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Celebrating Virginia Wine Month

vwm25smallHow Are You Celebrating Virginia Wine Month?

October is Virginia Wine Month, and we are doing it right by enjoying Virginia wine with dinner, at restaurants, and at Virginia wineries. Here is how we kicked off Virginia Wine month:

Dinner at Al Dente in Washington DC: Pappardelle pasta with wild boar ragout braised in red wine paired with Breaux’s Nebbiolo 2007.
Breaux
Harvest Salad as a first course at a dinner party: Crisp seasonal apples, chopped fennel, and slivered almonds tossed with a lemon vinaigrette then topped with crumbled blue cheese was served with Linden’s Riesling Vidal 2011

Steaks on Friday: We reserve Fridays as our red meat day. Filet Mignon topped with sautéed mushrooms was paired with Gray Ghost Vineyards’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2010.

Pumpkin Cake: My favorite seasonal dessert. Fall spices serve as supporting roles in this pumpkin-based delight. We enjoyed this with Naked Mountain’s Old Vine Riesling 2012 produced from the oldest Riesling vines on the property.
Hume
Need other suggestions to celebrate Virginia Wine Month? Hume Vineyards will release its 2012 Viognier; characteristic floral notes are accompanied by stone fruit elements and a white pepper undertone. This one should be perfect with poultry topped with a cream sauce. Planning to invite friends over for a hearty beef stew? We were impressed with the 2011 Petit Verdot with its whiff of violet as well as its brambleberry and dark fruit notes; it’s a bit chewy too!

So this is how we kicked off Virginia Wine Month. How are you celebrating Virginia Wine Month? We would like to know, so feel free to share with us. Visit the Virginia wineries mentioned in this post and mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Virginia Wine Month Celebration

Last night we attended a reception to celebrate Virginia Wine Month and Virginia Wine Tourism. There were many winery dignitaries in attendance as well as lots of media folks. The guest of honor was Governor Bob McDonnell. After introductions and fanfare, the governor spoke. He spoke about the wine industry in Virginia and how successful it’s been in the last few years. He noted that the industry will have great growth in the future especially with Donald Trump getting into the game. Of course the focus of the evening was wine and we got the chance to taste some of the best Virginia wine.

Breaux Vineyards poured the 2010 Viognier, 2007 Cabernet Franc Reserve, and the 2005 Nebbiolo. We agreed the winner here was the 2005 Nebbiolo. We noted cherry and raspberry with hints of licorice and tobacco. I really noticed the smooth finish. What a nice wine!

Barboursville Vineyards poured the Viognier Reserve 2010, the Octagon 2007 and the Malvaxia Reserve 2006. Here we really enjoyed the Octagon 2007. Great color, intense tannins, and berry flavors stood out here. We thought of food with this one.

Boxwood Winery poured the Topiary Rose Blend 2010, the Topiary Blend 2009, and the Boxwood Blend 2009. I think the Boxwood Blend 2009 really stood out here. It has a deep, dark color with hints of blackberry, violet, and anise. The tannins would accompany a thick steak really well.

Chatham Vineyards poured the Church Creek Vintner’s Blend (non vintage 2009 and 2010), the Church Creek Cabernet Franc (non vintage 2009 and 2010), and the 2010 Steel Church Creek Chardonnay. I really preferred the 2010 Steel Church Creek Chardonnay. I noted the pear and apple flavors on the nose as well as in the mouth. It had a nice mouth feel even though it spent no time in oak.

The Virginia Wine Board and the Virginia Tourism Corporation put on a wonderful event. We enjoyed the conversation, the wines, and the promotion of Virginia wine. We met some great people that we hadn’t met before. We even got to meet the governor! It was a great way to celebrate Virginia Wine Month. If you haven’t visited any of the wineries that poured at the event, you need to plan a trip to visit them soon. And tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!


Some of the Virginia Wine Mafia was in attendance!

Saturday Sips

Just recently we visited Blenheim Vineyards (more details to come) and picked up a few bottles of the White Table Wine. I decided we would begin our evening with this wine.

The White Table Wine from Blenheim VIneyards is 100% chardonnay.On the nose we noted pear, floral notes, peach, and stone fruit. In the mouth we noted stone fruit, peach, apricot, and a nice round mouth feel. We had this with goat cheese and baguette. It was a perfect pairing with our evening nibbles.

For dinner we were having parmesan encrusted tilapia with wild rice and mixed vegetables. We opted for the 2009 Viognier Water Bent Barrels from Breaux Vineyards from the Wine Club Selection. Right away we noticed the very light color. On the nose I wrote down light airy fruit. Warren noted floral qualities with some ripe fruit. In the mouth we noted floral notes, hints of honeysuckle, mango, apricot, and a nice mouth feel. It was very crisp and paired very well with our meal. We also noticed that as this one warmed up in our glasses, the flavors were much more pronounced. We really enjoyed this bottle of wine!

New Whites at Breaux Vineyards

Over the weekend we went to Breaux Vineyards to pick up my cellar club selections. As you may or may not remember the wines in the Cellar Club at Breaux are created just for the club members. That’s what makes this wine club special. While at Breaux to pick up the wines, we decided to do a regular tasting with one of our favorite tasting associates, Sylvia. Many of the 2009 whites were recently released.

The Cellar Club selections included the 2009 Sauvignon Blanc Water Bent Barrels. We noted smoke, citrus, and nice acids. The water bent barrels make this a really nice wine. The Cellar Club selections also included the 2007 Merlot. Here we noted extracted fruit, integrated tannins, and smoke. You can drink this one now or save it for years to come.

Here’s a rundown of the 2009 whites from the regular tasting and what we noted about each one. After tasting them all we decided we liked them all and couldn’t decide on specific gold stars.

2009 Jolie Blonde-lemon, grapefruit, crisp, and dry
2009 Viognier-honeysuckle, peach, tart, citrus
2009 Madeleine’s Chardonnay-pear, tropical fruit, pineapple, crisp
2009 Jennifer’s Jambalaya-1% residual sugar, crisp, nice acids, lime
2009 Nebbiolo Ice-peach, creamy, nice texture

During our tasting with Sylvia, Bruce came in with fresh barber juice. In the winery they were in the process pushing down the fruit and Bruce secured a taste of the fresh juice for us. It was very sweet and fibrous.

On another note we have to mention the Equation. Every time we taste the Equation we note something different. This wine is definitely changing with time. We appreciate the changes each time we taste it. It just keeps getting better. We even left with a bottle this time! Plan a visit to Breaux Vineyards soon and check out all the new white wines and re-discover some of the reds again and of course, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Reflections on The Drink Local Conference

Paul certainly captured the spirit of the Drink Local Wine Conference that was held at the Lansdowne Resort this past Sunday. I thought that I would add a few of my own thoughts on the event:

1. We’re on the verge of something really big!
Readers of our blog know that we’ve been heralding Virginia wines for five year now, and the treat for us has been to witness the tremendous growth in the local wine industry. The number of wineries and vineyards in the area has exploded in the past few years; however, the most successful wineries have kept a focus on wine quality. It was fascinating to me to listen to and even interact with successful owners and winemakers such as Mathieu Finot of King Family, Jenni McCloud of Chrysalis, Luca Paschina of Barboursville and Jordan Harris of Tarara. Their quest is to discover what varietals work for Virginia, to experiment and take risks, and to ultimately put Virginia on the map as a region that produces unique yet world-class wines. Which ones will be the flagship grapes? Opinions seem to converge on Viognier, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot with Merlot and Chardonnay in the running. The panel discussions with wine makers and social media experts confirmed what I have known for years now—Virginia is on the verge of something big!

2. Social Media connects consumers to local wines.
Ok—I must admit that I am not a Twitter or Facebook fan. Paul handles all of that for Virginia Wine Time. However, after Sunday’s panel discussion on social media, I am now a fervent believer that Twitter, Facebook, and blogs fill the gap between local wineries and traditional media. Virginia wineries may not be headlining Wine Spectator, but then again most wine drinkers don’t really care. A tweet about a favorite Virginia wine creates a buzz that Wine Spectator could never create. Jenn Breaux Blosser of Breaux Vineyards is by far the most engaged with social media, and she had never been shy about networking via Twitter and Facebook. I do believe the testimonial that she delivered at the conference—social media pulls in customers that she could never reach via traditional media.

There are exceptions, though. I was thrilled to meet Dave McIntyre, wine critic for the Washington Post. Dave’s wine column in Wapo’s food section is one that I never miss, and he has been an active promoter of local wines. I’ll take Dave’s word about wine over Robert Parker’s any day of the week. However, I’d apply the same standard to bloggers and “tweeters” and admit that an expert palate like Dave McIntyre’s certainly trumps mine; so, if Dave recommends a Virginia wine, trust him—it’s really good and worth seeking out!

3. Virginia (and Maryland) makes some excellent wines.
The highlight of the day had to be the wine “Twitter Taste-Off” when we all got to sample the best wines that 21 local wineries had to offer. Paul noted that Breaux Vineyards’s 2002 Reserve Merlot and Chrysalis’ 2008 Albarino took top honors, and those were certainly excellent pours. However, there were a number of outstanding wines that included Michael Shaps’ Viognier (my own personal fave), King Family’s 2008 Meritage (which may give the successful 2007 vintage a run for its money), and Boxwood’s 2007 Topiary. The sleepers of the event had to be the 2005 Petit Verdot from Ingleside and the current Syrah from Maryland’s Black Ankle. (For those who like a fuller-bodied Chardonnay, Maryland’s Elk Run offering may be worth a try, too.)

I was definitely inspired by the day’s events, and now I am even more anxious to hit the wine trails to discover the quality wines that Virginia wineries have to offer. And now I am determined to visit Maryland wineries, too! Of course, another pleasure was to meet other bloggers, and who knew that we would be dubbed the “wine mafia”! Could this be a movie in the making? The Winefather?

Be sure to visit Virginia wineries this spring, and mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Merlot Vertical Tasting at Breaux

A couple of weeks ago we were invited to attend the Merlot Vertical Tasting at Breaux Vineyards. We accepted and were looking forward to attending the event along with our fellow wine bloggers, Suzie, and Frank. After a glass of the Equation Merlot and an introduction from Jen Breaux, Dave Collins took over and we began a evening of six vintages of wine and three courses of food.

The first two wines we tasted were barrel samples of the 2008 and 2007 vintages. The 2008 spent a year and a half in French oak and the 2007 spent two and a half years in new American oak. I was expecting the 2007 to have some rough tannins but the opposite was the case. I really enjoyed the berry nose, dark fruit palate, smoother tannins and wonderful color. We had these wines with beef tenderloin. The dark fruit of the 2007 complemented the beef very well. While the 2007 made music in my mouth, the 2008 needed some more time. I look forward to seeing how it develops in the future.

With our second course of sauteed tiger shrimp, tasso ham and andouille sausage we had the 2006 and 2005 merlots. Of this couple I appreciated the 2006. This one was smooth, fruity, and went well with the spicy sausage. It was ready to drink now. Contrasting the 2006 was the 2005. To me this one fell flat. It didn’t make me want to drink it. It was a bit earthy for my taste.

Our last paring, the 2004 Merlot and the 2002 Merlot Reserve went with free range chicken braised with capers. The 2004 presented dark fruit, raisins and was smooth. The star of this pairing, however, was the 2002 Merlot Reserve. OMG It was so smooth with tons of dark fruit flavors and a beautiful color. I’m not one to have red wine with chicken but the 2002 Merlot Reserve went perfectly with the chicken. I had no problem finishing this glass. I wouldn’t mind having some more!

As we all finished our last course we started to compare our notes and talk about our favorites. Dave Collins asked for volunteers to talk about each wine after each course. We remembered this notes as we discussed our favorites. If I remember correctly we all came to the consensus that the 2002 Merlot Reserve was the winner of the evening. Even though the 2007 is still in the barrel, this one came in second. My final lineup was 02, 07, 06, 08, 04, 05. After our discussions we moved to the tank room to enjoy a barrel sample of the 2008 Malbec. I’m beginning to enjoy malbecs and this one impressed me. I’m ready for it to be bottled.

Our evening ended with a glass of the Nebbiolo Ice with Jen Breaux on the patio. We chatted about our evening, our favorites, and about wine and social media. We always have such a great time at Breaux. Jen Breaux knows how to make you feel welcome! Thanks Jen! Visit Breaux Vineyards soon and tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

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