On our way home from Charlottesville over the Memorial Day weekend we decided to stop at Early Mountain Vineyards. We hadn’t been there in awhile so we wanted to see what was new.
Our tasting associate Julie, guided us through a tasting of all the Early Mountain wines. Of the whites we really enjoyed the 2016 Pinot Gris. We noted peach, wet stone, and mineral. Warren described it as clean and delicate. I agreed!
We were split on the reds. I really enjoyed the 2015 Foothills. I noted smoke, cherry, blackberry, and pepper. It made me think of beef! Warren favored the 2014 Novum. He noted seed berries, a hint of leather and smooth finish. I enjoyed it as well but preferred the Foothills. Our tasting associate Julie said of the Novum, “Wine is my favorite color.”
Julie was such a good tasting associate that I decided to join the wine club! We each enjoyed a flight of wines and some nibbles before making our purchases. We left with a case of wine but not before saying our goodbyes and recommending she check out our blog.
If you haven’t been to Early Mountain Vineyards lately, it’s time to return. If Julie is your tasting associate, tell her we said hello! And tell her that Virginia Wine Time sent you!
Yes, wine kegs. Wine tanks, or wine that is stored and then poured out of keg-like containers, appear to be a small yet growing phenomena in local restaurants and wineries.
We went no farther than nearby Chef Geoff’s restaurant on New Mexico Ave. in Washington DC to taste wines poured out of a device that looks no different than a line up of beers streamed out of a keg. Wines on tap included chardonnay, pinot grigio, pinot noir, and malbec. Of course, I had to sample at least one of these and tasted the chardonnay. I will admit that my note taking on the chardonnay was a bit sketchy——I was using the phone as opposed to my tried and true quill and parchment; however, I do think that this was a Chef Geoff’s private label chardonnay with the grapes sourced from Edna Valley in California. My impressions? I was pleasantly surprised. It was a fruit-forward wine with a lovely palate of pear, apple and subtle citrus notes to make for a fresh, crisp pour. Versatile too—-enjoy with white wine-friendly foods or on its own while chatting with friends at the bar. I also sampled the pinot noir on a second occasion; of course, I was wearing a disguise so that the bartender would not recognize me and then confuse me for a food/wine critic. Not really—-it was my Halloween costume. Anyway, the pinot noir was likewise fruity and enjoyable; I sipped it with a side of potato fries but would have appreciated it by itself while glancing at the tennis match being shown on the TV above the bar.
So some technical details that I gleaned from my conversation with the bartender and some brief online research. The wine tanks are chilled with white wines kept at 46 degrees (F) and red wines at 56 degrees (F). Furthermore, wine tanks can store up to 26 cases of wine. However, might wine snobs balk at such a concept? According to Geoff Tracy, owner and chef at Chef Geoff’s, consumers have responded in a positive manner to wines poured from the tanks. And for those who want wine by the glass at a restaurant, the wine keg might be the way to go. Tracy’s reasoning for taking this direction made perfect sense to me. Opening bottled wines to pour by the glass require maintenance that includes storing at the right temperature and then dumping wines that have gone over the hill after being opened for a while. Another hazard includes the expensive risk of opening wines that may be corked or tainted in some other way. Steel tanks allows for the restauranteur to maintain wines at their proper temperatures and eliminate such hazards as unpleasant oxidation. This can occur if wines are kept open for too long. For the consumer who wants to enjoy wine by the glass, these wines are well crafted,fresh,and always ready to enjoy.
At least two local wineries are likewise tapping into this concept. Winemaker Kirsty Harmon offers growlers of wine to consumers who visit Blenheim Vineyards. A white and red blend are both offered from a tap; customers simply buy the bottle and have it filled from the tap. When the bottle is empty, he/she can return to the winery with the bottle to have it refilled. My impressions? Much like my experience at Chef Geoff’s. Both of the growler blends were fresh and versatile. I particularly enjoyed the white with its floral notes and fruity palate; a nice mouth feel made for a deck sipper or a food-friendly wine. Why offer growlers at a winery? In my conversation with Kirsty, she seemed to second Geoff Tracy’s opinions about maintenance but added another dimension. There is an earth-friendly component to the growler idea that means fewer bottles and enclosures being purchased and then thrown away. Michael Shaps is another winemaker who also serves a growler, and I sampled the rose on tap. It was quite nice, and I ended up enjoying a glass after my tasting at the winery this past summer.
Wines on tap? Don’t discount them. Taste for yourself before you turn your nose at them. Why not visit the establishments mentioned in this post? Of course, mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you!
On Sunday we went to Gray Ghost to help harvest the chardonnay grapes. We do this every year and always have a good time. Here are some pictures from the day.
We all gathered very early in the morning.
Al Kellert told us all about the process.
Amy showed us what this year’s T-shirt looked like.
These are the grapes we were harvesting.
Here’s Warren harvesting the grapes.
During a break, Amy reminded us of a few things to remember when harvesting.
Al estimated we brought in more than 10 tons of grapes.
The grapes were put through the de-stemmer.
Then they were fed into the bladder press.
Here’s Al working the bladder press.
When we were all done we had a congratulatory toast.
And this is why we work so hard to harvest the grapes.
Many Friday evenings are spent on my balcony enjoying food and wine. The weather wasn’t too hot on Friday so we continued the tradition.
We began with St. Andre’s cheese and a baguette. We paired it with the 2010 Jennifer’s Jambalaya from Breaux Vineyards. As you may already know, I’m a member of the Breaux Cellar Club and thoroughly enjoy all the wines from Breaux. This is a perfect wine for a warm evening on the balcony. It’s slightly sweet, floral, and fruity. It’s a blend of seven white wines and has just the right amount of acidity. It paired beautifully with our cheese and bread.
For dinner I cooked my mom’s famous meatloaf, baked potatoes, and green beans almondine. We already had plans to visit Naked Mountain Winery & Vineyards this weekend so we selected the 2007 Raptor Red from my wine rack. Some of the 2007 reds from Virginia are beginning to show really well so we wanted to see how well the 2007 Raptor Red was holding up. We were very pleased when we opened it and paired it with our meal. We noted blackberry, raspberry, sweet tobacco, and spice.
Both of our evenings wines turned out to pair very nicely with our food choices. If you haven’t been to Breaux Vineyards or Naked Mountain Winery & Vineyards lately, plan a trip soon and tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!
We have been preparing for hurricane Irene. Warren bought caned foods, water, and batteries. He’s a veteran hurricane survivor and knows just what to do to prepare for such a storm. As part of our hurricane preparedness, we enjoyed some Virginia wines last night around dinner time.
Our hurricane preparedness sipper was the 2009 Hunt Country Chardonnay from Piedmont Vineyards. We enjoyed this wine with some swiss cheese and crackers while sitting on the balcony trying to enjoy the humid weather. We noticed a whiff of pineapple and pear on the nose and a touch of citrus and a crispness in the mouth. Of course it paired beautifully with our cheese and crackers. It also helped manage the humid temperatures on the balcony.
For dinner we opted to move indoors and enjoy the air conditioning. We were having steaks and roasted potatoes for dinner and we selected the 2007 Petit Verdot Cellar Selection from Breaux Vineyards. This was a perfect wine to prepare for the oncoming hurricane. We noticed characteristics of concentrated dark fruit, lots of dark plum, dark cherry, leather, tobacco, and carmel. Warren even noticed some pepper. We did pour it through the Soiree to help give it some air as we filled our glasses. When we poured the last drops into our glasses, we were wishing we had another bottle! The wine paired wonderfully with our dinner choices.
Are you prepared for the hurricane? Make enjoying some Virginia wine part of your preparing for the storm. If you happen to visit Piedmont Vineyards or Breaux Vineyards in the near future, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!