Bloggers Meet Cicadas in Charlottesville

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.

We Add Reynard Florence to Visits List

Yes, we are getting to yet another milestone in our growing list of wineries visited. To date, we have visited 148 wineries, and we hope to reach 150 by the end of the year. During a recent visit to the Monticello area, we were able to add relative newbie Reynard Florence Vineyard the list.

Sue Haney was our tasting associate on the day of our visit, and she proved to be quite skillful in presenting the wines at Reynard Florence Vineyards. Sue also provided us with information about the vineyard and winery, because we always ask those pesky questions! Anyway, our tasting began with four white wines including two white blends that featured Petit Manseng. The first white offering was also my favorite, the crisp Reynard Blanc 2010. This is a blend of Riesling (33%), Traminette (33%), Petit Manseng (25%), and Viognier (89%) and presented a full floral nose and tropical fruit aromas; nice citrus flavors and a vibrant acidity made it an easy sipper. A residual sugar of 3% served to enhance the fruit characteristics of the wine without making it cloyingly sweet. The Reynard Blanc Monticello 2011 was likewise aromatic and fruity with a slightly more weight in the mouth. The blend includes Traminette (33.3%), Vidal Blanc (33.3%), and petit Manseng (33.3%) and spent some time in neutral oak; it likewise has a 3% residual sugar.

The next two white offerings were Petit Manseng from two different vintages— 2010 and 2011. Petit Manseng is the esoteric varietal that is catching on in Virginia in much the same way as Viognier did several years ago. Of the two, I preferred the 2010 vintage. It offered a rich palate of pear, lychee nut and straw; although the residual sugar clocked in at 6%, I thought that it had a leaner edge than the 2011 counterpart. Paul favored the 2011 version that shared the same characteristics as the older vintage but I noted a more viscous mouth feel. We’re paying more attention to Petit Manseng, and I must admit that I still educating my palate about the grape. However, it is beginning to emerge from its usual designation as a dessert wine as winemakers are experimenting with Petit Manseng as a possible rival to Viognier a leading grape in Virginia.

Of the red wines, the Cabernet Franc 2010 was described as a “Virginia classic”, and it indeed it was. Light bodied with flavors of raspberry and cherry, it also presented subtle earthy nuances with a peppery finish. The Reynard Rouge 2010, a blend of Merlot and Malbec with a “touch” of Viognier, presented more complexity with elements of blackberry, cherry, tobacco, and vanilla.

As we swirled and sipped at the tasting bar, Sue provided us with a brief background about the vineyard and winery. Owners Roe and Dee (Florence) Allison planted their vineyard, located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, in 2006 with a first harvest of grapes in 2009. By 2006, both earned certificates in viticulture, and they maintain that good winemaking begins in the vineyard. They are therefore dedicated to appropriate vineyard practices that include growing varietals that are appropriate to their site. They currently have less than one acre of property planted in vines, and these yield a production of 500 cases; however, the goal is to increase production to at least 1000 cases. Their flagship grape? Petit Manseng, of course. The Allisons also grow Grenache, a grape that is widely planted in France’s Languedoc region. Michael Schaps is the winemaker.

With our tasting done, we purchased our favorite Reynard Florence wines, and we know that will return to Reynard Florence Vineyard to taste their latest releases. Plan a visit to Reynard Florence Vineyard and mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.