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Monticello Sweep Part 2

We began Virginia Wine Month with posts about the upcoming Bluegrass Festival at Chrysalis Vineyards and our decision to kick off the special month a day early by enjoying a picnic with the crisp 2011 Seyval Blanc from Gray Ghost Vineyards. However, before we go further into the month, I do want to conclude our recap of visits to wineries in the Monticello area. So pretend that it’s still Labor Day weekend and read on!

Barboursville Vineyards: I always look forward to a tasting here, and no, the assembly line tasting process does not bother me at all. The wines here are consistently well made, and we always leave with a bottle (or two or three) of something. Favorites here: of the white wines, Paul liked the stainless steel Chardonnay, and I preferred the oaked Chardonnay Reserve. No surprises here, right? We did, however, concur on the Rose 2011 with its refreshing crispness and strawberry flavors. We recently enjoyed this one at Open Kitchen, too. Red wine faves included the Sangiovese Reserve 2010 for Paul, but for me it was the Cabernet Fran Reserve 2010 with its big raspberry, plum and cedar elements. Of course, the Octagon is always in a special category, and the 2008 vintage is noteworthy for its complexity and aging potential. Sharing a space in the special category is the Malvaxia Reserve 2007 with its rich palate of pineapple, apricot and honey.



Keswick Vineyards: Stephen Benard is a master winemaker, and a tasting here is another always on the “must do” list when we visit the area. Paul was a fan of the dry 2011 Rose with its vibrant acidity and red berry flavors. I liked this one too, but I am always a sucker for Old World-style Chardonnays. The 2011 Chardonnay was my winner. Fermented in both stainless steel tanks and new French oak barrels, I noted flavors of pear, pineapple and butterscotch with a honeyed mouth feel. Of the red wines, we both agreed on the 2010 Merlot. Paul the Merlot fan gravitated toward the complexity of this one; oak notes complimented rather than dominated the nose and palate. Dark cherry and raspberry flavors melded with a chocolate kiss; tannins were still a bit gripping but not unpleasantly so. Buy now and either decant or age. We bought bottles of each favorite.


Kilaurwen Winery: A first visit for us. We were able to taste the fruity Fiesta White, a mix of Rkatsetelli (96%) and Viognier (4%). A fun summer wine, we noted flavors of peach and citrus. At 2 ½% residual sugar, it was bright a fruity. Paul enjoyed the 2010 Cabernet Franc with its elements of blackberry, dark cherry, black olive, and pepper. I was more intrigued with the 2010 Cabernet Franc Reserve that was aged in American oak barrels for 8 months. Earthier elements prevailed here with notes of anise and violet. Owner Bob Steeves conducted our tasting, and we found out that the name of the winery is actually a blend of his daughter’s names, Kimberlee, Laura and Wendy. Steeves has maintained the vineyard since he purchased it in 1994; his first vintage, though, was bottled in 2009. His flagship varietal, Riesling, was sold out and therefore not available for tasting; however, we did learn that his Cabernet Francs have earned numerous medals and even beat a California Cabernet Franc in a blind tasting!



Stinson Vineyards: This was our third visit to Stinson Vineyards, and we both enjoyed the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc. Fermented in a concrete egg (that looks like an atomic bomb), it presented aromas of grapefruit and cut grass. Our red wine faves included the complex 2010 Meritage with its smoky nose and aromas o blackberry and raspberry; dark fruit flavors gave way to a peppery finish. If cheesecake is on the dessert menu, try pairing it with the 2010 Petit Manseng. Petit Manseng seems to have a characteristic unctuous mouth feel, so at 9% residual sugar this offers a fuller mouth feel in spades. Notes of orange peel and sesame makes added to the profile, and this dessert wine presents a nice way to end a dinner party.


We always enjoy a trip to wineries in the Monticello area. Visit these wineries during Virginia Wine Month to select your own favorites. Please mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Appellation Wine Trail

On Saturday we participated in the grade opening of the new Appellation Wine trail near Charlottesville Virginia. The trail consists of five wineries; White Hall Vineyards, Mountfair Vineyards, Glass House Winery, Stinson Vineyards and Moss Vineyards. Stinson had a preview opening this weekend and Moss Vineyards will be opening in 2012. We knew we wouldn’t have time to get to all the wineries so we will plan to visit the rest later this summer.

We began at Stinson Vineyards. We met Frank from Drinkwhatyoulike.com at Stinson and began our tasting. We started with the 2010 Sauvignon Blanc. We noted some nice citrus fruit, a grassy element and some minerality. This one quickly became my favorite. Its not for sale right now because they haven’t received their labels yet. Look for this on the official opening weekend on June 16th. We then moved on to the 2010 Rose. It’s made from 100% mourvedro. Warren noted strawberry on the nose. I picked up red fruit on the tongue and some nice pink grapefruit notes. We then moved on to the refreshing 2010 Sugar Hollow White. This one will be nice for the summer with it’s apple and grapefruit notes. Next up were the reds. We started with the 2010 Sugar Hollow Red. It’s a blend of 95% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc. It was aged in stainless steel and was rustic and earthy. The 2010 Cabernet Franc was next. This one won’t be released until the opening day as well. We noted smoke and spice on this one.

While at Stinson Vineyards we met Nathan Vrooman who, along with his family, is starting a winery as well, Ankida Ridge Vineyards. He brought a sample of their Pinot Noir to taste. Considering how tough it is to grow Pinot noir in Virginia, this one was pretty good. We look forward to tasting more from Ankida Ridge in the future.

Next stop on the trail was Mountfair Vineyards. Mountfair has been around a couple of years and we’ve enjoyed their wines before. This visit was no exception. After surviving the downpour on the way there it was nice to see Fritz, Chris, Jacquline, and Ben once we entered the tasting room. After our hellos we got started tasting wines. While they only produce reds, they were pouring the Fizz and Brut from Thibout Janisson to begin the tasting.

We began the tasting with the smoky 2009 Merlot. We noted dark cherry tobacco,and beautifully smooth finish. This one became my favorite right away. We continued with the 2009 Cabernet Franc. This one had a velvety mouth feel with hints of bramble berries. Next up was the 2008 Belated. We noted bright red fruit characteristics. The 2008 Indigenous was nice. This is the first wine created using their own fruit. It’s a blend of petit verdot and cabernet franc. We noted a smokey nose, plum, tar, tobacco, and black pepper with a silky finish. The final wine was the 2009 Engagement. This is a meritage style blend. We noticed it was tight and needed a good swirl to get the cherry, ash, and coffee to appear.

After our tasting we joined Jacqueline, Ben, and Frank for some of the 2009 Merlot. This one stood out as my favorite at Mountfair. Before leaving we secured a bottle of the merlot for my rack. We always have a great time with the crew from Mountfair.

There are more wineries on the trail and we look forward to visiting them in the future. If you visit Stinson or Mountfair be sure to tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

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