We had the chance to sit down and chat with Stephen Barnard from Keswick Vineyards. He is the most recent winner of the Virginia Governor’s Cup.
So this will be the last post about our celebration weekend in the Monticello area. Here I will give our perspectives on wines tasted at Gabriele Rausse Winery. Keswick Vineyards, and King Family Vineyards. Our focus at these wineries remained the same——wines to enjoy during the summer.
Gabriele Rausse Winery: We were very excited to finally taste a full line up of Gabriele Rausse wines. This was made possible due to the opening of a tasting room by Rausse! Gabriele Rausse has a long history in the Virginia winemaking industry starting back in the early 1980s, and his reputation for crafting excellent wines is well known. Our favorites of the ten wines that we tasted included the Pinot Grigio 2013 with its elements of soft peach and wet stone; I was more intrigued, though, with the Rousanne 2012 that was fermented and aged in French oak barrels. Its floral and spice notes were complemented by citrus flavors and a fuller mouth feel. Seafood, poultry or pork topped with a cream sauce should play well with this one. With grilled fare, it might be hard to beat the Cabernet Franc 2013 with its bright berry notes and subtle spice on the finish. I had an eye toward the colder months ahead along with the heartier menus that follow and made certain to purchase the more complex Nebbiolo 2012. As we sipped through our tasting, we enjoyed the woodsy views offered by the quaint tasting room that was obviously designed to blend in with forested surroundings.
Keswick Vineyards: It’s always a pleasure to see winemaker Stephen Barnard at Keswick Vineyards. Stephen offered us sneak samples of evolving 2013 and 2014 vintages from the barrels. This included the 2014 Chardonnay Reserve, the 2014 Pinot Gris, 2013 and 2014 Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon then finishing with the Syrah. Alas, I do not have particular tasting notes on these; however, I do recall giving two thumbs up for the Chardonnay Reserve and the Cabernet Sauvignon samples. Rest assured, however, that we will return to Keswick Vineyards in the near future to report on these wines as they are released!
King Family Vineyards: Another favorite winery and another tasting experience with the winemaker. Mathieu Finot guided us through a tasting of the latest pours at King Family Vineyards. We tend to enjoy all of the wines here, but with a focus on summer, the Crose 2014 is always a winner. This dry rose presents lovely strawberry and melon notes with a refreshing acidity; enjoy on its own, with a picnic, most grilled foods, etc. Dining al fresco with a seafood or poultry dish? Both the Chardonnay 2013 and Viognier 2014 can be recommended. I’m always partial to Chardonnay, and I appreciated the pear and citrus notes with this one; aged for nine moths in French oak barrels with full malolactic fermentation provides a full mouth feel to boot. Paul is a Petit Verdot fan, and the Petit Verdot 2012 was his favorite. Whiffs of violet and incense were complemented with elements of dark berries, plums and spice. Enjoy with heavier grilled steaks or chops or reserve for a later time with leg of lamb.
Our celebration weekend did indeed come to an end, and along the way we tasted some wonderful wines. Be certain to pay a visit to the wineries mentioned in this post; of course, mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.
Keswick Vineyards is one of our favorite wineries. We try to visit them each time we travel to Charlottesville. During our last visit to Charlottesville over the Columbus day weekend, we were able to stop by Keswick to see what was new.
We elected to do a tasting of the current offerings in the tasting room. As is always the case, we started with the white wines. Of these we both preferred the 2013 Trevillian White. This is a blend of 55% Viognier, 25% Chardonnay, and 20% Pino Gris. We noted lots of tropical fruit, a floral nose, and nutty/toasty finish. We thought this one would be perfect on a warm fall afternoon. We also enjoyed the 2012 Viognier Reserve with it’s fuller mouth feel and food friendly full mouth feel.
Of the reds we both enjoyed the 2013 Norton. I’m not a huge norton fan but this one was a bit lighter and had notes of cranberry that I enjoyed. Warren noted that this wine could even be a sipper on it’s own.
After our tasting at the bar, winemaker Stephen Barnard invited us back to the barrel room to sample some of the 2013 vintages and 2014 vintages. We tasted several 2013 Cabs and cab francs. We also tasted the 2014 Verdajo, Viognier, Chardonnay, Cab Sauv, Chambourcin, Merlot, and Petit Verdot. While these were all wonderful wines and are progressing well in the barrel, the Petit Verdot stood out to me as the winner. It has an amazing color, notes of dark fruit, and firm tannins! I was surprised at how delightful it was after only a short time in the barrel!
We always enjoy our time at Keswick Vineyards. We have a great time talking about and tasting wines with Stephen. Plus, he makes some great wines! After our time with Stephen we enjoyed a glass of the Trevillian on the porch. Some of the harvesters were enjoying some well deserved rest on the porch as well. They let me take photo of their hardworking hands.
The next time you travel to the Charlottesville area, be sure to plan a stop at Keswick Vineyards. And when you do, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!
We spent this past weekend with fellow blogger Frank Morgan of Drink What You Like. He turned 40! Frank and his lovely wife Acada celebrated the milestone in the Charlottesville area with wine, food and friends.
We helped Frank ring in another new decade with a cellar tasting at Veritas Vineyards. Elliot, assistant to winemaker Emily Pelton, conducted our tasting and answered all of our questions. Sneak previews of newly harvested 2013 grapes now resting in their tanks begged us to ponder the possibilities of the 2013 vintage.
After our tasting at Veritas, we headed to Afton Mountain Vineyards. Owner Tony Smith conducted our tasting. Lingering fall colors were appreciated through the windows that lined the tasting room. We later decided to share a bottle of the 2012 Cabernet Franc with cheeses and a baguette.
The grand event was a birthday dinner at Tastings of Charlottesville. Keswick winemaker Stephan Benard and his wife Kat met us as did Bob Garsson, and his wife, of Project Sunlight. A gourmet feast awaited us along with a menu of excellent wines. I did not copy the labels and vintages, but I can attest that all of the wines poured that evening were excellent. They included a Cruet, a Mersault (my personal favorite), a Chenin Blanc from South Africa (selected with the help of South African native Stephan Benard), and a knock out Bordeaux. The evening’s highlight, though, was the intricate cake shaped like a wine bottle cradled in a straw-line box. Perfect for the occasion and also for the birthday boy who is indeed passionate about wine.
We wish Frank Morgan all the best; however time does fly, and before we know it, he will turn 50! Yikes! By then, we will be hitting 30 (times 2). Anyway, plan your own special celebrations with a trip to Virginia wine country. Visit these wineries and a special dinner at Tasting of Charlottesville. Please mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.
We decided to spend the Memorial Day weekend in the Charlottesville area, and we can confirm that the totally creepy but very cool cicadas can be seen and heard not too far from DC. The drone of the cicadas was relentless throughout our stay, and we often wondered whether we were trapped in an episode of the Twilight Zone or some other sci-fi show from the 1960s. In time, we did come to appreciate their unique sound. However, we did also taste some wonderful wines, and we even got to visit some new wineries. Today’s post, though, will focus two wineries that we’ve already visited: Reynard Florence and an older favorite, Keswick Vineyards.
Reynard Florence: This was our second visit to Reynard Florence, but this time we got to meet owners Roe and Dee Allison. Readers may recall that the Petit Manseng is a specialty here, and it appears as either part of a blend or on its own in all five of the white wine offered for tasting. The 2012 releases of the Reynard Blanc, a white wine blend, and the Petit Manseng Monticello were less sweet than 2010 and 2011 vintages; we both preferred the off-dry versions. The Reynard Blanc 2012, a blend of Traminette (36%), Vidal Blanc (44%) and Petit Manseng (20%) was fermented dry and presented floral aromas with notes of grapefruit and melon. The Petit Manseng Monticello 2012 contained less than 2% residual sugar; we noted pear and honey flavors with a lengthier finish. These complex white wines should be perfect for summer especially if white fish or poultry were on the menu.
The red wines were next on the tasting sheet, and I continue to classify the Reynard Florence Cabernet Franc 2010 as a classic from Virginia. Lighter bodied with berry and spice elements make for a perfect wine with light grilled fare including chicken and pork. We both gravitated to the Merlot 2010, a more fruit forward wine with characteristics of mixed berries, tobacco and anise. A tannic presence suggested a wine suitable for a heavier steak dish with a side of grilled veggies.
Keswick Vineyards: We always look forward to visiting with Stephen Benard, and were lucky to find Stephen behind the tasting bar at Keswick Vineyards. Our tasting began with a creamy 2012 Barrel Select Rose made from Touriga grapes; we’re big rose fans, and this one was an immediate hit for us. However, the 2012 V2 seems destined to be the summertime wine from Keswick Vineyards. A blend of Verdejo (51%) and Viognier (49%), the V2 presented citrus and apple elements with a grassy note to boot. Its refreshing crispness will take the edge off of any warm summer afternoon. Red-wine drinkers who prefer an easy sipper during the hot weather may like the 2012 Consensus, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (50%), Syrah (30%) and Norton (20%). Club members create this blend each year, and this year’s version is very fruity with softer tannins. We were also given a sample of the 2010 massive Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve—yum! Dark fruit, tobacco notes, and noticeable tannins suggest an age-worthy wine.
Stephen also took us to the barrel room where he treated us to sneak previews of 2012 white wines. Look for more complex Chardonnays and Viogniers from the 2012 vintage as compared to the leaner 2011 releases. Paul noted that the oak-aged 2012 Chardonnay was “beautiful.” Paul is the stainless steel guy when it comes to white wines, so this was quite the endorsement! I agreed—the rich pear notes and full mouth feel were indeed quite beautiful.
We finished our afternoon with a glass of the V2, and this we enjoyed with cheeses and a baguette. The din of cicada noises provided us with musical entertainment.
Of course, we purchased bottles of our favorites from both Reynard Florence and Keswick Vineyards. Plan a visit to these wineries to find your own summer favorites. Mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.
A weekend trip to the Charlottesville area also coincided with the birthday of Thomas Jefferson. Of course, we had to celebrate the occasion by visiting Virginia wineries located near Jefferson’s home, Monticello. On our list of places to go was Keswick Vineyards, and fortunate for us we met up with award-winning winemaker, Stephen Barnard. Stephen treated us to a tasting of current releases, samples of upcoming releases and in the process gave us his impressions of the tricky 2011 harvest.
Of the current offerings, my favorites was the 2010 Viognier with its honeysuckle and coconut aromas and flavor of apricot; it also offered a heavier mouth-feel thanks to barrel fermentation and aging in neutral French oak barrels for ten months. The 2010 Cabernet Franc was my favorite red with its aromas of violet and mixed red berries; it presented a spicy edge to boot! However, the 2009 Les Vent d’Anges Rives Red should not be ignored. Made from the Syrah grape, its smoky nose and dark fruit flavors should partner well with any thing that moos.
We were interested in 2011 wines, though, and Stephen was more than willing to oblige us with samples of current and upcoming releases from the vintage. Some are already in bottles. One version of a 2011 Rose was made from Cabernet Sauvignon and recalled fruity Spanish-style Roses with abundant red berry flavors. Another version that is now being poured in the tasting room is likewise dry but lighter with bright strawberry and melon flavors. Both presented a refreshing acidity. The 2011 Viognier Signature (which bears the signature of owner Al Schonberg) was similar to the 2010 Reserve; a well-balanced wine, tasters may think that it resembles Viognier produced from France. Rich yet fruity with some coconut aromas, I thought that it was delightful.
Stephen then treated us to several barrel samples. A couple of standouts here would include a big barrel of the 2011 Chardonnay. This was my favorite of the barrel samples. It was creamy, well rounded, and presented a nutty finish. Paul really enjoyed the sample from the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon in American oak. It was fruit forward, with notes of sweet tobacco, cherry and raspberry. This will probably be blended with a barrel of 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon in a French oak barrel. Another interesting barrel sample came from the 2011 Norton in new American oak. Paul is not a big fan of Norton but enjoyed the fruity nature of this wine. Blueberry really came through. With the chance to try these barrel samples, we can see there are some great wines to come from Keswick.
So what was Barnard’s take on the 2011 growing season? “I think it was a good thing for winemaking in Virginia. The 2011 wines will present more acidity and more finesse than what is evident in the 2010 wines.” Stephen’s comments seem to represent a trend in opinions from winemakers across the state. Was it a troublesome season? Yes. Will it be impossible to make quality wines? No. Much of this will have to do with vineyard location, of course. However, the winemaker’s diligence and skill will also play a role. We were very pleased with the 2011 samples that we tasted at Keswick Vineyards.
As we left Keswick Vineyards, we spied a Thomas Jefferson impersonator in period clothing and telltale red ponytail. We are sure that the original Mr. Jefferson would approve of the wines at Keswick Vineyards. Be sure to visit Keswick Vineyards, and remember to mention that you read about the wines at Virginia Wine Time.
I recently posted about Virginia wines earning solid scores from Wine Spectator magazine, and I can report that Wine Enthusiast has likewise given impressive scores to several Virginia red wines. Annefield Vineyards, Bogati Bodega Winery, Keswick Vineyards, Lovingston Winery, Potomac Point Vineyard and Winery, and Veramar Vineyard produced the wines that are featured in this month’s issue.
Potomac Point 2009 Richland Reserve Heritage Bordeaux-style Red Blend (Virginia)-Pungent dark char amidst firm black plum on this Virginia Bordeaux blend brings to mind flavors of smoked meats and strong black coffee. Full bodied and masculine in profile, it’s quite tannic, yet concentrated enough to handle it well. — A.I. (12/1/2011) — 86
Veramar 2009 Estate Club Merlot (Virginia)-Warm and spicy on the nose and palate, this Virginia Merlot boasts a sour cherry aroma combined with hints of gingersnap cookie and ripe bramble. Ample and rich with slightly stewed black fruit notes, the palate is bathed in waves of anise and cinnamon that linger on the finish. — A.I. (12/1/2011) — 86
Veramar 2009 Estate Club Ameritage Red Blend (Virginia)-While soft and ripe on the nose and palate with loads of soft red fruit and hints of mocha and milk chocolate, this Virginia Ameritage doesn’t have a lot of structure, but its smooth, warm style is still eager to please. — A.I. (12/1/2011) — 86
Veramar 2008 Estate Club Cabernet Sauvignon (Virginia)-Ripe and rich on the nose with a harmonious black fruit and sweet vanilla bean aroma, this Virginia Cab is clean and pure with a remarkably pristine fruit profile. Bright and fresh with balanced acidity and a nicely concentrated midpalate. — A.I. (12/1/2011) — 86
Annefield Vineyards 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon (Virginia)-Aromas of espresso and burnt biscotti entice on this dark yet elegant Cab. On the palate, fresh violets linger amidst layers of ripe black fruit, smoke and char towards a stout, moderately tannic finish. Quite pleasant now, but could improve with 3–5 years of bottle aging. — A.I. (12/1/2011) — 87
Bogati 2009 Collection I Bordeaux-style Red Blend (Virginia)-Sweet red cherry fruit melds with whiffs of graham cracker crumb and leather on this ripe, full bodied red from Bogati. There’s a thin vein of green that trails throughout, but the palate is nicely structured with a dose of warm pepper notes and mouthcoating tannins on the finish. — A.I. (12/1/2011) — 86
Lovingston 2008 Josie’s Knoll Estate Reserve Bordeaux-style Red Blend (Monticello)-Lush, ripe blueberries and plums meld into hints of dark chocolate and lavender on Lovingston Estate’s lovely Josie’s Knoll Estate Reserve. It seems a bit soft on entry, yet bright acidity and smooth, furry tannins give the black fruit palate substance and style. — A.I. (12/1/2011) — 89
Keswick Vineyards 2009 Merlot (Monticello)-Hints of anise, black pepper and toasted coconut make this dark, smoky Merlot a bit exotic and unexpected. Full-bodied with a concentrated yet vibrant black fruit palate, it ends with flair on a rather tropical coconut finish. — A.I. (12/1/2011) — 87
Lovingston 2008 Josie’s Knoll Merlot (Monticello)-Intensely aromatic with notes of sweet pomegranate and fresh violets, Lovingston’s standard label Josie’s Knoll is soft and a tad sweet on entry with a ripe black cherry juice note. Hints of fresh herbs on the midpalate combine with grippy tannins on the finish, adding a dose of style and structure. — A.I. (12/1/2011) — 86
Do non-believers in Virginia wines ever challenge you to prove that the state makes great wines? Don’t suffer through the experience. Tell them to read some of the industry magazines, or even better, refer them to Virginia Wine Time. They just need to be educated on the matter.
Visit the outstanding wineries that are mentioned in this post, and be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you!