How about those 2005 Virginia Whites ?

Q: Is the jury still out on those 2005 Virginia White wines?

A: Not!

The 2005 Harvest was predicted by insiders, viticulturist, winemakers and owners alike to be an exceptional year for Virginia white wines. Factors such as overall climate, better than average fruit and a labor of love for winemaking fueled a bright forecast for the 2005 white wines.

Now that we have whisked into August of 2006, many of those young, refreshing and fruity white wines have been tasted by we the consumer.

In my personal notes I have enjoyed many delicious and refreshing 2005 Virginia white wines including, but not limited to, the following:

Tarara Viognier 2005
Pearmund Riesling 2005
Linden Avenius Sauvignon Blanc 2005
Gray Ghost 2005 Chardonnay 2005
Waterford Seyval Blanc 2005
Windham Riesling 2005
Chrysalis Albarino 2005
Horton Viognier 2005
King Family Vineyards Michael Shaps Viognier 2005
Jefferson Chardonnay Reserve 2005
White Hall Petit Manseng 2005 ( grape I think has lots of potential in VA, hope to see it more)
Oakencroft Seyval Blanc 2005

Please share with Dezel any note worthy 2005 Virginia white wines you have tasted and enjoyed.

Happy Sipping!


Why did the bear cross the road ?

As most of you who visit local Virginia wineries already know, some wineries are closer to the city than others. Some are situated in rural and sparsely settled areas which add to the charm and mystique of the winery in my humble opinion.

Friday, while in route to one of the local wineries in Charlottesville, we had the delight of experiencing nature up close and personal.

Driving on a narrow road surrounded by thick brush, trees, and flowing streams, we saw many young deer out for a mid-day drink. Further along the road watching us as we were slowly approaching was a young black bear. He was in the process of crossing the street and gave us a quick stare as if we disturbed his exercise ritual. He quickly turned around and went back into the woods, and as I drove away I jokingly asked myself, why was the bear trying to cross the road in the first place?

Well about 30 yards up the road, my GPS informed me that I was going the wrong way and advised me to make a U-turn. Making a U-turn and heading back for Bear-ville I drove slowly and made sure to look out for the young bear, as he might be headed across the street since he was interrupted less than a minute ago.

Things looked pretty clear until I saw a tree branch being violently shook on the other side of the road. Upon further observation it was my little pal who must have swiftly crossed the road after we passed. He had climbed up an apple tree and was enjoying a mid-day snack, as I would enjoy my wine and cheese.

Below is a picture (not the best quality, but gives you an idea) from about 40 yards or so I took of him while safely in the confines of the SUV. Label me an urbanite, but this was my first time seeing a bear out of captivity, thus I was needless to say excited.

Black bear in tree enjoying apples

So to answer the question; the bear was crossing the road to get to the apple tree. Has anyone else had any pleasant experiences with nature on their way to local wineries?

In addition to, I have several winery experiences from Charlottesville to share with you from the weekend so keep an eye out.

Happy Sipping!


Virginia Wine: 2003 Chrysalis Norton Locksley Reserve

Last Sunday we were invited by friends, Dave and Lynn to their humble and happy home to enjoy some fine wine. They are VIP members at Chrysalis Vineyards in Middleburg, VA and had just received an unreleased 2003 Norton Locksley Reserve and a summer time favorite, Sarah’s Patio White as part of their membership privilege.

The kindhearted hosts prepared light fare and dessert, and we brought along some Belgium chocolates to add to the mix. Like us, our friends are also fairly new to the fermented grape juice, so we thought it would be fun and revealing to hear everyone's taste reviews of the Norton.

First a little spill on Norton, since Norton and Cabernet Franc are the flagship red wines of Virginia that have the potential to exceed expectation.

Norton, also known as Cythiana is one of the few Native American grape varieties that can produce quality red wine which rivals some European reds. Norton is hardy, disease resistant, and unlike Pinot Noir for instance can grow just about anywhere. The exact origin of Norton is spark for many debates. Some experts believe that Norton is a true native of North America, whilst others believe Norton is a hybrid between indigenous varieties and Vinifera varieties. Others surmise that Dr. Norton of Richmond first planted this grape in Virginia in the late 1820’s, hence the name.

The grape blossomed in the 1830’s and was widely planted throughout much of the Eastern half of the United States. The origin of this variety is quite a mystery, but the aroma and flavors are pleasantly revealing.

The Norton grape saw great prominence during its peak throughout the 1800’s, and excelled as a quality red wine. In Missouri the Norton grape fetched gold medals and high praise from acclaimed and renowned wine critics. Sadly enough, during prohibition Norton saw it’s untimely demise, but would emerge many decades later to dazzle the palates of a new genre.

Norton Grapes

Shifting gears to amicable and sometimes humorous conversation, our friends proceeded to pour the Norton Locksley Reserve. The Norton displayed a medium garnet color and agreed upon aromas of dark fruit and spice. This medium bodied wine presented nice jammy fruit on the nose, mid palate and finished rather nicely. As the evening grew our friends observed a bolder presence of dark fruit and jam in the wine. The table was split about notes of dark chocolate; for me my palate is rarely able to pick up on this flavor.

The evening was completed with a lighter and fruity quaffing wine, Sarah’s Patio White. Aptly named, Sarah’s patio white displayed peach and ripe citrus flavors with good acidity to the finish.

I would personally like to thank Dave and Lynn for inviting us over for such a delightful evening.

Readers if you are in the market for good Norton, Chrysalis is a good place to start in Virginia. There you will find the Norton grape in 3 different styles and in several other lighter blends they produce.

Happy Sipping!


In the news ...

In Friday’s July 14th USA Today news, Destinations & Diversions featured a report on Virginia’s surging wine industry. One driven Charlottesville winery in particular is looking to make some bold moves in the near future. We visited this winery several times and have always enjoyed their wines, food and relaxing atmosphere. CLICK HERE to read the complete story.

Happy Sipping!


Linden Vineyards

On Saturday we decided to visit Linden Vineyards in Linden, Virginia. We have heard so many great things about the winery and wines produced there from people we've met along our travels, that it was time to make the trip. We were trying to make it to the special cellar tasting, but traffic (imagine that) on Interstate 66 West hindered our efforts. The cellar tasting is for a fee and consists of an expanded wine list that includes Linden’s 2004 and 2005 Avenius Sauvignon Blanc, 2- 2001 Red blends and a 2003 and 2004 Late Harvest wine. We did however do a complimentary tasting which consisted of Linden’s 2005 Sauvignon Blanc, 2003 Chardonnay, 2002 Claret, 2004 Cabernet Franc and 2005 Vidal Riesling. Everything on the list was exceptional and our tasting associate was very informative in telling us about Linden’s philosophy on winemaking and about the wines we would be tasting.

Linden Vineyard tasting room

Below is a short video taken of our trip to Linden Vineyards. Click on the play button to initiate video.
Quick Clip

After our tasting, we decided to enjoy a glass of wine while conversing on the deck and taking in the lovely view. Niki selected the 2003 Chardonnay which displayed good fruit and a full mouth feel, complimented by toasted and buttery notes. After reading the tasting notes on the Cellar Tasting list Dezel selected the 2005 Avenius Sauvignon Blanc. Being fond of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc this example was in step with what I have tasted from the Marlborough region and I thoroughly enjoyed it. This wine displayed good acidity, great fruit and pleasant berry and New Zealand’s own kiwi aromas.

Deck view from Linden, beautiful right ?

We enjoyed the scenery and stunning views while conversing on the gorgeous outdoor deck. We will be visiting Linden again for their Vineyard and Cellar tour and the Cellar Tasting. Check their web site as these events are held at specific times on Saturday and Sunday. We will be certain to post a follow up when we revisit Linden.

And yet another nice view via the covered deck

In closing, if you have not visited Linden, we strongly urge you to do so in the near future. Linden Vineyards produce fine examples of quality wine here in Virginia, and the beauteous views will only enhance and compliment your experience.

Happy Sipping!


Tarara Winery : Sounds of Summer Concert Series

On Saturday evening, along with friends, we visited Tarara Winery to enjoy their 2006 Sounds of Summer Concert Series. The series began July 1st and runs through September 30th, every Saturday evening from 6pm to 9:30pm. The fee for adults is $10, kids are free and you are welcome to bring picnic baskets, blankets, and chairs. All that is asked is that you purchase Tarara’s award winning wines. The entry fee covers a wine tasting of up to 5 wines of your choice, which also includes the Reserve wines. Please check their web site for more information, and to see which artists are performing.

Virginia’s flagship wine, Cabernet Franc

We attended all but 2 of the concerts last year and had a wonderful time, and this time was no different. The concerts are held off beautiful Shadow Lake, named after the winery’s dog. If you arrive early there are several park benches and tables available. If you prefer to not pack a picnic basket, great tasting food is available for purchase.

After everyone completed their wine tasting, we unpacked the picnic basket and talked about which wines would go best with our food. There were some sweet palates at our table and some not so sweet palates so we decided to go with a trio that would please everyone’s taste buds.

Pete at the outdoor wine tasting bar

Our first selection was the 2004 Wild River Red. This is one of their best sellers and is a sweet and fruity wine made from blackberries, a good amount of Chambourcin, some Merlot, a little white wine, and a splash of Cabernet Franc. It is a very delightful sipping wine that is very refreshing and works overtime on a warm summer day.

Lined up next to the Wild River Red was one of my personal selections, the 2004 Cabernet Franc. Red fruit flavors on the palate with supple tannins, benefiting from oak aging, makes this a nice approachable wine that pairs well with food, and does well on its own as well.

Last but not least is the 2003 Reserve Merlot. Everyone at the table enjoyed this Merlot, and everyone picked up on different flavors in the wine, which is always fun. Some picked up on hints of chocolate, others vanilla and spice, but everyone agreed on the dark fruit flavors. Aged in 100% American Oak this flavorful wine could pair well with red meats, or do just as well on its own.

Dezel, Tasha, Karen and Pete (Niki taking pic)

Phase II Jamming off Shadow Lake

In closing, everyone enjoyed their time spent at Tarara, conversing, listening to Phase II (awesome jazz band) and enjoying good food. I encourage all readers to visit Tarara’s web site and plan a visit; it’s truly an enjoyable way to spend a Saturday evening and I assure you, there will be more Sounds of summer posts from me; we really enjoy the wines, music and people there.

Happy Sipping!


Fabbioli Cellars 2005 Raspberry Merlot

After dinner there is no better sweet ending to an evening than a really nice dessert wine. Having heard much high praise about Fabbioli Cellars Raspberry Merlot, via web blogs, I decided to secure a few bottles for myself. The pairing of the Merlot and the berries delivered a wonderful full and fruity wine that was not too sweet like some dessert wines. The barrel aging blended the flavors quite well, and the final result in the bottle was quite pleasing. Additionally, to compliment this delicious dessert wine, we paired it with dark chocolate and thoroughly enjoyed the combination.

I strongly recommend visiting the web site and charming your palate with this delightful treat.

Look for our Final day in the Finger Lakes coming next.

Wine and 4th of July BBQ

On the 4th of July we were set to enjoy a delicious North Carolina styled BBQ dinner. When I inquired prior to our BBQ dinner regarding wines that may pair up, most people told me beer goes best with BBQ hands down. Well, I’m not a beer drinker, and wanted to find a decent bottle of wine to compliment our BBQ dinner. I decided to go with a dry Rose, but after checking my wine rack all my Spanish Roses had been consumed. I had one lone Rose, which was a 2005 Chateau De Nages from Rhone. This is a classic dry Rose, displaying a beautiful fuchsia color, with refreshing ripe red berry flavors. Chateau De Nages is 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah, and pairs fairly well with a wide variety of foods. This Rose paired quite nicely with our vinegar based BBQ dinner. I do not think it would have held up against the more traditional heavier sauces however.

Another lesson learned for the new kid on the block. Did you have wine with your 4th of July BBQ? If so what was it.

Happy Sipping!

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