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.
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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.
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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.
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Be sure to visit these wineries to stock up on your own summer favorites. Be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Cabs That Grab at Breaux Vineyards

We attended a Cabernet Sauvignon vertical tasting at Breaux Vineyards this past weekend. The event was held in the newly opened Acadia room, the spacious events facility located on the Breaux property. We tasted Cabernets that dated back to the 2000 vintage with the 2010 vintage the latest one sampled. A three course lunch allowed tasters to enjoy the wines with appropriately paired foods.
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Winemaker David Pagan Castano was on hand to present the wines and then to lead discussions on the wines, the particular characteristics of each vintage, and the weather that helped to produce them. I will present the courses and the wines that were paired with each course before presenting my favorite Cabernets from the session:
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First Course: Italian sausage and local lamb brochette over arugula tossed in black cherry vinaigrette with Maytag bleu cheese – Paired with 2005 and 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon
(Half eaten in the picture.)
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Second Course: chicken and cheese dumplings stewed with turnip, rutagbaga, and cheese dumplings – Paired with 2008 and 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon
(Again, half eaten in the picture.)
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Third Course: Sous-vide beef tenderloin sliced over a sweet potato pancake and kale with balsamic Cabernet semi-glace – Paired with 2006 and 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon barrel sample
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My favorites throughout the afternoon tended to be the bolder-bodied Cabernets and hence the title of the post. I enjoyed the Cabs that grabbed my attention. The smoky 2000 Cabernet was rich with earthy aromatics that included tobacco and cedar. However, my favorite was the still-evolving 2007 Cabernet. Like its older sibling from the 2000 vintage, it presented tobacco notes and earthy nuances with dark plum flavors. Its finish was quite lengthy too. Readers may recall that the 2007 harvest was one of the best in recent years, and there was no doubting the age-worthiness of this one. Following the same path with a similar profile was the 2010 Cabernet barrel sample with its sweet tobacco and licorice notes.

Of course, the food enhanced the tasting experiences, and I gravitated toward the savory components of each dish as much as I did toward the bolder wines. A forkful of lamb and blue cheese dipped in the vinaigrette paired better with the 2000 Cabernet. A slice of the herbed cheese dumpling eaten with a piece of the stewed chicken opened up the fruit flavors of the 2007 Cabernet while smoothing its tannic presence. The beef and kale provided both flavors and texture to enhance the spiciness of the 2010 Cabernet barrel sample and tamed its still youthful tannins.

Paul’s preferences were completely different than mine. He trended toward the fruitier Cabernets and preferred the 2005 Cabernet with the spicy Italian sausage. His favorite Cabernet, though, was the 2008 vintage. He enjoyed the ripe plum flavors and vibrant acidity of this one, and found it more enjoyable with a piece of the stewed chicken. In Paul’s view, the 2006 Cabernet with its more herbal components matched well with the sweet potato pancake.
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At the end of our tasting session, David conducted a poll for favorites amongst the crowd, and it seemed as though the 2007 was the winner with the 2000 a close second. In the end, the Cabs that grabbed were the most popular! Fellow wine enthusiast and friend Susan McHenry was also seated at our table, and we all had a wonderful time comparing tasting notes. I must also note that the Acadia room added a dash of elegance and charm to the event. Glittering crystals that dangled from chandeliers provided a Southern element to the facility while elaborate crown molding and walls painted soft yellow added cozy, antebellum appeal. A New Orleans boy myself, I felt at home in the Acadia room.
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The vertical tasting ended with Lagniappe, a New Orleans term that roughly means “something extra” or a “bonus”. For tasters, a sample of the port-style Lineage was that something extra that was enjoyed in the barrel room with a slice of brie cheese.

Breaux Vineyards will host a vertical tasting of Merlot and Nebbiolo in the coming months, to be sure to stay posted for those events. Of course, always plan a visit to Breaux Vineyards if a trip to Loudoun County wineries is on the weekend agenda; please mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Events Space at Breaux

A few weeks ago we attended the Cellar Club pick up party at Breaux Vineyards. I was behind picking up my shipments so it was time to collect my bottles of club wines. Warren’s parents were in town so we brought them with us to taste the wines and see the new events space that was previewed that weekend. Our wine friend Susan McHenry was there as well! It’s always fun to enjoy wine events with friends and family.

At the pick up party we were able to taste the 2009 Barrel Select Nebbiolo. We noted violets, tobacco, and a spicy ending. We also tasted the Lineage Version 1. This is Breaux’s first port style wine. I am not a big fan of ports but Warren tasted it and thinks it will be a excellent dessert wine for a future dinner party. During the pick up party we were also able to taste the 2011 Rose, the 2009 Meritage D-Block East, and the 2009 Merlot. I am a big fan of the 2009 Merlot and it was tasting even better this time. It has benefitted from time in the bottle. I’m sure it will only get better with time.


After our pick up party tasting, we were able to take a tour of the new events space. Besides a new production space, the building includes a private tasting cellar that is an English Pub-style area. This area will eventually be used to club events and private tastings. The flagship space is The Acadia. It’s a huge room with a large fireplace, crystal chandeliers, and large windows with views of the vineyards. Everyone will be happy to hear there are PLENTY of new bathrooms! We are hoping to attend the first event in the new space in January, the Cabernet Vertical. Breaux is expanding and the expansion is beautiful. Here are some pictures from our tour.






After our tour we did a regular tasting. We tasted several of the new 2011s. After our tasting we enjoyed the gumbo weekend with bowls of gumbo, cheese and a nice warm baguette. We had a wonderful day at Breaux tasting wines, seeing the new building, and spending time with friends and family. If you haven’t been to Breaux lately, you need to plan a trip to taste all the new wines and see the new building. You will be impressed! And tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Summer Sippers at Breaux Vineyards

I’m probably not the best Cellar Club member at Breaux Vineyards. I was two shipments behind. It was time to go to Breaux to pick up the last two shipments and check out the new wines. We were particularly looking for summer sippers as well. We went to Breaux on a Wednesday so the tasting room wasn’t busy at all. While we were tasting we got a chance to talk with Chris Blosser about the recent Fauqier County ordinance as well as how things were moving along in the vineyards. Things are looking good for harvest at Breaux. They have begun harvest and the grapes are looking great!

There were several new 2011 white wines that we hadn’t tasted on the Breaux tasting menu. They would all make great summer sippers. The 2011 Julie Blond is a crisp white with lemon and stone fruit notes. The 2011 Viognier presented peach, apricot, and a creamy finish. We thought it was crisper than the 2010. Nice for a food or as a sipper on its own. The 2011 rose is a blend of mostly nebbiolo, cabernet sauvignon, and chambourcin. We noted strawberry and cherry. We thought this would make a perfect Wolf Trap wine.

On the slightly sweeter side, the 2011 Jennifer’s Jambalaya presented honeysuckle and stone fruit. If you like just a hint of sweetness, this one is for you. Again, it would be perfect for a warm summer afternoon. The 2011 Chere Marie is just a bit sweeter with grapefruit and pineapple notes. And if you are looking for a yet sweeter wine, the 2010 Nebbiolo Ice would satisfy that sweet tooth without that syrup texture. We noted some very nice almond and vanilla notes.

Before leaving, we enjoyed a glass of the 2011 Viognier with a baguette. The 2011 Viognier quickly became our favorite wine tasted during that visit. We also picked up my club wines and bought a few extras for the wine rack! All of these wines would be perfect for the few weeks that are left of summer 2012. Be sure to stock up now because many of them sell out fast. And when you visit Breaux Vineyards, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!