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!

Afternoon Sipper

Our late afternoon sipper today was the 2009 Vidal Blanc from Hume Vineyards. We had it with Cowgirl Creamery Buckaroo cheese with Gallettine Tuscan Crackers from Whole Foods. This vidal blanc is slightly off dry (1% RS). We noted a nice floral nose with peach and melon as well. On the palate we noted melon, apricot, a hint of lime and a touch of sweetness. It went very well with the cheese and crackers. Nice job Hume! We need to return to Hume Vineyards soon to see what’s new.

Dinner Wine

For dinner tonight Warren made turkey cutlets with pasta. We selected the 2009 Keswick Vigonier accompany the meal. It was the perfect selection. This viognier spends time in both stainless steel and oak. On the nose we noticed a nice floral presence with peach. On the palate Warren noted white peach, white pepper, stone fruit, and minerality. We enjoy all the Keswick wines and this one didn’t disappoint. It went well with the turkey cutlets and pasta.

The Wine Festival at The Plains

On Saturday we went to the Wine Festival at The Plains. Great Meadow is a beautiful location for a wine festival and the weather made it even more perfect. The event is always held under huge tents so even if there was a threat of rain, it wouldn’t stop anyone from tasting some wonderful Virginia wines. Besides all the Virginia wineries that attended the event, there were several food venders as well as booths full of items for shopping. And you can’t forget the Polo!

Of course we attended the festival for the wine. We stopped at many of the winery booths and tasted lots of Virginia wine. Here are some wines we made note of from the festival:

Cooper Vineyards-Chardonnay and the Petit Verdot

Loudoun Valley Vineyards-Pinot Grigio and the Vinifera Red

White Fences-Meteor Glow and the Meteor Bright Red

Bright Meadows-Rebellion Red

Fabbioli Cellars-Tre Sorelle, Rosa Luna, and the Cab Franc

Gadino Cellars-Barrel Select Chardonnay (NICE!), the Cab Franc and an extra star for the Dolce Sofia

Delaplane Cellars-Emerald Lake Viognier

Miracle Valley-Chardonnay and the Cab Franc

Aspen Dale-Mary-Madeleine’s Rose and the Rockawalkin’ Cabernet Sauvignon

Kluge Estate-the Viognier and the Blanc de Blanc sparkling

delFosse-Rose, Merlot, and the Cuvee Laurant

We always have a fun time at the festival and enjoy catching up with many of our wine friends. We encourage our readers to check out all these wines. And we hope you’ll plan to attend the next Wine Festival at The Plains. Here are a few photos from the day.

Tasting Roundup: Tarara Winery and Pearmund Cellars

Today’s roundup features recent tasting at Tarara Winery and Pearmund Cellars. These were done within the past two weeks, but back to work schedules created a bit of a backlog. So here we go:

Tarara Winery: This time around we participated in the regular tasting as opposed to the premier tasting, and six wines for sampling. Of the white wines, we awarded our gold stars to the Charval 2009; in fact, we were shocked at ourselves, because Charval was never a favorite of ours in the past. However, this version was a crisper yet fruity pour that includes a blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Pinot Gris. Citrus notes abound with a nice acidity that makes it a pleasant sipper or a perfect mealtime companion if shellfish is on the menu. I also enjoyed the Rose 2008 with its notes of strawberries and crushed herbs. Salmon pink in color and quite dry, this is a Rose that should prove to be quite versatile with both summer and fall menus. The reds all seemed a bit tight, and of the three reds to sample, the Cabernet Franc seemed to spend the least amount of time on oak—15 months. All were aged in American oak, so the descriptors, “spicy” and “pepper” were scribbled frequently on our tasting sheet. These are all food wines, and our favorite was the Long Bomb Edition 1. A dense core suggested a bolder wine with aromas of violet and dark fruit. Tannins were “chewy.” Long Bomb Edition 1 is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon, but purists may be disheartened to know that the fruit used in this blend is not from Virginia; however, Long Bomb Edition 2 does indeed include fruit grown exclusively in Virginia.

As we sipped and savored, we received tweets about the $10 tasting fee and whether or not we thought it too steep. To be honest, it is one of the highest fees for a regular tasting that we’ve encountered; however, the tasting pours were quite generous, the wines were all well-crafted, and the tasting associate was very knowledgeable. We’ve also noticed overall improvements in the quality of Tarara’s wines thanks to talented winemaker Jordan Harris. Given those factors, I did not regret paying the tasting fee. In fact, we ended up staying a bit longer to enjoy a glass of the Charval 2009!

Pearmund Cellars: Lots to taste here, so we split a classic and a reserve tasting and were not bashful about spitting or dumping. Of the whites, I was most intrigued with the 2009 Petit Manseng, a brand new offering on the Pearmund lineup. Done in stainless steel, it presented aromas and flavors of apricot and pineapple. Pay attention to this variety as it is appearing more frequently in Virginia’s tasting rooms. Paul’s favorite was the 2009 Riesling. We enjoyed a sample of this one at the Iron Bridge Wine Co. in Warrenton, and the tasting here confirmed Paul’s favorable opinion. Pear notes dominate while soft lime flavors refresh the palate. Nice with spicy foods and do try this one with stronger cheeses, too. Of the red wines, we both converged on the 2008 Ameritage which is a Bordeaux blend. Lush flavors of blackberry, cherry, plum and anise prevail with this one, and it should prove to be a perfect match with steaks.

With summer fading away, plan fall trips to Tarara Winery and Pearmund Cellar. Be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Consistency

Today we started a trip to Virginia wine country. We are concentrating on the Monticello AVA. One of our first stops was Barboursville Winery. Well crafted wines provide a consistent hallmark at Barboursville.

All of the wines are very strong at Barboursville. We were able to taste several new wines…many were 2009s. Warren and I both selected the 2009 Pinot Grigio for a gold star for the whites. On a rare occurrence, we both selected the 2007 Cabernet Franc Reserve for a gold star for the reds.

After our tasting we selected the 2009 Pinot Grigio for a closer look. On the nose we noted pineapple and pear. In the mouth we detected a stone fruit, melon, and pear. It was crisp and perfect for a warm afternoon.

If you visit Barboursville please tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you. We will continue to post from the Monticello AVA for the next few days.

Midweek Pour

Our mid-week pour is the 2007 Claret from Linden Vineyards. Right away we noticed the dark, rich color. On the nose we noted dark fruit, coffee, and dried herbs. We noticed almost exactly the same characteristics on the tongue–coffee, currents, plums, dark fruit. We just enjoyed it by itself. It was a perfect sipper for a relaxing evening.

Ingleside and Vault Field

The last two wineries we visited while on the Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail were Ingleside and Vault Field. Our friend Bob joined us for the tasting at both wineries.

It had been awhile since we visited Ingleside. The tasting choices had changed since our last visit. We opted for the full tasting which included the basic tasting as well as the reserve tasting. With that choice there were 16 wines to taste. Warren and I both selected the 2009 Pinot Grigio to receive a gold star for the whites. Our friend Bob selected the Blue Crab Blanc for his gold star. The pinot grigio had a clean, crisp finish that was perfect for a warm summer day. From the reds, Warren and I both selected the Petit Verdot 2005 Special Reserve for a gold star. This one is not on the tasting list but they had a bottle open and were tasting it the day we were there. This was simply the best red on the tasting menu. We noted plum, currents, coffee, spice, cedar. Bob’s red gold star went to the Cabernet Merlot.

One interesting note about the reds. Ingleside has a 2007 Sangiovese with 9% Charbono. We tasted some charbonos in California but we’ve never encountered a wine in Virginia with charbono. Is anyone aware of another Virginia winery working with Charbono?

Bob’s wife Jackie joined us for our visit to Vault Field. Vault Field produces six wines–three whites, a rose, and two reds. Jackie and I put our gold star for the whites next to the 2008 Chardonnay. We both enjoyed the mouth feel and the citrus aroma. Warren and Bob liked the 2008 Vidal Blanc. They noted pineapple and pear. Of the reds, Jackie and Bob enjoyed the 2008 Red which is a blend of merlot, cabernet sauvignon and chambourcin. They placed their gold star next to this one. Warren and I both agreed the 2007 Reserve Red should get our gold star. We noted extracted fruit, coffee, and tobacco.

We had a great time on the Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail. If you haven’t been to the Northern Neck, you should plan a trip to visit the Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail. And if you visit the wineries we’ve mentioned, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail Continues

In addition to our new visits, we also sneaked in some re-visits to other wineries on the Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail.  Here are the reviews:

Athena Vineyards:  The favorite here was the Nightingale Chardonnay which was fermented in stainless steel tanks.  Crisp with pear aromas and flavors noted with this Chardonnay, and it should be prove to be a popular summer wine especially if served with shellfish.  Dessert wine lovers might enjoy Mellow Notes which is a fortified Vignoles.  Floral aromas, pear flavors and an almond finish make for a distinctive pour.  (Mellow Notes comes in a unique bottle that is shaped like a saxophone.)

Oak Crest Vineyards and Winery:  The Symphony wines continue to be the strongest offerings here, and this hybrid grape produces an Alsatian-style white wine. Symphony Dry has no residual sugar and presents a floral nose, pear flavors, and a crisp feel.  Moonlight Sonata is another wine produced from the Symphony grape but includes 3% residual sugar. 

White Fences: The Meteor Glow was our summer sipper favorite here.  Made from Chardonnay grapes, this lightly oaked (9 months) white wine offered lingering pear flavors and a subtle toasty edge.  Of course, the Blue Jimmy wines won our Michael Tyler designation; readers may recall that our friend Michael prefers sweeter wines.  Blue Jimmy Red is made from Chambourcin and aged in French oak barrels to produce lingering rich berry flavors with a sugar level of five percent.  Blue Jimmy White is produced from the Chardonel grape and is done in stainless steel with similar sugar levels as the red. We noted melon and apple flavors.

Planning a trip to any of these wineries? Be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.