A Decadent Combination: VA Wine & Chocolate

Can you think of a better way to spend Valentines Weekend than visiting a Virginia winery and enjoying an assortment of decadent chocolate desserts and a glass of wine? Well Vine Spot couldn’t, so we saddled up and made our way to a few wineries that were hosting chocolate and wine events. Yummy!

Hanging out with Vine Spot were friends Brian and Dionne, who were both 'first timers' to Virginia wineries and tasting Virginia wine. A little background: Brian is fairly new to wine, preferring German beer and cognac, while Dionne, whose father grows grapes and makes both red and white selections, knows quite a bit about wine and was eager to taste what Virginia had to offer. So off we were to find out which Virginia wines paired best with gourmet chocolate treats.

The Chocolaterie Wanders setting up treats at Pearmunds

First stop was Pearmund Cellars, where we have had many pleasant visits in the past and have always enjoyed their wines. Pearmund Cellars was hosting the Chocolaterie Wanders, a family owned local business that specializes in quality handcrafted chocolate. The Chocolateries came prepared for the awaiting chocoholics with an assortment of fine chocolate treats. The pistachio and raspberry dark chocolates topped everyone’s list and the wine selections we enjoyed best with the chocolates were the Ameritage Reserve 2005 and the Cabernet Sauvignon 2005. The fullness, toastiness and richness of these two wines complimented the dark chocolates nicely and would also pair well with most red meat dishes.

Cute little Basenji, waiting for Dezel to drop a piece of chocolate

It was a good thing we decided to leave our diets at the door, because in the barrel room Chris Pearmund was pouring 3 Pearmund Cellars dessert wines and 1 Port styled wine from sister winery, Winery at La Grange . There were also plenty of homemade desserts to go around such as peanut brittle, pineapple turnover cake and baklava to pair with these tasty dessert wines. So what did we enjoy? We enjoyed it all, but topping the list was the Late Harvest Vidal Blanc 2003, which offered ripe citrus fruit aromas and flavors with hints of honeysuckle and enough acidity to balance it out nicely. A unique wine that everyone also enjoyed was the Vin de Sol 2005, which is a sherry styled wine made from Late Harvest Viognier that is sun dried on the roof of Pearmund Cellars for almost a year. What this produces in the glass is a fig, almond and hazelnut like wine with intense flavors and aromas. This selection paired nicely with the peanut brittle and could be an enjoyable evening sipper as well. Also, the newly released Late Harvest Viognier 2005 should be on the top of any sweet wine lovers list.

We were informed that Pearmund Cellars would soon release their first vintage of Sauvignon Blanc, so we are eager to return and try it just in time for spring. We picked up a ½ heart at Pearmund Cellars and were told that we would have to visit sister winery, La Grange , to mend the hearts and receive a prize. We said our good-byes, stocked up on a few bottles and before we made our way to La Grange to mend our hearts, we set out to visit Cupid atop the hill where Romance resides.

Cupid at Mediterranean Cellars; cute isn’t he?

By now a great number of hopeful romantics are wondering where that hill is I’m sure. That hill is located in Warrenton, Virginia and on that hill sits Mediterranean Cellars. Cupid and Romance can be found at Mediterranean Cellars, and the Romance was marrying nicely with the milk chocolates offered at Mediterranean Cellars. The Romance 2004 is a light bodied, fruit driven red blend that is a nice festive sort of wine that would make for a nice picnic wine or deck sipper. Want to turn the sweetness factor up a tad? Try the Sweet Romance Reserve 2004, which is a fuller, flavorful and richer wine compared to the aforementioned Romance 2004. It also pairs very nicely with chocolate, so be sure to put this delicious and irresistible wine on your dessert wine list. Another sweet and fruity selection enjoyed by all was the Sweet Lucia 2005, a Late Harvest Vidal Blanc. This wine was Dionne’s favorite during our tasting, and this candied fruit, smooth textured wine swiftly became her Valentine.

Brian and Dionne having fun @ tasting bar

Mediterranean Cellars recently released their first vintage of Cabernet Franc (05) and for you Cabernet Franc lovers, it is certainly worth checking out. Like all their wines, this Cabernet Franc is estate bottled and offers violet and raspberry aromas with nice ripe fruit and spice on the palate. This Cabernet Franc is very food friendly and for a first cut, is a very nice wine. After saying good-bye to the friendly people at Mediterranean, it was time for us to visit the place where fine wine and history mingle.

The Stunning Winery at La Grange

You guessed it, The Winery at La Grange ! There was a crowd on hand and we recognized several people from Pearmund Cellars who were coming to get the other ½ of their heart and more importantly taste the fine wines at La Grange . Winery at La Grange is a late 18th century manor house that is filled with unmatched charm and character. Since the tasting bar was busy, we toured the many rooms of the house including the two parlor rooms upstairs and the dimly lit and cozy basement and were really impressed with the condition of this aged beauty.

The Basement - 1 of many rooms to enjoy fine wine and nibbles in

We moved to the tasting bar where wine and chocolate were the focal point and was hosted by Rosanna, who was very friendly and informative during our tasting. We tasted through the wines, along with many delicious pieces of Ghirardelli dark chocolates and really liked what the Meritage 2005 and the Snort 2005 did for the chocolate. The Meritage 2005 was rich offering dark fruit flavors and friendly tannins with mild toastiness that mingled quite well with the tasty treats. Brian’s favorite wine of the day, the Snort 2005, a fortified port styled wine also did wonders with the chocolate treats. The Snort 2005 is made from Petit Verdot and high octane grape spirits and is a full and mouth filling wine with hints of nuttiness and cocoa and aside from pairing with chocolate, would make a nice late evening sipper.

Some people call Dezel a ‘Chatty Cathy’, so here I am chatting!

It was nearing time to call it a day and we were pleased to hear that our friends, you remember, ‘The First Timers’, enjoyed visiting the wineries and more importantly, enjoyed the wine. With a 100 plus wineries in Virginia, I’m sure they will have a busy spring and summer on the Virginia Wine Trails. We also mended our hearts and received a nice Winery at La Grange magnet and several tasty treats.

Bidding Adieu

Valentines lends itself particularly well to chocolate and wine, but chocolate and wine can be an everyday or anytime pairing as well. One pairing I have grown fond of is white chocolate and Riesling or Vouvray; white chocolate does well with a nicely balanced off dry white wine. Have a favorite wine and chocolate combination? Let’s hear about it, drop me an email.

Happy Sipping !


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