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!
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.
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.