Summertime is Virginia Wine Time

Yes, summer is here and it’s time to enjoy refreshing wines during the hot days ahead. We’ve visited a few wineries over the past couple of weekends, and here are some recommendations for wines to enjoy during the summer:

Fabbioli Cellars: We are big rose fans all year long but even more so during the summer. Fabbioli’s 2012 Rose Luna is dry and made from Sangiovese grapes; done in stainless steel tanks, its light pink hue and strawberry notes make for a versatile wine that can be enjoyed on its own, with a picnic, or at a cookout. A crisp finish makes it refreshing to boot. The 2011 fruit forward Chambourcin should pair well with grilled fare especially if spicy rubs and sauces are being used. Of course, we always recommend the popular Raspberry Merlot with any chocolate dessert especially brownies!
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Gray Ghost Vineyards: I like crab cakes this time of the year, and the Seyval Blanc from Gray Ghost Vineyards is one that I always keep on hand to pair with them. The 2012 vintage presents citrus flavors and a mineral note too; a short time on Hungarian oak provides a rounded feel not unlike a Fume Blanc. A sweeter option might be the 2011 Vidal Blanc with its floral aromas and fruity palate. Steaks on the grill should pair well with the 2011 Petit Verdot, Paul’s personal favorite. Elements of blackberry, dark plum, and black pepper finished with nice tannins to make it perfect partner with a strip steak and grilled veggies.
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Rappahannock Cellars: Since our last visit, Theo Smith has taken the helm as winemaker; however, the wines presented for tasting on our visit were mostly produced by Jason Burrus. Burrus is now winemaker at Chrysalis Vineyards. Our recommendations for summer wines here? Try 2012 Rose with its aromas of watermelon and strawberry; .5% residual sugar elevates the fruit to make for a fruity wine destined to pair well with cheeses, salads, and picnics. My own favorite was the 2012 Viognier. Its floral aromas and notes of peach and lemon zest led to a lengthier finish. This is a nice wine to have around if dining al fresco with seafood, poultry or pork on the menu.
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Summertime is a fun time to visit Virginia wineries. Magnolias and honeysuckle scent the air, and butterflies flutter about the vineyards. Plan a visit to these wineries to find your own summer wines, and enjoy summer’s flora and fauna while sipping a glass of at the winery. Of course, be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Holiday Wines at Rappahannock Cellars

Time for more holiday menus, and this time it’s Christmas parties and dinners. Of course, that means celebrating with the perfect Virginia wines. Our recent visit to Rappahannock Cellars presented a few options.
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2011 Viogner from Ducard Vineyard: Newly released on the day of our visit to Rappahannock Cellars, this aromatic wine with its honeysuckle notes and soft peach flavors would be a natural pairing with roasted turkey.

2011 Noblesse Rouge: I really enjoyed this one. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, and Petit Verdot, this accessible red wine with its raspberry and blackberry flavors should prove quite the partner with pork roast.
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2010 Meritage: Bold!! Of course, this Bordeaux-style blend is from the very warm and dry 2010 vintage, and tasters may want to buy now but drink later. However, if you plan to serve up a rib roast for the holidays, consider this one; however, decant before pouring. Aromas and flavors include blackberry, dark cherry, and spice with a whiff of tobacco to boot.

2011 Rose: Ham is always a favorite this time of year, so consider the 2011 Rose. Paul liked this one a lot and he seemed to enjoy the fizzy mouth presence. It was a bit odd for me, though, since this is not a sparkling wine. However, I do think it would work well salty smoked ham that has been spiked with cloves and glazed with honey. Cranberry sauce on the side, of course!

Solera: Sugared pecans, dried fruit, and blue cheeses for dessert? Solera might be the dessert wine to offer guests. This sherry-like wine is made from Vidal Blanc grapes and presents aromas of honey, nuts, and orange peel.
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We made certain to purchase our favorite wines for the holidays once our tasting concluded. Be sure to pay a visit to Rapahannock Cellars to find your own holiday favorites, and be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Out and About in the Rappahannock Area

Two weeks ago we attended a winemaker’s dinner at Marriott Ranch in Hume, Virginia, and the dinner featured wines from Gray Ghost Vineyards. Paul posted the pictures and menu from that lovely event; however, we also used that weekend to visit a couple of wineries in the area. They included Rappahannock Cellars and Sharp Rock Vineyards.

Rappahannock Cellars: Always a treat to sample the wines here. Of the white wines, our favorite was the 2011 Viognier that was fermented in stainless steel and then aged in oak for six months. Paul noted that the alcohol level on this vintage was lower than the 2010 vintage, and perhaps this explains the more accessible even playful nature of this particular Viognier. I noted bright citrus notes and softer aromas of orange and peach. This is certainly a wine to enjoy on its own but could be enjoyed with light fare, shellfish or simple poultry dishes. It should also prove to be quite popular for the spring and summer. Of the reds, I enjoyed the 2010 Noblesse Rouge, a lighter-bodied Bordeaux style wine. Nice cherry aromas with cedar and pepper notes were noted with a hint of vanilla to finish. Paul checked off the bolder 2010 Cabernet Franc as a favorite. We have not tasted many 2010 red wines, but we anticipate releases to rival the heralded 2007 season. This Cabernet Franc may provide a clue as to what to expect. “Jammy” was my primary descriptor, and full raspberry and blackberry fruit characteristics were noted. Spicy elements prevailed on the nose and palate. Definitely a buy now but drink later wine! Oh, and sparkling lovers should look for the release of a sparkling rose this Easter.


Sharp Rock Vineyards: It had been a long time since our last visit to Sharp Rock Vineyards, and winemaker Jimm East greeted us in the tasting room. Two very adorable dogs, of which one was a rescue animal, also welcomed us. The pleasant and unusually warm weather found us enjoying the crisp 2011 Chardonnay. This one is not oaked, and it presented nice pear and apple flavors with a pleasant acidity. We also concurred on our favorite red wine, the 2010 Synergy. A blend of Petit Verdot and Merlot, we observed plum and dark cherry flavors with elements of sweet tobacco and pepper. The tannins were surprisingly smooth for a 2010 vintage; we will be comparing notes on the 2010 red wines now that they are being released. While the Synergy could be enjoyed now, I would not be afraid to keep it on the wine rack for a couple of years. We enjoyed a glass of the Chardonnay and appreciated the view of nearby Old Rag Mountain and the hypnotic gush of the Hughes River. Jimm East joined us for a bit of conversation, and we learned that the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc will soon released. He is also considering a blend of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc to create a crisp summer sipper. Jimm also shared with us that while the 2011 season was certainly a challenge for him, it was not at all a disaster. He does anticipate that quality wines will indeed be made from the 2011 vintage.



Vacationers may want to consider a stay at Sharp Rock’s bed and breakfast. Two cottages that are part of the Sharp Rock property are available to rent for a relaxing weekend getaway. Bring your hiking boots for a scenic walk and then plan to unwind with a favorite book and a glass of Sharp Rock wine; enjoy besides the babbling Hughes River, and you may just doze off for an afternoon nap.

Now that spring (or early summer) has sprung, get out to these two wineries to sample their latest releases. Be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Two Meals, Two Wines

As is often the case, Warren and I don’t exactly agree on what’s for dinner. Friday night Warren made crab cakes for himself and tilapia that was breaded and spiced with parmesan cheese for me. I don’t happen to like shell fish so having the tilapia solved that problem. We also had bow tie pasta tossed with parmesan cheese and herbs. But what wines to pair with our meals?

Warren likes big buttery chardonnays but I prefer lighter crispier white wines. He selected the 2009 Reserve Chardonnay from Gray Ghost to accompany his meal. He noted ripe pear, subtle grilled pineapple, and a toasty lingering finish.


I opted for the 2009 Viognier from Rappahannock Cellars. It had crisp tropical notes, honeysuckle, and a delightful fruity ending. Warren picked up some spicy elements.

Both wines complimented both our meals. Of course I’m partial to the crisp whites and voted the 2009 Viognier as the winner. Warren voted for the 2009 Reserve Chardonnay. If you visit Gray Ghost or Rappahannock Cellars anytime soon, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!