2/25/2007

A Little Bit About Me ...


Hello Friends,

I guess you can call me a late bloomer to the wonderful world of wine. It’s one of life’s simple pleasures that I didn’t realize I had a passion for until well into adulthood. Having said that, I think I have done a pretty good job making up for lost time. During the day I work as a Systems Engineer; after 5PM, I become Dezel the wine enthusiast. Of all the things I’ve gotten into in life, I really could not have stumbled upon a better area of interest. Wine is one of the few hobbies where you will never run out of new things to taste and learn – and that’s a fact.

Spring of 2005 at Jefferson Vineyards. A Wine Virgin No More.


For me, it all started with a job transfer from the west coast to northern Virginia in 2003. I wasn’t into wine back then nor did I have any idea that Virginia produced wine. I did have an interest in history however. With four of the first five Presidents of the United States being from Virginia; this state is steeped in history and there's a lot to see and learn. In the spring of 2005, during a tour of Monticello (Thomas Jefferson's abode) in Charlottesville, someone on the tour recommended we visit Jefferson Vineyards (a short distance away). For many people I know, White Zinfandel was their introduction into the wonderful world of wine. I like to think I started off on higher ground with Virginia wine. I didn’t know Cabernet Franc was a red wine or how to pronounce Viognier [VEE-ohn-yay] back then. But after ending that Monticello trip at Kluge [now Trump Winery], I had found myself a new hobby. Unlike any other beverage I’ve tasted, wine is a drink that makes you think -- particularly when bitten by the bug. Many books, bottles, sips, and wonderful friends later – the whole swirl-sniff-savor or spit ritual never gets old for me. As a matter of fact, a new wine adventure awaits me following this short post. Thanks for taking time to read a little bit about me and 'Happy Sipping' to all of you!

Live, Love, Laugh, Tweet, Sip, Enjoy!

My Vine Spot

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2/22/2007

Loudoun Magazine & Vine Spot hits the Wine Trail

Loudoun Magazine


Hello Friends,

Dezel is pleased to inform you that Vine Spot will be featured in Loudoun Magazines spring edition talking about - what else - Virginia Wine. As readers well know, Vine Spot enjoys visiting the beautiful Loudoun countryside and frequenting the wineries. There are 13 operational wineries in Loudoun County that can be broken up into 3 tours and Vine Spot will talk about one of our favorite Loudoun County Wine Tours. Dezel would tell you which tour, but I would prefer you pick up a copy of the Loudoun Magazine and follow Vine Spot through some of Loudoun’s top wineries. In addition, the Loudoun Magazine offers an open window into Loudoun lifestyle, history, heritage and many other wonderful things.

So where can friends of Vine Spot find a copy of the Loudoun Magazine? You can find the Loudoun Magazine at major bookstores (Barnes and Noble, Borders, Books a Million) and grocery stores (Giant, Food Lion, Wegmans Dulles) in the Northern Virginia area. You can also contact Circulation Director, Victoria Bell, at victoria@leesburg2day or call 703.771.2076 to purchase a copy.

Dezel would like to say “Thank You” to the Loudoun Magazine for allowing me to share my hobby and enthusiasm for Loudoun Wine with the many readers of your publication.


Happy Sipping !

Dezel

Waterford Vineyards: Toasting with Corky


The last time Vine Spot visited Waterford Vineyards, we went to view the new tasting room and try some of the award winning Barrel Select Chardonnay 2005 we had heard such nice things about. During that visit, Dezel had the chance to converse with the amicable Jim Corcoran, owner of Waterford Vineyards, who informed me that the soon to be released Cabernet Franc 2005 was showing very well.

Waterford Vineyards


Since that time, September of 2006, Dezel has checked the Waterford Vineyards web site from time to time to see when the Cabernet Franc 2005 would be released. While visiting the Waterford Vineyards web site, the following comment was noticed: “Have you met Corky yet?” Well, Dezel has visited Waterford Vineyards at least three times in the past and had never met Corky. This time would be different, as Vine Spot finally had the opportunity to meet Corky, as well as, try some of the tasty Cabernet Franc 2005.

~Gorgeous view as we approach the winery ~

While driving up to Waterford Vineyards, the picturesque pond that sits next to the tasting room has spring time picnic written all over it. Dezel wholeheartedly welcomes the warmer weather friends! Vine Spot arrived to the charming 18th century log cabin farm house that sits adjacent to the eye catching rustic barn and was warmly greeted by owner and Jim's better half, Lori Corcoran, who can always be found in the tasting room spreading good cheer and eager to pour and talk about Waterford Vineyards well crafted wines. Alongside Lori, was father-in-law Corky, whose lively and enthusiastic greeting was as pleasantly refreshing as the acidity found in a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

The eye-catching barn!

After some friendly and entertaining conversation, Corky assisted Vine Spot through the tasting of the full spectrum of red and white wines offered. The wines tasted were as follows: Vintners Reserve Chardonnay 2005, Barrel Select Chardonnay 2005, Viognier 2005, Chambourcin 2005, Cabernet Franc 2005, Malbec 2002, and for the sweet and zesty ending, the Seyval Blanc 2005. During our tasting, Corky was highly informative and really made our tasting experience entertaining and interactive. In fact, there was never a dull moment!

Dezel chatting with Corky about the powers of the Malbec 2002

The wines poured exhibited good varietal character and the newly released Cabernet Franc 2005 was nicely done and upcoming in Vine Spots next Weekly Sip. The talent behind the winemaking at Waterford Vineyards is the husband and wife team of Vicki and Mark Fedor. In a very short time this dynamic and great grape duo has done an excellent job of producing quality hand crafted wines. Vine Spot looks forward to many future vintages to come from this duo.

~ Good wine starts in the vineyard ~

Following our tasting, we informed Corky that we had a very delightful time talking and tasting with him. Dezel, however, was curious to find out Corky’s secret to remaining bright, brilliant and youthful. Corky revealed that the Waterford Vineyards Malbec 2002 was his secret, and indeed, the Malbec 2002 has also aged very well. The Malbec 2002 is medium bodied and nicely balanced offering an inviting bouquet of dark cherry and coffee bean aromas. On the palate are ripe dark fruit flavors with vanilla, clove and cocoa nuances; this wine can be consumed now or stored in your cellar for several more years. With spring around the corner both the Vintners Reserve Chardonnay 2005 and the Seyval Blanc 2005 should find their way into your picnic basket. Want a wine to pair with spicy ethnic cuisine? Try the refreshing and fruit driven Viognier 2005.

Toasting with Corky by days end: Malbec 2002

Vine Spot's visit to Waterford Vineyards reemphasizes that most Virginia tasting rooms are filled with more than just good wine. Most tasting rooms are filled with knowledgeable and friendly people like our pal Corky and project a relaxing and pleasant atmosphere. These things all heighten the wine tasting experience, which 99.9% of the time results in many satisfied and repeat customers. With that said, Vine Spot hopes to toast with Corky again in the spring. In the mean time, Vine Spot will be sipping a generous amount of the recommended ‘potion of youth’, the Malbec 2002!


Happy Sipping !

Dezel

2/18/2007

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 !

Dezel

2/15/2007

Weekly Sip: Dr. Frank Riesling Reserve 2005

Dr. Frank Riesling Reserve 2005


The Riesling grape, in Vine Spot’s opinion, is the preeminent grape of the Finger Lakes region and I’m sure there are many palates out there that would agree. The grape is well suited to the cooler climate of the region and some Finger Lakes Rieslings are considered to be the best in the world. When Vine Spot visited the Finger Lakes last year, all the wineries shared one thing, they all, with the exception of a handful, did at least 1 Riesling bottling. This selection comes from Dr. Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars, where Vine Spot picked up a number of nice selections.

Review: The Dr. Frank Riesling Reserve 2005 is water white to pale yellow in color and offers lively tree, citrus and slight minerally aromas. The aromas follow though on the palate featuring nice fresh fruit with delicate mineral and floral nuances. The wine is slightly sweet, but the acidity does an admirable job at achieving a delightful balancing act. This wine is clean, refreshing and has a nice medium finish.

As you can see, I enjoyed this with chicken taquitos, dressed in a sweet and spicy corn relish and it did really well for me. I sipped on this bottle for the next two evenings and thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to more Finger Lakes Riesling finds. This bottle retailed at the time for $29, but was gifted to Vine Spot during a visit to the winery.

Happy Sipping !

Dezel

2/13/2007

Loudoun Valley Vineyards: Winter Soup Days


On a nice and sunny day, when winter appeared to have taken a nap, Vine Spot headed to Loudoun County to enjoy Winter Soup Days at Loudoun Valley Vineyards & Winery. Loudoun Valley Vineyards is one of Loudoun’s pioneering wineries and Vine Spot has enjoyed several previous visits to the winery and we can certainly chalk this up as another!

Winter Soup Days at Loudoun Valley Vineyards


Loudoun Valley Vineyards is an estate winery located in the historic town of Waterford, which is a town settled by Pennsylvania Quakers in the mid 1700’s and offers a glass full of small town charm and character. Loudoun Valley Vineyards is owned and operated by Hubert Tucker, who for many years has produced award winning estate bottled wines. An interesting fact is that Mr. Tucker was an accomplished grape grower in Upstate New York for over three decades, selling the family fruit to other wineries in the area. When you do the math friends, Mr. Tucker was successfully growing grapes before any of today’s 100 plus Virginia wineries physically existed. Adding to the résumé, we discovered that Hubert Tucker was not only responsible for vineyard chores and making the wine, but he also made the soup we would be enjoying. Hubert Tucker is definitely a Jack of all Trades and we were eager to taste some of Loudoun Valley Vineyards wines and enjoy a warming bowl of soup; which by the way I was told was very good by several visitors.

Loudoun Valley Vineyards

Soup Days at Loudoun Valley Vineyards attracts quite a crowd and Dezel visited with several people who were non wine drinkers that made the trip to Loudoun Valley for a bowl of Hubert Tucker's delectable British Beef with Herb Dumpling Soup. Before savoring the soup, we opted to do a tasting and were assisted by Tasting Associate, Barbara, who we've had the pleasure of tasting and chatting with during previous visits. Following some friendly chatter, Barbara informed us of the newly released Chardonnay 2005 and we soon moved to the pouring and tasting of Loudoun Valley Vineyards wines.

Barbara of Loudoun Valley Vineyards @ Tasting Bar

The following Loudoun Valley Vineyards white wines were offered for taste: Native Yeast Chardonnay 2004, Chardonnay 2005, Vinifera White 2004 (Chardonnay and Riesling blend), Classic White NV (light & fruity 5 grape white blend), and the Blush Zinfandel NV. The red wines offered were the Merlot 1999 and 2003, Cabernet Franc 2003, Pinot Noir 2003, and the Red Wine 2004, an off dry blend consisting of Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc and Sangiovese. We finished up with a classic sweet ending, the 2003 Late Harvest Gewürztraminer NV which is irresistible liquid gold.

Wines to note would be the Native Yeast Chardonnay 2004, which was barrel aged in Virginia oak and offers lush Chardonnay fruit characteristics and a hint of nuttiness on the palate. The newly released Chardonnay 2005 was lighter than the 2004 in weight, but had a wonderful brightness to it, with ripe tree fruit flavors on the palate. The Merlot 1999 has aged nicely and offers subdued plum and currant flavors backed by supple tannins and would pair nicely with red meat dishes. The Cabernet Franc 2000 is floral with nice fruit flavors and herbal nuances with friendly tannins and would pair nicely with roasted lamb or red sauce dishes. For the sweet ending, the Gewürztraminer 2003 is a nice honeyed, mildly fruity and nutty wine that would serve as a nice after dinner sipper or try pairing this liquid gold with pumpkin pie or cheese cake. Yummy!

Spacious Indoor Dining Area

Following tasting and chatting with Barbara, we sat in the nice and spacious tasting room and enjoyed a delicious bowl of Hubert’s soup, warm bread and a tasty glass of Loudoun Valley Vineyards wine. Paired, were a Cabernet Franc and Chardonnay 2005; both wines were good but the Cabernet Franc worked better with the soup selection. As seeing how the temperatures were mild, we moved to the wrap around deck, which provides beautiful valley and vineyard views and chatted with a nice family who were visiting from Pennsylvania . The family informed us that when they visit Northern Virginia, they always make a stop at Loudoun Valley Vineyards and have been doing so for many years. They thoroughly enjoyed both Chardonnays, while Dezel enjoyed the Cabernet Franc, and we spent the next hour chatting away and enjoying the Loudoun Valley countryside.

Friendly Family enjoying their time at Loudoun Valley Vineyards


Now Vine Spot has some bad news and good news to report. The bad news is Vine Spot had to leave Loudoun Valley Vineyards and return to the city. The good news is Loudoun Valley Vineyards offers Winter Soup Days throughout the month of March with some pretty tasty selections on the menu! I plan on visiting again for a bowl of warming soup and tasty wine, and suggest you enjoy a Saturday by doing the same. You can get a mouthful, an eyeful, and a nose full at the same time; swirl, sniff, sip and eat!

I’m Dezel, Hope to see you on the Virginia Wine Trail friends!

In closing, Loudoun Valley Vineyards is one of the pioneering wineries in Loudoun County and is a much recommended visit on the Loudoun County Wine Trail. Pack a picnic basket or enjoy a full selection of gourmet foods or a fruit and cheese platter offered in the tasting room with your favorite wine selections. Loudoun Valley Vineyards has ample indoor and outdoor seating and beautiful views can be found from every seat. Taste and savor the country life and Loudoun Valley Vineyards award winning wines. When you do visit, let the friendly staff know you read about them here on Virginia Vine Spot!

Happy Sipping !

Dezel

2/08/2007

Hillsborough Vineyards: A Gem of a Winery


The last time Vine Spot visited Hillsborough Vineyards, everyone was in costume and celebrating Halloween at Hillsborough 2006. What great fun we had and Vine Spot hopes to return to the Halloween at Hillsborough 2007. Now lets talk about this wonderful winery shall we?

Hillsborough Vineyard

Hillsborough Vineyards is located in Loudoun County and boasts some of the most stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and surrounding country side. Hillsborough Vineyards sits atop a vineyard fronted hill and the tasting room is housed in an eye catching renovated 19th century stone fronted barn. On the inside, guests will find a spacious tasting room that is nicely decorated, rustic, yet elegant and chalk full of small town character and appeal.

Bora and Kerem Baki enjoying the fine fruits of their labor

Hillsborough is a small family owned and operated winery that specializes in producing a limited amount of hand crafted and high quality blended wines. On any given visit, owners Bora and Zeynep Baki can be found in the tasting room alongside son and winemaker Kerem spreading good cheer and pouring their award winning wines.

Dezel studying the liquid gems on the tasting sheet...Yummy!

Wondering why Vine Spot refers to Hillsborough wines as liquid gems? Hillsborough wines are named after gem stones and for the small tasting fee of $3 you can enjoy the fine red and white collection. The wines, or should I say gems, offered during our tasting were the following: Carnelian 2005 (Chardonnay and Rousanne blend), Opal 2005 (Viognier and Chardonnay blend), Garnet 2004 (Classic Bordeaux blend), Ruby 2004 (Tannat, Touriga Nacional and Petit Verdot blend), Bloodstone 2004 (Fer Servadou, Cabernet Sauvignon and Tannat blend) and lastly, the sweet ending, the Moonstone 2004 (Late Harvest Viognier and Chardonnay blend).

The Opal and Carnelian were both smooth and refreshing with a nice creamed texture. The Opal 2005 in particular, offers an inviting bouquet and displays ripe tree fruit and subtle toasty flavors on the palate; the perfect mate to grilled fish, white sauce and pork and poultry dishes. One of Vine Spots favorites, the Bloodstone 2004, is a full bodied complex blend offering dark fruit flavors with nice cocoa and vanilla nuances. The Bloodstone is your steak or heavy dish wine and is simply yummy! The Ruby 2004 is on the fuller side of medium bodied and displays nice red to dark fruit flavors with pepper, spice and subtle oak flavors. This wine can stand up to most red meat and red sauce dishes, although Vine Spot enjoys the Ruby as a nice relaxing evening sipper. For the sweet ending, the Moonstone 2004 is just as sweet as it is fruity and offers inviting aromas and a silky smooth texture, making it the perfect ending to a tasty evening meal.

Relax in the comfy chairs and enjoy the beautiful view

After tasting, we enjoyed some friendly chat with staff and stocked up on a few of the liquid gems to add to the growing collection. Even though it was a bit chilly outdoors, Vine Spot still took a stroll out doors to enjoy the gorgeous Loudoun Countryside whilst relaxing outdoors in the comfy chairs.

View from the stone floored deck

Do plan a leisurely visit as Hillsborough offers light gourmet fare or you can pack a picnic basket to enjoy with Hillsborough award winning wines. There is ample seating indoors in the dining area or on nicer days, guests can sit at tables on the stone floored patio and enjoy the spectacular views. Trust me, spring time is a nice time for sitting outdoors at Hillsborough while enjoying your favorite liquid gem.

Beauty runs deep at Hillsborough Vineyards

I recommend readers visit Hillsborough Vineyards web site and check out the fun events they offer. This year Hillsborough will host a Mothers and Fathers Day brunch, a Barrel Tasting and a Spring Festival with Turkish BBQ; these are just primers, check their web site for all current and future events.

The Baki’s – Offering a Friendly Atmosphere & Excellent Wines


When readers visit Hillsborough Vineyards, please let the Baki’s know you read about them right here on Virginia Vine Spot!

Looking for something to do for Valentines Weekend? Hillsborough Vineyards is having Chocolate fondue for Valentine’s Day. There will be decadent chocolate covered fruit paired with Hillsborough’s Ruby and Moonstone wines.

Happy Sipping friends!

Dezel

2/06/2007

Check it out! Virginia Wine Lover Newsletter


Hello Friends,

Virginia Wine Lover has recently put out a Virginia Wine Lover Newsletter for the months of January and February. These monthly newsletters are well written, informative and engaging and if you visit the web site or send an email you can subscribe for free monthy updates. Check out what the Virginia Wine Lover has to say about Virginia Wine! I know you will thoroughly enjoy it!

Happy Sipping!

Dezel

Veramar Vineyards Cabernet Franc 2005

Veramar Vineyards Cabernet Franc 2005


With Jack Frost visiting Northern Virginia and the temperatures steadily dropping, Vine Spot decided to whip up a nice pot of Santa Fe Chili to enjoy while keeping warm by the fireplace. Before getting too comfortable, a stroll over to ‘wine row’ was required to find a nice bottle of wine to have with my dinner selection. The bottle taken off of ‘wine row’ was the Veramar Vineyards Cabernet Franc 2005 that came in a shipment a few months ago.

Review: The Veramar Vineyards Cabernet Franc 2005 is a medium garnet color and on the lighter side of medium bodied. The nose offers subtle, but ample dark fruit aromas with hints of toastiness. On the palate are dark cherry and mixed berry flavors with a good vibrant acidity.

This Cabernet Franc is reminiscent of the light and pure Cabernet Francs from the Village Chinon in the Loire Valley. The Cabernet Francs from Chinon are pure, clean and fruit driven with a bright acidity that makes them a versatile food pairing wine. This wine retails for $25, but can be purchased at a discounted price with membership to Veramar's wine club.

For Valentines Day Weekend Veramar Vineyards is hosting a Chocolate & Wine event with a chocolate fountain, music and more; be sure to check their web site for event details.

Happy Sipping!

Dezel

2/02/2007

Valentine's Primer & Local Wine Events

Wine & Chocolate, there is nothing better ...


Hello Friends,

Valentines Day is approaching and there are many ways people express themselves and celebrate the holiday. Some choose a nice romantic dinner while others opt for flowers and cards, but how about some decadent chocolates and Virginia Wine? Some will argue that chocolate and wine are not good mates, but Virginia wineries look to show you differently. When paired correctly, chocolate and wine can be a match made in heaven. Of course there are some basic rules such as when serving dark chocolate you want to look for a full and flavorful wine like a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or other stronger wines. For milk chocolate, try a lighter red like a tasty Virginia Cabernet Franc, Norton or other similar fresh fruit wines. What about white wines you ask? With white wines try something delectable, rich and buttery like white chocolate, which will marry nicely with some of the fruity and semi-sweet spring time sippers Virginia offers. Also in that group would be a nice off dry Riesling or a fruity and mildly oaked Chardonnay or a delicious Late Harvest wine.

In addition, Jennifer Breaux Blosser of Breaux Vineyards, of whom will host a Chocolate and Cabernet event on Valentine’s Weekend recommends the following Breaux Vineyards Wines with the various types of fine chocolates.

For dark and bitter-sweet chocolates Jennifer recommends the 2001 or 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon and goes on to add: “that because of the Cabernets lovely roasted quality and nice tannins – it tends to mellow out any sharp or bitterness the chocolate may possess and bring out the intense flavor of the chocolate. Likewise the cocoa in the chocolate helps to mellow out the tannins in the wine and any astringency. The finish is smooth for both wine and chocolate...HEAVENLY !”.

Jennifer suggests that the Merlot 2002 would pair nicely with milk chocolate offering: “The Merlot is fruity without being sweet and is not overly oaky, the tannins are just firm enough to add a dimension to the milk chocolate that it would not have without the wine without causing it to appear bitter. The 2001 or 2002 Lafayette (Cabernet Franc) is also a nice combination when paired with a creamy milk chocolate”.

For white chocolate Jennifer selects the tasty NV Sweet Evangeline dessert wine and explains: “because of the lovely flavor of orange blossom it gives forth. It will pick up any fruity flavors in the white chocolate and help cut the buttery, almost “cloy” aftertaste that white chocolate often contributes”.

Fletcher, of Winery at La Grange, where history and wine mingle, suggests that the “Meritage 2005” is diverse enough to pair with any style of fine chocolate. Readers can visit La Grange for themselves Valentine’s Weekend and try the Meritage 2005 with an assortment of fine chocolates offered.

John Delmare, proprietor of Rappahannock Cellars, recommends their full bodied and rich Meritage 2005 with dark chocolate, while saving the medium bodied Claret 2005 and Cabernet Franc 2005 for milk chocolate. For white chocolate, John suggests the Noblesse Blanc 2006, an off dry crisp wine, or the Late Harvest Vidal Blanc 2005. Rappahannock will also host a wine and chocolate pairing event on Valentine’s weekend complimented by the beautiful Blue Ridge and live music.

Dezel would like to send a warm thanks to Jennifer, Fletcher and John for their great input. With a combination like Virginia Wine and fine chocolates there is definitely a heavenly combination for you! Want to find it? Read on friends.

Let’s take a look at some of Dezel’s favorite Virginia Wineries hosting Weekend Wine and Chocolate events in celebration of Valentines Day!


Northern Virginia:

Breaux Vineyards - Chocolate & Cabernet Weekend – Feb. 10-11
Breaux Vineyards Cabernet will be paired with fine Dutch chocolates. Jennifer knows her wines and chocolates and this sounds like a savory and sensory experience. Don't miss out! Times: 11am-5pm. Fees start at $5 per guest. Visit or call the winery for additional information at http://www.breauxvineyards.com/ or 800-492-9961.

Mediterranean Cellars – Have you tried the Romance wine? – Feb 10-11
If you have not tried their tasty Romance I urge you to do so and pick up a few bottles for Valentines Day. Romance would pair nicely with semi-sweet and milk chocolate. Wonderful family owned winery with stunning views. Visit or call the winery for additional information at http://www.mediterraneancellars.com/ or 540-428-1984.

Pearmund Cellars – Valentine Weekend – Feb. 10-11
Visit Pearmund Cellars to partake in a Chocolate and Dessert Wine Tasting hosted by Chocolaterie Wanders of Manassas. This sounds like a great event and Pearmund Cellars will also be offering three vintages of their dessert wines and releasing their first late harvest Viognier. Fee: $5 and you get to keep the commemorative glass. Also, you will receive ½ a heart at Pearmund, to be completed at sister winery La Grange, which is 10 minutes away. Times: 11am-5pm. Visit or call the winery for additional information at http://www.pearmundcellars.com/ or at 540-347-3475.

Winery at La Grange – Valentines Weekend – Feb. 10-11
Taste history at the charming and enchanting La Grange Winery. There will be an assortment of tasty treats and La Grange award winning wines for your pairing pleasure. Enjoy one of the parlor rooms and sip a glass of wine in front of the fireplace; truly a romantic setting. You can also complete your heart with this stop for a special Valentine Day surprise. Fee: $5 and you get to keep the commemorative glass. Times: 11am-6pm. Visit or call the winery for additional information at http://www.wineryatlagrange.com/ or at 703-753-9360.

Hillsborough Vineyards – Valentines Weekend – Feb. 10-11
Enjoy the spectacular Loudoun views and Chocolate fondue for Valentine’s Day at Hillsborough. There will be decadent chocolate covered fruit paired with Hillsborough’s Ruby and Moonstone wines. Fee: $15 per couple. No reservation. Times: 11am 6pm. Visit or call the winery for additional information at http://www.hillsboroughwine.com/ or at 540-668-6216.


Rappahannock Cellars – Valentines Weekend – Feb. 10-11
Savor award winning wines and the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains while enjoying valentine chocolates and music. Fee: Call for details. Times: 11:30am-5:30pm. Visit or call the winery for additional information at http://www.rappahannockcellars.com/ or at 540-635-9398.


Veramar Vineyards – Valentines Weekend – Feb. 10-11
Enjoy tasty treats and chocolates and a chocolate fountain while enjoying Veramar award winning wines. Fee: $15 per person. Time: Contact Winery. Visit or call winery for additional information at http://www.veramar.com/ or at 540-955-5510.


Gray Ghost Vineyards - Irresistible Chocolates & Cabernet – Feb. 10-11
Gray Ghost will host their 12th annual winery event with a celebration of decadent chocolate desserts and gold-medal winning Cabernets wines. Visit and enjoy unlimited tastings of over 25 chocolate desserts and award winning Cabernets. Fee: $15 per person/includes Valentine glass. Fee: $7/under 21. Times: 11am-5pm. Visit or call winery for additional information at http://www.grayghostvineyards.com/ or at 540-937-4869.


Fox Meadow Winery – Valentines Weekend – Feb. 10-11
Sample chocolate pairings with Fox Meadow’s complementary tasting then pair your favorite wine with chocolates and enjoy the wonderful mountain views. For those who are complete “chocoholics” there will be a special wine and chocolate tasting which will include different types of fine chocolates with Fox Meadows Syrah wine for a nominal fee of $5.00 or purchase a glass of red wine and receive complementary dark and milk chocolates to accompany your wine. Visit winery for additional information at http://www.foxmeadowwinery.com/events.htm .

Willowcroft Farm Vineyards - Valentines Celebration - Feb.11
Sample some of Willowcroft's up and coming reds in barrels along with some fine chocolates. Willowcroft's Operations Manager, Hunter McCulloch, will walk you through their maturing Reds and give background information on how we carefully nurture each and every wine. There will be complimentary chocolates in the Tasting Room as well as a flower for every lady! Fees: $7 per person Time: 1pm-5pm . Visit winery for additional information at http://www.willowcroftwine.com .



Not a chocolate fan? Worry not; Dezel has 2 solid recommendations for you:

Lost Creek Winery - Valentine Soup Weekend – Feb. 10-11
Visit Lost Creek and enjoy a delicious bowl of soup, a glass of wine and a loaf of hot bread while listening to live music by David Duvall and staying warm by the nearby fireplace. Fee: Contact Winery Times: Noon-5pm. Visit or call winery for additional information at http://www.lostcreekwinery.com/ or at 703-443-9836.

Loudoun Valley Vineyards – Winter Soup Day – Feb. 10
Your choice of Santa Fe Black Bean Chili or Texan Chili served with a basket of French bread and glass of wine. Fee: $12.50 per person. Visit winery for additional information at http://members.aol.com/lvwinery1/events.htm .


Have fun mixing and matching and indulging yourself in decadent chocolate treats and Virginia Wine!

Dezel of Virginia Vine Spot

2/01/2007

Breaux Vineyards: Tasting & Touring


On a cold and nippy weekend day, Vine Spot set out to Loudoun County to revisit some of our favorite wineries and enjoy the beautiful Loudoun countryside. Our first stop was the Cajun themed Breaux Vineyards, which if readers recall, Vine Spot visited last summer for the lively annual Harvest & Lobster Festival that was a blast of a time.

Breaux Vineyards

After warming up a tad in the elegant and spacious tasting room and looking over some wine related gift items and books in the gift shop, we made our way to the tasting bar. We were warmly greeted by Shelly, who informed us of the newly released Madeleines Chardonnay 2005. We enjoyed the Madeleines Chardonnay 2003 with our lunch selections at the aforementioned festival last year, so we were eager to try the 2005 vintage. Shelly was very informative and told us all about Breaux Vineyards upcoming events and wine dinners that we are sure to make room for on the calendar.

Tasting Room

Moving onto the tasting, we began with Breaux Vineyards white wines which for the most part are dry and refreshingly bright wines. The white wine offerings were as follows: Jolie Blond 2002 (Seyval Blanc), Viognier 2005, Madeleines Chardonnay 2005 and last but not least the Barrel Select Chardonnay 2003. The red wines offered were the Lafayette 2002 (85% Cabernet Franc, 15% Merlot), Merlot 2002 and the tasty Cabernet Sauvignon 2002. Breaux Vineyards dessert wines range from off dry to pleasantly sweet and started with the Chère Marie 2004 (Vidal Blanc), then the Sweet Evangeline (NV blend), and finished up nicely with the Alexis 2004 (late harvest Vidal Blanc).

Breaux Vineyards Merlot 2002

The newly released Madeleines Chardonnay 2005 was well received, offering an inviting bouquet with ripe pear, candied fruit and tropical notes on the palate. This wine would be a nice accompaniment to grilled chicken, marinated pork roast, or enjoyed on its own. The Viognier 2005, Virginia ’s flagship white wine, offers an abundance of tropical and perfumed aromas with lush tropical fruit flavors, namely pineapple, dominating the palate with some nice subtle nutty notes. The Cabernet Franc based medium bodied Lafayette 2002 is one of Vine Spot’s personal favorites and offers cherry and raspberry flavors with a nice lingering and peppery finish. Adding to the personal favorite list is the Merlot 2002 which displays a nice deep garnet color with an inviting dark fruit and toasted bouquet that follows through on the palate with friendly tannins and good balance. The sweet ending was superb and the 3 dessert wines Breaux produces are all nicely done and well balanced and not overly sweet, but fruity, candied and refreshing.

Pleasant Scenery through the Looking Glass

It is no secret after tasting through Breaux Vineyards full spectrum of red and white wines that their wines are some of Virginia ’s finest estate bottled wines. Following our tasting, we toured the Breaux Vineyards winemaking facility with Jody, a highly knowledgeable staff member at Breaux Vineyards. The facility is state of the art and shows very well. It was too cold to tour the vineyard to see where the winemaking process begins, but we were able to get a nice view of the vineyard and countryside while keeping comfy and warm on the inside.

The Stainless Collection

We later moved to what I moniker the 'stainless collection' where several temperature controlled stainless steel vats are housed. This is where the majority of wines are fermented and for whites the stainless steel helps preserve their freshness and fruitiness. In addition, one benefit of being able to control the temperature is being able to control the period of fermentation; does the winemaker want the fermentation to finish and produce a dry wine, or halt fermentation before it finishes and produce a wine with some residual sugars.

Barrel Room


We later moved to the barrel room where oak barrels are nicely stacked wall to wall and our beloved wines are slowly gaining maturity and picking up flavor nuances and complex aromatics. In a nutshell, oak aging influences texture, aroma and imparts flavors into the wine and that is a very broad stroke, as oak barrels and their influence on wine is a book of its own. We do however like the influence oak aging has on Breaux Vineyard wines. Yummy!


Bottling Room

The next room visited was the bottling room. This is a rare find in Virginia because many of the states wineries are small farm wineries and there are more cost effective solutions like hiring a mobile bottling truck to come out to you. This is the dressing room so to speak, where bottles are filled, given attractive labels and sealed. Again, this is a broad stroke as there is much more detail involved here. The only thing these bottles of joy should need after leaving this room is a new owner, and of course that is where people like us come in; always willing to adopt a fine bottle of wine!

As with all good things Vine Spots time spent with the friendly staff at Breaux came to an end, but we promised to return soon. Be sure to check Breaux Vineyards web site as there are some exciting events scheduled this month and even more fun events as we move into spring. Being a New Orleans native, Dezel will be celebrating Mardi Gras at Breaux Vineyards on February 17th, where crazy Cajun food, music, Mardi Gras beads and King Cakes will be the focal-points of a fun filled day. Breaux Vineyards is located in northwestern Loudoun County off route 9 and is a must visit on the Loudoun County Wine Trail. When readers visit, be sure to sport your Mardi Gras beads and let the friendly staff know you read about them here on Virginia Vine Spot!

Happy Sipping friends!

Dezel

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