11/28/2006

Stepping into Elegance: Veritas Vineyards & Winery



Following our visit to Afton Mountain Vineyards, there was much more of the Monticello Wine Trail to enjoy, and enjoy we did! Our next stop, Veritas Vineyards & Winery, located in Afton, Virginia , sits at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains and offers spectacular mountain and vista views. Opening in June of 2002, Veritas Vineyards & Winery is a family run business owned and operated by Andrew and Patricia Hodson. Their daughter, Emily Hodson, along with Andrew are responsible for making Veritas award winning wines.


Veritas Vineyard & Winery

The tasting room at Veritas is truly the height of fashion and elegance. The interior boasts high ceilings, palatial furnishings, and a mezzanine overlooking the tasting room and a nice and inviting fireplace for the colder days. There is also a newly opened events facility, Saddle Back Hall, that is beautifully decorated and provides mountain and vineyard views. The facility is perfect for a wedding or banquet, and Veritas also provides catering for such events. Future plans at Veritas includes the opening of a restaurant where fine cusine will be served along with Veritas award winning wines.

Beautiful Tasting Room

Saddle Back Hall

Upon arriving to the tasting bar, we were warmly greeted by tasting associate Stuart Harvey, who told us a little about the winery and the fine wines we would taste. The following wines were offered for taste: Sauvignon Blanc 2005, Chardonnay 2005, Harlequin 2004 (Chardonnay 75%, Viognier 20%, Traminette 5%), Viognier 2005, Rose 2005, Cabernet Franc Primeur 2004, Claret 2004 (Cabernet Franc 60%, Merlot 40%), Merlot 2004 and the Vintners Reserve 2004. There were also three Reserve wines that we opted to taste for $1 each which were the Mousseux 2003 (Red Sparkling wine made from Cabernet Franc), Petit Manseng 2005 and the Kenmar 2004 (dessert wine).

Veritas Tasting Room

It is no wonder why Veritas wines have garnered such attention and awards. All the wines tasted displayed good varietal character and the Claret blend was one of the best we have tasted in the state. Other tasty selections to note were the Harlequin 2004, which made for a crisp and refreshing wine with bright tropical flavors on the palate. The Viognier 2005 displayed pleasant tree fruit and perfumed aromas with lush peach and apricot flavors on the palate, complimented by flutters of sweet honey. Moving to the reds, the Cabernet Franc 2004, which I enjoyed a glass of, and was later one of several bottles purchased, was light to medium in body with a nice cherry nose and filled with red fruit flavors. The Cabernet Franc is similar in style to the examples from the Village of Chinon in the Loire Valley I have boasted about. One of my favorite grape varieties, hailing from the Jurancon region of France , that I am seeing more of in Virginia is Petit Manseng. The Petit Manseng 2005 is done in a dessert style displaying tropical fruit flavors with hints of honey and nuttiness on the palate, and makes for a nice sweet ending to a savory dinner.

Wonderful Views

... and Tasty Cabernet Franc

Following our tasting, we decided to take full advantage of a lovely and sunny Fall day and enjoy a glass of the Cabernet Franc 2004. While basking in the pleasures of the day we pondered over which wines we would take home. Needless to say I have a nice supply of Veritas wines and look forward to returning and attending one of their events. We strongly suggest readers visit this charming winery and enjoy their fine wines. When you do make plans to visit, let them know Dezel of Virginia Vine Spot sent you.


~ Other News ~

Recently, I posted about Cabernet Franc, Virginia's Alternative Red, on the WineLog Blog. Please check it out, as Ben Bicais of Calwineries Blog provides informative feedback and a nice recommendation.

Stay tuned for the following:

  • Several more winery visitis to wrap up
  • Wine reviews
  • Your Tasting Room Experience and Expectations

Happy Sipping!

Dezel

Weekly Sip: Veramar Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon

Veramar Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2005


Review: This is Veramar Vineyards debut release of Cabernet Sauvignon. It is part of their exclusive Limited Reserve labeling and is only available to Estate Club Members. Per bottle, the cost is $32.00 and membership gives you 15% off your total wine purchase. We received this bottle as part of our quarterly shipment, which gives Estate Club Members even a better overall deal. As an Estate Club Member, you pay one fixed price per shipment and your shipment may include two wines totaling well over the fixed price paid.

This Cabernet Sauvignon is a nice garnet color displaying medium dark and red fruit aromas. On the palate are flavors of blackberry and plum with hints of vanilla and spice. This Cabernet is done in a fresh fruit and easy drinking style with supple and delectable tannins.

Pairing suggestion would include aperitifs, light chesses, braised veal, baked chicken or lamb dishes. I thoroughly enjoyed this fruit filled selection as my weekly sipper and look forward to having another glass over lunch the next time we visit the winery.


Happy Sipping!

Dezel

11/21/2006

Visiting Afton Mountain Vineyards


After enjoying a fun filled time of red and white delights at Keswick Vineyards, we saddled up and headed to Afton Mountain Vineyards located in Afton, Virginia . The winery and vineyard is located on the southeastern slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains and provides spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. The Autumn colors, although slowly fading, were still prevalent and the drive to Afton Mountain is one of beauty that all sightseers will enjoy.

Tasting Room

Afton Mountain Vineyards is one of the pioneering farm wineries in Virginia, emerging at a rather early and experimental time for Virginia grape growers and winemakers. Prior to purchasing the property that would later become Afton Mountain Vineyards, current owners Tom and Shinko Corpora discovered this 52 acre property with vines that had been severely neglected. It appears that a hopeful grower, who had previously owned the property in the mid to late 1970’s, planted everything from Zinfandel to Semillon to determine what would work in Virginia’s soil type and climate. One might razz at the thought of Zinfandel plantings in Virginia , but do recall these were early and experimental times. Sadly enough the hopeful grower would not see his first vintage as he took ill and shortly after passed away. Most of the vines he planted had to be pulled up because certain grape varieties are not well suited to Virginia’s terroir, however some still remain, making select Afton vines some of the oldest in the state.

Robbie at the tasting bar

Upon entering the tasting room, we were greeted by Robbie, the Corpora’s son, who along with brother Brian assists in winery and vineyard duties. After some chat about the winery and wine talk, we closed in on our mission, tasting Afton wines. The following wines were offered for tasting: Tête de Cuvée Brut Sparkling Wine 2004, Estate Bottled Chardonnay 2005, Sangiovese 2005, Cabernet Sauvignon 2004, Cabernet Franc 2005, and lastly, Sweet Afton 2005, a Muscat and Gewürztraminer dessert blend.

Charming and cozy seating area

Also available for purchase, but not tasting due to limited production ,were the Pinot Noir 2005 and the Cabernet Sauvignon 2005. Afton Mountain also makes a Riesling, Rose and Gewürztraminer, all of which were sold out (2005 vintage).

Wines to note during our tasting were the Tête de Cuvée Brut 2004, which uses the traditional method where secondary fermentation takes place in the bottle. The dry sparkling wine is crisp and refreshing with nice tree fruit flavors on the palate. The Estate Bottled Chardonnay 2005 is medium bodied with nice round fruit flavors and would pair well with smoked white meat and white sauce dishes. The Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 was another medium bodied hit, with dark fruit aromas that follow through with similar flavors on the palate, and would pair well with lamb, venison and light cheeses. The Cabernet Franc 2005, Virginia ’s flagship wine is medium bodied displaying soft cherry aromas and showing nice varietal flavor. Most Virginia Cabernet Francs are food friendly and can be paired with an array of food selections, and this example is no different.

Nice views

In closing, it was time to saddle up and travel to another Virginia winery before calling it a day. Afton Mountain Vineyards offers great wines, a knowledgeable and friendly staff, beautiful views, a nice picnic area, and a warm and cozy indoor seating area complimented by a fireplace. When you decide to visit Afton Mountains please let them know you read about them on Virginia Vine Spot.

Visit soon


Stay tuned readers, there is more to come.


Happy Sipping!

Dezel

11/16/2006

Red & White Delights at Keswick Vineyards


Last Thursday we decided to take full advantage of the wonderful Spring like weather and beautiful Autumn colors and hit the Monticello Wine Trail. We were eager to visit several wineries for the first time, and since discovering that Keswick Vineyards had just opened their new tasting room, Keswick Vineyards was our first stop.


The town of Keswick, for those unfamiliar, is in Albemarle county and about ten miles east of Charlottesville . The drive on route 231 leading to the winery takes you through green picturesque rolling hills, horse farms, and spectacular views of the Keswick countryside.

Keswick Winery


We arrived at the newly opened tasting room and found it inviting and attractive. We browsed the wine and merchandise area and also watched several minutes of a short video illustrating the steps from vine to bottle at Keswick. We were then warmly greeted by tasting associate Kelley, who would guide us through our tasting. Before our tasting, Kelley entertained all of our questions about the new winery and told us all about Keswick Vineyards, past, present and future.


Gracious tasting associate Kelley pouring Keswick fine wines


The following wines were offered for the regular tasting, most of which have already won numerous awards: Rosé 2005, Chardonnay 2004, Viognier 2005, Les Vents d'Anges Rives Red ( a blend of 31% Merlot, 24% Tannat, 24% Cabernet Franc, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Norton), Touriga 2005 and Norton 2005. We also opted for the reserve tasting for $3 more which included the following wines: Viognier Reserve 2005, Syrah 2004, Heritage Reserve 2002 ( Bordeaux styled blend containing 60% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc and 10% Touriga), Syrah 2004, and Nektar 2004, an ice styled dessert wine made from Viognier and Tramminette grapes.


Tasting bar

All of the wines tasted were very pleasing and by the end of the tasting, we had a difficult time trying to decide what not to take home. From the dry and refreshing Rosé, to the well made and fruit filled Norton, we enjoyed them all. To note a few, the Viognier 2005 was very nice, displaying a medium tropical nose with lush tree fruit flavors on the palate. The reasonably priced Les Vents d'Anges Rives Red blend displayed soft dark fruit flavors and would be a nice accompaniment to pizza or red sauce dishes. We were also informed that for each bottle of the Rive Red blend sold, that $2 would go to the American Lung Association, making the deal even more meaningful. The Heritage Reserve 2002 is the fuller and voluptuous of the red blends, and is well balanced, concentrated and awaiting those hearty red meat dishes. I can praise all the wines tasted, but for readers that have not yet visited Keswick Vineyards or tasted their wines, I recommend you visit and sample these tasty wines for yourself.

Barrel Room


Following our tasting, we chatted with Kelley and moved to the barrel and production room for a tour of where the wine is made and aged. During our discussion, we were pleased to meet with Stephan Barnard whose name I recalled from Rappahannock Cellars. Stephan hails from Cape Town, South Africa , where he also made wine and is currently the winemaker and general manager of Keswick Vineyards. Stephan is the passionate winemaker responsible for the acclaimed Rappahannock Cellars Viognier 2005 that won a Gold Medal in the 2006 Virginia Governor's Cup. It was a pleasure conversing with Stephan and he was kind enough to allow us to sample some of the 2006 red and white delights that were barrel aging. We tasted a youngish Viognier that showed great promise and we eagerly await its maturation and release. This Viognier is surely an award winner in waiting. Stephan also let us sample several of the young reds including a Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Chambourcin and Cabernet Sauvignon. I was quite impressed with the depth of color in these wines and the fullness in body, but more emphasis on the nice colors he was able to extract; they were full of youth and looked wonderful. Maturity in the barrels shall suit these wines well, rounding out the edges and imparting flavor nuances and complexity. We will certainly follow up with Stephan to track the development of these red and white delights in the near future.

Chatting and sampling with Stephan, Kelley

In closing, if quality is a requirement, I strongly suggest readers look to Keswick Vineyards to satiate your palate needs. The tasting room is nice and comfortable with seating to enjoy select light fare that is available for purchase in the tasting room while enjoying your favorite Keswick wine. On more pleasant days, like when we visited, there is an outdoor picnic area and a charming front porch lounge area with comfortable seating. Membership is currently free, so take advantage of the benefits and sign up soon.

Keswick's charming front porch

Readers, when you do decide to visit Keswick Vineyards be sure to tell them you read about them on Virginia Vine Spot!

Keswick spectacular views

Stay tuned as I have much more to share with you from our 2 day hop on the Monticello Wine Trail!

Happy Sipping!

Dezel

11/14/2006

Vine Spot on WineLog


For a few months now I have been using a really nice wine tracking site put together by two wine enthusiasts, Jason and Kimberly, to log my weekly sips. On the right side of my blog you can view my latest sips and notes, and my complete wine log, compliments of their site, WineLog.net. Amongst many other nice features, is the ease of blog integration, which initially allured me to the site to track my wines. And now WineLog has added guest bloggers to their wonderful site, and Vine Spot was selected to contribute. I have recently posted on the WineLog blog for the first time to say hello to the wine community and will periodically post on the site. Another familar face, Winesmith, also uses the site to track his sips and is also a guest blogger.


I’m currently backlogged in inputting my wines, but will catch up soon. I have listed several Virginia wines, and noticed many other nice Virginia selections. Recognize any of these names Virginia Wine lovers?


If you are looking for a convenient way to track your wines with a nice intuitive interface and great features, look no further. Signing up is a cinch, and the rest is as easy as twisting off a New Zealand screw cap.



  • Stay tuned for Red and White Delights at Keswick Vineyards. We had a great time at the newly opened Virginia winery.


Happy Sipping!

Dezel

11/12/2006

A beautiful Autumn day at Windham Winery


After visiting with Kent Mars of Village Winery, we decided to visit Windham Winery to secure a few bottles of Hope’s Raspberry Merlot to enjoy after dinner on Thanksgiving Day. Windham Winery is located in Hillsboro, Virginia and housed in a polished red barn that overlooks a picturesque pond that is bordered by willows and complimented by the surrounding green countryside.

Windham Winery

Windham Winery is owned by George and Nicki Bazaco and annual events such as Windham ’s Taste of Greece are an extension of their Greek heritage. Doug Fabbioli, of Fabbioli Cellars, is Windham ’s winemaker and the wines produced are well received and have won numerous awards. Matter of fact, since we last visited a few months back, their Fume Blanc and Doukenie had both won medals.

Seating area w/ nearby toasty fireplace


The current offerings at Windham are as follows: Fume Blanc 2005, Riesling 2005, Chardonnay 2004, Doukenie 2004 (Traminette based blend), Fratelli 2004 (lighter styled Chambourcin and Tannat based blend), Merlot 2004, Cabernet Franc 2004 (Gold Medal - Tasters Guild International Wine Competition), Vintners Reserve 2004 (Bordeaux-styled blend), and last but not least, Hope’s Raspberry Merlot. The single varietal wines tasted displayed good varietal character and the blended wines brought out the best in each grape variety.

Tasting bar


Wines noted during our tasting were the Doukenie 2004, a pleasantly aromatic wine that is quite popular amongst the fruity and semi sweet wine drinkers. The Doukenie would make a nice aperitif or patio sipper. The Fratelli 2004, a lighter styled Chambourcin and Tannat blend that would be the perfect match to spaghetti, pizza, and other red sauce dishes. The Gold medal winning Cabernet Franc 2004, displays a distinct Cabernet Franc raspberry nose with hints of herb and cherry; these flavors follow through on the palate with a nice medium finish. A good match to this Cab Franc would be grilled meats, roasted lamb, or even a nice bowl of chili. Hope’s Raspberry Merlot is made from homegrown fermented raspberries blended with oak aged Merlot. This delicious dessert wine is more so fruit filled and concentrated than it is sweet, and is enjoyable on its own or with rich chocolate desserts.

Yummy


Hope’s Raspberry Merlot also finds herself pairing well with Hope’s famous homemade baklava. After completing a tasting at Windham, visitors may be in for a treat. Hope’s homemade baklava is sometimes served in the tasting room after the wines are sampled and the treat is greatly pleasing. Of course, Lucy the friendly winery dog is always on hand as pictured below looking for any crumbs you may drop.

Lucy, the friendly winery dog


Also, next year look for Windham to change its name to Doukenie Winery. This name change stems from legal issues with an Australian winery with a similar name. Imagine that Virginia. Aptly named, Doukenie Winery will honor the matriarch of the family business, Doukenie Papandreos.

Enclosed and heated veranda area

On November 24-26 Windham will host their annual soup weekend, so be sure to check their web site for additional information. The event sounds like a nice way to keep warm and enjoy some great wine while doing so. In closing, we very much enjoy the wines, friendly staff, and atmosphere at Windham Winery. When you decide to visit, please let them know you read about them on Virginia Vine Spot.

Picturesque outdoors

With the awesome weather this past week and a little vacation time, we found ourselves visiting the newly opened Keswick Vineyards, Afton Mountain , Veritas, Cardinal Point, Oakencroft, First Colony, Kluge, and Barboursville. Do stay tuned for more pictures, visits and wine talk.

Happy Sipping!

Dezel

11/06/2006

Village Winery visit


Last weekend we headed out to Village Winery in Waterford , VA to sample some of their latest releases and visit with owner and winemaker, Kent Mars. Village Winery is a memer of the Loudoun County Wine trail, and is one of Virginia ’s youngest wineries, having opened for business last Fall. The winery is housed in a restored farm house, which sits next to an eye catching aged old barn.

Village Winery


The interior of the winery keeps with the aged theme and has a warm and cozy feel about it. Amongst the fine wood-work are tables and chairs where guests can sit and enjoy their favorite wines with local cheeses that are available for purchase.

Interior of winery


Prior to our tasting, we had the opportunity to talk with Kent and tour the barrel room. Kent is very optimistic about the 2006 vintage, as well his first vintage of Petit Verdot; a red wine varietal that does particularly well here in Virginia . Kent will also introduce Viognier to the fold in the near future; a white wine grape that is no stranger to Virginia soil. We were pleased to learn about the new additions and are eager to return and sample these wines upon their release, as Kent reports exceptional fruit from the 2006 harvest.

Kent preparing for a large crowd


Moving onto our tasting, the following wines were poured: an Apple wine made from local fruit, Elderberry wine, Merlot 2005, Merlot – Cabernet Franc blend, Cabernet Franc 2005. All Ken’s wines were nicely done and all benefit from French Oak aging. We noted the following selections during our visit: The apple wine is soft and fruity and is not overly sweet as one may think. It would pair with milder cheeses and warm baguettes or as a nice weekend sipper. The Elderberry wine, another interesting wine made from the elderberry fruit is a nicely scented, medium bodied red wine that emulates a softer Bordeaux styled blend. The Merlot 2005 is a fresh and fruity easy drinking wine displaying dark fruit and spice aromas that follow through on the palate. Roasted chicken, pork loin and lamb are dishes that would pair well with this wine. The Merlot-Cabernet Franc blend displays nice dark fruit aromas, with raspberry, pepper and mild oak flavors. This wine is nicely balanced with ripe tannins and would pair well with game dishes, lamb and Cajun seasoned red meat dishes. The Cabernet Franc 2005 has a distinct Cab Franc nose with red fruit aromas dominating. On the palate are red fruit, herb and spice flavors, summed up with a nice peppery finish. This selection would pair well with veal, roasted lamb and red sauce dishes, as well on its own as a nice evening sipper.

Village Winery Cabernet Franc 2005


After our tasting we chatted some more with Kent over a glass of Cabernet Franc 2005. It is such a pleasure visiting Village Winery because Ken is very friendly and strives to make your tasting experience entertaining as well educational. Ken is more than willing to take time and talk about his wines and everything from vine to wine with you. Also, for you holiday shoppers, be on the lookout for Village Winery at the Leesburg Outlet Mall. What better way to stop and relax from the busy shopping season than to sit down and enjoy a glass of Ken’s hand crafted wines. As you see, we really enjoy visiting this young winery, and look forward to the new things to come. When readers decide to visit Village Winery please let them know you read about them on Virginia Vine Spot.


Happy Sipping!

Dezel

11/02/2006

Halloween at Hillsborough Vineyards 2006


This past weekend we decided to dress up and visit Hillsborough Vineyards for a Halloween costume party. There were some great costumes ideas, delicious foods, a little boogie-woogie, and Hillsborough's wonderful blended wines on hand. We were joined by our pals in wine, Paul and Warren of Virginia Wine Time. Below are some images of the fun filled evening. We look forward to attending again next year; hopefully we will see you there!

Click on the play button to initiate show.




Happy Sipping!
Dezel

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