Dinner at Iron Bridge Wine Company

On Sunday evening we attended the winemaker’s dinner at The Iron Bridge Restaurant and Wine Company in Warrenton. We were guests of Ben Segal, the assistant manager. We met Ben a while ago when were all attending another wine tasting experience. We graciously accepted his invitation to attend the winemaker’s dinner at Iron Bridge. The dinner was paired with wines from Hume Vineyards. Winemaker Stephane Baldi was on hand to talk about each of the wines and answer questions during the dinner.
After an introduction from Ben and Stephane the first course was served. The first course was seared sea scallops with Thai spiced cucumber and cabbage salad. It was paired with the 2011 Viognier. Stephane informed us this wine was of 25% of one year aged in French oak and 75% from stainless steel aging. We noted apricot, honey and pear and a nice crisp mouth feel.
The second course was smoked duck breast with arugula salad and strawberry, hazelnut, and rose vinaigrette. It was paired with the 2011 Rose. This rose is dry and created with 100% merlot grapes that spent 48 hours on the skins. We noted strawberry and melon. This paired beautifully with the duck breast and arugula salad, especially with the rose vinaigrette.
The third course was grilled local cranberry sage buffalo and pork sausage with grilled polenta and a cranberry demi. It was paired with the 2011 Cabernet Franc, which will be featured in the May issue of Wine Enthusiast magazine. This is a lighter style cabernet franc that would go very well with red sauce, burgers, or pizza. We noted a dark cherry, bramble berry, pepper, mint, and a spicy finish.
The fourth course was beef wellington with fingerling potatoes, asparagus tips, and a petit verdot reduction sauce. It was paired with the 2011 Petit Verdot. This wine quickly became our favorite. It’s a great example of what a winemaker can do in a wet year. This petit verdot also won a silver in the Governor’s Cup. We noted the dark, inky color before the jammy dark fruit flavors of blackberry and plum. We noted licorice and a chewy ending. The beef wellington was my favorite course but with the petit verdot, it was even better. The petit verdot got our gold star for the evening.
The final course was a wine poached pear with oatmeal cookie and blue cheese sauce. It was peered with the 2011 Late Harvest Vidal. I’m not a big pear eater so Warren enjoyed the pear with the Late Harvest Vidal. He noted pear and an almond nutty ending.
Everything was delicious and the wine pairings were perfect. During the meal we heard from Stephane at each course about the wines and what was happening at Hume Vineyards. We found out the 2012 vintage will be the first produced form completely estate grown grapes. We also chatted with our table neighbors during the whole dinner. We had a great time getting to know them and chatting about wine. They attend dinners at Iron Bridge quite frequently. We hope we run into them again soon at Iron Bridge. If you haven’t attended one of the winemaker dinners held at Iron Bridge, you really need to plan to in the future. They select some of the best Virginia wineries to pair with meals created by the amazing chefs. Check out their website or on Facebook to find out when they’ll be having the next winemaker dinner. And if you haven’t been to Hume Vineyards recently, plan a trip there too. You need to taste these new wines, especially the Petit Verdot and tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Summer Wines at Hume Vineyards

We made certain to support Fauquier County wineries this past weekend with a trip to Hume Vineyards. As readers may know, the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors recently passed an ordinance that would restrict the business practices of county wineries. Needless to say, we were interested in chatting with winemaker Stephane Baldi about the new laws; however, we were even more eager to find favorite summer wines.

Six wines were available for tasting with five of them from the 2011 vintage. My favorite was the crisp 2011 Seyval Blanc with its citrus aromas and flavors. Like most 2011 Virginia white wines that we have enjoyed, this one possessed a refreshing acidity. Enjoy with anything that would pair with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc! Paul preferred the 2011 Viognier that was 23% barrel fermented with malolactic fermentation and 77% aged in stainless steel tanks. Peach and melon aromas with subtle honey notes were complemented by similar flavors in the mouth along with an added layer of pear. We were also in time to sample the newly released 2011 Rose done with 100% Merlot grapes. Vibrant cherry and strawberry characteristics were noted with a bright acidity to boot. Perfect for this scorching summer, too!

Summer is a time for grilled foods, and the 2011 Chambourcin should pair well with any number of barbequed foods. I noted raspberry and cherry flavors with elements of spice and dried herbs and a nice lingering finish. The final wine that we tasted was 2011 Vendange Tardive, a dessert wine made from late harvest Vidal Blanc grapes. At only 5% residual sugar, it was less honey-textured than some dessert wines and presented apricot flavors. Pair with a favorite dessert or enjoy on its own.

In the midst of our tasting, we were able to catch up with Stephane Baldi. Next year promises to be a big year for Hume Vineyards as Stephane intends to meet his goal of producing wine from 80% estate grown grapes. In fact, next year will see the release of estate grown Sauvignon Blanc, and this will replace the Seyval Blanc. Of course, the subject of the new ordinances arose; not surprisingly, Stephane informed us that legal challenges to them are already in the works. In the meantime, many of the ordinances will take effect immediately with some of them restricting use of lanes and limiting hours of operation.

With our tasting done, we enjoyed a glass of the 2011 Rose beneath the shade of an outdoor picnic umbrella. It was certainly a scorching afternoon, so the cool berry flavors of the Rose was indeed refreshing. We intend to visit more Fauquier County wineries and we encourage readers to do the same. Here again is the list of Fauquier County wineries: (Just be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.)

Aspen Dale Winery at the Barn
Barrel Oak
Boxwood Winery
Capitol Vineyards
Chateau O’Brien
Cobbler Mountain Cellars
Delaplane Cellars
Desert Rose Ranch and Winery
Fox Meadow Winery
Granite Heights Winery
Hume Vineyards
Marterella Winery
Mediterranean Cellars
Miracle Valley Vineyard
Molon Lave Vineyards
Morais Vineyards
Naked Mountain Vineyard
Philip Carter Winery
Piedmont Vineyards and Winery
Rogers Ford Farm Winery
Vintage Ridge Vineyards
Three Fox Vineyards

Summer Sippers from Hume

Our quest for summer sippers continued this weekend with a visit to Hume Vineyards. We ran into our wine blogging friends from Swirl Sip Snark (who, by the way, have been selected as finalists for the Wine Blog Awards, congrats!) and decided to tag along while chatting with winemaker Stephane Baldi. He told us about the changes to the tasting room (air conditioning!) and the barn being used for large groups. But we were there for the wines so it was time to taste.

We began with the 2010 Seyval Blanc. This crisp summer sipper was dry with mineral notes, citrus, and melon. We noticed the similarities to a sauvignon blanc. We picked up a hint of grassiness. We thought this one would help the heat of summer and go well with seafood. Up next was the 2010 Rose. This one has a pretty salmon pink color with notes of strawberry, melon, and crushed herbs. As we sipped this Rose we thought about a Wolf Trap concert.

The final white was the 2010 Vidal Blanc. Stephane said he wasn’t sure exactly where this one should go in the tasting. It has 1% residual sugar but it’s a white. Does it go before or after the Rose. Since the Rose is dry he thought it should go after the Rose. We thought it was placed appropriately because of the RS. We found this one to be crisp with notes of orange and apricot with a floral nose. Yet another summer sipper to enjoy on a warm afternoon.

All of these wines would make perfect summer sippers. If you’re looking to increase the number of summer sippers on your wine rack, be sure to check out these from Hume Vineyards. And when you do, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

So Much Wine Too Little Time

I’m seriously backlogged with posting about our experiences, but I’ll try to get caught up in the next couple of weeks. I will start with the most recent experiences and feature Chester Gap Cellars and Hume Vineyards.

I’ll begin with Chester Gap Cellars. We always looks forward to running into Bernd Jung in the tasting room at Chester Gap Cellars, and this time was no exception. In fact, Bernd conducted our tasting; of course, he began with the white wines. Viognier is a specialty at Chester Gap, and Bernd produces both a stainless steel and barrel-aged version. Paul preferred the crisp 2008 Viognier with its floral nose and fruity flavors; however, I always tend to prefer barrel-aged over stainless steel. These always seem more substantial to me, and Bernd treated us to a comparison of the 2007 Viognier Reserve and the 2008 Viognier Reserve. Both were very good, but I kept reaching for the 2007 vintage. It presented a nice integration of floral aromas, stone fruit elements and oak nuances. However, the 2008 vintage was equally nice with citrus notes and a honeyed texture. With spring in the air and summer not so far away, do try the slightly sweet 2009 Cuvee Manseng and its heady tropical fruit characteristics.

Of the red wines, we both enjoyed the fruit forward 2008 Pettit Verdot with its dark berry and tobacco/earthy characteristics. Enjoy with roasted meats, leg of lamb or on its own with strong cheeses! We enjoyed a glass after our tasting—sans food.

We were eager to make our return to Hume Vineyards since several months had passed since our first visit. We recalled an unfinished tasting room but quality wines on the racks. This time around, we witnessed a finished facility and a crowded tasting bar; therefore, lots of things are going right at Hume Vineyards. Owner and winemaker Stephane Baldi guide us through a tasting of wines, and we were very pleased with the newly released 2010 Seyval Blanc. Crisp with a refreshing minerality, it presented notes of pear, melon and hay. Crabcakes should be served with this one! Of the reds, I was still a fan of the 2008 Detour which seems to be opening up quite nicely. Dark fruit and earthy elements prevailed here, and decanting would still be advised for those who wish to pour this one now. Chambourcin fans may be pleased with the 2010 Chambourcin, another new release at Hume Vineyards. The tasting notes suggest that this one is bold, and I will not argue with it! Big and jammy with 15.1% alcohol, it makes for an assertive wine. This was the first 2010 bottled red that we sampled, and when winemakers claim that 2010 may be the year for Virginia to rival California for big reds, this may be proof positive. Serve with big steaks and baked potatoes loaded with cheese and bacon—and then plan to hit the gym for about a week!

With spring already here and summer not so far away, think about picnic and barbeque fare with your favorite Virginia wines. Out of Virginia wine? Plan a trip to Cheaster Gap Cellars and Hume Vineyards to replenish your wine racks, and mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.