Fox Meadow Barrel Tasting

Fox Meadow Vineyards and earned a gleaming place in the spotlight last year when its 2008 Le Renard Rouge won the coveted Virginia Governor’s Cup. However, we had not been to Fox Meadow Vineyards since that well deserved victory; so, we returned to Fox Meadow Vineyards a couple of weeks ago to participate in a vertical tasting to see how upcoming releases were progressing.

Owner Bob Mortland conducted the tasting which included a very young 2011 Merlot and four Cabernet Francs from the 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 vintages. The Merlot and the 2010 Cabernet Franc were sampled from the barrel. Bob took a risk in starting the event with the 2011 Merlot, a product of a very tricky harvest, and he acknowledged that the rollercoaster ride of a growing season made for some pretty serious headaches. The Merlot was obviously still young but was lighter in color with cherry and pepper notes. It will spend 15 months on oak and should produce a lighter-bodied wine.

Of the Cabernet Francs that we sampled, I concluded that the winner was the yet-to-be bottled 2010 Reserve Cabernet Franc. I noted aromas of raspberry, cherry and forest floor; similar fruit flavors plus a subtle chocolate component were evident in the mouth along with a “dusty” tannic presence. I should not have been surprised since the 2010 growing season in Virginia was stellar. Paul favored the 2007 Reserve Cabernet Franc with its smoky nose and notes of cumin and dried herbs. Mixed berry flavors and oak nuances were also present.

Paul is a big fan of the 2008 Virginia reds, and the 2008 Reserve Cabernet Franc was his second choice. He jotted down “fresh fruit” to suggest riper fruit flavors on the palate along with dried herb and a bit of caramel toward the finish. I noted a whiff of cedar to suggest shades of oak and spice. The 2009 Reserve Cabernet Franc is the current release and available for sale. Young and still tannic, it presented smoke and pepper on the nose and cherry flavors in the mouth.

We chatted for a bit with Bob after the tasting, and he was certainly relieved that the 2011 growing season was behind him. Bob was optimistic that quality will ultimately prevail even from a troublesome growing season, especially with winemaker Tom Payette in his corner. After all, it was Payette who crafted the award-winning Le Renard Rouge.

With our tasting finished, we lingered for a bit in the tasting room and shared a glass of the fruity 2010 Le Renard Gris, a blend of Chardonnay and Vidal Blanc. After sampling tannic red wines, it proved to be a refreshing way to conclude our visit at Fox Meadow Vineyards.

At this time of the year, visiting wineries that are in higher elevations such as Fox Meadow Vineyards can be impossible. However, our mild weather seems almost spring-like with clear roads and early blossoms in view. Why not plan a visit to Fox Meadow Vineyards to sample their latest releases? Remember to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.


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?

Return To Fox Meadow

Our last spate of winery visits found us at Fox Meadow Vineyards. We realized that our previous visit was sometime in the late fall or early winter of last year, so we were well over due for a tasting. With taste buds at the ready, we made our way to the tasting room to sample the latest pours at Fox Meadow Vineyards.

Fox Meadow Vineyards was quite abuzz with activity upon our arrival on a Saturday afternoon. I’m sure the seasonal temperatures, colors and nice wines had something to do with it. Of the white wines that we sampled, Paul favored the 2008 Oak Chardonnay aged for ten months in both French and American oak barrels. He appreciated the fruity nose with pear and pineapple notes with some honeysuckle to boot; pear flavors and a toasty finish made for a classic Chardonnay. My own favorite was the sneak sample of the yet-to-be released Reserve Chardonnay which was aged for 20 months in French oak barrels. This heavier-bodied Chardonnay exhibited fruit characteristics of pear and roasted pineapple with a toasted nut finish and a creamy mouth feel. Spicier foods might pair well with the Freezeland white, a sweeter, fruity wine; of course, we think of our friend Michael Tyler when we sample these wines, and we dutifully place the initials, MT, next to this selection.

Of the red wines, the unanimous favorite was the 2007 Renard Rouge. A complex meritage-style blend, it presented brambleberries and plums on the nose with additional earthy and spicy elements. Nice tannins make for a food-friendly wine if steaks are on the menu. The 2007 Renard Rouge won gold at the Governor’s Cup, and it is an example of the excellent reds that constitute the class of ’07 in Virginia. Those who are in search of a lighter-bodied red may prefer the 2007 Cabernet Franc with its raspberry and spice characteristics.

With our tasting completed. we shared a glass of the 2008 Oak Chardonnay while out on the deck to enjoy a nice fall afternoon. We plan to return to Fox Meadow, but readers may want to visit even sooner. Be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Return To Fox Meadows Vineyards

A couple of weekends ago, we decided to pay a visit to Fox Meadow Vineyards.  Our last visit there occurred quite a while ago.  Needless to say, we were looking forward to sampling the current releases at Fox Meadow Vineyards, and all of these were certainly new to our palates.

Of the white wines, our gold star favorite was the 2007 Le Renard Gris, a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, and Riesling.  We were impressed by its melon flavors and pleasant feel.  Serve as a sipper or partner to light picnic fare or salads—Le Renard Gris should be a crowd pleaser. 

We reached a split decision on the red wines.  Paul favored the 2007 Cabernet Franc, and he noted its dark garnet core with mixed berry and spice characteristics complemented by a woodsy finish.  My own fave was the 2007 Le Renard Rouge.  This one presented a longer finish but first presented a red berry nose with a splash of plum to boot; similar flavors were noted in the mouth.  The 2007 Le Renard Rouge should prove to be an age-worthy wine, so buy now to drink later.

Owner Dan Mortland invited us down to the barrel room for a sneak sample of the upcoming Syrah, and we anticipate a release that will be bolder than the lighter-bodied pour currently offered in the tasting room.

With our tasting concluded, we enjoyed a glass of the 2007 Cabernet Franc while taking in lovely mountain views from the tasting room. Though a post-blizzard thaw had long begun, enough snow remained to present a winter landscape that we appreciated as we swirled and sipped.

We plan to return to Fox meadow Vineyards soon to sample upcoming releases.  Be certain to visit, too, and be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.