Tasting at Piedmont Vineyards

Here’s another post for Regional Wine Week and Virginia Wine Month.

After our tasting at Chrysalis Vineyards, we decided to see how things were progressing at Piedmont Vineyards. We are please to report that Gerhard von Fincke has garnered medals for the all three 2009 Chardonnay offerings that are now available in the tasting room. We posted on these in the spring including what was then a sneak taste of the 2009 Special Reserve; all three were well-crafted, and we applauded Gerhard’s efforts as winemaker at Piedmont Vineyards. Paul was particularly fond of the Hunt Country Red, and i did concur that it had developed quite nicely in the bottle. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, the Hunt Country Red could be described as a bistro-style wine best served with pasta, pizza, grilled fare, or cheeses.

After our tasting, we enjoyed a glass of the 2009 Special Reserve Chardonnay with sliced turkey, white cheeses, and a baguette. It was a lovely afternoon, and the grounds were packed with tasters and picnickers. We are sure that we will return to Piedmont Vineyards to sample the latest releases. Planning a trip to Piedmont Vineyards? Mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Kliman Book Signing at Chrysalis Vineyards

Food and wine critic Todd Kliman held a book signing for his acclaimed work, The Wild Vine, which chronicles the discovery and rediscovery of the Norton grape.  And what better venue for the event than Chrysalis Vineyards, home of the largest planting by acreage of the Norton grape. Paul and I attended the signing; of course, we sneaked in a tasting, too!

Readers may remember that I wrote a short article about the Norton grape for the now-defunct Edible Chesapeake magazine; however, I was eager to grab a copy of Todd Kliman’s work and was lucky to be on hand to hear Kliman deliver a reading of selected passages from the book.  To say that I was in awe of his word-crafting (for lack of a better description) is an understatement.  What could have been a mundane re-telling a grape’s history instead became a gripping, spell- binding story.  The grape’s road to success was never a straight one, and Kliman captured the twists and turns suited to an action-filled novel; intertwined in all of this were the personalities who were likewise intriguing.  Like the Norton grape itself, these personalities could be described as daring, bold and unapologetic, and they include Dr. Daniel Norton, Dennis Horton, and Jenni McCloud.  I must say, though, that the most compelling story in The Wild Vine was McCloud’s, and there was no doubt in my mind that she believed in herself and her mission—to produce the best Norton wines in the world.

After the reading, I joined the line of fans to have my book autographed by Todd Kliman, and beside him was a glass of Chrysalis’ Norton.  Jenni McCloud was also nearby and with pen in hand she too signed my book.  I think that I devoured most of it on the ride home and before retiring to bed that evening.

It goes without saying that we did indeed do a tasting while we were at Chrysalis, but I’d rather the book take top honors here.  I will briefly mention our gold-star favorites, though.  Of the white wines, my favorite was the 2009 Viognier, a flagship wine at Chrysalis.  Rich aromatics with honeysuckle notes, rich pear and lemon flavors with a creamy mouth feel made for an elegant wine.  Paul favored the 2009 Chardonnay with its green apple flavors and mineral notes.  In the spirit of the day, we both favored the Norton offerings when evaluating the red wines.  Paul preferred the dark jam flavors and smoky aromas of the 2006 Norton Estate Bottled; my choice was the 2005 Norton Locksley Reserve with its subtle violet nose, earthy aromas and concentrated dark fruit flavors that finished with a spicy edge.  Complex? Yes!

With book signed and tasting completed, we lingered at Chrysalis Vineyards for a while longer while sipping a glass of our favorite white wines.  Jenni introduced us to returning winemaker Alan Kinne, and it was Kinne who produced the winery’s first wines, Chardonnay and Viognier, in 1997.  Alan Kinne has garnered extensive experience at wineries on both the East and West coasts, and the 2010 vintages from Chrysalis Vineyards will all be produced by him.  We eagerly await the release of these wines as well as future conversations with Alan Kinne.

Celebrate Virginia Wine Month (and Regional Wine Week) by reading Todd Kliman’s The Wild Vine, and learn the story behind America’s true native grape and the individuals who turned Norton into a world-class champ.  An even better idea would be to bring the book along with you to Chrysalis Vineyards and read it over a glass of your favorite Chrysalis wine—and ask Jenni to sign it for you, too!  Of course, mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Dinner Wine

Its Regional Wine Week at DrinkLocalWine.com so we are posting as much about Virginia wine as we can. Regional Wine Week is a perfect compliment to Virginia Wine Month. Our Saturday dinner wine was the 2007 Cabernet Franc from Rappahannock Cellars. We had this wine with herbed chicken and seasoned wild rice. It paired beautifully with the meal.

On the nose we noticed some earth, cherry, currents, and pepper. In the mouth we noted mixed berries, pepper, and a velvety finish. This one is unfiltered. We found some sediment at the bottom of our glasses but that’s not a bad thing. One thing we did notice was this one got better the longer it was open. After a while the fruit characteristics really came forward. We ended up wanted more once the bottle was empty.

Shaps Chard

Our evening sipper last night was the 2008 Michael Shaps Chardonnay. We paired this one with a creamy Brie smeared on baguette slices. Recently we’ve gotten into having our cheeses with bread instead of crackers. The creamy brie with its slight nutty flavor seemed a perfect match with the fuller-bodied Chardonnay.

Has anyone noticed that I’m trying to include the Virginia Wine Month coaster in many of my pictures this month?

The 2008 Michael Shaps Chardonnay presented pear mores, toasted hazelnut, and pineapple on the nose. We noticed similar flavors in the mouth with a touch of apple and a creamy mouth feel. The texture of the cheese went really well with the mouth feel of the wine. This is one really nice Chardonnay. Tell us what gems you are finding during Virginia Wine Month. This is our first post for Regional Wine Week. Yay!