Dinner Party Wines

Saturday evening we had some friends over for dinner. Because October is Virginia Wine Month we decided to serve Virginia wines. Warren, of course, was the chef and also selected the wines for the meal.

We started with a salad course. It was a tossed green salad with a Dijon vinaigrette dressing. Warren selected the 2016 Rose from 50 West Vineyards as the wine to pair with the salad. Everyone thought it was the perfect pairing for the salad. The rose was was made with Sangiovese. It was crisp and refreshing.

The main course consisted of a healthy portion of filet mignon, parmesan oven roasted potatoes, and grilled squash. Warren selected the 2010 Meritage from Pollak Vineyards. Warren decided it needed to be decanted. 2010 was a big year for reds and while it’s been many years since it’s release, the Meritage was still pretty big and needed some air. We decanted it for more than an hour before serving. It ended up being a perfect pairing. It’s a blend of 41% Cabernet Franc, 41% Merlot, 18% Petit Verdot. This estate grown Bordeaux blend won the 2013 Monticello Cup. Warren noted concentrated fruit aromas with hints of anise and tobacco that led to flavors of black cherry, blackberry, and spice. Nice tannins too. He noted a subtle vanilla note at the end to boot. It was delicious!

So what have you been enjoying for Virginia Wine Month? Let us know! If you happen to visit either 50 West Vineyards or Pollak Vineyards please tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Back To Charlottesville

Over the Memorial Day weekend we went to Charlottesville to re-visit some of our favorite wineries and to check out a new one.

Our first stop was King Family Vineyards. We last visited in October 2016. Since our last visit they have built a new area for tasting. The new room is called the Polo Room. It is available for events, overflow for the main tasting room, and large groups. It was empty when we arrived so we elected to do our tasting in the new room.


Our tasting associate was very knowledgeable about King Family wines and guided us through our tasting like a pro. Our favorite white was the 2015 Viognier and our favorite red was the 2014 Meritage. Another favorite was the Crose. We like to take the Crose to Wolf Trap to enjoy while attending a concert. The new Polo Room has a beautiful patio that wraps around the building. We decided to enjoy a glass of the Viognier while enjoying the views. It was a beautiful day and the King Family grounds provide an amazing view of the surrounding mountains.


We always enjoy our time at King Family. The wines are perfect, the view is memorable and the staff are always welcoming and full of information.

Our next stop was Pollak Vineyards. I’m a club member there so it’s always fun to return to see what is new. And it’s always nice to see staff we know and who know us.

Of course we did a tasting. We tasted many new wines and enjoyed all of them. Some stood out to us though as wines we’d like to bring home. We noted the 2016 Pinot Gris, the 2014 Chardonnay, the 2014 Merlot and the 2014 Petit Verdot. We were there on a Saturday and the 2015 Cabernet Franc was going to be released on Monday. Nick decided to let us taste it as well. We noted a fruity palate, some dust, nice acidity, cherry notes and a hint of herb. Nick also let us purchase a bottle early!

After our tasting we sat on the patio and enjoyed a glass of the 2015 Cabernet Franc with a baguette. We watched the clouds roll by and noticed the new planting in the front of the building. Nick later informed us that it was Sauvignon Blanc. What a surprise! But it won’t be ready to make wine with until probably 2020. Before leaving we ended up buying a case of our favorites.

Our final stop of the day was a new winery to us, Valley Road Vineyards. It’s not far from both King Family and Pollak Vineyards. Valley Road Vineyards was started by a group of friends who love Virginia and wine. Matthieu Finot from King Family Vineyards is the wine maker. They have a really nice tasting room with plenty of room for lots of tasters.


All the wines are solid, clean and ready to enjoy. We had a wonderful tasting with the tasting room manager. We both agreed the 2015 Chardonnay was a favorite. We noted pear, pineapple, with a citrus burst. It would be perfect on a warm spring or summer day. The 2015 Torn Curtain was our favorite red. It’s a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Chambourcin. I’m not a chambourcin fan but the flavors were so well integrated, I barely knew there was Chambourcin in the blend. We noted ripe red cherry, fruity palate. It was an easy drinking wine made for pizza, pasta or burgers.

We enjoyed our time at Valley Road and plan to return. Before leaving we purchased our favorites. Valley Road Vineyards is the 181st winery we’ve visited. It was worth the visit!

If you haven’t been in the Charlottesville area lately, plan a trip soon. When you do, consider visiting King Family Vineyards, Pollak Vineyards, or Valley Road Vineyards. And when you do tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Memberships Have Benefits

Many Virginia wineries offer membership clubs, and readers may wonder if joining these clubs are worth the perks. I belong to three clubs at Virginia wineries, and I can report they are definitely worth a taste (or two.)

Blenheim Vineyards
I have fully embraced winemaker Kirsty Harmon’s philosophy of making wines to enjoy now. The Blenheim wine club offers to members a chance to enjoy wines that the general public may not be able to purchase immediately. I get shipments 4 times a year. For example, my spring and summer shipments included (among others) the Red Table Wine NV, the Painted Red 2013, and the Painted White 2013. We recently enjoyed the Painted Red with a meal that featured grilled filet mignon with sautéed mushrooms. Its ripe berry and plum flavors were complemented by spicy elements that paired quite nicely with our meal. Past favorites have included Sauvignon Blanc and Rousanne. Of course, the artist in me always appreciates the painted labels which change with each vintage.
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Breaux Vineyards
This was the first wine club that I joined thanks to wine educator extraordinaire, Silvia Miller. Club members get to enjoy wines that are crafted just for them. My current club favorite is the Stone Barn White 2014; this wine screams summer! Floral notes lead the profile that include citrus elements and wet stone. A refreshing acidity gives way to a surprisingly honeyed finish. Elegant enough to grace a dinner party that includes shellfish but fun on its own with fresh fruit and cheeses. The new members only tasting room is complete and open for business. On a recent visit Bruce Miller poured the club wines for us to taste. It was nice to meet other club members and fun to chat about the current club wines.
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Pollak Vineyards
I have been a Pollak fan for many years now and look forward to my tasting from wine expert, Casey. It’s always nice to enter the tasting room and be recognized. Perks here include 15% discount on all wine purchases, free tasting for me and my guest (usually my spouse), and prerelease on limited production and reserve wines. I recently visited the winery and can attest to the excellence of the Provence style 2014 Rose with its strawberry notes and subtle whiffs of dried herbs. This is a dry rose and its lively acidity demands warm weather and a picnic—we will be bringing this one to a Wolf Trap concert this summer.
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If you’ve ever considered joining a wine club at one of the Virginia wineries, think about looking into one of these. More details about the clubs can be found on their websites. And when you do visit them, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Virginia Wine at Wolf Trap

wolftrapwineAttending concerts at Wolf Trap’s Filene Center has become a summer ritual for us, and we start looking forward to our first concert as soon as spring arrives. We also try to attend and experience at least one new or unknown act each year. This year we decided that our first concert would be the performance by the Italian trio, Il Volo. We had never heard of them, but apparently they are billed as “popera” artists who mainly appeal to an older audience. I guess we qualify since Paul and I just turned 50 this year!

So did we bring Virginia wine along for the concert? Of course we did. The dry 2013 Blenheim Rose accompanied our picnic that included bowtie pasta tossed with chunks of grilled chicken, fresh Italian herbs and parmesan cheese. It all paired well with the young Italian trio who belted Italian classics as well as popular standards by Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and Barbra Streisand. We sometimes bring along an extra bottle of wine in case we want an extra splash to go with fruit and cheeses; this time, we enjoyed an extra pour from the 2012 Pollak Rose. This Rose was dry too; both shared similar profiles to boot—strawberry notes with a citrus twist and a crisp finish. Leftovers were taken home and enjoyed the next day!

Plan to attend a concert at Wolf Trap, and be sure to sit on the lawn so that you can enjoy food and Virginia wine at your leisure. Visit Virginia wineries beforehand, though to sure to stock up on favorite summer pours. Be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Pollak Vineyards

On our recent three day weekend trip to Charlottesville we stopped at one of our favorites, Pollak Vineyards. We were there last September but always enjoy our time at Pollak so we stopped by again. Plus, it’s always good opportunity to pick up some much needed white wines. For some reason, my white wine rack always needs some restocking.
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We always get a warm family feeling when we enter the tasting room and see so many familiar faces. Selecting our favorites from the tasting menu is always difficult because we enjoy all the Pollak wines. This time around though we were able to pick a few. Of the whites we really enjoyed the 2011 Viognier. Warren really enjoyed this one last time but I thought it had changed somewhat in the bottle and I really enjoyed it this time as well. We both noted the peach, apricot, and honeysuckle notes. Even though this was my favorite white of the day, I did end up leaving with a half case of the white wines. You can never have too many choices when looking for a white wine to serve.
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Not surprisingly, some 2012 wines are beginning to appear and Pollak just recently released their 2012 Rose. While we aren’t necessarily looking for Rose at this time of the year, we certainly thought about summer concerts while sipping this Rose. We noted strawberry and spice with a smooth mouth feel. It was created with Cabernet Franc. Nice job, Benoit!

As you may be aware, Pollak won a gold medal in the Governor’s Cup for their 2009 Cabernet Franc Reserve. We were interested to taste the 2010 Cabernet Franc to see how it was developing. We really enjoyed this one back in September. The 2010 Cabernet Franc was again our favorite red. The blackberry, raspberry, and dark chocolate notes danced around on our palates with delight. This one may be our favorite for some time to come.
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Even though the 2010 Petit Verdot isn’t normally on the tasting menu, they had a bottle open and offered us a taste. We thoroughly enjoyed it. We noted plum, blackberry, and dust. It’s a bit hot and a bit tannic right now but in time this is going to be a perfect wine. As we often do, we thought of food while tasting this one.

With our tasting complete, our conversations ended, we enjoyed a glass of the 2010 Cabernet Franc with a baguette while enjoying the fire in the tasting room. Before leaving we purchased more than half a case of wine to add to our wine racks. If you haven’t been to Pollak Vineyards recently, it’s time to plan a trip soon. And be sure to tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Friday Pours

The holidays are such a busy time of year. On Friday evening we were able to sit down, relax and have dinner at home. We decided to have dinner at my house and decorate my Christmas tree.

We began the evening with the 2010 Pinot Gris from Pollak Vineyards. We had this with some sliced swiss cheese and water crackers. Right away on the nose we noted lemon-lime. On the palate we noted citrus as well. One thing we noticed was lacking was acidity. This pinot gris wasn’t nearly as crisp as we remember others being in the past. This made us wonder of this was a symptom of the 2010 growing season for whites. Have you noticed any 2010 Virginia whites lacking acidity?

For dinner we had ham steaks and scalloped potatoes. We selected the 2009 Cabernet Franc from Philip Carter Winery. We have enjoyed this one in the past and knew it would pair well with our meal. We noted violets, dried herbs, raspberry and cherry. We noted very similar characteristics in the mouth. The woodsy, herby, berry fruit really stood out. And yes, it paired well with our meal.

If you visit Pollak Vineyards or Philip Carter Winery anytime soon, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Hurricane Wines

We survived hurricane Irene last night. We had lots of wind and rain but very little damage and the power never went out! While weathering the storm we decided to enjoy some Pollak Vineyards wines with our nibbles and dinner. We haven’t been to Pollak Vineyards in awhile so we need to see what new wines are on the tasting menu.

To begin our evening we started with the 2009 Durant White from Pollak Vineyards. We selected cheese and crackers to accompany this wine. We noted apple, pear, and citrus on both the nose and in the mouth. It paired well with our cheese and crackers. We wondered if the 2010 is as crisp as this one. This was my last bottle so we’ll have to get some more soon.

For dinner we made a chicken and pasta dish. Since we just had a white wine with our nibbles, we decided we needed something a little bigger but not too big. We selected the 2008 Merlot from Pollak Vineyards. This is a medium bodied wine with lots of fruit characteristics. Since I’m currently enjoying the 2008 reds, this one was just as I expected. We noted lots of dark fruit…plum, dark cherry, blackberry…with a really smooth finish. It was the finish that made it possible to continue to sip this one well after we finished our meal. Yet another reason to get to Pollak Vineyards soon and check out the latest vintages. If you visit Pollak Vineyards anytime soon, tell them VIrginia Wine Time sent you!