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.

New Visits On The Northern Neck

Paul and I completed a four-day swing through the Northern Neck wine country (The Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail), and we managed to add four more wineries to the “visited” list. I’ll compile a list and brief review of each winery in this post.

The Hague Winery: This is a newer winery, and it offers a very solid lineup of wines. Steve Madey is the owner, and renowned winemaker Michael Shaps makes the wines at The Hague Winery. All five wines here were well-crafted and reflect an Old World style. For summer sipping, the Rose was an instant favorite. Done in the Provence style, this Rose is bone dry with strawberry and melon characteristics. Our gold-starred was the 2008 Cabernet Franc which is blended with 10% Merlot. Rich cherry nose with earthy characteristics were noted along with a lengthier finish. We also enjoyed the Cynthia Dessert made from Muscat grapes. Its heady floral nose and peach flavors finished clean in the mouth—quite lovely! We enjoyed our tasting at The Hague so much that we returned the next day with our friends, Bob and Jackie Worthy.

New Kent Winery: We finally made it out to New Kent Winery, and the facility is incredible. Golfers and equestrians should feel at home here as the New Kent facility includes a gold course and equestrian center. We left our golf clubs and riding boots at home, but we were eager to sample wines in the spacious tasting room. The vineyards here are eight years in age, and winemaker Tom Payette is producing some very nice pours. Paul’s favorite was the crisp and fruity 2008 Chardonnay which spends very little time in oak barrels. I appreciated the Burgundian-style 2008 Chardonnay Reserve with its creamy mouth feel; however, I was more intrigued with the White Merlot. Yes, it is a white wine made from Merlot! Needless to say, this is only possible if the grape juice has almost no contact with the red skins, and we detected only a hint of color when our glasses were held up to the light and closely inspected. The result is a Riesling-style wine with pineapple and citrus flavors. Three percent residual sugar enhances the fruit flavors without a cloying mouth-feel. Our Gold-starred red? We both agreed on the 2008 Meritage with its darker fruit and black pepper qualities; we noted a velvety finish, too.

Saude Creek Vineyards: These wines are currently being sold at a temporary facility until the tasting room is officially opened this fall. Owner Jason Knight was very kind enough to provide us with a tasting although the tasting room was closed when we arrived on Sunday. Jason works with partner James Batterson of James River Winery to produce some clean, well-crafted wines. The most interesting pour was the Saude Creek White made from summer apples, and it’s a crisp, clean wine with obvious apple notes and flavors. Sip during the summer or serve with an herb-crusted pork loin for an interesting pairing. A favorite summer wine should be the Chardonnay that is done in stainless steel and possesses pear and apple flavors with a nice acidity. Our favorite red wine was the Merlot. Aged 12 months in older American oak barrels, we noted cherry and plum flavors and approachable tannins. We’ll provide details of Saude Creek Vineyards’ official opening date as the fall approaches.

Williamsburg Winery: By far the largest producer/bottler of wine in Virginia! We started off here with the regular tasting which included a sample of six wines. My favorite white wine here was the Barrel-aged Seyval Blanc, and this is actually a blend of seyval blanc from stainless steel and oak barrels. I noted subtle smoke and hay notes with pear and citrus flavors, and it should pair well with shellfish. Paul preferred the blended James River White which may have reminded him of the California pour called Conundrum. Done in stainless steel, it is a blend of Seyval Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling, Traminette, and Vidal Blanc to present a fruity wine that is perfect to serve before dinner. Our preferred red? Though we tasted red wines in the course of our regular tasting, we opted to sample some of the reserve wines; here is where we found our gold-star red wine. We both favored the 2005 Merlot Reserve with its concentrated dark fruit flavors and tobacco/earthy aromas. A lengthy finish makes for a food-friendly wine that may include a mixed grill. Williamsburg Winery produces/bottles at least 65,000 cases of wine, so there is certain to be something here for every wine lover.

At this rate, we’ll be approaching 110 wineries visited! However, with new wineries opening every month, we may never visit all of them. We will certainly return to the wineries reviewed here, but readers may want to visit them sooner; however, remember to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Hume Vineyards’ Debut

The Virginia wine industry seems to expand with every year, and now we can add Hume Vineyards to the list of newbies. Paul and I were invited by owner and winemaker Stephane Baldi and his wife, Andrea to visit their tasting room. We accepted the offer and visited Hume Vineyards on July 4. The grand opening is Saturday, July 10th.

It was a very hot afternoon on the day that we visited Hume Vineyards, and we were warmly greeted by Stephane who escorted us to the tasting room. We must admit here that the actual opening of Hume Vineyards will occur on July 10; so, the tasting room was still in the finishing stages. In fact, Stephane explained to us that materials from an old barn on the property were used to construct the rustic tasting room. Remnants from an old tin roof provided a half-covering for the walls and lent an antique charm to the space. Of course, our mission was to taste wine, and we were drawn to a simple tasting bar where the current offerings were lined up for sampling. Andrea joined us for the tour and tasting, and before long we were sipping away. In the process, we learned more about Stephane and his mission as a winemaker in Virginia.

Hume Vineyards offers four wines for tasting, and all were rather impressive. Vidal Blanc produces wines that are destined for enjoyment on a hot summer day, so we were not disappointed with the 2009 Vidal Blanc. My first impression was kiwi with a delicate floral aroma. Paul noted peach flavors, too, and the 1% residual sugar makes for a classic summer sipper without the cloying sweetness. However, summer is also grilling season, and the 2009 Chambourcin should pair well with any barbequed fare. Fruit-forward with a smoky nose with some anise to boot, I appreciated its plum flavors and peppery finish. Aging in neutral American oak barrels for six months provides structure, too.

Heavier reds finished our tasting. The 2008 Detour proved to be my favorite of the two bolder offerings. The tasting notes describe Detour as “tight”, and I could not agree more. Do not be afraid to swirl and swirl and swirl before sniffing and sipping. Dark fruits characteristics will emerge along with an earthiness to suggest an age-worthy, complex wine. I noticed some cedar notes, and we both noted chewier tannins. The 2008 Detour is the result of a blend which includes 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot. Drink now but decant first; I opt for aging. Anyway, Paul’s preference was for the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon. More accessible than the Detour, it displayed a dark cherry nose and flavors with smoky/leathery aromas. Five percent Cabernet Franc provides some spicy characteristics, too.

As we sipped and savored, we learned that Stephane is from France, and he was surrounded by vineyards and wines; therefore, he always had an interest in winemaking. In fact, he grew up drinking wines from the Loire valley. So why Virginia? Stephane explained that he wanted to be a part of something big, and for him that could only be Virginia which shares the Old World climates and challenges. His vineyards are still fairly new with plans to plant more vines which may include Grenache. Therefore, current wines were produced from grapes grown from local vineyards; however, the Chambourcin does include grapes grown on the Hume estate. The ultimate goal for Stephane is to produce all wines from estate grown fruit, and these will include Merlot, Viognier, and Petit Verdot. Stephane worked very closely with Dave Collins of Breaux Vineyards to produce the current lineup of quality wines. He also credits neighbor s Brian Roeder of Barrel Oak Vineyards and Philip Strother of Philip Carter Winery for providing advice and word-of-mouth marketing.

When they are not building a tasting room, tending vineyards and making wine, Stephane and Andrea work as researchers; therefore, they have an intense appreciation for the history of their property. The property and its facilities date back to the 1800s, and they have discovered the original deed to the property which was dated in 1862. They intend, then, to preserve the historic charm of the property while producing wines with an Old-World, Rhone-style appeal. With this mission in mind, it’s easy to see that Stephane and Andrea will succeed.

Make a plan to visit Hume Vineyards to celebrate the opening on July 10. Be sure to mention to Stephane and Andrea that Virginia Wine Time sent you.