Monday, October 14, 2013

Furlough Friday at the Vineyards

What do you do when you are not allowed to work, unsure of when you'll be called back to work or even when or IF you'll get paid again on a rainy, rainy day? Why wine tasting of course! My friend Jessica and I ventured out to Vintage Ridge Vineyard in Delaplane, VA and were pleased with what we found. Not only did they have some fine wines in a nice space, quality music & they also have "Furlough Fridays" where Federal employees can receive half off their tastings and half off a glass of wine.

Vintage Ridge is off of a narrow, meandering road off 66 like many of their neighboring vineyards, they opened their tasting room in 2007 & began making wine in 2005. Five of the seven wines we tried were estate grown. There were two tasting bars and several tables ready for tastings. We were likely the first guests of the day and were given our choice of tables. Once settled we were given our tasting sheets, glasses and were told by our friendly server, Randy, that we'd be tasting two wines at time with the exception of their first white wine.

The first was the 2011 Maiden Voyage a blend of 65% Vidal Blanc & 35% Movedra. Round two was the
2010 Merlot and 2010 Syrah, both grown in Charlottesville. The Merlot had a really great, fruit forward nose and wasn't too dry. The Syrah was light, and easy to drink, but a little lighter bodied than I like my reds. Round three was the 2009 Cabernet Franc and the 2009 Petit Verdot, two very full bodied enjoyable reds, best paired with a high quality meal. The final round was the 2011 Ghost Train and the 2011 Summer Night; both blends the former was 60% Cabernet Franc and 40% Merlot named for the trains that travel through the area and the later was a 100% off dry Vidal Blanc. Jessica's favorite was the Ghost Train and mine was the Merlot, but we both enjoyed the Cab Franc & Petit Verdot. We settled in for a glass and enjoyed staying out of the rain. Vintage Ridge also offers food for purchase, but unfortunately we couldn't bring our own in so we headed for a second stop.

Our second stop was at the quiet & cozy Miracle Valley Vineyard, just a bit passed Barrel Oak Winery. We were also the only tasters for a bit until a second group wandered in just after we began our tasting. Miracle Valley planted their vines in 2004 and all their varietals are grown on site, similar to Vintage Ridge their tasting room opened in 2007.

Their tasting list changes regularly so on our visit we tried 6 wines and their hot mulled wine which was perfect for a cold, damp day. We began with the 2012 Chardonnay, which was clean, crisp wine. Next up was the 2012 Viognier which wasn't too fruit forward and very smooth. The last white was the Cobbler Mountain White a blend of Viognier, Vidal & Chardonnay with 2% rs, a nice light semi-sweet wine. On the red side we began with the 2011 Merlot a very light version, next was the 2010 Meritage, an unknown blend of Merlot, Cab Franc and Petit Verdot. The 2011 Cabernet Franc was the final red a full bodied red. We finished everything off with their hot mulled wine that includes their Merlot, Cab Franc, Cranberry Juice & spices. As I mentioned before it was a nice touch to the rainy day. Jessica & I both favored the Meritage so we settled in with our lunch, a bottle & some lush fall views!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

A New Beginning at Lost Creek

In September of 2012 Lost Creek Winery was purchased by new owners, Todd & Aimee; with the new ownership came a new name, The Vineyards & Winery at Lost Creek, and new wines. Stacy who writes Virginia Wine Know coordinated a visit for us earlier this summer. I hadn't been to Lost Creek in several years so I was interested to see what it was like under new ownership.

Aimee gave us a wonderful tour of the property and walked us through the ongoing changes to their event spaces and cellar. Its clear that the new owners have a passion for wine and plan to create quality & continuously improving wines. One of the facts that fascinated me was that the previous owners had barreled all of their wines in steel, even the reds! So one of the first things that the new ownership did was start barreling the reds in neutral and new oak. Currently the winery has 52 acres, of those 16 are vineyards and in 2014 all of the reds at Lost Creek are expected to be estate grown.

outdoor picnic spots
During our tasting we were able to try 5 of their new wines and 8 of the legacy wines. They are currently pouring and selling two new whites and two new reds. The new wines we tasted included the 2012 Vidal Blanc which was a crisp & spicy white that reminded me of a Viognier, that was followed by the 2012 Chardonnay, a young steel fermented but with hints of butter; we also had an early taste of the 2012 Serenity a softer slightly sweeter white. My favorite of the bunch was the Vidal Blanc, but the group also enjoyed the Serenity. On the red side the new wines we tried were the 2011 Cabernet Franc which was a smooth peppery red, with a hint of vanilla; the second red was the 2011 Genesis, Todd & Aimee's, first new wine hence the name, a blend of 47% Tannat, 43% Cab Franc and 10% Petit Verdot it has a very nice nose, smokey and smooth once you tasted it. While I enjoyed both reds the unique blend for the Genesis came out on top for me. The legacy wines we tasted were mostly sweeter wines, but of those that are still available I preferred the Chardonnay which had a touch of apricot on it.  

If you had been to Lost Creek in the past and their sweeter wines weren't for you, I'd recommend giving it a second try if in Loundoun County as you'll find the new wines quite different than the old and hopefully find something you enjoy.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Ingleside Vineyards: Keep Heading East!

First let me start by saying that Anthony from Virginia Pour House has been trying to get me to Ingleside Vineyards for about a year now. After our visit this month it was clear why, I wish I would have listened and visited this hidden gem sooner! Several of us Virginia wine bloggers meet up at Ingleside earlier this month thanks to Anthony, who coordinated the visit for us with their marketing director and part of the winery family, Chris Flemer.

Ingleside is about 1.5 hours south east of DC via Maryland, east of Fredericksburg on the Chesapeake Bay. It is one of the 5 oldest vineyards in the state and has a modest history museum on site. The first vines were planted on the 1970s and in 1980 began their commercial sales.  The museum includes wine bottles from George Washington's era and several Native American relics found on or near the property.  After viewing the museum, event space, tank and bottling rooms we headed into the barrel room for our tasting.

The team at Ingleside selected 10 wines for us including three for a vertical tasting (the typical tasting includes 12 wines).We began with their 2 whites. The 2012 Pinot Grigio was a young, blend of Pinot Grigio, Chardonel and Petit Manseng with a hint of citrus on the finish. The second white was the 2012 AlbariƱo to be released later this spring. Of the two whites I think the group favored the AlbariƱo with its peach and banana nose, it went down smoothly, a nice summer wine.

The next seven wines were the reds, my favorites. We kicked things off with the 2009 Sangiovese that had a nice oak nose and smooth pepper finish. The 2007 Merlot followed, a lighter Merlot, not very dry at all, this could be an effect of the sandy soil it grows in.  The 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve that had 12% Petit Verdot blended in was a deep rich red; while most tasted cherry I found hints of strawberry. Someone had the brilliant idea to try this wine with chocolate and the result was like eating a dark chocolate raspberry truffle! Amazing! Next up was the 2007 Virginia Gold, a Meritage blend with Cab Sav, Petit Verdot, Merlot, Cab Franc and Touriga Nacional. This blend was dry and spicy the kind that makes you say, "where's my steak?!"

Then it was time for the vertical, we had Petit Verdot from 2005, 2007, and 2009. The 2007 and 2009 were booth ages for 32 months in a variety of oak barrels. The 2009 was obviously the youngster in the bunch, it was slightly lighter and the driest of the three. The 2007 was a bit smoky and drier than the 2009. The 2005 was very smoky and rich. Most of the group favored the 2005, but I preferred the 2007. We were all disappointed to learn that Ingleside is sold out of both the 2007 and 2005! We finished with a NV Virginia Brut made from 100% Chardonnay, a nice dry bubbly. We thoroughly enjoyed our day at Ingleside and walked away with much heavier trunks than when we had arrived!

Many of us were on the hunt for some sustenance and were directed to Denson's Grocery in Colonial Beach. This place was a perfect stop on such a nice day, they were serving up grilled oysters and crawfish at a couple of picnic tables outside. Unfortunately the oysters were in high demand and short supply so I failed to get my hands on any, but I'm sure there will chances in the future as this was a great way to wrap op our trip. Denson's was a nice local stop with fresh produce and local wines on hand too.
Awaiting Spring! 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Playing Catch-Up: DuCard & Sharp Rock Vineyards

I have been a writing wine slacker of late. You know when things you like to do, start feeling like work? Well that's where I was with this blog for a bit, I just wanted to do the drinking and not the "homework" of writing them up, but have no fear I'm playing a little catch up today.

Back in November, possibly early December after driving several windy roads, Debbie, Scott & I found ourselves at DuCard Vineyards. DuCard is a former apple orchard that has been growing grapes for the past 12 years. They had 8 wines for us to try, 2 whites and 4 reds and 2 dessert wines.

The white wines were both from 2011, there was a Signature Viognier and the Gibson Hollow White which was a blend of Viognier and Vidal Blanc that had a very distinct taste of peach. The whites were fine wines, but we really enjoyed the reds. Starting with the 2010 Cabernet Franc Vintner's Reserve there were distinct notes of tobacco and blackberries that made this wine a rich, dry red. Next we sampled the Popham Run Red 2009/2010 bordeaux style blend with Cab Franc, Cab Sav and Merlot, a much lighter blend than the Cabernet Franc. Moving on to the 2010 Petit Verdot aged 2 years in the barrel, served from a decanter, this was another big favorite and would be great paired with a steak. The last red we tried was the 2010 Virginia Native Norton, that when tasted with chocolate really softened this wine. I am not the biggest Norton fan, but if you are, you would most likely enjoy this version. On to the dessert wines there was the 2009 Sweet Virginee Vidal Blanc with 6% rs an apple nose with hints of pear, it was light and refreshing and my preferred dessert wine. The second was the 2010 C'est Trop a port-style wine made with Norton grapes and fortified with brandy, a very rich wine that was a favorite for port lovers. We each picked a glass and found an outdoor table by a trickling stream to take in the mountain views on the unusually warm winter day.

 After our leisurely stop at DuCard, we meandered north to Sharp Rock Vineyards. Which seemed almost like a little village with a couple of  B&B cottages and old barns on the property. It is a 220 year old farm that has had the vineard going for 22 years with 14 varietals grown onsite.

We had a unique tasting table on the second floor of an overhang outside of one of the tasting bars with a great views. We were not given tasting sheets so I think we tried 7-8 wines and definitely enjoyed 5 of them. The Pinnacle Blanc started us off strong as a blend of 25% Sav Blanc and 75% Chardonnay, steel aged and just crisp enough without being tart. We also enjoyed the Rose made from a Cabernet Sauvignon that spent 2 days on the skins. Debbie really enjoyed the 2011 Reserve Chardonnay, oak
aged with a smoky nose and definite hints of bacon. The 2010 Synergy a Petit Verdot (55%) and Merlot (45%) blend was also one of my favorites. Scott's favorite of the day was the 2010 Old Rag Red, a Bordeaux blend of Cab Sav, Cab Ranc, Petit Verdot and Merlot. We also found the 2011 Chamois Rouge to be a very nice off dry blend of Chambourcin and Cab Sav.

The layout of Sharp Rock is great, its somewhat secluded off the main road, and it was frequented by picnickers and tasters of all ages. The views were refreshing and it inspired comments like "I think I'm gonna like this place...lay in the lawn and look into the sky..." or maybe that was just the earlier wine stops talking...