New Visits On The Northern Neck

Paul and I completed a four-day swing through the Northern Neck wine country (The Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail), and we managed to add four more wineries to the “visited” list. I’ll compile a list and brief review of each winery in this post.

The Hague Winery: This is a newer winery, and it offers a very solid lineup of wines. Steve Madey is the owner, and renowned winemaker Michael Shaps makes the wines at The Hague Winery. All five wines here were well-crafted and reflect an Old World style. For summer sipping, the Rose was an instant favorite. Done in the Provence style, this Rose is bone dry with strawberry and melon characteristics. Our gold-starred was the 2008 Cabernet Franc which is blended with 10% Merlot. Rich cherry nose with earthy characteristics were noted along with a lengthier finish. We also enjoyed the Cynthia Dessert made from Muscat grapes. Its heady floral nose and peach flavors finished clean in the mouth—quite lovely! We enjoyed our tasting at The Hague so much that we returned the next day with our friends, Bob and Jackie Worthy.

New Kent Winery: We finally made it out to New Kent Winery, and the facility is incredible. Golfers and equestrians should feel at home here as the New Kent facility includes a gold course and equestrian center. We left our golf clubs and riding boots at home, but we were eager to sample wines in the spacious tasting room. The vineyards here are eight years in age, and winemaker Tom Payette is producing some very nice pours. Paul’s favorite was the crisp and fruity 2008 Chardonnay which spends very little time in oak barrels. I appreciated the Burgundian-style 2008 Chardonnay Reserve with its creamy mouth feel; however, I was more intrigued with the White Merlot. Yes, it is a white wine made from Merlot! Needless to say, this is only possible if the grape juice has almost no contact with the red skins, and we detected only a hint of color when our glasses were held up to the light and closely inspected. The result is a Riesling-style wine with pineapple and citrus flavors. Three percent residual sugar enhances the fruit flavors without a cloying mouth-feel. Our Gold-starred red? We both agreed on the 2008 Meritage with its darker fruit and black pepper qualities; we noted a velvety finish, too.

Saude Creek Vineyards: These wines are currently being sold at a temporary facility until the tasting room is officially opened this fall. Owner Jason Knight was very kind enough to provide us with a tasting although the tasting room was closed when we arrived on Sunday. Jason works with partner James Batterson of James River Winery to produce some clean, well-crafted wines. The most interesting pour was the Saude Creek White made from summer apples, and it’s a crisp, clean wine with obvious apple notes and flavors. Sip during the summer or serve with an herb-crusted pork loin for an interesting pairing. A favorite summer wine should be the Chardonnay that is done in stainless steel and possesses pear and apple flavors with a nice acidity. Our favorite red wine was the Merlot. Aged 12 months in older American oak barrels, we noted cherry and plum flavors and approachable tannins. We’ll provide details of Saude Creek Vineyards’ official opening date as the fall approaches.

Williamsburg Winery: By far the largest producer/bottler of wine in Virginia! We started off here with the regular tasting which included a sample of six wines. My favorite white wine here was the Barrel-aged Seyval Blanc, and this is actually a blend of seyval blanc from stainless steel and oak barrels. I noted subtle smoke and hay notes with pear and citrus flavors, and it should pair well with shellfish. Paul preferred the blended James River White which may have reminded him of the California pour called Conundrum. Done in stainless steel, it is a blend of Seyval Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling, Traminette, and Vidal Blanc to present a fruity wine that is perfect to serve before dinner. Our preferred red? Though we tasted red wines in the course of our regular tasting, we opted to sample some of the reserve wines; here is where we found our gold-star red wine. We both favored the 2005 Merlot Reserve with its concentrated dark fruit flavors and tobacco/earthy aromas. A lengthy finish makes for a food-friendly wine that may include a mixed grill. Williamsburg Winery produces/bottles at least 65,000 cases of wine, so there is certain to be something here for every wine lover.

At this rate, we’ll be approaching 110 wineries visited! However, with new wineries opening every month, we may never visit all of them. We will certainly return to the wineries reviewed here, but readers may want to visit them sooner; however, remember to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Return To Three Fox

Last weekend after we visited Vintage Ridge, we decided to return to Three Fox Vineyards to taste the line up of wines on the tasting menu. We were sure there were some new ones we hadn’t tasted.

We were surprised and pleased to see Three Fox has added a sparking wine to their whites. We began with the T-J Blanc de Chardonnay. This is made by Claude Thibaut and Manuel Janisson. The bubbles went on and on.What a nice addition to the tasting menu. This one quickly garnered Warren’s gold star. My gold star went to the Leggero Chardonnay. The Leggero is a stainless steel chard that presents citrus notes, and a crisp finish. I think this one is a perfect summer sipper.

Most of the reds we tasted were new to us. One stand out was the Piemontese Nibbiolo with it’s spicy notes, and dark fruit flavors. And our gold star went to the Alouette Cabernet Franc. This is always a favorite when we visit. We noted hints of black cherry, chocolate, coffee, and some spice. We also noted they had very few bottles left.

After our tasting I enjoyed a glass of the Leggero Chardonnay and Warren sipped on a glass of the Alouette Cabernet France. While enjoying the wines we chatted with the owners Holli and John Todhunter. We found out they will be releasing a merlot and other reds in late August. We look forward to tasting that merlot. Plan a trip to Three Fox Vineyards soon and tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

One More

Our Monticello Wine Trail trip ended today. After about 500 miles and three cases of new wines, we ended our trip at Prince Michel. It was on the way home so we decided to see what was new since our last visit.

Usually when we visit Prince Michel the wines a very solid and you can count on some nice ones on the tasting menu. This was also the case during this visit. We were the only ones in the tasting room and were lucky enough to have three different tasting associates help guide us through our tasting.

Our gold stars were split on the whites. I selected the 2008 Pinot Grigio for it’s hints of lime and mineral qualities. Warren awarded his to 2006 Barrel Select Chardonnay. He noted toast on the nose with some vanilla and a slight oak presence on the palate. Warren and I both selected the 2007 Petit Verdot as our gold star winner for the reds. This wine presented a dark garnet color, had a berry fruit nose, with plums, dark fruit and smooth tannins on the palate. The grapes for this wine came from the Mt. Juliet Vineyard in Crozet Virginia.

With our tasting complete, we decided to share a glass of the 2007 Petit Verdot to enjoy with some crackers and cheese. After our treat, we made our purchases and continued the trip home. If you stop by Prince Michel on your way home from Charlottesville tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Monticello Wine Trail-Last Day

Our third and final day on the Monticello Wine Trail took us first to Lovingston Winery then to Wintergreen Winery and finally to Cardinal Point Winery.

At Lovingston Winery we were able to talk to Riaan Rossouw, the winemaker. He introduced us to the wines he’s created for Lovingston. While tasting the wines he shared his passion for winemaking. He says, “You have to be in sync with the wine.”

We tasted the 2009 Wahoo White, 2007 Cabernet Franc, 2006 Merlot, 2007 Rotunda Red, 2006 Reserve Merlot, and the 2009 Petit Manseng. All of the wines are very strong and we could describe them all but we’ll just tell you our gold star winners and you will have to plan a trip to taste the Lovingston wines. I placed a gold star on the 2009 Petit Manseng with it’s mineral/sauvignon blanc nose, tropical fruit flavors, and creamy texture. I also placed a gold star on the 2006 Merlot Reserve which presents layers on the nose and on the palate with a hint of tobacco and silky tannins. Warren also chose the 2009 Petit Manseng for one of his gold stars. The 2007 Rotunda Red received his other gold star. He noted sea shells and ripe berries nose and similar characteristics on the palate. He liked this one so much that he had a glass of it with lunch at the Devils Backbone Brewing Company with one of their gourmet burgers.

After our tasting Riaan had us taste one more wine. This one he’s been working on for a few years and will be releasing under his own label. He told us nothing about the wine before we tasted it. Warren and I both tasted the wine and noted flavors, a nose, and mouth feel of a cabernet sauvignon. We even guessed a possible year! Once we shared our predictions Riaan informed us that actually we were tasting a chambourcin. We were surprised! Riaan was able to get cabernet sauvignon from a chambourcin! That comes for the skill and knowledge of a fine winemaker. We really enjoyed our time tasting the wines and talking with Riaan. If you haven’t tasted the Lovingston wines, you need to make an appointment. You will not be disappointed.

Our second stop today was Wintergreen Winery. We did not have this one on our list but we hadn’t been there in so long it was time to stop and check out the changes. With gold stars in hand we did a tasting of their line up of wines and awarded our gold stars. I awarded one of my gold stars to the 2008 Black Rock Chardonnay Reserve with it’s crisp fruitiness and it’s hint of oak. I awarded my other gold star to the 2008 Brent’s Mountain Merlot with it’s soft but full tannins with plum and cherry notes. Warren awarded his gold star to the Thomas Nelson White as a refreshing summer sipper. He had Wolf Trap on his mind while trying this one. After our tasting we purchased a few bottles and headed down the road to our final stop, Cardinal Point.

We always enjoy stopping at Cardinal Point Winery to see what new wines Tim and Sarah Gorman have on the menu. When we stopped today we weren’t able to see Tim and Sarah but we were able to taste all the new releases. Our tasting associate Brianna expertly guided us through the tasting menu. All of the wines are wonderful and we had a hard time selecting our gold star winners. I selected the 2008 A6 from the whites for my gold star. My notes show the word APPLE in big letters with exclamation points and underlines. It has a long finish and is crisp! Warren selected the 2009 Quattro (which hasn’t been released yet) for his gold star. He noted a floral nose with peach on the palate and a “just right” residual sugar level. For the reds we both picked the 2007 Cabernet Franc with it’s plum, cherry and tobacco notes and dark extracted fruit.

During our tasting Brianna let us taste a few new wines that haven’t been released yet (like the 2009 Quattro). Even though they aren’t out yet, we need to mention a few. The 2009 Viognier present classic floral notes but provided sauvignon blanc characteristics that included some citrus and minerality. The 2009 Rockfish Red reminded us of a beaujolais style red that captures the essence of the gamay grape with bright berry flavors.

Our trip to Cardinal Point wouldn’t be complete without a glass of the 2009 Rockfish Red to sip on the patio. We enjoyed the 2009 Rockfish Red while tweeting and posting to Facebook and deciding on which wines to bring home. After making our purchases and saying our goodbyes, the final day of our Monticello Wine Trail trip came to an end. When planning your trip to Charlottesville, please put Cardinal Point, Wintergreen and Lovingston on your list of wineries to visit. And tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!