Monticello Wrap Up

It’s hard to believe that another Virginia Wine Month is over! We made sure to enjoy as much of it as possible. We opened the month with a swing through the Monticello area, and we posted about some of the wineries that we visited. Today we finish our write up about that trip.

Blenheim Vineyards: We always look forward to tasting the latest releases by winemaker Kirsty Harmon. On this particular visit, Paul enjoyed the crisp Viognier 2012 with its tropical fruit characteristics. I preferred the Chardonnay 2012 and its fuller mouth feel and pear flavors. We both concurred that the Cabernet Sauvignon was the favorite red. Juicy with lots of plum and berry flavors, it was quite delicious. We got a chance to chat with Kirsty, and we asked her about the 2013 harvest that was then toward its grand finale. She echoed what many winemakers have shared with us—the biggest challenge was not the late frost or the early summer rains. It was the hungry wild life such as raccoons and bears that caused the biggest headaches. However, Kirsty was pleased with the way that the summer trended toward warm, dry days and cooler nights and expressed optimism that the vintage would be a good one.
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King Family Vineyards: Another favorite of ours—we are big fans of Mathieu Finot’s wines. It really is not hard to simply state “all of the above” when pondering our preferred wines here. Matt is our preferred wine educator at King Family, and he skillfully guided us through our tasting. Paul was a fan of the 2012 Viognier, 10% of which was done in a concrete egg. It spent time in both stainless steel tanks and neutral French oak barrels and presented elements of peach, melon and white pepper. I was a bigger fan of the 2012 Chardonnay (no suprises here—I do enjoy Chardonnay.) Citrus notes were complimented by characteristics of pear and spice; a creamy mouth feel led to a longer finish. My kind of Chardonnay! We both enjoyed the 2012 Crose, a dry rose with notes of grapefruit, bright berry, and peach. With Thanksgiving around the corner, a light-bodied Cabernet Franc might be in order, and the 2012 Cabernet Franc should fit the bill. Red berry flavors with characteristic pepper notes make for the perfect partner with turkey and cranberry sauce. Matt also took us on a private tour of the new facility showing us all the new equipment, the huge barrel room, and new crush pad. Thank you, Matt!
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Pollak Vineyards: Okay—so we visit this lots and lots too. Casey, as always, provided us with an excellent tasting experience. We can report that the 2011 Chardonnay is still tasting quite well; however, we were both impressed with the 2012 Pinot Gris with its floral notes and stone fruit elements. The dry 2012 Rose caught my attention, and it displayed aromas of strawberry and spice that should delight any rose lover. This one should prove to be a popular option for Thanksgiving, but the lighter bodied 2011 Cabernet Franc might also be a quite choice. We were given a sample of the 2010 Meritage, and it ended up being my favorite of the red wines. I have a bottle of this one on my rack, so this gave me a chance to monitor its progress. Concentrated fruit aromas with hints of anise and tobacco led to flavors of black cherry, blackberry, and spice. Nice tannins too. I noted a subtle vanilla note at the end to boot. (Note to self—age for a bit longer and enjoy with prime rib.)
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White Hall Vineyards: The price points always impress us here. I liked the Pinot Gris 2011 that was fermented 50% in neutral oak and 50% in stainless steel. Pear and soft apricot notes led to a whiff of hay on the nose. I was surprised that Paul preferred the crisp Chardonnay 2012 with its pear and citrus aromas and flavors. It was fermented and aged in both French and American oak barrels; however, it still proved to more crisp than creamy—probably why Paul enjoyed it so much. Of the red wines, the Merlot 2012 was very accessible. It was blended with small amounts of Malbec and Chambourcin and presented aromas of violet, tobacco, and dried herbs. Spice notes complemented the cherry and blackberry flavors. Nice on its own or with a beef dish.
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Moss Vineyards: Our final stop was Moss Vineyards. It was also winery number 163 for us. They have been open for a bit more than a year. Our favorite white here was the 2012 Viognier. It was crisp and elegant. Our favorite red was the 2010 Architettura Reserve. We noted dried plum, concentrated flavors and tight tannins. They have 52 acres of property with 9 acres cleared and 7000 vines planted. They grow cab suav, cab franc, merlot, petit verdot, viognier and vermintino. We will plan to visit them again soon to see how the wines are developing and what new wines they have on the tasting menu. We had a great time chatting about wine and their adventure into Virginia wine.
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We always enjoy visiting wineries in the Monticello area. Plan to visit these and other nearby wineries to stock up on holiday favorites. Please mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

King Family

On our recent trip to Charlottesville we stopped at another one of our favorite wineries, King Family Vineyards. We have been familiar with Matthieu Finot’s wines for a few years now and absolutely love them. Whenever we visit, we enjoy all the wines on the tasting menu.
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We are not the only ones who enjoy Matthieu’s wines. When we entered the tasting room it was packed with tasters. Every spot at the multiple tasting bars was filled. We waited our turn and then found a spot at one of the tasting bars.

It was very difficult to find a favorite white wine. Warren enjoyed the 2012 Roseland with fuller feel, pear notes and partial malolactic fermentation. I enjoyed the 2011 Viognier. It was crisp and clean, with a wonderful floral nose and notes of melon and peach. We also both enjoyed the 2012 Crose which was full of strawberry, melon, and citrus notes. Of course we thought of concerts on the lawn at Wolf Trap while tasting this one.
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Once again it was tough to pick a favorite red. We enjoyed both the 2011 Cabernet Franc and the 2011 Merlot. We were lucky enough to get a taste of the 2010 Petit Verdot. This one became our favorite. We really enjoyed the black cherry, plum, berry notes and picked up on some tobacco. This is a big red that could easily age on your wine rack.
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After our tasting we enjoyed some cheese and baguette with a glass of the 2011 Viognier. We then purchased some of our favorites before leaving. If you haven’t been to King Family lately, it’s probably time to plan a trip. And when you do visit, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Two Viogniers

Continuing to celebrate Virginia Wine and Dine month, on Friday we enjoyed two Virginia white wines.

We began the evening with the 2010 Viognier from Chrysalis Vineyards. We enjoyed it with a creamy goat cheese and soft baguette. We noted pear, mango, and floral notes on the nose. On the tongue we noticed tropical fruit…mango, pineapple, and pear flavors with a hint of oak at the end. It paired nicely with our cheese and baguette.

For dinner we had pan seared, lightly breaded fluke flounder with capers and a side of pasta. Warren selected the 2010 Viognier from King Family for the meal and to do a little side by side comparison. We noted honeysuckle, citrus, and shale on the nose. In the mouth we noted subtle peach, stone fruit, and a soft vanilla finish. Warren preferred it a bit warmer while I enjoyed it quite chilled.

Enjoying these two different viogniers side by side gave us a good look at different viogniers from different parts of the state. Warren preferred the 2010 Viognier from King Family while I enjoyed the 2010 Viognier from Chrysalis Vineyards. Have you had a Virginia viognier lately? If you try one of these, or visit the wineries, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

More Favorites in Charlottesville

Now that the Thanksgiving holiday is over we can get back to our regular posting schedule. On the second day of our Charlottesville trip over the Veterans Day weekend we visited more wineries. Three of the wineries we visited were King Family Vineyards, Sugarleaf Vineyards, and Keswick Vineyards.

A beautiful crisp fall day greeted us as we began our tasting at King Family. As with other Virginia wineries, King Family is low on their white wines. Of course we enjoyed both the 2010 Viognier and the 2010 Chardonnay. The 2010 Viognier presented melon flavors with the addition of peach and apricot in the mouth. We also noted the full mouth feel of this wine. We thought we might be enjoying it later with the fall colors.

Of the reds we were split. Warren really enjoyed the 2009 Meritage and jotted down violets, cigars, sandalwood, and earthy elements. I really enjoyed the 2010 Cabernet Franc and wrote down earth, spice, and raspberry.

After our tasting we enjoyed a bottle of the 2010 Viognier with nibbles on the grounds at King Family. The fall colors were perfect. While enjoying our wine, winemaker Matthieu Finot joined us for some wine chat. We always enjoy chatting with Matthieu. Before leaving we promised Matthieu that we’d return when we had more time to talk and taste some barrel samples.

Next up is Sugarleaf Vineyards. We hadn’t visited Sugarleaf for a while and it was time to see what was new at Sugarleaf. Sugarleaf also only had two white wines to taste and of these we put our star next to the 2008 Chardonnay. We noted apple and vanilla and a nice crisp finish. Of the reds we really enjoyed the 2010 Petit Verdot. Here we noted plum and spice with some solid tannins. I thought of some red meat with this wine.

While we were tasting we were recognized by our tasting associate and she insisted that we head down to the barrel room to meet the new winemaker Romulus Pascall. He’s been with Sugarleaf for five years and studied under the previous winemaker Dan Neumeister. He allowed us to enjoy a barrel sample of the 2010 Cuvee Neubia. He was just about to move it into more aggressive barrels to import a more buttery/smooth finish. It was quite tannic and will need more time but you could see this is going to be a very nice wine when it is released in the future.

Our final stop of the day was Keswick Vineyards. Keswick is one of our favorites. We always have a good time chatting with Stephan and Kat. And Stephan always gives us a sneak peek of the wines still in the barrel. Unfortunately this time they were both at a wedding. We missed seeing them of course but still enjoyed the wines.

Like many other Virginia wineries Keswick is low on white wines. We only tasted the 2010 Chardonnay. We have already enjoyed this one and enjoyed it again on this visit. We noted pear, green apple, and butterscotch. Of the reds we actually put stars next to the 2010 Touriga and the 2009 Merlot. The 2010 Touriga presented notes of cherry, raspberry and smoke. I instantly enjoyed the fruit characteristics of this wine. The 2009 Merlot presented cherry, coffee, and an almost creamy vanilla finish. We were thinking of which wine to bring home for dinner and ultimately decided on the 2010 Touriga. Now I wished I had gotten a second bottle for the wine rack!

We enjoyed our time in Charlottesville. Revisiting old favorites is always fun. If you haven’t been to King Family Vineyards, Sugarleaf Vineyards, or Keswick Vineyards, you need to plan a trip to Charlottesville soon! And be sure to tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!