Cookies and Wine

Back in October when we attended the Virginia wine tastings at Whole Foods, we ran into Leah Kuo and Laura Englander from Cookies and Corks. They make cookies that pair with wines. What a great idea! That night they were offering tastings of their cookies with non-Virginia wines. We tried a few of the cookies with the wines and really enjoyed them. The cookies brought out different elements in the wine. During our conversations and tastings with them, we thought we could pair their cookies with Virginia wines. They sent us three boxes of cookies that pair with red, white, and sparkling wines. We decided to give it a try and pair some Virginia wines with the different cookies.

One of the great things about their cookies is they provide a pairing wheel. You simply look up the kind of wine you are having and select the cookies that go with that wine. We decided to do just that. We began our evening with the 2011 Reserve Chardonnay from Jefferson Vineyards. The cookie we selected to pair with the wine (according to the wheel) was the Apricot Sage cookie from the box of cookies to be paired with white wines. We began by tasting the cookie to get a baseline for the flavors. Obviously the apricot and sage flavors were evident. Then we washed the wine over our palates and other flavors began to appear. We noted lots pear notes with a twist of citrus which played off the sage really well. The apricot flavor wasn’t as present as we thought it might be with the wine but the reserve nature of the wine may have minimized the apricot flavor. However, the presence of the sage and citrus notes were a pleasant surprise. We thought the cookies paired very well with Reserve Chardonnay from Jefferson Vineyards. Make note of this if you plan to check out the cookies and need a wine to pair with them.

After our dinner we decided to select another cookie to pair with our dinner wine, the 2009 Merlot from Pollak Vineyards. Referring to the wheel again, we selected the Expresso Chocolate Peanut Butter cookie. This time we went with the wine first to get the wine notes on our palates before introducing the cookie flavors. We noted the wine brought the nuttiness forward and then red berry notes came through. The peanut butter flavor soon disappeared and the tasting experience ended with the coffee and chocolate notes. The chocolaty berry flavors together made for a nice dessert type experience. Once again we decided this was a good pairing. Warren enjoyed the pairing so much he finished off the cookies as he finished off the wine!

Since we’ve only tried two of the many flavors of cookies to pair with wines, there will be posts in the future as we pair more Virginia wines with more of the cookies from the different boxes. If you are looking for a unique pairing of sweets and Virginia wines be sure to pick up a few boxes of these cookies and several bottles of Virginia wine. You can purchase them in many locations in Virginia or from their website. And when you do, tell them you read about them on Virginia Wine Time!

California

As most of you know, we have been in California this week visiting wineries. We will be returning next week. At that time we’ll be posting about our trip but until then, enjoy some photographs taken so far on our trip.
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Bulls-Eye on Ox-Eye Vineyards

We always have our sights set for new wineries to visit when we travel throughout the state, and a recent trip to the historic town of Staunton allowed us to hone in on the newly opened tasting room for Ox-Eye Vineyards.

The experience was indeed a unique one as the tasting room is located in the town of Staunton instead of near the Ox-Eye vineyards. The vineyards are actually in Shenandoah farm country and several miles away from downtown Staunton. Visitors to Virginia wineries may find this unusual, but it is par for the course in Europe. We actually enjoyed this slice of Old World in a historic town like Staunton (historic because it is the birthplace of President Woodrow Wilson), and there is no doubt that the tasting room’s downtown location creates a greater potential to attract more customers. And the closing time on Friday and Saturday is 7 PM. End of work week/happy hour crowds in Staunton who seek an alternative to cheap beer and watered down liquor now have a place to unwind. The quaint tasting room itself as well as the out door café tables and chairs only enhance the Euro vibe.

So what about the wines? Overall, we found them to be well-crafted wines. Three white wines from the 2010 vintage and three reds from the 2009 vintages were offered for tasting. Of the white wines, we both enjoyed the crisp Chardonnay that was fermented in stainless steel tanks. It presented aromas and flavors of pear and citrus zest, and its refreshing finish was made for a hot summer’s day. Nice on its own, this Chardonnay should pair nicely with poultry or shellfish.

Of the red wines, I favored the 2009 Cabernet Franc with its notes of raspberry, tobacco, and black pepper. This was aged in French, American and Hungarian oak barrels. Grilled chops seasoned with fresh herbs might partner nicely with this one. We were both intrigued with the 2009 Lemberger, an Austrian grape that grows well in the cooler climate and higher elevations of Ox-Eye vineyards. With a smoky nose and flavors of dark cherry, blackberry and black pepper, this unique offering might be destined for a meal that features grilled steaks.

As we sipped away in the tasting room, we met Susan Kiers who owns Ox-Eye Vineyards along with her husband, John. They have managed the Ox-Eye Vineyards since 1999 and began selling grapes to other wineries after 2000. In 2010 a tasting room was built in downtown Staunton; March 2011 was the grand opening of this facility. The Ox-Eye Vineyards enjoys an elevation of 1830 feet and benefits from a limestone foundation. Continuous breezes create optimal airflow to combat frost and diseases. In fact, John and Susan compare their site to those of the Finger Lakes region rather than Virginia’s Piedmont! And where did they derive the name, Ox-Eye? From the ox-eye daisies that decorate the property and surrounding landscape.

With our tasting done, we shared a glass of the 2010 Chardonnay and relaxed beneath the shade of the back patio. We envision a bright future for Ox-Eye Vineyards and hope to visit the tasting room to follow the progress. In the meantime, visit the birthplace of President Wilson and then enjoy a glass of wine at the Ox-Eye tasting room. Be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Tree Trimming Wines

While decorating Warren’s tree last night with his parents, we decided to have to some nibbles and wine. Warren selected the 2009 Cabernet Franc from Gray Ghost and the 2009 Chardonnay from Chrysalis.

From the 2009 Cabernet Franc from Gray Ghost we noted a light garnet color, bramble berry and cherry on the nose, cherry and spice in the mouth, and a nice smooth finish. The 2009 Chardonnay from Chrysalis presented pear, apple and some cedar on the nose, was light and crisp with apple flavors in the mouth, and some creaminess at the end. Both paired well with light fair of cold cuts, white cheeses, baguette and crackers. The wines and nibbles were a great way to start the holiday season and made trimming Warren’s tree even more fun.

Sunset at Sunset Hills

After we visited Breaux Vineyards last Sunday, we headed to Sunset Hills to taste the wines. This was the first time Warren’s parents have visited Sunset Hills. We were lucky to be visiting them on their two year anniversary weekend.

Sunset Hills currently only has two whites available for tasting. We were disappointed to find out so many of their wines were sold out. We were hoping to try the viognier but that just wasn’t to be. However, we did taste two chardonnays. Here are my impressions:

2009 Chardonnay-peach, fruity, round mouth feel, my kind of chard, easy to drink, patio sipper, this one gets my gold star.

2009 Reserve Chardonnay-oak, butter nose, Warren’s kind of chardonnay, more complex, Warren’s gold star.

After the two chardonnays, we moved on to the reds. There were four to taste. Here are my notes:

2008 Cabernet Franc-raspberry nose, pepper, paired with pepperoni and cheese, more of a pizza wine, this one got my gold star for the reds.

2008 Cabernet Franc Reserve-earthy nose, dark fruit, higher percentage of cab franc, 84%, more herbal notes, mocha, Warren’s gold star.

2008 Cabernet Sauvignon-herb on the nose, cherry, plum, cedar, black pepper, 9% cab franc, a little young, can lay down a few years.

2008 Petit Verdot – 25% cab sauv, chocolate nose, medium bodied (the tasting notes say this is a monster red), blueberry, cherry, earthy qualities.

After our tasting we selected the 2008 Cabernet Franc to have with some lunch items. We chose several items from the Lite Fare menu to have for lunch with the cab franc. Before leaving we saw this wonderful sunset. It certainly explains the name of the winery. How lucky we were to see it! Next time you find yourself visiting Sunset Hills, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Discover DC’s Wine Country: Loudoun County

Virginia Wine Bloggers Unite to Promote DC’s Wine Country – the Wines of Loudoun County

Virginia wine bloggers – Frank from DrinkWhatYouLike.com, Va Wine Diva & Grape Envy Guy from SwirlSipSnark.com, and Paul & Warren from VirginiaWineTime.com – along with the Virginia Wine Board and Loudoun County wineries will host the first ever TasteLive! event dedicated to showcasing the wines of Loudoun County, VA.

TasteLive! is the world’s premiere online wine and beer tasting community that leverages the increasingly powerful social media tools of Twitter, Facebook, Posterous, and other services to create a community that brings together consumers, bloggers, press, suppliers, and winemakers from across the world to taste and discuss wine virtually.

On Thursday, December 9, the wines of Loudoun County will take center stage in a TasteLive! virtual wine tasting dedicated to showcasing the wines of DC’s Wine Country – Loudoun County. Wine bloggers and wine enthusiasts throughout the US will come together online at 8pm Eastern Time to taste & tweet about the wines of Loudoun County. This event will serve as an introduction to Virginia wine for several participants and is a prelude to the 2011 Wine Bloggers Conference which will be held in Charlottesville, VA in July.

Located just 25 miles from Washington, DC, Loudoun County – referred to as DC’s Wine Country – is home to 27 wineries and tasting rooms organized into four clusters sprinkled throughout bucolic countryside.

This tasting features wines from five different Loudoun County wineries, and winemakers from each will be joining in the virtual discussion. The five featured Loudoun wineries and wines are:

Notaviva Vineyards
2009 Ottantotto Viognier
Part of the Loudoun Heights cluster, Notaviva Vineyards is one of Loudoun’s newest wineries. Husband and wife team Stephen and Shannon Mackey were brought together by their love of music, which is expressed further through their wines. Notaviva is from the Italian nota – music note and viva – with life. In keeping with their love of music and wine, each Notaviva flagship wine is named after musical terms to represent the emotions they inspire.
Follow Notaviva on Twitter: @Notaviva

Tarara Winery
2009 Nevaeh White
Part of the Potomac wine cluster, Tarara Winery is a terroir-driven winery crafting artisanal, hand crafted wines to best showcase their vineyards through single vineyard blends capturing the essence of the unique sites and classic varietals around Virginia.
Follow Tarara on Twitter: @TararaWinery

Breaux Vineyards
2007 Cabernet Franc Reserve
Part of the Loudoun Heights cluster, Breaux Vineyards overlooks the beautiful valley between the Blue Ridge and Short Hill Mountains. The 404-acre Breaux estate has over 100 acres planted in 18 different grape varieties. Be sure to check out the Breaux Vineyards introduction video at VisitLoudoun.org.
Follow Breaux Vineyards on Twitter: @BreauxVineyards


8 Chains North
2008 Furnace Mountain Red Reserve
8 Chains North Winery, located in Waterford, Virginia, showcases handcrafted wines made from Loudoun County grapes. At 8 Chains North we spend 8 intense months in our vineyards on the Potomac River and in the Short Hill Mountains of Loudoun County, allowing us to draw out the very best of every vintage.’
Follow 8 Chains North on Twitter: @8ChainsNorth

North Gate Vineyard
2008 Petit Verdot
North Gate Vineyard is situated in on approximately 26 acres in the northwest part of Loudoun County, Virginia. Nestled against the eastern base of the Short Hill mountains (foothills to the Blue Ridge), North Gate Vineyard produces high quality wine grapes for its own set of wines as well as other wineries in Virginia. Husband and wife team Mark and Vicki Fedor have been growing grapes since 2002 and have been part of the winemaking scene in Loudoun since 2003.
Follow North Gate on Twitter: @NorthGateWines

We’re sure many of you are fans of Loudoun County wine, these wineries, and even these specific wines, so we hope that you’ll join us for this tasting. A major benefit of a virtual wine tasting is that everyone can become a participant.

You can tweet along (or follow the tweet stream if you’re shy). You can do this by logging into the TasteLive! Platform or following the twitter stream for the hashtag #vawine through your favorite twitter platform (e.g., TweetDeck). If you don’t tweet, you can also follow the twitter stream by searching on the hashtag #vawine from the twitter home page since you do not need to have a twitter account to look at tweets.

Please join us; this would be a great time to gather your wine friends and celebrate the wines of Loudoun County. After all, how often do you have the opportunity to chat about wines with both the winemakers and some of your favorite bloggers all at the same time?

Barboursville Sauvignon Blanc

From time to time we pack up a lunch and head to the Bishop’s Garden at the National Cathedral. Today was one of those times. We packed sliced ham and sliced turkey to have with a baguette and goat cheese. We also packed a bottle of the 2009 Barboursville Sauvignon Blanc. We were hoping to see some fall color while enjoying our lunch and wine. Unfortunately we had to enjoy the food and wine without the fall color. It might be too soon but we mostly saw green and a bit of yellow in the trees.

We seem to enjoy every Barboursville wine we open. We enjoyed the 2009 Sauvignon Blanc as well. On the nose we noted citrus, grass, and grapefruit. In the mouth we noted citrus, a hint of minerality, and lemon zest. We noticed some very small bubbles in our glasses. We wonder if this one was topped off with some C02. The Sauvignon Blanc paired well with the sliced meats and baguette.

We are able to get to Barboursville a few times a year and always plan to taste while we’re there. If you bring your glass back, the tasting is free! We always leave with several bottles. If you visit Barboursville, pick a bottle of the 2009 Sauvignon Blanc and tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

I’m Not a Chambourcin Fan

For dinner last night we had breaded chicken and herbed rice. Warren selected the 2009 Chambourcin from Hume Vineyards to compliment the meal. I may not have noted this yet but I’m not a big fan of Chambourcin. I’ve tasted many Chambourcins and very few make it on my rack. The Hume Chambourcin would fit nicely with the other wines on my rack.

On the nose we jotted down fruity, jammy, dark plum, dark cherry, earth, tobacco, and anise. Jammy can sometimes be a bad thing but in this case it was not the bad kind of jammy. It was pleasant. In the mouth we noted similar characteristics with the addition of currents, spice, and pepper. Even though it is 13.8% alcohol, we noted some heat on the end. The Chambourcin complimented the breaded chicken and herbed rice rather well.

Even though I don’t call myself a Chambourcin fan, I did enjoy this one. We look forward to future vintages of Hume’s Chambourcin. Knowing that I’m not the biggest Chambourcin fan, are there other Virginia Chambourcins you, dear readers, recommend I try?

Taste Live

As part of Virginia Wine Month and with the support of The Virginia Wine Board, we’ll be participating in the TasteLive event focused on Virginia Wines on Monday, October 25th. Wine writers and bloggers from across the country will be participating in this tasting. We’ll be tasting wines and tweeting our impressions on the TasteLive website. Our tweets will also show up on our Twitter feed. We will be tasting six wines from wineries on the Monticello Wine Trail in the Charlottesville area. The wines we’ll be tasting are:

The 2007 SP Rose from Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyard
The 2009 Gewurztraminer from Afton Mountain Vineyards
The 2009 Chardonnay Reserve from Jefferson Vineyards
The 2009 Viognier from Keswick Vineyards
The 2009 Seven Oaks Merlot from Blenheim Vineyards
The 2008 Wooloomooloo from Mountfair Vineyards

We are excited to participate in this unique tasting experience. We haven’t been part of the TasteLive website before so we are curious to see how the whole thing works and how it will be received. Be following our Twitter feed on Monday evening between 8:00 and 9:30 Eastern time.

P. S. Have you seen the article this week in the Washington Post about Virginia Wine? Check it out!

Wine and Dine at Potomac Point Winery

To celebrate the arrival of fall, we donned our favorite sweaters and took an afternoon drive to Potomac Point Winery. It was a gray day for sure, but the temperatures were cool and the breeze was crisp. As we made our approach to the winery, we were certain that we would enjoy a lunch ordered from the winery’s care with whatever wine we favored at the tasting bar. Of course, that required tasting wines first—oh well!

Tasting fees are paid up front, and tasters can choose from options that include a basic tasting or a premium tasting that includes all white wines, red wines and dessert wines. We opted for the premium tasting. Of the white wines, I favored the gold-medal winning 2008 Chardonnay Reserve that was fermented in French oak barrels. Pear and melon characteristics prevailed with subtle almond flavors at the end; it gave a buttery mouth feel, too. A classic! Paul preferred the crisp 2009 Chardonnay that was aged in stainless steel yet possessed the mouth feel of an oak-aged Chardonnay. An interesting dessert wine was created with the Petit Manseng varietal. The 2007 Vin de Paille was produced from Petit Manseng grapes that were wind dried for 45 days, and the result was an amber colored, sweet wine that presented aromas and flavors of honey, dried apricots, and almonds.

On to the red wines, and we reached a unanimous decision. Our gold-star winner was the smoky 2008 Petit Verdot. Tobacco on the nose with fruit characters of dark plums, and black cherries were noted with a splash of anise to boot. Buy now but serve later—it’s certainly age worthy. Norton lovers might prefer the jammier 2009 Norton with its violet nose and spicy edge. However, red wines need not be bold and complex; they can be lighter and more forward with the intent to enjoy now. That was the case with the 2009 Abbinato which was a blend of Sangiovese and Touriga Nacional. It too presented a smoky nose with cherry and herbal notes to suggest a bistro-style wine to be served with pizza, burgers, picnic fare, or a variety of cheeses.

With our tasting done, we were ready for lunch. The winery features an on-site restaurant that serves cheese plates, tapas, or fuller entrees. Seating arrangements include an indoor setting complete leather sofas, patio seating, and a second-floor veranda. We were determined to enjoy the cool yet refreshing autumn breezes while out on the patio, and we ordered a deli platter that included spicy pepperoni, baguette, and an assortment of cheeses. Our wine of choice? Any of the reds would have paired quite well, but we deemed the 2009 Abbinato to be the most versatile with our plates and palates. An easy sipper, it complimented the variety of flavors and food textures on our plates.

So fall is in the air, and it’s also Virginia Wine Month. Celebrate with fall colors and Virginia wine with a trip to Potomac Point Winery. Mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you!