Waterford Vineyards – Wine Barrel Tasting

Hello Friends,

Last Saturday evening Vine Spot saddled up and headed to a much frequented destination - Loudoun County, to partake in what would be an enjoyable, entertaining and educational Wine Barrel Tasting event at Waterford Vineyards. Vine Spot has written about, and paid several visits to this young, yet mature winery, located in the historic town of Waterford in the past, so we were eager to taste what the future holds for one of our favorite Loudoun wineries.

Let the Good Flights Roll!

To our delight, this tasting event combined a barrel tasting with a vertical tasting (hooray!!), and as winemaker Mark Fedor put it, was a “hybrid tasting event” of sorts. Gracious owners, Lori and Jim Corcoran were present to greet guests and get everyone situated and ready to taste through Waterford’s collection of hand crafted and developing wines. Winemakers, Mark and Vicki Fedor, hosted the event and told everyone a little about themselves and what attracted them to the wine business and the promise they see in the growth and maturation of Virginia wines. Following some table chat with new and old friends, Lori, Jim and staff started with the evening’s first flights, while Mark and Vicki fielded questions from the tasting group and discussed their goal for each vintage and how variables such as climate, fruit selection, etc., influenced the techniques they used to reach the desired end result – very cool and interesting stuff friends!

Tasting Sheet and Dezel's favorite purple pen!

The reason behind calling this a barrel / vertical tasting combined or hybrid tasting if you will, is because we were tasting through Waterford Vineyard's developing wines right out of the barrel or tank, and tasting Waterford Vineyard’s wines going back as early as their first vintage of 2002. The flights were set up according to varietal/vintage, and note, that the 2006 vintages are the developing wines (not released). The flights tasted were as follows:

Flight 1:
Tank Chardonnay, Neutral French Oak Chardonnay, American Oak Chardonnay – All 2006,
Vintners Reserve Chardonnay 2004, Vintners Reserve Chardonnay 2005

Flight 2:
Viognier 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006 (North Gate Vineyard)

Flight 3:
Cabernet Franc 2003, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006

Flight 4:
Merlot 2006, Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, Meritage 2002, Meritage 2005, Meritage (test 1 & test 2) 2006

Flight 5:
Seyval Blanc 200, Seyval Blanc 2005, Traminette 2006

Mark Fedor discussing Waterford wines

So lets talk about these flights friends – Flight one featured the Chardonnays and the 2004 stole the show. Dezel had a few bottles of this wine upon and after its release and it was one of the finest and elegant Chardonnays of the 2004 Virginia vintage. The Vintners Reserve 2004 offers tree and citrus fruit aromas with toastiness that carries over to the palate with a nice full mouth feel. Dezel learned from Mark, that this vintage was vinified from 20 year old Chardonnay vines and to Dezel’s dismay and many others, this farm, like others may be sold off to a company for development; thus the 2004 might be the last we taste of those mature vines – if so, it went out with a bang! Let that not take away from the 2005 bottling however, which is lighter than the 2004 in body, but shows a nice integration of tree and tropical fruit with a touch of toastiness. This wine is done in a more crisp style and should be sought out by you (Virginia) Chardonnay lovers. The 2006 vintages are still developing wines, which the winemakers will adjust to get the perfect balance, harmony and chardonnay style they are after. We look forward to tasting the final product, since we had a chance to taste all 3 of the 2006 developing wines.

Flight two featured Virginia’s flagship white wine; you guessed it, Viognier. As aromatic and beautiful as this wine can be in general, it is a wine that does not age particularly well and begs to be consumed in its youth. This could somewhat be tasted on up to the 2005, which is definitely in its prime, offering apricot and melon aromas with concentrated fruit flavors and hints of spice with good balance and a nice lingering finish. The 2006 Viognier fruit is from the North Gate Vineyard, which is Mark and Vicki’s vineyard and in the future will serve as Waterford’s reserve wines and will be labeled as North Gate Vineyard. The 2006 was still a developing wine that Dezel would describe as interesting, but not suited to the typical Viognier aroma or flavor profile; tasters later learned that the winemakers experimented a little with this vintage and Dezel, as well as the other tasters are curious to see what lies in store for the 2006 vintage.

Moving to flight three, we tasted through Virginia’s flagship red wine; did you guess it correctly again friends? I know, some of you are torn between Norton and Cabernet Franc, but Dezel was referring to none other than Cabernet Franc – the proud prince of Chinon! Let us move right to the 2006, as everyone loved this developing wine as she lay. It is reminiscent of the fresh, clean and fruit forward style found in the Loire Valley – village of Chinon. The newly released, Cabernet Franc 2005 is done in a slightly larger style and offers dark cherry, subtle berry, peppery and smokiness on the taste with ripe to firm tannins. This wine has a small percentage of Malbec added, which may explain its firm backbone. Tip – let this one breathe, it softens and opens up very nicely. Interesting to note that Malbec is used to soften the tannins in Cabernet Sauvignon (Bordeaux) based wines, but when added to a typically soft and fruity Cabernet Franc, it can add an expressive tannic structure.

As we moved to flight four, Dezel could be found chatting more with friendly table mates as everyone was fully participating and sharing their aroma and flavor finds. The fun in this is, one person might detect peach, another green apple, and someone else apricot and in the end everyone may be correct in their assessment of the wine. Both of the developing Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon wines received 2 thumbs up in their early stages; maturity will serve these promising wines well. It will be interesting to see if the winemakers bottle either on their own or use them solely for the Meritage blend. For those who are curious about the term Meritage, as I was early on, it is an American blended wine made from traditional Bordeaux grape varieties. Meritage is a registered name here in the USA and to be designated as such the winemaker has to use 2 or more Bordeaux grape varieties in the blend and adhere to several other rules to influence quality. Waterford recently (March 24th) released their Meritage 2005 and words that came to mind were complex, nice integration, medium bodied and good up front fruit with a lingering finish. Dezel suggest trying this selection and letting us know what words come to mind to describe this tasty red blend.

Last but not least, the sweet ending – flight five. We made it friends! The released, Seyval Blanc 2005, which Dezel has had on several picnic and patio occasions is a wonderful spring or summer time pleaser loaded with zest, zing and fresh citrus fruit flavors, with a slight sprinkling of sweetness. It comes in an attractive 375ML blue tinted bottle and for $12 is a good value. The developing 2006 Seyval Blanc appears to be consistent with the 2005 and currently advertised to be slightly sweeter, but not noticeable on the taste. The Traminette 2006, still developing, is a beautifully floral scented wine – the scent fully typifies a lovely Loudoun spring day while walking through a garden. In its developmental stage, this wine has good fruit potential with moderate sweetness and I look for the acidity to really make this a nice and refreshing sipping drinking wine. This is a wine Dezel looks forward to connecting with when it is ready for release.

Waterford Vineyards Wine Makers – Mark and Vicki Fedor

In closing friends, Waterford Vineyards barrel tasting was a fun filled and educational wine event, that winemakers, Mark and Vicki Fedor did a great job hosting. Also, on hand for the event was Vine Spots pal, the Virginia Patriot, who makes one heck of a dipping oil (olive oil based),which can be purchased at the winery. I encourage readers to secure a Virginia Wineries 2007 book or visit your favorite wineries web site and check for such events and make plans to attend. Spring time is here friends and the serene pond, tall shady trees and leisurely surroundings at Waterford Vineyards has picnic written all over it! When you visit this winery be sure to let the friendly staff know you read about them on Virginia Vine Spot.

PS… Be sure to say 'hello' to Corky for Dezel and ask about the Malbec!

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    Taste Panel Discovery: Austria – Spring for a Grüner

    Hello Friends,

    Several weeks ago, Vine Spot participated in a wine panel discussion and wine tasting at one of Dezel’s favorite wine stores, Unwined, to taste and learn more about Austrian wines. There was one varietal in particular that stuck out on the palates of the tasting panel and I would like to share that selection with you. I will admit however, that there were a few panel members who would have just as well opted for an un-oaked Chardonnay or Riesling and left Austria alone, but if you are into wine and exploring new things, then the region of Austria should very well be on your radar.

    With the weather turning warmer (hooray!!), picnics and other fun outdoor activities will likely fill your weekends. With that said, a nice and refreshing spring time wine with good acidity fits the bill, and one that pairs well with a wide variety of foods – especially picnic food selections.

    So lets look at Austria, a moderately sized country in Central Europe that boarders Germany. Austria’s push toward quality wine production is evident in their strict wine laws and much like German wines, Austrian wine labels offer everything a wine drinker like you and I will need to know. Our job is to do a little homework and understand Austrian wine labels, which will greatly ease our selection at the store. These wines can range from dry to overly sweet, so use the link provided to better understand the classification in relation to the wine style.

    About 80% of all wines produced in Austria are white wines and most Austrian wines are made from a single grape variety, with a handful of blended wines. Austria’s most popular and widely planted white wine grape is Grüner Veltliner and if you have never tried this selection, Dezel recommends you try some Austrian produced Grüner Veltliner. So what can one expect from a bottle of Grüner Veltliner you ask? From Austria’s most important white wine grape variety you can expect a lightly colored, pale to straw wine, that can be anywhere from light to medium in body. Grüner Veltliner offers good to lively, refreshing and crisp acidity, boasting its food pairing qualities. Its aromas range from citrus, floral to exotic tropical fruit with a distinguishing and signature hint of fresh ground white pepper and spiciness. Flavors vary with ripeness level and winemaking technique, but do not be surprised if you detect peach, vanilla dipped pears, ginger, citrus, herbal or even slight vegetal flavors in a glass. Being the most important wine grape of Austria, combined with the strict growing and winemaking laws, most Grüner Veltliner finds will be of decent to very good quality, even at the lower price ranges. Additionally, Austria also produces some wines from the Riesling grape variety worth seeking out, but keep in mind that these will likely be stronger and drier than German offerings due to the slightly warmer climate and winemaking style.

    Maybe you're not exactly a white wine drinker and prefer to try Austrian red wines. Spring is a good time for it, as Austrian red wines are for the most part light to medium bodied, soft in tannins and of a fruit forward style with good acidity. Try a Blauburgunder (Pinot Noir) or a Blaufränkisch, which is known in Germany as Lemberger and is also usually light with distinct spicy characteristics. These Austrian reds are good selections to try with grilling and similar foods.

    A nice selection of Austrian Grüner Veltliner wines and Austrian red wines can be found at Unwined Gourmet Wine store located in Alexandria, VA in the Bradlee Shopping Center on King Street. Unwined also carries a wide variety of cheeses, sausage, crackers, chocolate, etc – just about everything you need for a nice and pleasant picnic. Dezel recommends a visit to the wine store and asking for Vanessa or Brian, who will happily assist you in putting together that Austrian picnic basket.

    Also, since Virginia Vine Spot promotes the fine wines of Virginia, Unwined stocks at least 40 different Virginia wines for your shopping and tasting pleasure. Unwined also has tastings on weekends and I recommend checking their tasting events calendar as some tastings are hosted by a winemaker or guest speaker. If you visit, be sure to let Vanessa know you read about them here on Virginia Vine Spot.

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      Spring forward for Virginia Wine!!!

      Spring is here!

      Hello Friends,

      With spring finally here, many of you will no doubt be eager to get out and put a little spring into your step. Have you considered putting a little spring into your wine glass? Spring brings about budding flowers, green lawns, crisp breezes, clear and sunny days, and most importantly, warmer weather. Many of us will enjoy outdoor picnics, backyard barbecues and let’s not forget about Easter holiday. So which wines pair well with spring you ask? Read on friends, as some of my friends from the Virginia wine industry lend helpful recommendations for pouring a little spring into your glass. In addition to, I have posted some images from last years winery visits that may pique your interest this spring.

      Pack a picnic basket and enjoy beautiful views @ Oakencroft

      Felicia Rogan, owner of Oakencroft Vineyards in Charlottesville, VA suggests the Oakencroft Countryside White as a nice spring time selection, adding that “it is a lovely picnic wine, pairing well with salads, chicken and outdoor foods as well as cheese soufflé and quiches”. For your grilling and pizza needs, Mrs. Rogan recommends the Countryside Red, a soft, smooth and fruity red wine that would also fill your Easter dinner needs.

      John Delmare
      , proprietor of Rappahannock Cellars, located in Hume, VA recommends their versatile dry Rosé wine and adds “It is terrific with light picnic fare, salads and especially chilled shell fish and also with the bright and fresh foods of Easter”.

      Chris Pearmund, owner and winemaker of Pearmund Cellars, located just east of Warrenton, recommends their Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc as perfect spring time wines. Riesling exemplifies spring and is noted for its food pairing compatibility and refreshing crispness. The Pearmund Cellars Sauvignon Blanc is done in a Fume Blanc style with pleasant mineral notes and expressive citrus fruit flavors. Both wines sound like excellent spring time selections.

      Taste history and enjoy the enchantment of Winery at LaGrange

      Fletcher, of Winery at LaGrange (sister winery of Pearmund Cellars),where history, elegance and wine mingle, recommends the Winery at La Grange Vidal Blanc 2005 and adds ”With it's kiss of sweetness and clean, balanced acidity it has the versatility to compliment not only spicy Asian dishes but good ole barbequed chicken. With its' bright citrus flavors, notes of tangerine and gooseberry, a hint of tarragon and a crisp, clean finish this wine pairs exceptionally well with a warm spring afternoon out on the deck”.

      Shannon Rooke
      , of White Hall Vineyards, located in Charlottesville, VA invites you to try their Pinot Gris 2005, a crisp, dry and refreshing wine that Shannon says “Is refreshing for any outdoor luncheon and pairs really well with any seafood salad or lump crab cakes”. For those with a sweeter palate preference, Shannon recommends the Petit Manseng 2005 and adds “Pair this with grilled chicken or Italian pasta salad for a great meal”.

      Wendy Wilson, of First Colony Vineyards, also located in Charlottesville, VA has some spring time favorites. Wendy recommends their Viognier 2005 and explains: “The aromatic fragrance of honeysuckle and fruits will pair well with the spring air. It can be enjoyed with a picnic as our Viognier contains no residual sugar and matches well with a variety of cheeses and snacks”. Dezel does not know about you friends, but that description sounds very tempting!

      Apple, Elderberry or Viognier - pack a pincic & visit Village Winery

      Kent Mars, of Village Winery located in Loudoun County, recommends their Apple wine, a refreshing and crisp spring time wine made from local fruit that would make for a nice outdoor sipper or aperitif wine. Also, be sure to try the Viognier 2006 and the elderberry wine; both of which could pair well with backyard barbeque fixings.

      Fine wine, zydeco music & stunning views - Breaux Vineyards

      At Breaux Vineyards, located in Loudoun County, the Chere Marie, a wine made from the Vidal Blanc grape is one of their most popular spring time wines. Jennifer Breaux Blosser describes the wine as “fruity and sweet enough to satisfy those who enjoy a sweet wine, but the finish is crisp and dry, leaving those who prefer dryer wines more than satisfied”. Jennifer goes on to add “It is perfect with summer sausages, cheeses and fruits as well as spicy foods”. One of Jennifer’s personal top spring time picks is the dry Syrah Rosé wine, which she describes as “Dry and slightly sparkling, this wine has lovely nuisances of strawberry and black pepper and pairs nicely with BBQ , salmon or scallops.”

      Stunning views & quality blends at Hillborough Vineyards

      Looking for an exciting spring time festival? Try Hillsborough Vineyards, located in Purcellville, VA. On April 14th Hillsborough Vineyards will host their annual spring festival. Bora Baki, owner of Hillsborough, has informed Dezel that there will be an assortment of delicious Turkish and Mediterranean foods on hand with baklava as the sweet ending. You will definitely want to try their Ruby wine to pair with the fine cuisine. Do bring your dancing shoes, as there will be a live band for your enjoyment!

      Dezel, also has a few more recommendations for you - wish I could list them all, but here are a few:

      Kluge Estate

      Visit Kluge Estate and sit amongst the tall trees and enjoy gourmet cuisine with a glass of their nicely done dry Rose, Simply Red blend or their recently released Viognier.

      Mediterranean Cellars

      Visit Mediterranean Cellars and enjoy the gorgeous views – pack a picnic basket and be sure to try the Romance. Yummy!

      Waterford Vineyards

      Pack a picnic basket and sit by the relaxing pond at Waterford Vineyards, located in Loudoun County – Be sure to say “Hi” to Corky!

      Linden Vineyards

      One of the top producers in Virginia! Enjoy great wine, local cheeses and other great foods – Not to mention excellent views at Linden Vineyards!

      Doukenie Winery

      Picnic by the pond at Doukenie and enjoy several wonderful spring time selections – Dezel recommends the Mandolin or the Riesling and finishing up with the tasty Hopes Raspberry Merlot.

      Three Fox Vineyards

      Sit atop the hill at Three Fox Vineyards and enjoy some of their great wines – I did!

      Woodland Vineyards

      Are you in or near Richmond friends? Plan a visit to Woodland Vineyards and check out their new tasting room and try their tasty wines; the Vidal Banc and Woodland White sound terrific, amongst other selections.

      Also, be sure to pick up the spring issue of the Loudoun Magazine. Vine Spot takes you on a great grape of a day on the Loudoun Wine Trail!

      With that friends, be assured that Virginia has a number of tasty wines to celebrate spring season. From dry to sweet, red to white, Virginia does some nice wines reflective of the spring time season. When you visit your local wineries, just ask for the spring time wines!

      Happy Sipping !



      Naked Mountain Vineyards: Drink Naked & Enjoy the View

      Hello Friends,

      Can you believe Dezel forgot to submit a blog entry? The reference to the Naked Mountain Sauvignon Blanc in the previous post, which is crisp and refreshing, refreshed Dezel’s bumbling memory - so here you have it friends, Naked Mountain Vineyards!

      Naked Mountain Vineyards

      Naked Mountain Vineyards is owned and operated by Bob and Phoebe Harper and is one of Virginia ’s true pioneering wineries, opening doors for sales and tasting in 1982; a time when there were just a handful of operating Virginia wineries. Popular for their Chardonnay, of which has been served at the White House on two separate occasions, Naked Mountain Vineyards went against popular trend by planting vinifera varieties, opposed to native and hybrid grapes which were more popular selections and less of a risk for growers in the early 80's. Some two decades later, Naked Mountain is still producing quality Virginia wine vinified from European varieties. This marked our second visit to the winery and we were eager to partake in the day’s fun filled and appetite satisfying lunch event.

      Lasagna Lunch & Cabernet Franc – Yummy!

      Is fine wine and great food not the perfect match? Well, Vine Spot thought so and so did friends Paul and Warren of VA Wine Time. Seeking great food and good wine we all saddled up and headed to Markham, VA, located near Linden and Fox Meadows Vineyards to partake in Naked Mountain’s annual Lasagna Lunch Season Extravaganza. Yummy!

      Handsome Winery Dog – Asking for lasagna with his eyes!

      Two types of lasagna were available, and since we are all carnivores, everyone enjoyed the homemade sausage lasagna. However, the veggie lasagna looked quite tasty also, and Dezel was tempted to order both (I know, bad boy, bad boy!). At any rate, with the lasagna selection made, it was time to visit the tasting bar and try Naked Mountain wines and vote on which wine would pair best with our delicious food selection.

      Naked Mountain Vineyard's Tasting Bar

      Moving onto our tasting, we aligned ourselves at the tasting bar and were ready to cycle through Naked Mountain's offerings. There is no tasting fee at Naked Mountain and we started off with the following white wine selections: Sauvignon Blanc 2005, Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2003 and 2004. The red wines offered were the Cabernet Franc 2004 (10% Tannat, 5% merlot, 5% Petit Verdot) and the Raptor Red 2004 (Cabernet Franc based medium bodied and fruity red wine blend). We finished with the sweet ending, a semi-sweet Chardonnay/Riesling 2005 blend (93% Chardonnay, 7% Riesling) that would make for a nice spring or summer time wine with enough refreshing acidity to balance the sweetness.

      Niki and Warren keeping warm and chatting at the round table.

      Although we were targeting a red wine to pair with our meaty and cheesy lasagna selection, the white wines showed very well during our tasting. Paul really enjoyed the Sauvignon Blanc 2005, which is crisp and refreshing with good acidity, offering soft and subtle citrus and tropical flavors on the palate. Naked Mountain’s signature white wines, the Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2003 and 2004 are smooth, well rounded and dry wines that are fermented and aged in French oak barrels for 10 months. The 2004 showed more fruit characteristics on the taste, while the 2003 offered more toastiness, fig and mild smokiness. Both are nice food pairing wines that would marry well with seafood, chicken and creamy white sauce dishes. For our meal selection, we all favored the Cabernet Franc 2004; the cherry, subtle raspberry, spice and peppery flavors were palate pleasing and intermingled quite nicely with the seasoning and red sauce of the sausage lasagna. Also, complementing the day was the stone fireplace, which was most warming and indeed the cherry on top so to speak.

      Beautiful Naked view of Mother Nature from the outdoor deck!

      Following our tasting, we chatted a bit and talked about meeting up again soon to enjoy more great food and tasty Virginia wine. We then made our way to the outdoor deck which is just one of many excellent spots in Virginia to enjoy a weekend picnic and bask in Naked Mountain’s beautiful and sightly surroundings. I recommend readers check Naked Mountain’s event calendar and give the Harpers a visit. The area plays host to a nice three winery tour that are all relatively nearby, consisting of: Linden Vineyards, Fox Meadows, and this lovely attraction, Naked Mountain Vineyards – Visitors will find beautiful views and nice wine selections at all! When readers plan their visit, do tell the friendly folks at Naked Mountain you read about them here on Virginia Vine Spot! Have a wonderful time drinking naked (Naked Mountain wines that is) and enjoying the stunning views.

      Happy Sipping !



      Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc 2006: Kiwi Love

      Well friends, it is not Virginia wine, but it is in fact one of Dezel’s favorite regions for Sauvignon Blanc and even some Pinot Noir. New Zealand’s reputation for producing high quality wines at a great value has made a believer out of Dezel - and a follower for that matter.

      Part of having this fun filled hobby [wine] is wine education and that means learning about the numerous wine producing regions and of course tasting what those regions have to offer. With such a wonderful global selection at our very finger tips, there is an endless list of wines to try and appreciate. That is one of the many aspects of wine I enjoy – Wine is full of intrigue, attraction, surprise, nuances and things that simply wow the senses. In this hobby you never run out of new things to taste and learn if you so choose to head down the hobbyist/enthusiast path.

      So what is so special about New Zealand? Other than being a beautiful and enchanting country, New Zealand has set international benchmarks for their Sauvignon Blancs. In fact, New Zealand has influenced a wealth of winemakers from other wine producing regions to make their Sauvignon Blanc in New Zealand fashion or kiwi style, as it is sometimes referred to. One thing not to be turned off by however, is the screw cap enclosure you will likely find on a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. New Zealand spearheaded the movement of converting from cork to cap and removed the perception (for many) of screw caps often being associated with cheap wines (price & quality). Many others have followed this trend including South Africa, Australia, Spain, U.S., etc. for young fruit forward red and white wines that are meant to be consumed young.

      Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc 2006

      Marlborough, located on the north end of south island, is the largest and well known wine region in New Zealand. Sauvignon Blanc is the most widely planted varietal in the region. Also planted and gaining popularity are Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir - but it indeed was Sauvignon Blanc that put the region on the global map. With that said, lets talk about more Sauvignon Blanc.

      Review: The Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc 2006 is a pale straw with a greenish hue color and displays balance and elegance combined. The inviting bouquet offers pink grapefruit, pear and a faint hint of grassiness. The flavors are crisp and refreshing with citrus flavors dominating with nuances of peach, melon and a hint of pleasant minerality. Dezel would use descriptors like vibrant, alive, zest, balanced, concentrated and brilliant to describe this wine. Enjoy this wine on its own or pair it with seafood, spicy ethnic cuisine, grilled veggies, etc – it’s a food friendly wine so try whatever comes to mind that you think may work.

      I found this wine at Total Wine for $12.99 (BARGAIN), but have seen the price all over the place. For example, Targets has it for $19.99, Safeway $15.99 (on sale - reg. $22.99), so if you find it for $12.99 get a few to last you through spring and summer! There are a great many New Zealand producers of festive to fine Sauvignon Blanc and prices usually range from $10 to $20 - if you have a favorite producer or find something pleasing feel free to share the find.

      So what about Virginia Sauvignon Blanc you ask? From Dezel’s local wine treks, there has not been too much Sauvignon Blanc to taste. However, Linden Vineyards had and might still have a wonderful example of what the Sauvignon Blanc grape can do here in Virginia. Also, Naked Mountain does a Sauvignon Blanc, but it is on the light and subtle side, albeit nice and refreshing. In addition to, Chris Pearmund of Pearmund Cellars has released Pearmund Cellars first Sauvignon Blanc bottling – It is described as being styled in the tradition of a Pouilly Fumé, exhibiting lemon grass and gooseberry flavors in a crisp and tart wine. I do not know about you friends, but Dezel is anxious to taste the latest from Pearmund Cellars; sounds like bliss in a glass.

      Stay tuned – Spring time Virginia wine suggestions upcoming!

      Also, fellow Virginian and wine blogger Chris, recently visited New Zealand and posted a nice review as well as stunning photos on his blog - Wine With Dinner. Check it out!

      Happy Sipping !



      Lake Anna Winery: A Place to Relax, Sip and Enjoy!

      After leaving Cooper Vineyards, Vine Spot headed to Spotsylvania, VA to get an eyes view of the beautiful and serene Lake Anna, a 13,000 acre man made lake. Another must see and visit in Spotsylvania is one of Virginia's pioneering wineries. Aptly named, Lake Anna Winery is located a few miles from the entrance to Lake Anna State Park and the drive to Lake Anna Winery provided for some very nice views of the lake. Lake Anna Winery is a family run farm winery that was started in the early 80’s by Bill and Ann Heidig, whose sole purpose was to grow grapes to sell to other established Virginia wineries. After several years of successful harvests and watching their fruit win numerous awards for other local wineries, Bill and Ann decided to launch their own winery in 1990.

      Lake Anna Winery (sign seen from the road)

      Nowadays, the Heidig sons, Eric and Jeff, who have always played an active role in the family run business, have taken over ownership, managerial and operational duties of the winery. Since 2002, acclaimed winemaker, Graham Bell, who has also served as the primary winemaker for Horton Vineyards, is Lake Anna's full time wine maker; and “yes”, this is the same Graham Bell that consults for Copper Vineyards and responsible for their award winning wines.

      Lake Anna Winery (as seen from the road approaching the winery)

      Upon entering the tasting room Vine Spot was surprised at the sheer size of the facility [much larger on the inside than it looks from the outside]; tall ceilings, large windows supplying an abundance of natural lighting and enough floor space to handle the busy crowds the winery plays host to on the weekends. Another nice and unique feature of the tasting area is the dual sided tasting bar, which I’m sure eases tasting wait times on those hectic weekends.

      Tasting Room (rear side of dual bar visible)

      After walking around the gift area and winery, we were warmly greeted by Eric Heidig and invited over to taste some of Lake Anna’s award winning wines. Eric informed us of several upcoming events, and explained the wine making and business approach that have kept Lake Anna Winery afloat for over two decades. Eric also told us about the history of the winery, life on the restful lake and added “he would never live back in the city”, which after hanging around the quiet and preaceful lake for a ½ a day, Dezel completely understands his reasoning.

      Moving onto our tasting, the following wines were offered: In the white category were the Seyval Blanc 2005, Bellhaven Chardonnay 2005, Chardonnay Barrel Select 2004 and the Totally White (Chardonnay, Viognier and Seyval Blanc blend). Moving to the reds, the wines offered were the Merlot 2003, Cabernet Franc 2005, Totally Red (Merlot based grape blend), Claret (off-dry red wine blend), and the bold and jammy Chambourcin. The sweet offerings were the Lake Side White (Seyval Blanc based sweet wine blend), Lake Side Sunset (Seyval Blanc, Muscat, Viognier sweet and refreshing blend) and ended with the Lake Side Red (Muscat Hamburg, Chambourcin red wine sweet and fruit blend).

      Dezel having a sip while chatting with Eric

      From red to white, dry to sweet, Lake Anna Winery has a full spectrum of wines sure to please every palate. Since warm weather is around the corner, Vine Spot marked some nice spring time selections on the tasting sheet to adopt and take home. One of Vine Spots top picks is the award winning (Silver - 2006 Governor’s Cup) off-dry Seyval Blanc 2005, which at $12 is a nice spring time selection offering lush tree fruit flavors and tropical notes including pineapple. Yummy! This wine, in my opinion, would pair well with grilled chicken dishes and picnic fare. Another selection, the crisp and refreshing Bellhaven Chardonnay 2005 is fermented and aged in stainless steel offering delicate fresh fruit and good balance; enjoy this selection with seafood and light hors d'oeuvres or on its own. Not a spring wine, but albeit a tasty selection that you need to try, is the award winning (Silver – 2006 Governor’s Cup) Merlot 2003; inviting red berry bouquet, easy drinking, friendly tannins and red fruit flavors on the palate describes this food friendly Merlot. Looking for fruity wines with a little sweetness and served chilled? At $12 per bottle any of the three Lake Side {White, Sunset, and Red} will suffice. All three wines have distinct flavor profiles, but share a sweet, fruity and festive style that sweet wine lovers will thoroughly enjoy.

      Dezel enjoying a glass of Merlot by the brick fireplace

      Following our tasting and chatting with Eric, Dezel enjoyed a glass of the Merlot 2003 while sitting by the brick fireplace, which was comfortable and warming, considering it was a rather chilly day. With spring around the corner, (Hooray!) consider packing a picnic basket and visiting Lake Anna Winery and enjoying your stay outdoors on the deck overlooking the vineyard or the manicured lawn area. Be sure to check out the Lake Anna Winery website, as they host fun filled events throughout the year including Jazz in the Vineyard and Virginia Renaissance Faire. When readers set out to visit the beautiful lake and the Lake Anna Winery, do let them know you read about them here on Virginia Vine Spot.

      Happy Sipping !


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      Hello Friends,

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      Happy Sipping!


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      Tarara Winery: Wine Industry Job Openings

      Hello Friends,

      Dezel received some news today from a friend in the wine industry that our pal and Tarara’s Wine Sales Manager, John Bellncula and Tarara’s Wine Retail Manager, Elena Henley, are headed north to pursue excellent opportunities in the Green Mountain state of Vermont. For those of you who are familiar with John, you know that as Tarara’s Wine Sales Manager, he could always be found at events, festivals and in the tasting room smiling, welcoming and thanking guests for coming out and trying Tarara’s award winning wines. Every time Vine Spot has visited Tarara or seen them at a festival, John was always present, making us feel at home and informing us of upcoming wine events and the latest news at the winery. Vine Spot will certainly miss John, as he never missed us in all our many visits.

      With John and Elena leaving the winery, Tarara Winery is seeking qualified candidates to fill the full time positions of Wine Sales Manager and Wine Retail Manager. The Wine Sales Manager is the senior of the two positions offered and both jobs involve the retail aspects of the wine business, including, but not limited to Tasting Room, Festivals, Concert Series, Catering, Promotions, Marketing and Networking duties, etc. Keep in mind that outside of being full time positions, these positions require working some weekends and the schedule can be pretty aggressive during peak times such as spring and fall seasons.

      Dezel spoke with John today and he appeared saddened at leaving the Tarara family, but on the flip side, John has bigger fish to fry and moving up north presents a great opportunity for him and deservingly so. Vine Spot will miss seeing John at Tarara Winery and wish Elena and him the very best in Vermont! John informed Dezel that his last day would be March 23rd, so if readers have an opportunity, stop by Tarara Winery and wish John a happy farewell and the best of luck.

      If you are interested in one of the full time job positions, please email resumes or letters of interest to General Manager Margie Russell at margie.russell@tarara.com or fax 703-771-8443.

      Happy Sipping !



      Cooper Vineyards: Big Flavor in a Small Town

      Cooper Vineyards

      Following a pleasant tasting experience at James River Cellars, Vine Spot set out to the small and restful town of Louisa to visit Cooper Vineyards. Along the way, we enjoyed the sights of rural flatlands, open fields, trees and farms; the drive took all of about 35 easy minutes. Vine Spot has seen Cooper Vineyards at several Virginia wine festivals and have also enjoyed their festive wines at those fun filled events, but this would be the first visit to the winery.

      Arriving at Cooper Vineyards

      Cooper Vineyards is owned by Geoffrey Cooper, who like others, saw a hobby and passion grow into a fully operational Virginia winery. Cooper Vineyards is also one of a number of small Virginia farm wineries producing small batches of handcrafted wines that are for the most part estate bottled wines. Cooper Vineyards has 12 acres of vine plantings consisting of Chardonnay, Vidal Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Norton, etc. and produces somewhere in the neighborhood of 5000 cases per year. Winemaker, Graham Bell, of Lake Ana Winery consults with Cooper Vineyards and as stated on their web site, “Produces wines worthy of your consideration”. Vine Spot need not consider, let’s enter the tasting room and try Cooper’s wines.

      Amy of Cooper Vineyards at the Tasting Bar

      The tasting room is currently setup in a small rustic house that is filled with charm and coziness on the inside, exemplifying country living. There is also a fair amount of unique and nice gift items to check out in the tasting room. Is pink your favorite color? For the ladies there are some nice new pink gift items including handbags, shirts, etc. that I have not seen anywhere else. Cooper Vineyards also plays host to 2 handsome dogs that are featured in the Wine Dogs, USA Edition book; unfortunately for Dezel, the 2 dogs were asleep, but hopefully we can make friends next time.

      Moving right into our tasting, we were warmly greeted by Tasting Associate, Amy, who was very informative and told us all about the wine selections and upcoming events at Cooper. The wines offered were as follows: Chardonnay 2005, Coopertage Blanc 2005 (Chardonnay and Viognier blend), Cabernet Franc 2003, Merlot 2004, Syrah 2005, Norton 2004, Rhapsody (Vidal Blanc, Chardonel and Viognier sweet blend), Vida (Vidal Blanc ice styled dessert wine), Sweet Louisa (Native grape sweet blend), Noche Chocolate (Norton ice styled wine with a pronounced chocolate flavor).

      Vineyard View of Cooper Vineyards

      The wines tasted ranged from dry to sweet, fun and festive, to complex and elegant. A few of Vine Spot top selections with spring right around the corner kicked off with the $12 Chardonnay 2005. This colorful wine is estate bottled and fermented and aged in stainless steel, retaining the grapes freshness and fruit characteristics. On the taste, this wine is clean, crisp with bright acidity and would pair well with seafood and light hord'oeuvres. The once, ‘work-horse’ grape of Virginia, Norton, does good things in the bottle at Cooper Vineyards. The award winning Norton 2004 displays a nice deep ruby color and offers fresh dark fruit and spice flavors along with exceptional balance, ending with a lasting and lingering finish. Does Vine Spot have any Merlot lovers in the house? Try the Merlot 2004, which offers soft red, cherry fruit flavors framed in subtle vanilla and spice with good balance. For the sweet ending, try the $10 Rhapsody; as the name suggests, it is filled with bliss, honeysuckle, tropical hints and makes one heck of a spring time companion.

      Mardi Gras Man pouring Cooper Wines

      Following the tasting, Amy told us about an event that would be going on at the winery the following day, Cooper Vineyard’s annual Mardi Gras festival – jambalaya, king cake, the whole 9 yards. Although Vine Spot could not attend this year, Dezel received word and an accompanying picture of the event from a reliable source and wine pal, Frank Britt of Wine Lovers who left a description that will certainly get Vine Spot there next year.

      Speaking of events, Cooper Vineyards participates and hosts a number of fun filled wine events. I suggest you check out their events page and plan on visiting this rising winery for some fun, wine and all that goes along with it. When you do set out for the small town of Louisa to taste Cooper Vineyards wines, be sure to let them know you read about them right here on Virginia Vine Spot!

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        Happy Sipping !



        “No to Rare”, “No to Virginia”, said the chaps

        Smile if you love wine!

        Last week Dezel was invited over a friend’s house for an evening dinner. Dezel's friend, Johnny, is a full time chef, part time engineer, so Dezel was eagerly expecting the meal to be a delectable hit!

        Sounds like perfect dinner plans right? Here is where the confusion comes in. Johnny asked Dezel to bring over a wine to pair with dinner and the meal Johnny was cooking up was a seared “rare” tuna dish. So here is the problem. Johnny prefers Australian red wines and having lived in Virginia for quite some time, his last experience with Virginia red wines were sort of green; that was many moons ago, but Johnny holds grudges against wine regions. On the flip side, Dezel had one bad sushi moment and rare and raw are simply not in the food vocabulary.

        Mediterranean Chardonnay 04 – Veritas Claret 04

        Well friends, two middle aged chaps had a tough decision to make and since we are not getting any younger, we both decided to try the very thing that we hadn’t much of a taste for. Johnny, a Virginia red wine, and Dezel, the 1/2 cooked raw tuna.

        In the interim, Johnny whipped up a bowl of delicious garlic and chilie dipping oil that went well with the warm French baguettes. The first wine we opened as a conversation starter was the Mediterranean Cellars Chardonnay 2004. The Chardonnay offered nice ripe tree fruit flavors, namely apple, and was medium in body and had a fuller mouth feel. It was aged half in stainless steel barrels and half in oak barrels and offered a nice touch of spice and toast mid palate with a pinch of sweetness. Although this was a decent Chardonnay, Dezel confused his tasting notes and was actually looking for a lighter, more acidic Chardonnay, preferably stainless steel fermented and aged to kick the evening off with. Needless to say, we still consumed and enjoyed this wine quite a bit.

        Tasty Dipping Oil and Mediteranean Cellars Chardonnay 04

        Moving to the main course, Johnny lightly seasoned the tuna and rolled the fillets in sesame seeds and gently seared the fillets on both sides, leaving the center quite rare (to Dezel’s dismay). To accompany the tuna were sea weed salad and a nice spiced curry based bean and rice dish. Typically, I think white wine with most fish dishes, but since this fish was meatier and practically raw, a nice delicate red wine I figured would do the trick.

        Seared Tuna and Veritas Claret 2004

        The wine selected, the Veritas Claret 2004, is a nice Bordeaux styled blend of 60% Cabernet Franc and 40% Merlot. This wine was soft with smooth tannins, offering gentle cherry, raspberry, spice and subtle cedar flavors with a good level of acidity. The wine was the perfect mate for the seared tuna, delicate, not overpowering and the spiciness and acidity of the wine complimented the fish nicely.

        In the end, Johnny agreed that since his last swallow, the quality of Virginia wines has come a long way and also informed Dezel that he was going to get out and start visiting Virginia wineries again. On the other side of the coin, Dezel concluded that the seared raw tuna was not so bad after all and was actually rather yummy! Now, I doubt Dezel will visit any sushi bars anytime soon, but that ½ cooked tuna was awesome!

        So we have a ‘yes’ for rare tuna and a ‘yes’ for Virginia wines! Don’t you just love a happy ending friends?

        Happy Sipping !


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