Friday, October 26, 2012

Party Bus Wine Tasting?

Yes, we have a bit of school spirit
What happens when you mix a vineyard visit with WSU alums, 2 birthday parties, some Brits, and a party bus of said individuals all over the age of 25? A day that's surprisingly not as crazy as anticipated. Granted it was easy to spot the light-weights as the day went on. 

Overall this isn't the way I like to do my wine tasting, but it was a day of fun with friends and the first stop wasn't as bad as I expected (bad as in full of crazy drunk people or poor service for such a crowd), the second stop, however, was a little crazier. Its just a good thing there were only two stops! At 10:00am we were instructed to meet in Ballston to check-in and board our fabulously decked out (70s style) Boomerang Bus (a former school bus). Some folks were already enjoying mimosas and bloody Mary's. We were also told that we could BYOB on the bus. That's right. Our group started with some Hogue Cellers Gewurztraminer from Washington State, as we had gathered some alums for the trip. It was a good wine to start with, nice and light, not too sweet as many Gewurztraminers can be. 

Our first stop was Bluemont Vineyard, at 951 ft, one of the highest points in Northern Virginia. The views were breathtaking! The vineyard has a massive outdoor space so our crew was seated under a trellis away from the "regular" visitors. We tried 1 rose, 2 whites, 2 fruits, 2 reds and 2 dessert wines. With so many people and one server for our 10 tables and the other outdoor spots tasting was understandably slower than when at a tasting bar so we broke out the cheeses and picked some of the wines that weren't on our tasting list. Going down the line we tried the 2011 Petit Manseng, 2010 Rose "The Donkey" (100% Chambourcin), Farm Table White (Vidal Blanc, Viognier & Petit Manseng), The Sparkling Peach (unfiltered 50% Rkatsitelli 50% peach), The Peach (50% Rkat 50% peach), Farm Table Red, 2009 Merlot "The Ram," The Strawberry,and finally The Blackberry. All the wines were very different from one to the next. 

A few in our group of 8-10 really liked The Peach, but most of the group raved about the Farm Table Red which is a blend of 50% Merlot, 21% Cab Fanc, 14% Cab Sav, 10% Norton, 5% Petit Verdot. A couple of us, myself included, found Rose to be our favorite, it was more peppery like a Cab Franc than a fruit forward Chambourcin. One or two still picked The Blackberry as the best, its 82% blackberry wine and 18% red wine. It was almost unanimous that the second choice for all was the 2009 Merlot which was blended with 5% Cab Sav. The few notes about Bluemont that I was able to get is that they are celebrating 5 years this month and have 10 tons of estate grown grapes across Norton, Viognier, Merlot and Albarinio. 

After a couple of hours at Bluemont we moved on to Loudoun Valley Vineyards. We tried 10 wines here and that seemed like a few more than I remembered for my first visit. This tasting was much more chaotic as one might expect with a bus crew. We were sent outside to 3 tables set up in a U, it was really crowded and people were getting "distracted." Bluemont did well with the group, by having us all seated. 

At this tasting we had a 2010 Pinot Grigio, 2009 Viognier, 2010 Traminette, Vin de Pomme (100% apple), 2010 Pinot Noir, 2008 Merlot, 2008 Cabernet Franc Reserve, 2008 Dynasty, Route 9 Red, and 2008 Legacy (Port). Not many of us liked the whites, but if we had to pick one the Traminette was the best of the bunch. The Vin de Pomme was a big hit, but we had trouble finding the answer to the difference between an apple wine, hard cider and sparkling cider. Many enjoyed the 2010 Pinot Noir on the red side, however my favorite was the 2008 Dynasty a blend of 50% Cabernet Franc, 25% Merlot & 25% Touriga. The second choice across the board was the 2008 Cabernet Franc Reserve, it was a bold red. On my last visit I found I really enjoyed the Seyval and was bummed to not find it on the tasting list, but I was informed that it will be back in the near future. 

Oh yeah, this was our classy ride about 1/3 full!

By the time we all piled back on the bus it was only about 4pm and those light weights started dropping like flies, well a few of them "dropped it like its hot" in the standing or dancing room of the bus. It was a fun day, but I can't say I'll be going on another bus trip like this one in the near future. 


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