Virginia Wine Time

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Celebrating Virginia Wine Month

vwm25smallHow Are You Celebrating Virginia Wine Month?

October is Virginia Wine Month, and we are doing it right by enjoying Virginia wine with dinner, at restaurants, and at Virginia wineries. Here is how we kicked off Virginia Wine month:

Dinner at Al Dente in Washington DC: Pappardelle pasta with wild boar ragout braised in red wine paired with Breaux’s Nebbiolo 2007.
Breaux
Harvest Salad as a first course at a dinner party: Crisp seasonal apples, chopped fennel, and slivered almonds tossed with a lemon vinaigrette then topped with crumbled blue cheese was served with Linden’s Riesling Vidal 2011

Steaks on Friday: We reserve Fridays as our red meat day. Filet Mignon topped with sautéed mushrooms was paired with Gray Ghost Vineyards’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2010.

Pumpkin Cake: My favorite seasonal dessert. Fall spices serve as supporting roles in this pumpkin-based delight. We enjoyed this with Naked Mountain’s Old Vine Riesling 2012 produced from the oldest Riesling vines on the property.
Hume
Need other suggestions to celebrate Virginia Wine Month? Hume Vineyards will release its 2012 Viognier; characteristic floral notes are accompanied by stone fruit elements and a white pepper undertone. This one should be perfect with poultry topped with a cream sauce. Planning to invite friends over for a hearty beef stew? We were impressed with the 2011 Petit Verdot with its whiff of violet as well as its brambleberry and dark fruit notes; it’s a bit chewy too!

So this is how we kicked off Virginia Wine Month. How are you celebrating Virginia Wine Month? We would like to know, so feel free to share with us. Visit the Virginia wineries mentioned in this post and mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Round Up Time

Too many wineries and not enough time to write about all of our experiences—this seems to be the ongoing dilemma for us. I will use this post to play catch up on wineries that we have recently visited:

Delaplane Cellars: We always look forward to a tasting here if only to enjoy the gorgeous view from the windows; of course the wines are pretty good too. The 2009 Melange Rouge remains my favorite on the tasting menu; readers may recall that I enjoyed this Bordeaux-style blend the last time we tasted at Delaplane Cellars. Paul enjoyed the smoky 2009 Tannat with its notes of plum and dried herbs. The 2011 Cabernet Franc was the lightest-bodied red and yet the most versatile red wine on the menu. The bright fruit flavors and peppery elements make for a wine that can be served on its own, with fish or pork, or with Thanksgiving fare that features herbed turkey and cranberry sauce. White wines, you ask? Paul was a big fan of the 2011 Maggie’s Viognier with its floral notes and orange blossom notes. Looking for a reason to join Delaplane’s wine club? The cellar-worthy 2010 Syrah might provide convincing evidence. A smoky nose leads to dark plum and tobacco aromas with similar dark fruit flavors and spicy elements in the mouth. I detected a hint of caramel at the end too.
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Linden Vineyards: Too easy to say all of the above, but that would be the answer. We always sign up for the cellar tasting, too, and that complicates our decision to pick a favorite wine. From the regular tasting menu, we were fans of creamy 2010 Chardonnay and the jammy 2010 Petit Verdot. The cellar tasting usually brings out the split decisions. We both agreed that the fuller-bodied 2009 Boisseau Chardonnay was ready for prime time. Rich pear and vanilla aromas were matched by ripe pear and honey flavors. However, I own two bottles of the 2009 Avenius Chardonnay, and I was well pleased with its progression in the bottle. Drink now? Enjoy the Boisseau. Enjoy later? Be patient with the Avenius.

On to the red wines, and these included the 2009 Boisseau Red and the 2009 Hardscrabble Red. Ripe berry fruit and violet notes characterized the Merlot-driven Boisseau, and it was Paul’s immediate favorite. However, I preferred the complexity of the 2009 Hardscrabble Red. Cabernet Sauvignon (64%) dominates the blend, and Merlot (19%), Petit Verdot (10%), and Cabernet Franc (7%) serve as sidekicks. Still tight on the nose, swirling brought forward the dark berry and earthy elements. I made certain to purchase a bottle of this special wine before the left the winery! The cellar tasting always closes with a comparison of dessert wines, and the 2005 and 2008 Late Harvest Vidal were presented for our enjoyment. Paul preferred the fresh 2008 Late Harvest Vidal with its bright floral aromas and vibrant tropical fruit and ginger spice components. I appreciated the older 2005 with its more honeyed texture and dried apricot and citrus flavors.
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Three Fox Vineyards: The 2011 Gatto Bianco was an easy favorite. This white wine is a blend of Chardonnay and Vidal Blanc, and the 2% residual sugar brings forward the tropical fruit elements. The Leggero Chardonnay is also noteworthy for its pear and pineapple characteristics and crisp finish. We were also fast fans of the 2009 Piemontese Nebbiolo with its aromas of clover and tobacco. Swirling coaxed raspberry, blackberry and pepper notes to move forward. Port fans may also like the Rosso Dolce Chambourcin and its elements of dark cherry and black plum; a mocha splash at the end begged for chocolate; Paul suggested a tobacco treat, but I’ll let readers decide on that one. A dark chocolate brownie for me, and a cigar for Paul!
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We made certain to purchase our favorite wines at each of these wineries. Readers may have already concluded that Virginia wineries offer a diverse selection of quality wines, and the only right choices are the ones that best please the palate. Therefore, get out on the wine trails and discover which Virginia wines best suit your own palate! Start with a visit to these wineries, and mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Everything’s Great at Linden!

On July 4th weekend we invited some friends to join us for a tasting at Linden Vineyards. We also decided to sign up for the cellar tasting. We love the cellar tastings because you get to taste wines you would normally not taste on the tasting menu. At any given time Linden has five wines on the tasting menu. These change from time to time. Every once in a while Jim Law will allow the tasting crew to open up one of the library wines to taste. We didn’t visit on such a weekend.

I first thought I’d go through and describe all the wines we tasted and then I realized we loved everything on the menu! Linden is one of the few wineries where we enjoy every wine we taste. We can’t think of one we don’t enjoy. This makes it difficult to limit our choices to one case. Warren is a case club member and needs to purchase one case a year to have access to the deck. On this visit it was time to renew the membership and purchase a case. He made some very difficult decisions but was able to fill a case. While at Linden we decided to take advantage of Warren’s membership and enjoy some lunch on the deck. Instead of describing all the wines, I will instead post several photos from our visit. Just know that anything you taste at Linden, you will enjoy. And when you do go to Linden, tell them Virginia WIne Time sent you!

From Lombardy to Linden

So we’re back to reporting on our more local wine adventures, and this time our focus will be the barrel tasting held at Linden Vineyards exclusively for case club members. At the event, club members were able to taste barrel samples from the developing 2010 vintage as well as comparison tastings of 2007 and 2008 reds. We also nibbled on excellent gourmet snacks prepared by L’Auberge Provencale located in Boyce, Virginia. Between sips, we enjoyed a brief chat with winemaker Jim Law.

We were greeted to the tasting event on the crush pad with a sample of the 2010 Avenius Sauvignon Blanc paired with a king fish prepared seviche-style and topped with caviar. The Avenius Sauvignon Blanc is always a treat, and the 2010 vintage offered brighter fruit but lower acidity than previous vintages. Perfect for summer and lovely with the fish. From there we proceeded to the barrel room for samples of the 2010 Boisseau Red, 2010 Hardscrabble Red, and 2010 Avenius Red. All three were blends that featured Cabernet Sauvignon as the main component. Of the three, the Boisseau Red will be the most approachable upon release. The Boisseau vineyard holds loamy soils to produce fruitier wines, and the 2010 offering was blended with 35% Merlot to present a more fruit forward, rounded wine. The sloped Hardscrabble site features granite soils and older vines; there is no doubt that the 2010 Hardscrabble Red will be one to age. Boasting 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and only 15% Merlot, it was tight and complex. Plan to buy upon release, but enjoy at a later date. In between the two was the 2010 Avenius which was a blend of 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 39% Merlot and 8% Petit Verdot. Dark fruit and spice were evident; not quite as accessible as the Boisseau but also not quite as inaccessible as the Hardscrabble. So I plan to buy a bottle of all three—one to enjoy ASAP, one to enjoy to end the decade, and another to sip at some point in between!

From the barrel room we made our way to the special release room, and here we were able to compare 2007 and 2008 vintages from the three vineyards. My general conclusion after sampling them all was that the 2008 vintages are ready to enjoy now while the 2007 vintages still need some time. I did find the 2007 Hardscrabble Red much more approachable this time around and was my overall favorite of the day. I enjoyed my sip of this one with a grilled lamb chop, and it was lovely pairing. Paul gave his nod to the 2008 Avenius Red, a blend of Petit Verdot (72%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (28%). He enjoyed its flavors of plum, dark cherry and black pepper and thought it paired perfectly with the barbequed pork belly.

As we moved from station to station, we were able to chat with Jim Law who, along with his father, guided tasters through a sample of the 2010 Hardscrabble. I asked Jim how he felt about the 2010 vintages, and while he felt confident that these were going to be excellent wines, Jim confided that he prefers to work with vintages produced from “classic” years. As readers know, the 2010 growing season was exceptionally dry and hot with similarities to California as opposed to Virginia. Therefore, the 2010 wines may be jammier and higher in alcohol levels. For that reason, Law prefers the 2008 wines that were the product of a more typical growing season in Virginia. I also asked Jim if he planned to join the Viognier bandwagon; though I already knew that the answer would be “no”, I did want to hear his opinion on the matter. Of course, the answer did not disappoint; however, Jim did add that while Viognier was not really his passion, he did appreciate its place in the ever-improving (and expanding) Virginia wine industry. In the meantime, look for Jim Law to continue the focus on his excellent Chardonnays; in fact, I took home a bottle of his 2009 Chardonnay!

With our tasting done, we did enjoy a glass of the 2010 Avenius Sauvignon Blanc with a baguette while appreciating a lovely spring afternoon on the deck. We watched barn swallows flutter about busily making nests and took in aromas of wisteria. No better way to spend an afternoon. Plan to visit Linden Vineyards or perhaps a visit to L’Auberge Provencale for dinner—it’s a B&B too, so maybe plan a weekend getaway for wine and dinner. Be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Tasting at Linden Vineyards

On Saturday we went to Linden Vineyards. We love their wines and never give up the opportunity to enjoy a tasting. We also decided to do the cellar tasting.

On the regular tasting menu we tasted the 2009 Seyval, the 2009 Rose (new to us), the 2008 Claret (new to us), the 2007 Petit Verdot, and the 2009 Vidal Riesling. By the way, Warren has a review of the 2007 Petit Verdot in the latest issue of Virginia Wine Lover magazine. We had a hard time selecting a winner from the regular tasting menu. If forced to select one for a gold star, I’d select the 2008 Claret. I really enjoyed the ripe fruit and wonderful dark fruit nose. Warren really enjoyed the 2007 Petit Verdot.

After the regular tasting we were lucky to be part of the first cellar tasting of the day. On the cellar tasting menu we tasted the 2008 Boisseau Chardonnay, the 2008 Hardscrabble Chardonnay, the 2006 Avenius Red, the 2007 Avenius Red, the 2006 Late Harvest Vidal and the 2006 Late Harvest Petit Manseng. As usual we enjoyed all the wines on the menu. However, Warren and I were in agreement on our favorites. We both enjoyed the 2008 Hardscrabble Chardonnay with its floral notes and zesty finish. We also enjoyed the dark fruit, herbs, and chocolate of the 2007 Avenius Red. The 2006 Late Harvest Vidal stood out for the creamy mouth feel, nutty notes, and orange and apricot flavors. I didn’t care for the 2006 Late Harvest Petit Manseng. It had a gasoline quality that put me off. Others at the tasting didn’t feel the same way though.

After our tasting we enjoyed a bottle of the 2008 Hardscrabble Chardonnay with a baguette and cheese. We enjoyed the view from the deck while enjoy our lunch. Before leaving we secured a few bottles for our wine racks. If you make your way to Linden Vineyards anytime soon, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Friday Evening Sipper

Our Friday night sipper was the 2009 Avenius Sauvignon Blanc from Linden Vineyards. We had it with goat cheese and baguette.

This is one of my favorite white wines. On the nose we noted grapefruit, melon, grass, and mineral. In the mouth we picked up lemon zest, melon, star fruit and grass, and it was crisp and clean. The Avenius Sauvignon Blanc is a perfect expression of the rocky terroir that is particular to the Avenius vineyard.

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