So we continue our mission to find the right wines for summer enjoyment. On Sunday, this quest took us to Gray Ghost Vineyards and Rappahannock Cellars.
Gray Ghost Vineyards: We always enjoy catching up with Al and Cheryl Kellert at Gray Ghost Vineyards. We also enjoy sampling their wines! For summer weather, it’s hard to beat the 2010 Vidal Blanc which recently garnered 93 points at the 2011 Los Angeles International Wine and Spirits Competition. I got a whiff of banana and melon with this slightly sweeter pour; lovely on its own, it could also be paired with picnic fare or spicy foods. For those who are thinking ahead to holiday menus (it’s around the corner!), consider the lush 2010 Gewurztraminer with its vibrant floral and pineapple notes. This one always sells out fast and would be fine with Thanksgiving turkey or holiday ham. We were lucky enough to visit Gray Ghost Vineyards on the day that they released the 2010 Cabernet Franc. Full cherry and raspberry aromas and flavors with characteristic spice at the end make for a classic, Old World-style wine. Lighter-bodied and versatile, I’d also consider this one for lighter beef dishes done on the grill but it’s also a contender for herbed turkey and cranberry sauce.
Rappahannock Cellars: The 2010 Viognier was given a pre-release sampling this weekend, and it was lovely. Like the other 2010 whites we’ve tried this year, the full fruit presence was on display with this luscious pour. Melon and stone fruit characteristics made for a flavor-rich wine; some aging in French oak barrels provided very subtle oak nuances and a honeyed texture. Summer brings out the sweeter palates, and the 2009 Noblesse Viognier should prove to be a crowd pleaser at any summer gathering. The Noblesse is actually a blended wine and includes Vidal Blanc, Seyval Blanc and Chardonnay. Fruity and refreshing, our friend and guest blogger Michael Tyler would enjoy a glass of the Noblesse on his deck paired with shellfish and a sunset! Heavier meats done on the grill should partner well with the jammy 2009 Cabernet Franc, a newer release at Rappahannock Cellars.
Summer is the time to favorite Virginia wines with picnics, cookouts and friends. Visit Gray Ghost Vineyards and Rappahannock Cellars to find some of your favorite summer sippers, but be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.
Last Saturday we went to the annual barrel tasting at Gray Ghost Vineyards. Each year we enjoy seeing how the wines are progressing in the barrel and get a sneak peak at what they’ll be like when they are in the bottle. This is a popular event at Gray Ghost and we never miss it.
We started with the 2010 Chardonnay. We noted tropical fruit, apple, and a hint of oak. This one will be bottled in June. Next was the 2010 Merlot. We jotted down cherry, black cherry, light oak, and smokey characteristics. This one will be bottled in July or August. The next red was the 2010 Cabernet Franc. We noted cherry, and a smooth mouth feel. This one should be ready by mid July. Next up was the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon. We noted smoke, pepper, and dark fruit. This one won’t be released until sometime in 2012. We then tasted the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon. This one is being aged in both American oak and French oak. The American oak sample presented berry flavors, a hint of cranberry and some tannins. Of course it will smooth out with more time in the barrel. The French oak sample was supple, smooth and also presented berry flavors. Our taste showed how time in the French oak will make the final product a wonderful wine.
The blending was next. We started with a blend of the 2010 Cabernet Franc and the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon. It was a nice blend that presented smoke, pepper, and dark berry flavors. Our next blend was the star of the day. We blended the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon American barrel sample with the French oak sample. OMG! This was quite a blend. We noted eucalyptus, berry flavors, smooth tannins, and a beautiful color. This one will be released to the public in October but those who purchased futures will get their hands on it in September.
If you are at all interested in how wines develop in the barrel, you need to attend a barrel tasting. You get to see where the wine is going and you get a good idea of what the final product will be when it’s bottled. We always enjoy getting a sneak peek of the wines to come. Plan to attend a barrel tasting soon. And if you visit Gray Ghost, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!
We began our Friday evening with the 2009 Chardonnay from Pollak Vineyards. As you may know I am a huge fan of Pollak Vineyards wines. It seems like I’m always looking for occasions to enjoy one of the wines from Pollak. I selected the chardonnay to go with our cheese and crackers as we waited for dinner to be ready.
We sipped and noticed pear, a hint of citrus, and toasty oak on the nose of this wonderful wine. In the mouth we noted apple, pear, a hint of oak and a creamy mouth feel. This wine went really well with our cheese and crackers. It was a perfect way to start the weekend.
For dinner we selected the 2009 Cab Franc from Gray Ghost to go with our pasta and chicken. Again we love the Gray Ghost wines. On the nose of this one we noted mixed red berries. In the mouth we got very similar fruit characteristics of cherry, strawberry and maybe even a hint of mocha. Warren detected some mint or menthol. This is a light bodied wine with a beautiful magenta color. It accompanied our meal very well. We hope you enjoyed some Virginia wine this evening!
On Sunday we attended the annual Cabernet and Chocolates event at Gray Ghost Vineyards. We always have a great time enjoying chocolates and all the red wines. We got to see some of our favorite wine friends. We also got to taste the new 2010 Riesling! It was delicious! Here are some pictures from the event.
On Saturday we went to the Gray Ghost Holiday Open house. They hold this event annually and we try not to miss it. Each year they have a different holiday glass design. This year its train. Turns out, Al Kellert also made a train out of corks for the yearly cork contest.You have to guess how many corks it took to create the train. Warren and I guess every year but never win. We aren’t the best at guesstimation. At this time of the year the tank room is decorated for the holidays showing all the previous creations for the cork contest.
During the event we enjoyed some wonderful foods and all the delicious wines offered at Gray Ghost. I noticed the Victorian Red had changed slightly since the last time I tasted it. This time it had some big cranberry notes on the nose and in the mouth. It was a surprising change that I thoroughly enjoyed. Warren decided his favorite of the day was the Reserve Chardonnay. He has always been a big fan of the Reserve Chardonnay.
Here are some pictures from the Holiday Open House at Gray Ghost: