Wineries That Keep Us Blogging

The tenth year of Virginia Wine Time has given us cause to celebrate, and our visits with the wonderful winemakers who inspired us to blog has been a pleasure. We will also take time to honor wineries and winemakers who inspire us to continue blogging, and these will be either newer wineries that have recently opened or wineries that have experienced a renaissance due to a new direction and renewed purpose. The two wineries featured in this post belong in the latter category, and they are Casanel Vineyards & Winery and The Vineyards and Winery at Lost Creek.

Casanel Vineyards & Winery: There is no doubt in our minds that Katie de Souza has a passion for winemaking, and the wines there have taken a profound turn for the wonderful under her leadership. We visited with Katie last fall, and we were very impressed with the line up of premiere wines. In addition, the new tasting room offers a more accessible yet elegant tasting experience. I was most impressed with the Chardonnay; Paul favored the Petit Verdot, and we both fell in love with the limited edition Carmenere. Pay attention to this winery; we plan to visit very soon to sample the latest releases.

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The Vineyards and Winery at Lost Creek: We remembered the old Lost Creek Winery as a place to go to enjoy picnic wines that tended to be on the sweeter side. We also admired the landscaping! However, the new and improved Lost Creek Winery under the direction of Aimee and Todd Henkle features more serious wines. Dry, complex, nuanced—-these are the descriptors that can now be used in association with these wines. Aimee Henkle conducted our tasting when we visited the winery in January, and I was a fan of the 2014 Reserve Chardonnay with its pear notes and buttery finish. The Genesis, a red blend, was rich and complex with a smoky nose and dark fruit flavors. Drink now or age for later; I have opted to age for a while. We were also treated to a barrel sample of the 2014 Provenance which spent 26 months in oak barrels. Bramble berry notes with a whiff of cedar were quite evident; we intend to return upon release of this one.

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We plan to visit these wineries very soon and know that they continue to strive for excellence. Plan to visit Casanel Vineyards & Winery and The Vineyards and Winery at Lost Creek too; mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Two More Visits in Loudoun County

To round out our trip to Loudoun County wineries, we stopped at Willowcroft and Casanel. As we have been noting lately, we hadn’t visited either winery in quite a long time and it was time to find out what was new and what would tease our palates.

Almost all the wines were new at Willowcroft. While we enjoyed them all, there were a few stand outs for us. We were surprised to see an Albarino on the tasting menu since so few wineries in Virginia produce an Albarino wine. This one quickly became our favorite white on the tasting menu. This Albarino is dry and stainless steel aged. We noted citrus flavors of lemon and lime with a crisp mineral finish. We enjoyed a glass of this one after our tasting.

Of the reds, we found two that were leaving a spark on our palates. The 2007 Merlot has really grown into its own. Its medium bodied with flavors of plum and berries. It has a smooth finish and would go well with red meat. Before leaving I secured a bottle for my wine rack. While its ready to drink now, it can hang out on the rack for another year or so.

Another red that got our attention was the 2008 Cabernet Franc. This one is a bit bigger with medium tannins. We noted lots of flavors; smoke, tobacco, blackberry, raspberry, blueberry, and licorice. It has a smokey finish that would also pair well with red meats.

During our tasting we had a chance to talk with Kelly, one of our favorite tasting associates at Willowcroft, about the 2012 season and the current wines on the tasting menu. We always enjoy talking wine with the tasting associates.

As with Willowcroft, Casanel‘s tasting menu included wines that were almost all new to us. We were lucky to have Katie DeSouza (the daughter of owners Casey and Nelson DeSouza) as our tasting associate. She filled us in on all the happenings at Casanel. At the time of our visit there were just about ready to open the new bathrooms in the new winery building. At this point, they are probably open for business. Having the new bathrooms open will save you from having to go down the spiral staircase. That never bothered us though. It is part of the charm of Casanel.

During our tasting with Katie we made note of our favorite wines. The 2009 Chardonnay Mas Que Nada is aged in neutral French oak barrels for eight months. This imparts a smooth lightly buttery ending. We noted an aromatic nose, with notes of melon and herbs on the palate. We thought this chard would pair well with fish and chicken dishes.

The 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Batucada was notable for the earthy nose and hints of blackberry, plum, and tobacco. We noted the smooth ending and the light to medium tannins. We can see why this one has won several awards. While this one would pair nicely with red meat, we also think enjoying a glass by itself would be appropriate.

We would also like to note the 2010 Don Lorenzo White. This is Casanel’s first estate wine and quickly is racking up the awards. It is a blend of Pinot Gris and Chardonnay. It is slightly sweet and has notes of apple, pear, peach, and honeysuckle. We think this one would pair nicely with slightly spicy foods.

After our chat and tasting with Katie, we enjoyed a bottle of the 2010 Don Lorenzo White with a pizza prepared by Chef Miriam, who often shows up on weekend to provide the perfect food to pair with Casanel wines. We also enjoyed the live music on the patio…along with many others!

We always enjoy revisiting wineries in Loudoun County. Our trips become both educational and tasty! If you haven’t been to Willowcroft or Casanel lately, you need to plan a trip soon. And if you do, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Casanel Vineyards

Last weekend we went to Loudoun County to visit a few wineries. We started at Casanel Vineyards. We hadn’t been there since June. It was about time we checked out the new wines.

You might remember the name of the winery is a combination of the two owners names…Casey and Nelson…Casanel. They also named each vintage of wines with special words. The 2007 vintages began with the word Chegada which means arrival. The 2008 vintages begin with the word Batucada which means samba. Casanel is a family run winery as well. We were lucky enough to have one of the daughters conduct our tasting.

Our tasting began with the whites. Casanel has two whites to taste; the 2008 Batucada Chardonnay and the 2007 Chegada Viognier. Some words that were jotted down next the chardonnay were “crisp” and “tropical”. The viognier received the words “peachy”, “floral”, and “honey textured”. We enjoyed them both and thought about each one for our lunch. We agreed on our gold star here. It went to the 2007 Chegada Viognier.

We tasted three reds from Casanel. The 2008 Batucada Norton was tart with cherry jam flavors. The 2007 Chegada Merlot presented notes of smoke, cherry, dried herbs, and pepper. Our final red was the 2007 Chegada Cabernet Sauvignon. Warren noted cherry, plum, and leather for this one. We were split on the reds for our gold stars. I gave my gold star to the 2007 Chegada Cabernet Sauvignon and Warren presented his gold star to the 2008 Batucada Norton.

With our tasting finished, we decided on the 2007 Chegada Viognier to go with our herbed grilled chicken. We thought this one went well with our chicken. We decided the acidity gives the impression of crispness when we really didn’t detect its presence. We noted lots of peach on the nose and on the palate as well as the honeysuckle texture. Overall a very nice wine.

We had a nice time visiting Casanel once more. We encourage our readers to plan a visit to Casanel soon and when you do, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!