Virginia Wine Time

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Two Viogniers

Continuing to celebrate Virginia Wine and Dine month, on Friday we enjoyed two Virginia white wines.

We began the evening with the 2010 Viognier from Chrysalis Vineyards. We enjoyed it with a creamy goat cheese and soft baguette. We noted pear, mango, and floral notes on the nose. On the tongue we noticed tropical fruit…mango, pineapple, and pear flavors with a hint of oak at the end. It paired nicely with our cheese and baguette.

For dinner we had pan seared, lightly breaded fluke flounder with capers and a side of pasta. Warren selected the 2010 Viognier from King Family for the meal and to do a little side by side comparison. We noted honeysuckle, citrus, and shale on the nose. In the mouth we noted subtle peach, stone fruit, and a soft vanilla finish. Warren preferred it a bit warmer while I enjoyed it quite chilled.

Enjoying these two different viogniers side by side gave us a good look at different viogniers from different parts of the state. Warren preferred the 2010 Viognier from King Family while I enjoyed the 2010 Viognier from Chrysalis Vineyards. Have you had a Virginia viognier lately? If you try one of these, or visit the wineries, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Loudoun Sweep

Our crazy winter weather continues to unfold; last week, I was able to jog outdoors wearing shorts and a t-shirt. However, a colder weekend at the end of January did bring the threat of snow and ice. The snow event never happened, and that gave us the chance to visit Swedenburg Estate Vineyard and Chrysalis Vineyards without worries about slick roads. (It also gave me a chance to wear my new sweater!)

Swedenburg Estate Vineyard: Curtis Vincent has assumed command of the winemaking at Swedenburg, and the white wines that we tasted were of his creation. The 2010 Chantilly made from Seyval Blanc was very crisp with citrus and mineral characteristics. Lean and clean indeed! This one should pair quite nicely with shellfish. I also enjoyed the 2010 Chardonnay that was fermented in French oak barrels. A fuller mouth feel and creamier texture suggested some malolactic fermentation. It presented pear and apple notes with hints of cedar to boot.

Although we missed Curtis on the particular visit, we did note improvements in the quality of the wines under his craftsmanship. We also learned that winery is up for sale, and we hope that any potential buyer will continue Swedenburg’s winemaking legacy that began with Wayne and Juanita Swedenburg over 25 years ago.

Chrysalis Vineyards: Our visit here was actually part of a VIP pick up party that featured wine tastings and food. Chrysalis fans may know that renowned chef Hump Astorga has left Chrysalis; however, there is no need to despair. VIP events will still include gourmet treats that will be prepared by guest chefs.

Of course, wine was our primary interest, and the current offerings were the creations of winemaker Alan Kinne. “Elegant” and “polished” were the words that I used to describe Kinne’s wines. The 2010 Chardonnay, done in stainless steel, was crisp and lean with apple notes and a no-holds-barred minerality. Of course, Viognier is the flagship white wine here, and the 2010 bottling presented the rich stone fruit flavors and luxurious mouth feel that defines Chrysalis’ Viognier. Kinne’s expertise, though, shined brightly with the 2009 Norton Estate Bottled and the complex 2009 Norton Locksley Reserve. Norton and its acidic nature can be difficult to tame, but Kinne accomplished the task and more with these world-class wines. The former was blended with some Petit Verdot while the latter usually includes Petit Verdot and other varietals; however, both were rich with dark fruit and spicy aromas and flavors. In the end, I leaned heavily toward the 2009 Locksley Reserve; earthy elements and a lengthier finish complemented a full-fruit presence in the mouth. Both are sitting on my wine rack, but I think the Locksley Reserve will be napping for quite a while.

We ran in to owner Jenni McCloud, and she updated us on her renovation plans. The new tasting room is on target to proceed, and current plans will provide for a versatile, taster-friendly facility. Tasters can opt for either a personally guided tasting of wines with a tasting associate or conduct a self-guided tour at a tasting station. The self-guided tastings will resemble the enomatic stations at a tasting bar, and tasters would use debit-type cards to sample Chrysalis wines. We will be sure to chart the progress of this development!

And so food and wine—Asparagus tarts and clam chowder were served at the tasting event, and I enjoyed both with the 2010 Chardonnay. In fact, I pleaded for a second serving of the clam chowder; it was the perfect comfort food on a very cold day.

Whether it’s warm or cold outside, a visit to Virginia wineries is sure to please. Visit Swedenburg Estate Vineyard and Chrysalis Vineyards to sample their latest pours. Be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Virginia Wines Before Dinner

We had friends over for dinner this past Saturday, and we decided to pour Virginia wines as aperitifs.  After all, it is Virginia Wine month!  Guests were greeted with the Governor Fauquier from Philip Carter Winery and Sarah’s Patio White from Chrysalis Vineyards.  Both were off-dry wines and produced from the Vidal Blanc grape, a Riesling-like hybrid that grows very well in Virginia.  Like Riesling, Vidal Blanc is very fruity and refreshing, so some of the appetizers that I served with these wines were a bit spicy. Some of these dishes were captured by Paul, the cameraman.

Cheeses: Brie topped with hot peach chutney, or for the faint of stomach, plain brie and red grapes.
Nuts: Chili-lime flavored almonds; plain almonds for the wimps.  Not sure if olives pair with these wines, but the gourmet olives were stuffed with sun-dried tomatoes and were absolutely delicious! 
Meats: Smoked salmon

So what was on tap for the rest of the evening? I did splice in a couple of Napa wines from Clos Pegase winery; one was a Sauvignon Blanc that I sampled at a wine tasting and thought it was unique—tropical fruit flavors (as opposed to cat pee/grapefruit) with a refreshing acidity that seemed a perfect match with an acidic tomato dish.  The other was a Cabernet Sauvignon that has been resting on the wine rack for several years, but according to the wine mags, needed to be appreciated now.  And indeed it was appreciated!  It was quite good with the beef; however, the fruitier Virginia offering was very well-received by my dinner guests. A number of Virginia meritage blends would have paired quite nicely with my beef dish; however, I went with the Gray Ghost option based on my experience at the Gadsby’s Tavern winemaker dinner which featured the Ranger Reserve with a very similar beef dish.  Empty wine bottles indicated that the Virginia option was as popular as the California one. 

Anyway, here was the menu:

Fresh tomato soup paired with Clos Pegase Sauvignon Blanc 2009 
Garlic-herb crusted beef tenderloin with roasted potatoes and squash paired with Clos Pegase Cabernet Sauvignon 2005; Gray Ghost Ranger Reserve 2008
Pumpkin bundt cake served with Gray Ghost Adieu 2006
Community Brand Coffee and Chicory (found only in New Orleans)

Summer Wines of Virginia Taste and Tweet

With these warm days it’s time to think of summer wines. On Tuesday evening we had the chance to participate in the Summer Wines of VIrginia Taste and Tweet with other bloggers and wine people all over the country. We invited Virginia Wine In My Pocket and Cellarblog to join in the fun. We enjoyed lots of nibbles and some great Virginia wines. Here are the wines we tasted and a few of our Tweets from the tasting. Enjoy the pictures as well!

Keswick Vineyards 2010 Verdejo

“On the nose we get citrus, grapefruit…hint of hay on the nose as well as melon…crisp, refreshing, nice acidity, Warren would have it with melon, goat cheese…It went very well with goat cheese. Warren wants to have it with a crab cake.”

Veritas Vineyards 2010 Sauvignon Blanc

“On the nose we get grapefruit, early grassy nose…in the mouth we get grapefruit, lime, something on the edge, lengthy finish…Really enjoying this Sauvignon Blanc!”

Boxwood Winery 2010 Topiary Rosé

“The color is a pale pink, salmon color, a hint of orange…on the nose we get watermelon, a hint of spice…On the tongue we get watermelon, some strawberry, nice acidity here too. Very dry…Warren says this would go with almost anything. Makes me think of a concert on the grass at Wolf Trap.”

Jefferson Vineyards 2010 Viognier

“On the nose we are getting a hint of straw…but it’s very light on the nose…on the tongue we’re getting some apple and pear. We are getting a sweet component that we can’t figure out.”

Chrysalis Vineyards 2010 Viognier

“On the nose we are getting some tart fruit, pear, and honeysuckle…we get a honey texture in the mouth with pear, vanilla toward the end…we like this viognier. It’s an excellent example of a Virginia Viognier.”

Lovingston Winery 2010 Petit Manseng

“Pineapple nose, and it smells sweet…tart puckery mouth, seems sweeter than it actually is…we think this one would pair well with something spicy.”

We enjoyed all the wines and think they’d be great summer wines. We had a great time with the other bloggers who attended and really liked interacting with the winemakers on Twitter. A HUGE THANK YOU to the Virginia Wine Board, Frank Morgan from DrinkWhatYouLike.com, and the folks at Swirl Sip Snark for organizing this event. And of course we need to thank all the wineries for providing the wines we enjoyed during the evening. If you are looking for some summer wines, consider these wines. And if you visit any of the wineries to pick up the wines, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Winter Fare and Virginia Wines

This past weekend was probably the coldest days we’ve experienced in a winter that has been extremely cold. No wonder we sought out food and wines that kept us warm!

On Friday night, we dined on braised veal shanks (known as osso bucco) paired with the 2003 Nebbiolo Reserve from Barboursville Vineyards. Displaying the trademark brickish hue in the glass, this Nebbiolo revealed cherry, violet and tobacco aromas with lingering fruit on the finish.

Sunday was the day for Chrysalis‘ VIP members to attend a food and wine party hosted at the winery. Chef Hump Astorga had prepared a kale and Portuguese sausage soup to partner with the 2006 Rubiana and a barrel sample of the 2010 Barrel Select Norton. While we both appreciated the fruity, drink now Rubiana, it was the 2010 Barrel Select Norton that won our stars of approval. This one was a dead ringer for a lush, fruity Beaujolais made from the gamay grape. It’s sure to be a crowd favorite once it is bottled and released.

Plan your winter menus around favorite Virginia wines some of which may already be on your wine racks. If you need to stock up, visit Barboursville Vineyards and Chrysalis Vineyards; however, please mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Dinner Wines

Which one would you have with this meal? Turkey cutlets, rice, and sweet potatoes.

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