Virginia Wine Time

We Enjoy Virginia Wine

Tag: tasting

2008 Pollak Viognier

We’ve posted about it before but I had the 2008 Pollak Viognier with parmesan and chicken pasta for dinner. It was a great compliment to my pasta. It has lots of fruit on the nose and palate with a crisp long finish. A great way to enjoy Christmas eve dinner.

Wine Festival At The Plains

On Saturday Warren and I attended The Commonwealth Polo and WIne Event at The Plains. As you can see from the photos on the last post, it was a beautiful setting at Great Meadow. Even though the skies were cloudy and it was a little chilly for early September there was no rain which made it perfect for enjoying wine tasting, browsing the exhibits, and watching the polo matches. We had a great time.

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Our focus of course was on the wines. There were many wineries tasting at the event. Many of the wineries we’ve visited before but there were also a few new ones. Here’s a listing of most of the wineries we visited at the festival and which wines got our gold stars.

Gabriele Rausse Winery-Stars go to the 2007 Refosco and the 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve.

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Philip Carter Winery-Stars go to the recently released 2008 Chardonnay and the Meritage. We plan to visit Philip Carter soon because they have some new wines coming out this fall.

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Gadino Cellars-Our gold stars were given to the 2007 Viognier and the 2007 Cabernet Franc…both really nice, strong wines. We have to make a visit to the winery soon.

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Aspen Dale-We had a great time visiting with Shay McNeal when we visited Aspen Dale Winery so it was nice to see her again at the tasting booth. Our gold star here goes to the 2008 Parris Country Blend Merlot.

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Fox Meadow Winery-We haven’t been here in a long time so it was nice to taste their current offerings. Our gold stars went to the 2008 Riesling and the 2006 Merlot.

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Miracle Valley-We’ve visited this one a few times and always enjoy their wines. Our gold star here goes to the 2008 Cabernet Franc.

Holly Grove Vineyard-This is a new one to us. We are curious to make a trip to the eastern shore for a visit sometime. Our gold star here went to the 2008 Sunset Rose.

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Bright Meadow-This is another new one to us. We’ll have to plan a trip down south for this one. Our gold star here went to the Burley Red.

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After our tasting we made our way to the the food vendors and had ourselves some brick oven pizza with a bottle of Parris Country Blend Merlot from Aspen Dale. It went beautifully with our spicy pizza.

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After enjoying our lunch, we took some time to enjoy the polo matches that were taking place right in front of us. The arrangement of the food vendors, seating areas, and shopping vendors was perfect for enjoying the polo while enjoying other activities. Warren has decided he’d like to learn how to play polo!

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At the end of the polo matches, we did a little shopping at different exhibits. We left with some peanut brittle and some biscotti. We loaded up our purchases and headed home. It was a long day but one we thoroughly enjoyed. If you visit any of the wineries mentioned, please tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Back To Our Regular Program

So back on the Monticello Trail and re-visits to first timers the last time we were in the area. These would include Sugarleaf Vineyards and Pollak Vineyards.

We continue to be impressed with the offerings at Sugarleaf Vineyards. The 2008 Viognier, blended with 20% Petit Manseng, was my own favorite and presented stone fruit and honeysuckle on the nose with a lovely fruit combination of papaya, fresh pineapple, and a citrus twist in the mouth. I noted some white pepper, too. Some aging in French oak helps to provide a longer finish. Paul placed a star next to the 2007 Petit Manseng and jotted down “floral” and “fruity” as aromatic notes and “peachy” for flavors. He described its finish as “crisp”.

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Of the red wines, we both concurred that the 2006 Cabernet Franc (blended with 10% Petit Verdot) was the gold star winner. Extracted berry and dried herbs were detected on the nose with similar qualities in the mouth with some pepper to boot; I noted some vanilla at the end due to aging in both American and European oak. Looking for a decadent treat? Try the 2007 Neubia Nectar, a lush dessert wine that is a blend of Petit Manseng and Vidal Blanc.

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We always hear good things about Pollak Vineyards and for good reason. Here too, the lineup of wines continues to be quite impressive. The 2008 Durant White, a blend of Viognier, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay, is a crisp pour with characteristics of citrus, apple, and tropical fruit. A crowd pleaser by any means, this easy drinking white should prove to be versatile at the most formal or informal affairs. I appreciated the 2008 Rose with its tart berry characteristics. Dry and crisp, this rose is yet another example of nice roses being produced in Virginia.

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Paul’s gold star was reserved for the 2007 Merlot with its ripe cherry and blackberry aromas and flavors. Paul found this one to be more fruit-forward and appreciated its longer finish. My own star was reserved for the complex 2006 Meritage, a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot. Darker fruit profiles here with pepper and cedar noted, too. Nice tannins here made me wish for a nice steak!

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With our tasting done, we were ready to enjoy lunch with one of our favorite wines at Pollak Vineyards. We dined on sliced beef and wild rice salad with a hunk of Emmental cheese, and we paired this with the 2007 Merlot. The grounds at Pollak Vineyards offer stunning views which we enjoyed while munching and sipping.

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Pollak is also known to be amongst the most “green” of vineyards and wineries, and we look forward to delving into this topic the next time we visit Pollak Vineyards. Of course, we also plan to visit Sugarleaf Vineyards to sample upcoming pours that will include the anticpated Cuvee Neubia. Let us know your favorites at Sugarleaf Vineyards and Pollak Vineyards, but when you visit, mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Pardon The Interruption

Pardon the interruption of our Monticello Wine Trail series. It will resume after this brief break.

Despite the nasty, rainy day, we decided to visit a few Loudoun County wineries to get a few more stamps in our passport for the Loudoun Wine Trail. We decided to visit a few that we hadn’t been to in a while. This won’t be a full on report of all the wines; Warren is the expert there. I’ll be sharing my impressions of our visits. We went to Loudoun Valley Vineyards, Sunset Hills, and Doukenie.

newlabelGreat things have been happening at Loudoun Valley. When we visited in the Winter we could see things were beginning to change. This time we saw lots of changes. The tasting room has a new air about it…fresh paint, new tables and chairs, and there was even live music! Of course we tasted all the wines and enjoyed them all but I’ll say the 2008 Pinot Grigio was awarded my gold star. It was crisp, floral, with citrus flavors. We also noted the new labels. Very nice! When you visit Loudoun Valley, and I’m sure you will, be sure to taste the 2008 Pinot Grigio.

Our next stop was Sunset Hills. We last visited Sunset Hills in February. At that time they had only been open a few months. Since then things have only gotten better at Sunset Hills. The tasting room was a buzz with tastings going on. They were setting up for a wedding reception as well. As busy as the tasting room was, there was someone available to help us with our tasting. She led us through the tasting and Warren put his stars next to the viognier and the cabernet franc. We were lucky to taste some of these reds in the barrels during our last visit. The big change to Sunset Hills that I noticed this time over our last visit was the addition of food. You can now order cheese and bread baskets with meats and other delicious items. They even have fudge! I had to have some of the peanut butter fudge. It was delicious! Keep in mind though that you can only bring your own food to the lawn for a picnic. The two large decks and the tasting room are reserved for food purchased at Sunset Hills.

Our last stop was at Doukenie. We’ve been there many times in the past and always enjoy their wines. The same was true this time, we enjoyed the wines, especially the 2008 Mandolin. What was different about our visit this time was the change in the tasting room. They have moved the old bar out and now have a huge rectangular bar pretty much in the middle of the room. You just about run into it when you walk in the door. Of course the new big bar does allow for more people to cluster around for tastings. I was just a little disappointed because so many times in the past we had made a connection with our tasting associate in a smaller, more personal way and that seems to be lost with this new arrangement. However, the new bar set up doesn’t effect the wines at all! The wines are what keeps us coming back!

The next time you find yourself in Loudoun County be sure to stop off at Loudoun Valley Vineyards, Sunset Hills, and Doukenie and be sure to tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you! Also, be sure to check our next post as we finish up our tasting notes from our visits on the Monticello Trail.

Philip Carter Winery Tasting Part Two

So our barrel tasting at Philip Carter Winery gave us something to look forward to in the summer and fall; however, what about the current pours? After our barrel tasting concluded, Philip Carter Strother led us through a tasting of wines now offered in the tasting room. Along the way, he shared with us his future plans for Philip Carter Winery.


Of the wine currently offered, by far the best was the 2006 Chardonnay with its apple flavors and spicy finish. A classic Old World Chardonnay with a lengthier finish, this one is just fine on its own, with light cheeses or a simple poultry dish. Of interest to Paul the Artiste was the 2006 Falconwood. The label was designed by a local artist and reflects the landscape of the area; in fact, Strother will continue this practice so as to present a unique opportunity for local artists to show their work. Falconwood is a white blend of Vidal Blanc, Seyval Blanc and Chardonnay, and at 2% sugar is sweeter than the Chardonnay. It presented a floral nose and a mix of tropical fruit flavors and would be perfect for a warm summer day. Guest blogger Michael Tyler would be certain to add this one to his wine rack!

Of the reds, the 2007Chambourcin may appeal to those who are looking for a young, lighter-bodied red to pair with burgers on the grill. I preferred the more complex 2006 Meritage which is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Lush cherry and raspberry flavors were complemented by a spicy edge at the end to make this one a natural partner with steaks.


Paul’s own favorite was the 2006 Late Harvest made from late harvest Vidal Blanc grapes. Paul noted enticing aromas of honeysuckle and apricots and enjoyed its opulent stone fruit flavors. Sweet enough for dessert, consider the 2006 Late Harvest with a hunk of blue cheese. The 2006 Late Harvest is a source of pride for Philip Carter Strother as it will soon be poured in London as part of an international presentation of Virginia wines. Not to be missed is the 2007 Sweet Danielle, a port-style dessert wine made from a secret ingredient (my guess is Chambourcin). Sweet Danielle was named after Strother’s wife, Danielle, and was served to her as an anniversary surprise at a local restaurant!

So I had to ask these questions of Philip Carter Strother: If you were interested in making wine, why Virginia? Why buy Stillhouse, and winery and vineyard much in need of improvement? For Strother, it was a family matter. He is the direct descendant of King Carter, a wine collector who settled in Virginia in the 18th century; his son Charles made wines in Virginia that earned international recognition—and this was before Jefferson’s attempts at wine making! Furthermore, Strother’s family also maintains a farm in Delaplane, and so for him this continues a long-established family involvement in agriculture and winemaking. And why Stillhouse? Though in need of some TLC, the vines were mature and still rather vigorous, and the winery presented to him an existing operation that needed some re-organizing. The property includes 22 acres of which 11 acres are in vines, and the winery now produces 2300 cases of wine. New plantings of Viognier and Petit Verdot should eventually add to the future lineup of wines.


So with our tastings completed, we were ready for a snack and a glass of wine. We opted to sip a glass of the 2006 Chardonnay with some Swiss cheese and French bread; we were able to enjoy wine and cheese outdoors on a pleasant (and probably the last) sunny day. We compared notes and again marveled at the changes under way at Philip Carter Winery. We’ll return soon, of course; however, you all get out there before we do, mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Weekend Wrap Up

We had a busy wine weekend! We had two wine events to attend this weekend and they were both wonderful events. There’s so much to say about both but we’ve decided to mention a few things and show you the events through pictures.

On Saturday we attended the annual Nebbiolo Vertical tasting at Breaux Vineyards. The food was absolutely delicious and provided by Grandale Farms. We had three flights of wine with a course of food to enjoy with each flight.


We tasted the 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006, and 2007 Nebbiolos. 2005, 2006, and 2007 are still in the barrels and won’t be released for a few years. Of those we tasted, the 2001 and the 2007 got our gold stars. They both had nice tannis, nice color and went well with the food parings.






On Sunday we attended the Warrenton Wine and Arts Festival. Several local wineries were in attendance and it was nice to taste many of the wines we enjoy at their wineries. One winery that we haven’t had the chance to visit was Rogers Ford. We really need to plan to visit them soon. At their table we really enjoyed the Sumerduck Rose. We actually picked up a bottle to bring home before leaving.




Another notable wine that received one of our gold stars was the 2008 8 Chains LoCo Vino which is a traminette/vidal blanc blend. It was crisp and fruity and perfect on a hot day like today. We secured a bottle of this one as well. Doug Fabbioli produced this wonderful wine.



After our tasting we wandered around the displays of artwork, photography, and antiques. We also enjoyed some delicious lunch items from the Knights of Columbus. It was a very warm day but we enjoyed the event and came away with some great wines. We hope this becomes an annual event. If so, it’s one you’ll want to put on your calendar next year.


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