The third course featured grilled lamb chops over stewed carrots and brussel sprouts with chimi churri and demi. More spices meant more opportunities for the fruit-driven 2008 vintage to shine; however, I gave a nod to the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon with its notes of dark plums and cherries and whiffs of cedar and sandalwood; it presented a full mouth feel and a nice length to complement the chops and stewed veggies. Paul is a fan of both lamb chops and brussel sprouts, and he favored the 2013 Zydeco with this course.

breauxvertical5

Of course, a Cajun feast would not be complete without something extra or lagniappe. Here the lagniappe was the port-style lineage, 1st edition. Enjoy a sip of this on its own or pair with a strong cheese; dark chocolate should also pair quite well.

breauxvertical6

Other Virginia wine lovers attended the vertical tasting including our friends Susan McHenry and Erica Johannsen. The next vertical tasting at Breaux Vineyards will feature a cast of Merlot vintages followed by a lineup of Nebbiolo vintages in April. Plan a visit to Breaux Vineyards and be sure to sign up for a vertical tasting; please mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Fourth of July Wines

The Fourth of July holiday is a great way to celebrate the birth of our nation and enjoy Virginia wine. We did just that.

We began the holiday by opening a bottle of the 2013 Jolie Blond from Breaux Vineyards. We enjoyed this with cheese and crackers. We lots of citrus and a mineral note on the nose. Sipping this wine revealed melon, lemon-lime notes, and a crisp finish. It certainly paired well with our cheese and crackers. The 2013 Jolie Blond is a great wine to enjoy on a warm summer afternoon.

JolieBlond

For dinner we went with the traditional meal of hamburgers. We had potato chips, carrots, and baked beans to round out the meal. What wine did we serve with our Fourth of July meal? We selected the 2011 Red from Linden Vineyards. Jim Law wasn’t too pleased with quality of the fruit that was produced during the wet year of 2011. He decided not to produce any signal varietal wines. Instead he blended all the finest grapes from the year together to make Red. Red has become one of our favorite wines to enjoy with meals like burgers, pizza, and pasta. It’s very accessible and easy to drink. It’s fruit forward with a hint of spice. It’s a quaffable wine.

Red

We enjoyed the last few sips of the 2011 Red just as the Falls Church fireworks began. We hope you enjoyed your Fourth of July as well. Happy Birthday, America! If you visit Breaux Vineyards or Linden Vineyards to pick up these wines, be sure to tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Nebbiolo Veritcal

On April 12th we attended the Nebbiolo Vertical Tasting at Breaux Vineyards. We’ve been attending the vertical tastings at Breaux for several years now and always have a great time. Several of our wine friends also attended the vertical. So how did the nebbiolo grape end up in the Breaux vineyards? Paul Breaux visited Italy’s Piedmont, tasted nebbiolo and fell in love with the grape. Now Breaux has four acres of nebbiolo grapes producing some really nice vintages of nebbiolo.

breauxnebbiolovert2

After a introduction by Jen Breaux Blosser, the tasting began. We tasted six different vintages of nebbiolos from Breaux. We tasted 2000, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010, and a barrel sample of 2012. Winemaker David Pagan Castano was on hand to discuss the different vintages and answer questions about the wines we were tasting. The four course meal was provided by Grandale Farm Restaurant. Instead of pairing specific vintages with specific courses, David suggested we try different vintages with different courses.

breauxnebbiolovert1

The first course was an antipasto plate featuring a charred baguette, sliced cappicola, Genoa salami, Soppressata, Parmesan, Vermont white cheddar, aged Provolone with sun dried tomato pesto and fresh olive oil. With this course we preferred the 2000 and 2012 vintages of nebbiolo.

breauxnebbiolovert3

The second course was pan-braised shrimp and local cured ham over white bean rosemary risotto and Swiss chard. We enjoyed the 2005 and 2007 vintages of nebbiolo with this course.

breauxnebbiolovert4

The third course was salt-crusted rib roast over cauliflower and asparagus with truffle oil and fig jelly. The 2010 nebbiolo was our favorite for this course.

breauxnebbiolovert6

The final course was a raspberry white chocolate truffle paired with the 2012 Nebbiolo Ice. During the tasting we compared our notes with other tasters. Our favorite vintages ended up being the 2005, the 2000, and the 2007. I selected the 2007 as my favorite vintage. I was sure to secure a bottle before leaving. We had a great time chatting about all things wine with Jen Breaux Blosser as well as discussing the nebbiolos from Breaux. If you haven’t attended one of the vertical tastings at Breaux Vineyards, you should think about signing up for one. And if you do, tell the Virginia Wine Time sent you!

breauxnebbiolovert5

Breaux Merlot Vertical

On Saturday we attended the Merlot Vertical Tasting at Breaux Vineyards. We try to attend the verticals at Breaux as often as we can. We always have a great time and thoroughly enjoy the wines and the food pairings. This time, as usual, we weren’t disappointed. We were also so pleased to see so many of our wine friends attending as well. Frank Morgan from Drink What You Like, Erica and Kirsten from Cellar Blog, and our long time wine friend Susan were all in attendance.
breauxmerlotvertical8
breauxmerlotvertical2
The vertical began with an introduction by Jen Breaux. We then heard from winemaker David Pagan Castano about the wines we’d be tasting. The years of merlot we tasted were 2002, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, and a barrel sample from 2012. The wonderful food pairings were provided by Grandale Farm Restaurant. Throughout the tasting we could taste the wines as we wanted and try different vintages with the different courses.
breauxmerlotvertical1
breauxmerlotvertical3
The first course was local pulled pork and cremini mushrooms over a gruyere onion risotto cake with plum demi glaze. With this course we preferred the 2010 and the 2012 vintages.
breauxmerlotvertical4
The second course was caper and mustard braised chicken over tarragon faro with frisee and scallion oil. The wines we preferred for this course were the 2006 and the 2002.
breauxmerlotvertical5
The third course was beef and bacon stewed over angel hair pasta, Brussels sprouts, and basil in a red wine tomato sauce. This was my favorite course! Both Warren and I paired this course with the 2002, 2007, and 2010.
breauxmerlotvertical6
The final course was a Breaux Lineage 1st Edition infused truffle. It was served with the Lineage 1st Edition.
breauxmerlotvertical7
During the different courses we were able to ask David and Jen questions about the vintages and hear his take on the different conditions that helped produce each vintage. Jen Breaux treated everyone to a special treat in honor of Frank Morgan joining the vertical. We each had a glass of the 2002 Merlot Reserve. Everyone was impressed with what an amazing wine it is. I was pleased to taste it because I have one on my rack and was glad to see it can stay on the rack a bit longer.

David informally surveyed the crowd about our favorites. While there were lots of answers, it seemed the 2002, 2007, and 2010 were the favorites. They certainly were our favorites as well as the 2002 Reserve.
breauxmerlotvertical9
Before leaving we purchased our favorites and posed for pictures. It was great to see Jen, David, Bruce and Silvia. And of course it’s always great to see all our wine friends! If you haven’t been to Breaux lately, check out their events page. You might find one you’d like to attend. And when you do, mention Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Birthday Wines

Warren turned 50 on Sunday! Happy birthday, Warren! On Saturday evening we had some friends meet us at Al Dente restaurant for dinner to celebrate. One reason we enjoy Al Dente is because they have a pretty good Virginia wine list. For dinner we selected a bottle of the Petit Verdot NV from Jefferson Vineyards and a bottle of the 2007 Nebbiolo from Breaux Vineyards. Everyone enjoyed the wines and thought they paired well with their meals. After an informal survey of the wines, the 2007 Nebbiolo from Breaux Vineyards was the favorite wine.
BirthdayWine1
BirthdayWine2
After our delicious dinner we went back to Warren’s house for some cake and ice cream. We toasted the birthday boy with the Brut from Thibaut-Janisson. It seemed like the bubbles never quit! We love the Brut! Warren enjoyed his birthday very much as well as all the wines we celebrated with! Of course we’ll do this again in a few months when I turn 50!
BirthdayWine5
BirthdayWine4

Wine Club Pick Ups

On Sunday we braved the cold temperatures and threats of ice to get to a few wineries to pick up club wines. I had wines to pick up at Breaux and Doukenie and we thought our first winery trip in 2014 would be to pick up those wines.
breaux2
After some icy travel, we made it to Breaux. We were so glad to see our wine friends Bruce and Silvia. Bruce conducted our tasting. We tasted the club wines and the regular tasting menu wines. We have tasted many of them before but were reminded how much we enjoy them. The 2012 Viognier stood out with the floral nose and honeysuckle notes. I also enjoyed the new version of Equation. It is a new blend of mostly 2011 reds. I decided to bring a bottle home for an evening when we are looking for a sipper to go with pizza or burgers. We had the chance to taste the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon to compare it to the 2006 vintage. I preferred the 2010. We noted sweet tobacco, raisiny fruit, jammy and cherry notes. It could use a little more time but I thought it was ready to enjoy now.
breaux1
After our tasting we decided to enjoy a glass of wine with a baguette and cheese. Warren enjoyed the Cellar Selection 2012 Reflection and I enjoyed the 2012 Vidal Blanc. We are always looking for white wines to add to our racks so we brought home a bottle of each of these. We always enjoy our time at Breaux and we take advantage of the benefits of being club members.

We then headed to Doukenie to pick up my club wines there. The ice hadn’t let up a bit. We still made it there safely. As a club member we get a complimentary tasting when we pick up our wines. We decided to do just that.
doukenie
If I remember correctly, we tasted the 2012 Pinot Gris, the 2010 Le Vin Rouge, the 2011 Merlot, the 2011 Cabernet Franc, and the 2011 Vintner’s Reserve. The Pinot Gris reminded me of warmer days. I kept thinking I would enjoy it more on a warm spring day while sitting on the balcony. Those days will return in a few months. The 2011 Cabernet Franc tickled my taste buds the most. I enjoyed the cherry notes, black fruit flavors and the smooth ending. We enjoyed it so much we enjoyed a glass of it before getting back on the road to brave the icy weather on the way home.

We headed up with almost a half a case of wine! If you haven’t been to Breaux Vineyards or Doukenie Winery lately, plan a trip in the new year. And when you do visit, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

October is Virginia Wine Month!

vwm25smallWe kicked off the celebrations a little early by attending the Club Appreciation and Pick Up Party at Breaux Vineyards on Sunday. Being a club member has it’s benefits. I have elected to pick up my bimonthly shipments at the winery. One of the benefits is being able to attend the Club Appreciation and Pick Up Parties each time the wines are ready. This time the party took place on the lawn right next to the vineyards. The views were beautiful and the weather was perfect.
breauxpickupparty2
breauxpickupparty3
The party was a chance to taste several different varieties from vine to glass. At each station they had grapes for us to taste before tasting the finished product in the bottle. At the first station we tasted the 2012 Vidal Blanc and the 2012 Barrel Select Chardonnay. One of our favorite Breaux wine associates, Bruce was pouring the wines. Warren and I were split on our favorite at this station. I preferred the 2012 Vidal Blanc and Warren enjoyed the 2012 Barrel Select Chardonnay. Luckily it was the 2012 Barrel Select Chardonnay in this months shipment. Warren will be able to enjoy more of it at a later date.
breauxpickupparty4
At the next station we tasted the 2009 Merlot and the 2010 Malbec. We couldn’t make up our minds on our favorites at this station. We enjoyed them both! At the final station another one of our favorite Breaux tasting associates, Silvia was pouring the wines. We tasted the 2010 Barrel Select Nebbiolo and the 2007 Cabernet Franc Reserve. WOW…both of these wines were wonderful. However, the Nebbiolo will need some time in the bottle before enjoying it with an amazing meal. The 2007 Cabernet Franc Reserve is ready to enjoy now. The tannins are still pretty tight but this wine would be perfect with a nice filet.
breauxpickupparty5
breauxpickupparty6
With our tastings complete we decided to enjoy some Asiago Mac N Cheese from the Roving Italian food truck. It was so good! After lunch I ended up buying a case of white wines to restock my wine rack. During the summer months we enjoyed many of the white wines on my rack so it is looking rather empty. With this in mind, I bought many of the white wines on the tasting menu and some from the cellar club selection. While we were at Breaux we were able to catch up with Jen Breaux Blosser. Its always good to see our friends at Breaux and catch up! Our wine friend Susan joined us in the days events. We had a great time at Breaux as we always do! Have you been to Breaux lately? If not, plan a trip soon and tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!
breauxpickupparty1

Summer Fun on the Loudoun Trail

So we’re back on the wine trails and taking advantage of some crisp weather for this time of the year. Warm breezy days have replaced the usually hot muggy weather, and we’re not complaining! We still have summer activities planned, and we are still on the quest for summer wines. Here are a few recommendations from this weekend’s tastings:

8 Chains North: Our favorite summer white wine here was the 2012 Sauvignon Blanc made from estate grown grapes. It was half fermented and aged in neutral French oak barrels and half in stainless steel. We appreciated its aromas of lemon/lime and hay; we also detected a mineral note. Crisp and refreshing due to its nice acidity, this should be perfect on a hot day with shellfish or poultry. I also liked the dry 2012 Pink Lady, a rose wine with delightful strawberry aromas and flavors. Big juicy steaks on the grill? Try the 2010 Furnace Mountain Red, a blend of Malbec, Petit Verdot, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Elements of dark plum and blackberry and tobacco prevailed; I also detected some anise in the mouth. Full bodied and still young to boot, so open early or decant if you intend to enjoy this one now.
summerwines1
summerwines2
Breaux Vineyards: 2012 Reflection is a new release for Breaux Vineyards and called Reflection because it represents the best representation of Breaux’s terrior. A blend of Viognier, Muscat, Sauvignon Blanc, Vidal Blanc, and Chardonnay, Reflection was very aromatic with notes of orange blossom and honeysuckle; tropical fruit flavors pleased the palate. I labeled this one the ultimate summer white wine. I must admit that we tasted this one as part of the complimentary tasting for club members; as part of that tasting, we also sampled the 2012 Zydeco, a blend of Chambourcin (90%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (10%). Very fruity with tobacco notes, this softer and easy to drink red wine should be perfect for a summer barbeque or picnic.
summerwines3
summerwines4
Hillsborough Vineyards: The golden hued 2011 Carnelian earned my summer wine award here. The Carnelian is made from 100% Rousanne grapes. Floral aromas with notes of lime and fresh hay make for a wine that is perfect on a warm day and paired with fish, pork, or gamey cheeses. The Bloodstone 2010 made from Fer Servadou (94%) and Tannat (6%) should please red wine sippers who prefer a fruitier red wine to pair with grilled fare. A fruity nose and palate were complemented by whiffs of violet and dried herbs.
summerwines5
Be sure to visit these wineries to stock up on your own summer favorites. Be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.