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!

Brownie Wine

As I have mentioned before, I have lots of Virginia red wines on my wine rack. Lately I’ve been randomly selecting red wines to taste and enjoy. One evening last week I was finishing up some brownies that Warren made and thought a red wine would really compliment the brownies. I perused my wine rack and decided on the 2007 Lot 751 Virginia Red Table Wine from Breaux Vineyards Cellar Selection. This wine is only available to Cellar Club members.

Lot 751 is a blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, malbec, petit verdot, and cabernet franc grapes from the 2007 vintage. The dark color and dark cherry nose made me think that maybe this wine was meant for bigger foods. But once I swirled it in my glass and gave it a taste, I knew it would be perfect for the brownies. I noted cherry, extracted fruit, firm tannins, and a relatively smooth ending. With a bite of the brownie, the cherry notes really came through. Since this wine is from 2007 and has some firm tannins, it could benefit from more time on the rack. Or enjoy it now!

I’ve mentioned it before and I’ll say it again. There are benefits to being a Cellar Club member at Breaux Vineyards. I enjoy having access to wines the general public won’t get to purchase. I need to get to Breaux soon to pick up my most recent Cellar Club Selections. And if you visit Breaux Vineyards anytime soon, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Friday Wines

Our evening sipper was the 2010 Barrel Select Chardonnay from Breaux Vineyards. It had a golden color reminiscent of a straw broom. On the nose we detected lots of pear and a passing minerality at the end as we took the glass from our nose. On the tongue we noticed it tasted like it smelled…lots of rich pear and a characteristic bold mouth feel, butter, and a lingering finish. It paired nicely with the manchego cheese and crackers.

For our dinner wine we departed from Virginia and went to California. We did this because next week we are heading to California for a week of wine tasting. We selected the 2004 Sawyer Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon. We bought this during our last trip in 2008. We paired this wine with thick filet mignon, roasted potatoes, and tomato and basil salad. It had a beautiful garnet color which surprised us for an eight year old wine. On the nose we noticed raisiny fruit with some cedar and licorice nuances. In the mouth we picked up dried dark fruit, sandalwood and spice. Of course it went well with our filet mignon and roasted potatoes. We look forward to visiting Sawyer Cellars during our upcoming trip.

The Weekend Begins With Wine

Many Friday evenings are spent on my balcony enjoying food and wine. The weather wasn’t too hot on Friday so we continued the tradition.

We began with St. Andre’s cheese and a baguette. We paired it with the 2010 Jennifer’s Jambalaya from Breaux Vineyards. As you may already know, I’m a member of the Breaux Cellar Club and thoroughly enjoy all the wines from Breaux. This is a perfect wine for a warm evening on the balcony. It’s slightly sweet, floral, and fruity. It’s a blend of seven white wines and has just the right amount of acidity. It paired beautifully with our cheese and bread.

For dinner I cooked my mom’s famous meatloaf, baked potatoes, and green beans almondine. We already had plans to visit Naked Mountain Winery & Vineyards this weekend so we selected the 2007 Raptor Red from my wine rack. Some of the 2007 reds from Virginia are beginning to show really well so we wanted to see how well the 2007 Raptor Red was holding up. We were very pleased when we opened it and paired it with our meal. We noted blackberry, raspberry, sweet tobacco, and spice.

Both of our evenings wines turned out to pair very nicely with our food choices. If you haven’t been to Breaux Vineyards or Naked Mountain Winery & Vineyards lately, plan a trip soon and tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Women and Wine: Jen Breaux Blosser

Jen Breaux Blosser is General Manager of Sales, Marketing and Hospitality at Breaux Vineyards. She is also a very familiar face to Virginia wine lovers. Jen is a visible face in the tasting room at Breaux Vineyards, and she constantly interacts with wine lovers on Facebook and Twitter. Her energy and passion for Virginia wine is limitless. When Jen is not at the helm of a winery that has earned numerous national and international awards, she is also a mom to three boys. We’re so pleased she agreed to answer some questions for us. Click on the Women and Wine tab to read her answers. Thanks Jen!

Also check this out:

Wine critic Dave McIntyre’s article in Tuesday’s Washing Post is a must read for wine lovers. The article features chef Peter Chang and his decision to pour Virginia wines at the James Beard House in Manhattan to celebrate Monday’s start of the Year of the Dragon. Winemaker Andy Reagan will undertake the task of pairing Chang’s spicy cuisine with Virginia wines. NcIntyre then reports on a New Year’s dinner that he hosted at Peter Chang’s Charlottesville restaurant, China Grill, and invited several Virginia winemakers to attend. The purpose? To test Andy Reagan’s wine pairings with Chang’s menu. The results? Read the article to find out!

King Cab Served at Breaux Vineyards

Breaux Vineyards fans may already know that each year, the winery offers a series of vertical tastings that may include a vertical flight of merlot, cabernet sauvignon, nebbiolo, meritage blends, etc. This past weekend, we attended a vertical tasting that featured the king of Bordeaux grapes, Cabernet Sauvignon, and vintages since 2005 were served. These included barrel samples from the 2009 and 2010 vintages. A three-course menu was served with the flight of wines.

Tasters were greeted to the event with a tank sample of the 2011 Cabernet Rose, a very dry rose that already presented a nose of fresh strawberries. This Old World rose was an instant hit for me; it also called to attention the winemaking style of new winemaker David Castano. I expect that Castano’s wines will be more European with a focus on full fruit expression and nuanced earthy elements that make for elegant and food-friendly wines. Keep in mind that the difficult 2011 vintage will be Castano’s first as winemaker at Breaux, so this rose provided early signs of success.

So on to the Cabernets now and food course #1: jumbo prawn over thyme and Parmesan grits topped with wilted frisse and tomato oil. These were paired with the 2005 and 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon. Of the two, I preferred the muscular, earthy 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon with its dark fruit characteristics and tobacco nuances. (However, I must admit that I enjoyed the prawn even more with the rose.) The 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon was lighter bodied compared to its younger sibling; Paul seemed to appreciate this one more than the 2006 and observed violet notes with cherry flavors and a smooth finish.

Course #2: grilled free-range chicken over cappellini spun with truffle cream and crimin mushrooms tossed with goddess coulis. My favorite dish of the evening! And it was paired with my favorite wine of the evening—the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. It was presented next to the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, and the contrasts were obvious. The 2007 growing season was stellar in Virginia thus producing outstanding red wines. The Breaux Vineyards 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon lived up to the lofty expectations. Complex yet elegant, it delivered aromas and flavors of dark cherry, plum, cassis, and black pepper. I caught a whiff of pencil shavings; Paul described it as cedar. On the other hand, the 2008 presented a fruitier, riper profile with oaky elements that suggested it needed a bit more time to integrate more fully. The finish on this one seemed a bit shorter than the 2007. The 2008 growing season was a more classic one for Virginia that included a visit from hurricanes hence more rainfall.

And now course #3: grassfed beef braised with mushrooms over garlic croustade and wilted watercress. Barrel samples of the 2009 and 2010 vintages were partnered with this dish. Again, the contrasts were notable. The 2009 sample finished last on my list of wine preferences for the evening. “Green” was the word that I jotted down as I observed more vegetal aromas. Still young to be sure, I will be interested to taste this one down the road. The 2010, however, had potential written all over it. I would consider this one to be on par with the 2007 vintage. Though extremely young, dark fruit components were on full display as was a noted vanilla finish to suggest oak aging. This youthful kid was more than a match for the slow-cooked beef, earthy mushrooms, and stick-to-your ribs sauce.

As a New Orleans native, I appreciate lagniappe (or “something extra”), and the 2006 Late Harvest Breaux Soleil was our bonus pour of the evening. This blend of late harvest Vidal, Viognier, Semillion and Sauvignon Blanc exhibited a heady floral nose along with aromas of apricots, citrus and honey. It was certainly a lovely bonus and a nice way to finish the evening.

As we sipped and dined, winemaker David Castano introduced himself and explained that he hails from a family of winemakers in Spain. He expertly presented the wines and entertained questions from the crowd of tasters. In the process, we learned that all Cabernets at Breaux are blends from both American and French oak barrels, and Castano intends to continue this practice so as to maximize the benefits to the aging process offered by both types of barrels. As a side note, we also learned that Breaux neighbors, Grandale Farms Restaurant, will begin their own vineyard to be called Silhouette Vineyards. Details about this development were indeed scarce; needless to say, check in with Virginia Wine Time to keep abreast of the developing story.

We always enjoy wine and chatter with our fellow bloggers, and joining us for the evening were Allan Liska and Erika Johannsen from Cellarblog. I think that we all concurred on a decision that the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon was the evening’s winner. The next vertical tasting will take place in March and feature Merlot, and we will certainly check our calendars for that event. In the meantime, plan a visit to Breaux Vineyards or perhaps even reserve a seat at the next vertical tasting in March. Please mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Verticals at Breaux Vineyards

This past weekend we headed to Breaux Vineyards to pick up my latest Cellar Club selections. While there we decided to do a tasting to see what had been added to the tasting menu. We were treated to a few vertical tastings of new wines and some classics. While we enjoyed all of the Breaux wines, I’ll only inform you of the wines that were included in our vertical tastings.

We began with merlots. Breaux is now tasting the 2005 and the 2006 at the tasting bar. Our favorite tasting associate Silvia, walked us through our tastings. The 2005 Merlot is a wonderful wine. We noted cherry, chocolate, dark fruit, and finish that was smooth. We thought this one could be enjoyed on its own or with food. The 2006 Merlot presented early, herby characteristics with acidic notes. We noted spice, plum, and cherry. We think this one needs another year or two to be a superb wine. We suggest you purchase it now and let it sit on your rack to enjoy in the years to come.

Our second vertical consisted of the cab sauvs from 2005, 2006, and 2008. Warren and I were split on our gold stars for the cab sauvs. I preferred the 2008 with its fresh, fruity, sweet nose with bright berries and light tannins on the tongue. The 2008 was a perfect example of the fruity characteristics I expect from a 2008 red. Warren selected the 2005 for his gold star. He described it as a classic cab sauv. He noted dark cherry, pepper, coffee and chocolate and noted the subtle oak would accompany food rather well. We both thought the 2006 presented a green characteristic (not green pepper though) with wet wood notes. We both think this one will get better with time.

Our final vertical included the 2006 Nebbiolo and the 2008 Barrel Select Nebbiolo. Our gold star went to the 2008 Barrel Select Nebbiolo. We noted a fruity nose with blackberry and dark currants in the mouth. We noted the chewy quality of this wine. The 2006 Nebbiolo presented herb, spice, tobacco, tar, and coffee. This one also had a chewy quality to it.

We really enjoyed our chance to taste so many vintages. We were excited about the Cabernet Sauvignons. So much so we are planning to attend the Cabernet Sauvignon Vertical tasting on January 14th. If you are planning to attend the event, let us know so we can all sit together. And if you visit Breaux Vineyards anytime soon, be sure to tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Snow and Wine at Breaux

Last Sunday Warren and I headed to Loudoun County for a day of horseback riding and wine tasting. We began the day at Providence Farm for a trail ride. There was still snow on the ground and fall colors in the trees. Besides the beautiful views, we saw deer, all kinds of birds, and other wild life. After our memorable trail ride, we headed to Breaux Vineyards for some wine tasting. We were also there to pick up my latest Cellar Club selections.

The snow on the ground with the fall colors on the trees made for some beautiful pictures at Breaux!

One of our favorite tasting associates Silvia conducted our tasting. We always enjoy chatting about wine with Silvia when we visit Breaux Vineyards. We’ve tasted all the wines on the regular tasting menu several times but enjoy seeing how they are evolving in the bottle. The 2010 Viognier is really evolving. We tasted it for the first time at the Wine Bloggers Conference back in July. We then tasted it again in September. This time we noticed honeysuckle really standing out. It’s a complex wine that will continue to delight our palates. The non-vintage Equation is also evolving nicely in the bottle. Each time we taste it something different arrives on our tongues. This time the plum and berry flavors really stood out. This one is a great sipper and would go well with pizza or burgers.

During our tasting we were able to chat with Jen Breaux and taste some of the Cellar Club selections. We were able to taste the 2010 Lot 10-08. This is a blend of Chardonnay and Seyval Blanc. Its light and crisp and presents citrus and stone fruit notes. It had a tart finish with a hint of merinality. I decided this one would make a great sipper for the beginning of a dinner party. I brought home two bottles for that exact reason. The 2008 Six Degrees is a blend of Nebbiolo and Barbera. Warren noted violet, plum, blackberry, dried fruit, and tobacco. He thinks it would pair well with prime rib. Yum!

After our tasting we enjoyed some of the 2010 Lot 10-08 with cheese and baguette slices. Jen treated us to a glass of the 2001 Nebbiolo! Thanks Jen! The 2001 Nebbiolo is a stand out wine. It is developing beautifully in the bottle. Its light and smooth and is effortless to enjoy. If you ever get the chance to try this one, you simply must. We had a great afternoon at Breaux enjoying the wines and running into our friends Jeff and Stacey! If you visit Breaux Vineyards anytime soon, meet some friends, enjoy the wine, join the club, and be sure to tell them Virginia WIne Time sent you!