Finding Some Favorites

After our stop at Trump Winery on Veterans Day weekend, we visited two more of our Charlottesville favorites, Blenheim Vineyards and Jefferson Vineyards.

At Blenheim they only had five wines to taste because of great sales lately. Of those we tasted, we really enjoyed the 2010 Chardonnay and the 2010 Cabernet Franc. The 2010 Chardonnay presented notes of pear and melon and had a crisp, refreshing ending. This one is 38% Chardonnay that is aged for five months in French and Hungarian barrels. The 2010 Cabernet Franc had a candy fruit nose and presented notes of dry herb, toffee, and a pepper end.

Towards the end of our tasting, Kirsty Harmon joined in and told us how challenging the 2011 season was for Blenheim. The amount of rain they got at the end of the season made it a difficult harvest. However, Kirsty is confident they’ll have some nice wines when they are released later this year. Kirsty also gave us a sample of the yet to be released 2010 Petit Verdot. I love Petit Verdots and this one promises to be just as nice as the 2009. After our chat with Kirsty we enjoyed a glass of the 2010 Chardonnay on the balcony. The views were beautiful with the fall colors coming to an end.

After our stop at Blenheim, we headed over to Jefferson Vineyards. We hadn’t been there since the bloggers conference in July. Unfortunately Andy Reagan wasn’t there. However, Allison, who we met at the bloggers conference was and she conducted our tasting. We always enjoy the wines at Jefferson.

From the tasting menu our favorites were the 2010 Chardonnay Reserve 2010.This is Warren’s kind of chardonnay. It presents notes of pear, apple and honey with just enough of an oak presence to stand up to food. This one always makes us think of a creamy pasta dish. Our other favorite was the 2008 Meritage. We noted dark fruit, herbs, cassis, and a smooth ending. As with other vintages of Jefferson Meritages, we think of thick filets. What a nice compliment a big piece of meat.

After our tasting I enjoyed a glass of the 2010 Chardonnay and Warren enjoyed a glass of the Chardonnay Reserve 2010. The fall colors and crisp afternoon went very well with the wines.

On your next trip to Charlottesville be sure to plan a visit to Blenheim Vineyards and Jefferson Vineyards. And be sure to tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Gathering at Jefferson Vineyards

One of our last events (unofficial) from the Wine Bloggers Conference was to attend a small gathering of bloggers at Jefferson Vineyards. Andy Reagan explained his reason for an after conference gathering on Frank Morgan’s Drink What You Like blog:

“One of the main reasons I hosted the post conference gathering was to get some real time with individual bloggers and try to get my message across, and talk about Jefferson wines, where they’re at, the foods they need to be paired with, etc. before there is an opinion written.”

We spent a few hours socializing with other bloggers, talking with Andy about his wines, and enjoying tastings of some of this wines. We were able to taste the 2007 Viognier, 2010 Vigonier, 2007 Chardonnay Reserve, 2010 Pinot Gris, 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2007 Reserve Cabernet Franc, and the 2007 Meritage. This wasn’t a time for us to review the wines so we just enjoyed what we tasted and didn’t take any notes. I will say though, that I really enjoyed the 2010 Pinot Gris. It was a hot day and this wine helped ease the heat.

Here are some photos from the event. A big thanks to Andy for inviting us and sharing his food and wine with us that afternoon. It was a great way to end the conference.

Meritage Vertical

On April 13 2011 , third president and wine visionary Thomas Jefferson would have turned 268 years old; fittingly, Jefferson Vineyards remembered the event on April 16 with a Meritage Vertical Tasting. On display for tasting were Meritage blends from 2002 to 2009; of course, Virginia Wine Time was there swirl and sip!

Winemaker Andy Reagan greeted us in the refitted barrel room where the tasting was held. This facility is located across from the tasting room, and it now includes a fireplace with comfy sofas and bar space. Barrels continue to share some of the space to create a hip environment for tasters to enjoy these kinds of events. In keeping with this informal vibe, Regan wisely planned a decontructed tasting which allowed guests to visit different bar stations to sample Meritage vintages while noshing food pairings appropriate for each vintage. The result was an unpretentious evening of well-crafted wines, excellent food and great company!

Station #1 featured the 2004 and 2006 Meritage partnered with ham biscuits. Paul and I both favored the earthy 2004 Meritage with its mixed berry and dried herb elements. I found it to be elegant yet rustic enough to enjoy with the salty ham. Station #2 featured the 2005 and developing 2009 vintages, and these were paired with seared duck breast. Paul favored the rich 2005 Meritage blend with its amoras of dark fruit and spice. While I also enjoyed this one, I recognized the potential in the 2009 Meritage. Both the 2005 and 2009 vintages were products of hot, dry summers, and I suspect that the 2009 vintage will be a blockbuster wine. It was already rich with dark plum and cherry fruit complimented by earthy notes that will create a complex pour. Of course, this one is still in the barrel, but I expect that Reagan will earn several medals with this one.

So on to Station #3 where we sampled the 2008 and 2007 Meritage blends. Unlike the Merlot- based blends that dominated the Meritages at Stations #1 and #2, these featured Cabernet Franc in the starring role. This was a coin flip for me; however, I reached a more nuanced conclusion. Both were excellent, but the 2008 Meritage is more accessible and could be enjoyed now. If cellaring is the goal, then opt for the 2007 Meritage, the product of a stellar growing season with extreme drought conditions, reduced yields, but more concentrated flavors (sounds like 2010?). Complex fruit with earthy elements of tobacco and cedar made for a rich, bold wine that should age quite well. (I made a note to take home a bottle each of the 2007 and 2008.) Oh, and these were partnered with a sliced beef tenderloin—quite divine!

The tasting ended back in the tasting room with a sip of the 2002 Meritage and the blockbuster blend of Meritage 7.8.9 crafted by Reagan from a blend of the 2007, 2008, and 2009 Meritage vintages. The 2002 vintage was produced from yet another stellar growing season; dried fruit, licorice and tobacco characteristics prevailed here. The latter blend will be BOLD—wait for the release in April 2012 but anticipate the need to either decant or age. Of course, take my course of action and buy two bottles—decant one bottle to serve upon purchase and save the other for a future occassion. These were paired with strong cheeses and dried fruit.

As always, these events seem to fly by very quickly, and we were able to join this tasting with Frank Morgan of Drink What You Like and the dynamic duo who write Sip Swirl Snark after the tasting. Andy gave us a preview tasting of the 2010 Viognier. Amazing! We can’t wait for the release! It might even rival the 2007! Andy was a gracious host and spent much time with us to present the vintages as they were poured. We always have a great time with our fellow wine bloggers and Andy and his crew. We could not think of a better way to celebrate the birthday of Thomas Jefferson, and he would be quite proud of the Meritage blends poured in his honor at Jefferson Vineyards.  Plan a trip to Jefferson Vineyards, and mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you!