Location of Corse!

We were privileged to receive two more wines from the Locations lineup, and these were both white wines that included a Corsican Veremtino and a blend labeled CA (from California of course.) In this post, we review Corse, the Vermentino wine produced from the island of Corsica. We again thank Balzac Communications for the opportunity to enjoy these wines.

Quite simply, we both adored this wine. On the nose, I noted aromas of spring blossoms, lime, orange zest, and shale; flavors of pear, lime and citrus zest led to a full and fruity palate followed by a crisp finish. Corse fully expresses a Mediterranean climate with its cool, breezy nights and warm, dry days. Did Napoleon Bonaparte, Corsica’s most famous native, enjoy this Vermentino with his favorite meal—-chicken and pasta with parmesan cheese? We hope so, and I thought of Napoleon when I prepared dinner. Crab cakes were on the menu, but I did toss some bowtie pasta with butter and parmesan cheese to serve as a side dish It proved to be a lovely pairing!

We had not enjoyed Corsican wines, but I must say that this first impression was a hit. Seek out Corse at your local wine shop, and mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you. However, we are not done with Vermentino. In a future post, we compare Corse with a Virginia-made Vermentino; we’ll keep readers in suspense about that one. And what about CA? Stay tuned.

Location, Location, Location

Location means everything in the wine world, and the concept behind Locations wine is all about location. Winemaker and owner of Locations, Dave Phinney, has championed a concept that great wines can be made by sourcing grapes from the best vineyard sites located on the planets’ best wine producing regions. Phinney purchases quality grapes from various wine growing regions and then produces excellent wines from his facility in St. Helena, California. Thanks to Balzac Communications we were able to sample these wines.

The labels look like the alphabet chart that we all saw in kindergarten—-F, I, P, etc with some blends thrown in for good measure. These include OR, AR and TX. However, these wines are anything but elementary. We have been a fan of these wines for quite some time and appreciate their accessibility without sacrificing quality. They also are able to express a sense of place. We will be reviewing three of our favorites from this lineup starting with F.

So what is F? Well, it follows the letter E; in addition, F is a rose produced from France. Hence, it earns the F designation on the label. F is produced from the Grenache grape grown in the vineyards of southern France. It presents a translucent pink tone in the glass that suggests summer but in reality is quite versatile all year round. We recently enjoyed it on a colder winter evening with pasta tossed with olive oil, thinly sliced ham, parmesan cheese, and Italian herbs. Floral notes were accompanied by aromas of strawberry and peach fuzz. Bright red berry and melon flavors played well with a flinty edge that made for a refreshing, dry rose. I love these kinds of roses in the summer, but I always make certain to have a stash of these on hand for Thanksgiving or any larger gathering where a variety of dishes may be served but different wine palates will have to be satisfied.

Dry roses are versatile and can/should be served year round. Seek out F at your local wine shop, and mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you! Oh—-stay tuned for other letters of the alphabet!

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.