Friday Wines

Our sipper for the evening was the 2008 Viognier from Corcoran Vineyards. We had it with a soft creamy cheese and baguette. We noted a floral nose with lime and ripe pear in the mouth. It was refreshing on the cool fall evening. It paired well with our Friday evening nibbles. We don’t think Corcoran is making a viognier anymore and it’s just sad because this one is so nice.

For dinner we had turkey cutlets and angel hair pasta. Warren selected the 2009 Breaux Vineyards Viognier. We have loved the Breaux Viogniers in the past and just knew this one would go well with our meal. On the nose we noted honeysuckle and mango. In the mouth we picked up honeysuckle and mango, tropical fruit notes. It had a full mouth feel and a lengthy finish. And yes, it went well with our meal.

Hurricane Preparedness

We have been preparing for hurricane Irene. Warren bought caned foods, water, and batteries. He’s a veteran hurricane survivor and knows just what to do to prepare for such a storm. As part of our hurricane preparedness, we enjoyed some Virginia wines last night around dinner time.

Our hurricane preparedness sipper was the 2009 Hunt Country Chardonnay from Piedmont Vineyards. We enjoyed this wine with some swiss cheese and crackers while sitting on the balcony trying to enjoy the humid weather. We noticed a whiff of pineapple and pear on the nose and a touch of citrus and a crispness in the mouth. Of course it paired beautifully with our cheese and crackers. It also helped manage the humid temperatures on the balcony.

For dinner we opted to move indoors and enjoy the air conditioning. We were having steaks and roasted potatoes for dinner and we selected the 2007 Petit Verdot Cellar Selection from Breaux Vineyards. This was a perfect wine to prepare for the oncoming hurricane. We noticed characteristics of concentrated dark fruit, lots of dark plum, dark cherry, leather, tobacco, and carmel. Warren even noticed some pepper. We did pour it through the Soiree to help give it some air as we filled our glasses. When we poured the last drops into our glasses, we were wishing we had another bottle! The wine paired wonderfully with our dinner choices.

Are you prepared for the hurricane? Make enjoying some Virginia wine part of your preparing for the storm. If you happen to visit Piedmont Vineyards or Breaux Vineyards in the near future, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Weekend Wines

We had a very busy weekend and had the chance to enjoy some really nice Virginia wines. Each evening there was one wine that stood out. While we normally write about all the wines we enjoyed, we thought we’d focus on just two this time. Unfortunately I didn’t have my big spiffy camera to take some nice photos. The first one was taken with the iPad and the second was taken of an older vintage of the same wine.

On Saturday evening we decided to have some nice filets for dinner. Warren selected the 2001 Cellar Selection Merlot French Oak Select from Breaux Vineyards. How many ten year old Virginia wines do you get excited about? This one was amazing. We opened it about an hour before dinner just to let it breath. We had thick filet mignon, roasted potatoes, and veggies for dinner. This wine went perfectly with the filets. It started with a dark fruit nose which gave way to dark fruit and tobacco flavors in the mouth. What amazed me was how smooth it was. Ten years in the bottle treated this wine well. Even after dinner we continued to enjoy just sipping it. It’s the kind of bottle you don’t want to end. The next time we’re at Breaux, we need to see if they have any more!

Sunday evening we had some friends over for dinner and served the 2009 Seyval from Linden Vineyards. We had this with soft cheeses, crackers, and olives. On the nose we noticed lime and melon. On the tongue we noted wonderful lemon flavors that complimented the cheeses and olives. The acidity and crispness of this wine was perfect for a warm evening. Our guests talked about how much they enjoyed it. I think I have one more bottle on my rack. Even though the weather has cooled down somewhat, this one still remains one of our summer favorites.

What wines did you enjoy this weekend? If you visit Breaux Vineyards or Linden Vineyards anytime soon, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

2007 Cellar Selection Meritage

On a recent Saturday evening we found ourselves having one of our typical meals of filet and wild rice. What wine would select to pair with this meal was the question. Being a club member at Breaux Vineyards gives us access to some wines that we might not other wise get to experience. We perused the wine rack and decided on the 2007 Meritage from Breaux Vineyards. It’s one of the Cellar Selection wines. We thought it might be too soon to enjoy this one but no, it wasn’t.

Some 2007s are still a bit young. Just to be safe we poured this one through our Soiree to give it some air since we hadn’t opened it too much before dinner. Right away we noticed the dark, rich garnet color. That was a good sign. On the nose we picked up concentrated dark berries and anise. On the tongue we noted concentrated mix of dark cherry, blackberry, and raspberry. We also noted a hint of black pepper and firm tannins. While it’s true that this one probably could have benefitted from some more time on the rack, it was too good to let that happen. It paired beautifully with our filets and wild rice.

If you visit Breaux Vineyards anytime soon, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you and think about joining the wine club to have access to wines like this one.

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Time for Summer Sippers

With summer’s heat upon us, I find myself gravitating toward more refreshing wines. Virginia produces white and lighter-bodied red wines that are perfect for summer; however, don’t ignore rose wines. Virginia wineries are now producing rose wines that range from bone dry to sweet. In recent tastings, then, we’ve been focused on wines more appropriate for summer. In this post, we will present our findings at Aspen Dale Winery at the Barn and Breaux Vineyards.

Aspen Dale Winery at the Barn: Winemaker Shay McNeal continues to make solid wines at Aspen Dale at the Barn. Our favorite summer pour here was 2010 Sarah’s Chapeau, a blend of Vidal Blanc (60%) and Sauvignon Blanc (40%). Its floral nose and fruity elements of melon and lemon zest make for a perfect sipper while at the deck or at a summer concert. The 2009 Mary Madeleine is a rose and likewise destined for enjoyment on a hot summer day.

Breaux Vineyards: Paul was able to enjoy his membership benefits which allowed us to taste in the tank room! The folks at Breaux also accommodated my parents; Dad, in particular, was eager to try the wines at Breaux Vineyards. Lots of summer offerings here, too! The 2009 Jolie Blond produced from Seyval Blanc presented grapefruit flavors and a refreshing minerality that mimicked Sauvignon Blanc; in fact, we were able to sample the 2010 Sauvignon Blanc! Made only for members, the 2010 Sauvignon Blanc was all citrus fruit with some grassy notes; acids here were rather muted. My own favorite was the 2009 Viognier with its rich aromatics of honeysuckle and peach. Great for summer seafood dishes like crab cakes, too. Chardonnay lovers may like the steel fermented 2009 Madeleine’s Chardonnay with its pear notes and crisp finish. For those who prefer summer wines on the sweeter side, the slightly sweet 2010 Jennifer’s Jambalaya with its notes of honeysuckle, peach, and orange peel should fit the bill. (Residual sugar is .5%.) We left Breaux with almost two cases of wine. A huge THANKS to Breaux for the wonderful hospitality.

In a note about changes at Breaux Vineyards, we were able to chat with new winemaker David Castano during a previous visit to the winery. David Castano was truly excited to be part of the Breaux team, and I asked him what he found most challenging about making wine in Virginia. His reply? The weather—humidity, persistent rainfall, hurricanes all can create problems for the winemaker; however, he added that experienced winemakers know how to overcome these challenges. This past spring seems to confirm David’s point with constant rain in April and early May and then scorching heat in early June. David Castano brings experience as an oenologist and wine consultant to Breaux Vineyards, and we’re confident that he will continue Breaux’s legacy of producing quality wines.

If your stock of summer wines is running low, visit these wineries to replenish the wine racks. Be sure, though, to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

New Winemaker at Breaux Vineyards

On Friday Breaux Vineyards announced their new winemaker to their club members. The press and the rest of the world will hear about their new winemaker on Monday. The new winemaker at Breaux Vineyards is David Pagan Castaño. Turns out we sat right next to him at the recent Merlot Vertical at Breaux Vineyards. He was still a candidate at that time. Here’s a picture of Warren next to David’s wife, David, and Chris Blosser. We are looking forward to talking with David more at the Club members pick up party on May 22nd. We are also looking forward to the wonderful wines we’re sure he’ll produce at Breaux Vineyards.

Merlot Vertical Tasting

On Saturday we attended the Merlot Vertical Tasting at Breaux Vineyards. We arrived a few minutes early and had time to do a regular tasting. While we were tasting we were able to chat with Jen Breaux. It was great catching up with her. She informed us that Breaux will be announcing their new winemaker in about a week. They’ve had some great candidates and are excited about the new energy coming to Breaux. She also told us that famed winemaker Michael Shaps will be consulting with Breaux over the next year to help make the transition a smooth one. We were excited to hear that Michael Shaps would be conducting the Merlot Vertical Tasting. As our tasting came to an end and the vertical about to begin, Jen told us of the plans to expand. There are plans to build a new inventory building and tasting room. There will also be a club room! We are looking forward to the additions coming to Breaux.

After an introduction from Jen Breaux and a taste of the 2010 Cabernet Rose (pre-release) the Merlot Vertical began. Michael Shaps informed us about the wines we’d be tasting. We tasted merlots from 2000, 2001, 2002 (reserve), 2004, 2006, and 2007. The wines were presented in pairs with a delicious course to enjoy with each pair of wines. We began with the 2000 and 2001 vintages. These were served with grass fed beef stewed with shitake mushrooms and grape tomatoes served with roasted turnips and grilled zucchini. Of these two both Warren and I enjoyed the 2000. We noted extracted fruit, anise, plum, and toffee. I thought this one paired perfectly with the grass fed beef.

The second course of free range chicken over gnocchi tossed in pumpkin sage cream sauce and dusted with smashed pecans and served with sliced pecorino-romano cheese was served with the 2002 reserve merlot and the 2004 merlot. Of these two vintages the 2002 reserve merlot was the hands down winner. We have written about the 2002 reserve before and absolutely love it. We noted raisin, dates, tobacco, anise and plum. I only have one bottle of this vintage left on my rack and I’m hanging on to it. It only gets better with time.

The 2006 and the 2007 merlot vintages were served with grilled lamb and roasted onion terrine served with warm over rosemary roasted fingerling potatoes and peas with lamb gravy. The 2007 merlot stood out during this course. We noted its dark color, dark fruit characteristics and light tannic presence. Once again the pairing was perfect.

After each course Michael Shaps surveyed the participants to determine their favorites. The consensus was pretty much on target. Warren and I both selected the 2002 Merlot Reserve as our favorite of the day. Our second and third selections were split. I selected the 2007 as my second and Warren selected the 2000. In third place I selected the 2000 and Warren selected the 2007. We thought all these vintages were excellent examples of the merlots being produced by Breaux.

We finished the event with a taste of the Lot 816 Merlot barrel sample. While tasting the sample we chatted with other attendees and Breaux friends. Before leaving we picked out Cellar Club selections. Michael Shaps did a wonderful job leading us through the vertical. With all the news of changes coming to Breaux, the future looks bright! The next time you visit Breaux Vineyards be sure to tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Celebration Wines

Last night we had some friends over to help celebrate Warren’s birthday. I’m not a cook so Warren created a wonderful meal. Of course we had to serve Virginia wines with the meal.

We began the evening with white cheeses, baked shrimp wontons, and fruit. We paired these items with the 2008 Durant White from Pollak Vineyards. We enjoyed the crisp, fruity, mineral nature of this wine. It went perfectly with our food choices.

Warren then served a garden salad with a lemon vinaigrette. We paired the salad with the 2008 Sarah’s Chapeau from Aspen Dale Winery. This is a blend of vidal blanc and sauvignon blanc. The fruity, off-dry nature of this wine paired well with the salad.

For the main course Warren prepared a hearty beef stew with carrots, mushrooms, potatoes, and fresh thyme. We selected the 2008 Petit Verdot from Pollak Vineyards. We noted blackberry and plum notes and an earthiness. We poured the last two bottles I had on my rack. Unfortunately the Petit Verdot is sold out and I won’t be able to get any more. I’m looking forward to the next vintage!

We finished the evening with a very moist, chocolate birthday cake. I selected the 2009 Nebbiolo Ice Water Bent Barrels from the Cellar Selection from Breaux Vineyards. The delicious sweet strawberry notes complimented the chocolate cake. Everyone mentioned how much they enjoyed this one.

At the end of the evening we all decided that the 2008 Petit Verdot from Pollak Vineyards should get the gold star.

Warren and I continued his birthday celebration today by visiting Gray Ghost VIneyards, one of our favorite wineries. We are very familiar with their wines but always enjoy a tasting. We also enjoy chatting with Al, Cheryl and Amy about all things wine.

After our tasting we enjoyed some lunch nibbles with a bottle of the 2007 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. What a wonderful bottle of wine. We noted dark fruit, tobacco, ash, and a lingering finish. We can always count on a great time at Gray Ghost.

If you visit any of these wineries anytime soon, please tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Paul’s Pick

I had an early dinner tonight without wine so I decided to peruse my rack for something different. I had several things to choose from but decided on the 2007 Merlot French Oak Select from the Cellar Selection from Breaux Vineyards. I was really looking for just a sipper but ended up with a bigger wine than I was expecting. On the bottle it says it was aged in new French oak barrels for 31 months. It being from 2007, I probably should have left it on the rack longer. Over all though, I really enjoyed this one but should have had food as well.

I see my ChapStick left a lip print on my glass!

On the nose I got a hit of coffee at first and then it gave way to some dark fruit and tobacco. In the mouth I noted dark fruit, prune, mocha, and tobacco. I also noted some pretty big tannins. They coated my tongue pretty strongly. The bottle does mention firm tannins so I should have been expecting them. There is a lingering finish with fruit characteristics. I know I’ve mentioned it many times before but being a club member at Breaux really does have it’s benefits. Having access to wines like this is just one of the many benefits. Next time you visit Breaux Vineyards tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Pick Up Party at Breaux

On Sunday we went to Breaux Vineyards to pick my Cellar Club selections. The selections were the 2008 Malbec and the 2007 Lot 751. We picked up the wines at the Pick Up party for club members. Breaux treats their club members very well. They set up the tank room with a long table on one side and smaller round tables on the other. There was a wonderful selection of foods that paired well with the wines. They also had a large screen showing photos from recent events at Breaux. Jen Breaux was there to welcome guests as well as many Breaux tasting associates.

Silvia waved us over to taste at her table. We started with the 2008 Malbec. I really enjoyed this one. It had a dark rich color, fruit forward in the mouth with a hint of tobacco. I think this one is ready to drink now but I’ll probably let it sit on the rack awhile. Next up was the 2007 Lot 751. This is a meritage style blend. Warren jotted down rich and complex. I liked the dark fruit on the nose and in the mouth with a hint of spice. It is young and will definitely be better in a few years. I would suggest putting this one on the rack and forget about it for a few years. With the nibbles they provided we enjoyed a glass of the 2002 Cellar Club Meritage. We noted dark fruit aromas, violet and licorice, tobacco and similar flavors in the mouth. We both noted a longer finish. This one is ready to enjoy now. We could see this with a nice thick steak.

One of the benefits of membership is access to some nice library wines on sale. After purchasing a few of my favorites, we said our goodbyes and headed back out on the wine trail. Next time you visit Breaux Vineyards tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!