Virginia Wine Time

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Tag: Food and Wine (page 1 of 2)

Sunset at Sunset Hills

After we visited Breaux Vineyards last Sunday, we headed to Sunset Hills to taste the wines. This was the first time Warren’s parents have visited Sunset Hills. We were lucky to be visiting them on their two year anniversary weekend.

Sunset Hills currently only has two whites available for tasting. We were disappointed to find out so many of their wines were sold out. We were hoping to try the viognier but that just wasn’t to be. However, we did taste two chardonnays. Here are my impressions:

2009 Chardonnay-peach, fruity, round mouth feel, my kind of chard, easy to drink, patio sipper, this one gets my gold star.

2009 Reserve Chardonnay-oak, butter nose, Warren’s kind of chardonnay, more complex, Warren’s gold star.

After the two chardonnays, we moved on to the reds. There were four to taste. Here are my notes:

2008 Cabernet Franc-raspberry nose, pepper, paired with pepperoni and cheese, more of a pizza wine, this one got my gold star for the reds.

2008 Cabernet Franc Reserve-earthy nose, dark fruit, higher percentage of cab franc, 84%, more herbal notes, mocha, Warren’s gold star.

2008 Cabernet Sauvignon-herb on the nose, cherry, plum, cedar, black pepper, 9% cab franc, a little young, can lay down a few years.

2008 Petit Verdot – 25% cab sauv, chocolate nose, medium bodied (the tasting notes say this is a monster red), blueberry, cherry, earthy qualities.

After our tasting we selected the 2008 Cabernet Franc to have with some lunch items. We chose several items from the Lite Fare menu to have for lunch with the cab franc. Before leaving we saw this wonderful sunset. It certainly explains the name of the winery. How lucky we were to see it! Next time you find yourself visiting Sunset Hills, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! Today Warren made the thanksgiving meal for me, my mom, and his parents. Everything was delicious of course and we had a wonderful time visiting with everyone. Normally we would post about what wines to serve for Thanksgiving. This time however, we’re posting after the fact and posting about the wines we did have for Thanksgiving. It was mostly a Gray Ghost Thanksgiving this year.

We began with a butternut squash soup and had the 2009 Gewurztraminer from Gray Ghost. After the soup Warren served a harvest salad with the 2008 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay from Fox Meadow. The main course consisted of turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cornbread dressing, cranberry sauces (both kinds), green beans, and cornbread. We had the 2009 Cabernet Franc from Gray Ghost. For desert we had Warren’s mother’s pecan pie and the 2009 Adieu from Gray Ghost. All the wines paired perfectly with the meal. What Virginia wines did you have for Thanksgiving?

Cheese and Wine

Here’s the last in our cheese and wine pairing videos. Click on the picture to see a short video.

I’m Not a Chambourcin Fan

For dinner last night we had breaded chicken and herbed rice. Warren selected the 2009 Chambourcin from Hume Vineyards to compliment the meal. I may not have noted this yet but I’m not a big fan of Chambourcin. I’ve tasted many Chambourcins and very few make it on my rack. The Hume Chambourcin would fit nicely with the other wines on my rack.

On the nose we jotted down fruity, jammy, dark plum, dark cherry, earth, tobacco, and anise. Jammy can sometimes be a bad thing but in this case it was not the bad kind of jammy. It was pleasant. In the mouth we noted similar characteristics with the addition of currents, spice, and pepper. Even though it is 13.8% alcohol, we noted some heat on the end. The Chambourcin complimented the breaded chicken and herbed rice rather well.

Even though I don’t call myself a Chambourcin fan, I did enjoy this one. We look forward to future vintages of Hume’s Chambourcin. Knowing that I’m not the biggest Chambourcin fan, are there other Virginia Chambourcins you, dear readers, recommend I try?

Iron Bridge Wine Co.

While staying in Warrenton to harvest grapes at Gray Ghost, we had dinner at the Iron Bridge Wine Co.

To begin we decided on a flight of VA wines with a cheese plate. Delaplane cellars Chardonnay, Pearmund Riesling, and the Gadino Petit Verdot were on the flight. Tasting the wines with the different items on the cheese plate was fun and adventurous. We selected the Gadino Petit Verdot to receive the gold star for the flight. However the gold star pairing had to be the blue cheese with the Pearmund Cellars Riesling. It just goes to show that opposites do attract.

For dinner we had the 2007 Topiary. It’s a blend of Cabernet Franc and merlot. Paul paired it with black angus beef meatloaf and Warren had New Zealand lamb chops. We noted dark plum, dark cherry, cassis, a hint of spice, and a solid dark garnet color. The Topiary paired well with our meals.

This restaurant serves and sells many Virginia wines. They have four floors in the wine tasting experience. After dinner we spent some time at the Enomatic bar tasting VA wines as well as wines from all over the world. Just to let you know, the Virginia wines more then held their own. In fact our ultimate gold star for the evening was awarded to the Hardscrabble Chardonnay from Linden. If you purchase a bottle to go from the downstairs selections you get a 25% discount off the shelf price. Some of the wineries represented here are Gray Ghost, Pearmund, Gadino, Linden, Hume, Fabbioli Cellars, and Boxwood.

We had a wonderful dinner and the Virginia wines were superb. If you find yourself in Warrenton and hungry, consider the Iron Bridge Wine Co. on Main St. And tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Manassas Wine and Jazz Festival

Lovingston Reserve Merlot

Just a quick post about the 2006 Reserve Merlot from Lovingston Winery. We had this tonight with filet mignon and rice. It was amazing. First of all I was upset that we even opened it so soon after getting it. This one could have laid down for several years.

The color is beautiful. I think it might have a splash of petit verdot to give it the rich color but I can’t be sure. Warren disagrees. However, Warren believed this merlot benefitted from decanting thanks to the convenient Soiree aerator. I noted extremely smooth tannins. Warren noted dark cherry and plum with a dry earthy/herbal quality. It complimented our steaks well. Koodos to Riann.

Springtime at Sunset Hills

Now the weather has warmed up, we’re officially back on the wine trail, and we celebrated an early spring-like weekend at Sunset Hills Vineyard.  We were impressed with the lineup of wines there on the last visit, and we were eager to sample the latest releases.

We continue to be pleased with the quality of wines produced at Sunset Hills, and we know that owners Diane and Mike Canney are dedicated to vigilant maintenance of the vineyards.  Winemaker Nate Walsh likewise remains committed to the craft of winemaking, and the results are evident in the bottle.  In fact, we were hard pressed to find any wines that were truly weak—all were well-crafted.  Our hardest choices were deciding which wines would earn the coveted gold star awards!

Our tasting began with the white wines, and tasting room manager Christine started us off with wine glasses and pours. The white wines were all very solid.  Paul’s own favorite and gold star winner was the 2008 Unoaked Chardonnay.  Full pear flavors with a twist of citrus made for a pleasing wine, and the cold fermentation in stainless steel tanks made for a crisp wine. My own gold star, though, was presented to the bolder 2008 Reserve Chardonnay which was aged nine months in French oak. I noted ripe pear and honey flavors with a buttery texture—just my kind of Chardonnay!  Be assured that there was the requisite “toastiness” but not in an overwhelming sense.  I’d sip this one on its own but would serve the 2008 Reserve Chardonnay with poultry, pork or shellfish especially if cream sauces were involved.  Not to be outdone, though is the lush 2008 Viognier that is begging for a crabcake dinner.  Look out for the Sunset White which is a blend of 90% stainless steel Chardonnay and 10% Viognier that was aged in neutral French oak barrels.  Christine obliged us with a sampling of this very slightly sweet with (1.5% residual sugar).  This one should be a perfect summer sipper or picnic wine. 

Before we moved on to the reds, Christine also surprised us with another sneak preview, and that was the Sunset Rose.  Here we found our Wolftrap wine!  We’re big Wolftrap fans, and we’re already stocking up on our concert wines—a bottle of this rose will be coming along for music under the stars.  Nate Walsh had been diligent in his preparation of this rose which he made from Cabernet Franc.  Its clear pink color suggested a crisper wine, and a .5% residual sugar provided a refreshing feel.  Cool strawberry and melon flavors were noted.

Now on to the red wines!  More solid pours and very tough decisions.  However, Paul did award his gold star to the lighter-bodied 2008 Benevino Cabernet Franc with its distinctive minerality and cherry flavors.  Easy to drink and perfect to sip on its own, the Benevino Cabernet Franc should also prove to be a pleaser with pizza or a sampling of dry meats and roasted nuts.  My own decision was likewise not easy, but I did end up favoring the 2007 Reserve Cabernet Franc with its layers of blackberries, raspberries, spice, and mocha.  Aged for 18 months in both French and American oak, it also presented a lengthier finish. I’d favor a leg of lamb with this one!  A close second for me was the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon with its dark fruit characteristics and spicy edge.  Enjoy with a rib roast!

Diane Canney poured most of our red wines, and she was able to share with us the secret to Sunset Hill’s success.  Diane and husband Mike place a priority on vineyard management, and they use such Old World methods as hand sorting to make certain that only quality fruit from the best lots are used to produce their wines.  They’re also confident in their young winemaker, Nate Walsh, who began his career in the Virginia wine industry at Horton Vineyards.  Joined by a quality tasting room team, Sunset Hills Vineyards seems destined for even greater success.

Of course, we were hungry, and we opted to enjoy some of the viands from the “Lite Fare” menu offered at Sunset Hills Vineyard.  We selected the deli-style pepperoni with manchego cheese and crusty French break.  Our wine of choice?  The 2008 Benevino Cabernet Franc.  We enjoyed lunch and wine in the cozy Amish farmhouse that serves as the tasting room.

We left Sunset Hills Vineyard with several bottles of favorite pours, and we will return quite soon.  In fact, we plan to attend a blending session to be held next Sunday; so, stay tuned!  In the meantime, maybe we’ll see some of our readers at Sunset Hills.  Be sure, though, to tell Christine or Diane that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Food and Wine Pairing

Click on the picture to see a short video.

Eat Lasagna, Drink Naked

So it’s that time of year to enjoy lasagna and drink wine at Naked Mountain Vineyard and Winery.  Last weekend, we brought along my sister Cindy, brother-in-law Travis and my nephew Ellis.  Travis is a fellow wine lover and foodie; needless to say, he was game for lasagna and wine.

Of course, we all had to figure out which wine to pair with our lasagna, and that required tasting wines. We were certain that we wanted a red wine, but why not try the white wines, too?  Paul’s favorite of the white wines was the Sauvignon Blanc, and it definitely conjured images of springtime flowers and warmer temperatures.  Citrus flavors and a crisp finish highlighted this pour.  Travis and I favored the full-bodied Black label Chardonnay with its apple and pear notes.  I appreciated its toasted nut finish. 

Now on to the red wines, and a potential pairing with lasagna was on our minds.  Our choice was the 2005 Scarlet Oak Red.  This is a Rhone-style blend with Syrah, Mourvedre, and Tannat, and it presented a denser core with aromas and flavors of dark fruit and black pepper.  I also detected some tobacco on the nose.  The Tannat provided a nice backbone, too, and the Scarlet Oak Red finished long.  We all concluded that the Scarlet Oak Red had what it took to meet the weight and spice of the sausage lasagna.

With our tasting done, we settled down for a wonderful meal but made certain to claim a table near the glass doors that allowed us to view snow-capped mountains.  A nearby bird feeder was quite busy with all sorts of birds including cardinals and tanagers.  I must also mention that my sister Cindy is not a wine drinker but was very patient with us as we completed the arduous task of wine tasting.  She and my teen-aged nephew did keep track of the many varieties of birds that frequented the bird feeder, and they even braved the cold outdoors to appreciate the lovely winter landscape while we completed our task to select the perfect wine.  Eventually, we all dined on lasagna and garlic bread, and the wine drinkers acknowledged that the 2005 Scarlet Oak Red was the perfect partner with the meal.

Take advantage of the winter lasagna menu at Naked  Mountain Vineyard and  Winery; of course, enjoy lasagna with a bottle of Naked Mountain Wine.  Be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

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