8/31/2007

On the Road Again With Loudoun Magazine

Loudoun Magazine

Hello Friends,

Dezel is pleased to inform you that the fall edition of the Loudoun Magazine hits the stands today, and you know what that means, right? If you guessed more fun-filled experiences on the Loudoun County wine trail, then you my friend are correct!

In the previous two installments, the 2007 spring and summer editions, I had the pleasure of guiding readers along the route 9 and route 15 wine trails to sample some of Loudoun’s finest offerings and bask in the splendor of the picturesque countryside. In the fall edition, I jump back on the wine trail with Loudoun Magazine to visit several popular wineries on the Middleburg and surrounding area tour. Fun, Fun, Fun! And that is just the beginning friends, have you ever experienced the symphony of Autumnal colors in Loudoun County? Simply the best!

For those of you who have not had the opportunity to check out the spring and summer issues, I recommend you do so. The three magazines comprise all 16 Loudoun County wineries, breaking them up into 3 separate wine tours based on proximity for your visiting and tasting pleasure.

The Loudoun Magazine can be found at all 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 their Circulation Department at 703.771.8800.

I would like to give a Special Thanks to the Loudoun Magazine for joining me on this pleasing 3 leg tour through Loudoun Wine Country and letting me share the stories of the vine with their wonderful readers. I had a grape time and look forward to popping the cork with you again!


  • Stay tuned friends, more to come!


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Happy Sipping Friends - Thanks for your support and kind emails !


Dezel



Dezel's Virginia Vine Spot © 2006-2007. All rights reserved.

8/26/2007

Discover Virginia Food and Wine Festival - September 1st, 2007

Hello Friends,

This is just a friendly reminder that next week in Greene County, which is just north of Charlottesville, the Greene County Economic Authority will host the 1st annual Discover Virginia Food and Wine Festival. Twelve of the Old Dominion’s top wineries will be in attendance, including Delfosse, Horton and Barboursville, etc., pouring some of their finest offerings. Additionally, there will be a number of local craft and food vendors, and finger-snapping and toe-tapping live entertainment. Mother Nature owes us for this weekend shortcomings {ultra hot, wet, humid, thunderstorms}, so let’s hope for a beautiful festival weekend and have yourself a fun-filled time while Discovering Virginia Food and Wine.

12 wineries will be in attendance to pour some of their top selections

Be sure to check the Discover Virginia Festival web site for additional information, as well as discounts on pre-purchased tickets.

  • Stay tuned friends, more to come!


Click Here to vote VA Vine Spot as your wine favorite blog - You can vote 1x per day!

Happy Sipping Friends - Thanks for your support and kind emails !


Dezel



Dezel's Virginia Vine Spot © 2006-2007. All rights reserved.

8/23/2007

Wine Blogging Wednesday #37 - Go Native !!!

Hello Friends,

Dezel just wanted to let fellow bloggers and friends know about next month’s Wine Blogging Wednesday #37 theme. I find it exciting and I’m sure you will to. First off, WBW #37 is being hosted by Tyler Colman, who is also known as Dr. Vino – check out his wine blog; it’s most entertaining and engaging, and as his blog motto suggests, “wine talk that goes down easy”. Now, Dezel has never participated in WBW, but it is a pretty big blogosphere event, and the theme piqued my interest.

So what is the excitement? This month’s topic is Go Native! In other words friends, drink a wine that is indigenous to the place where the wine is made and blog about it or email your notes to Dr. Vino (if you are not a blogger). Now there is one small rule here; you cannot pick one of the noble French wine grapes…you know the Big 6 – Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir. I know, some people will say, is there anything else? Well, of course. There are oodles and oodles of other wine grape varieties out there from popular to obscure, which makes this WBW event all the more fun. Be creative!

Dark, Thick Skinned, Native ...what is it?


Now, if you’re local, one popular red wine grape variety comes to mind that has the distinct reputation of being the oldest cultivated American grape. Furthermore, during the 1800’s the wines produced from this grape variety were as popular as those Harry Potter books are today. Additionally, this grape, said to be indigenous to Virginia soil can be tasted and purchased at a number of local wineries. Anyone know which grape variety Dezel is posting on?

The due date is September 12th, and you do not have to be a blogger to participate. If you have a grape variety in mind, know its birthplace, and can take some notes, you are in – just email Dr. Vino your notes. This is an international event – blog entries are submitted from all over the world and shared. How fun - Grab your pen, notepad and wine, and participate in this ‘Go Native’ event!

Happy Sipping!


  • Stay tuned friends, more to come!


Click Here to vote VA Vine Spot as your wine favorite blog - You can vote 1x per day!

Happy Sipping Friends - Thanks for your support and kind emails !


Dezel



Dezel's Virginia Vine Spot © 2006-2007. All rights reserved.

8/18/2007

Swedenburg Vineyards: 20 Years & Still Counting

Hello Friends,

Vine Spot’s next winery adventure keeps us grounded in the charm-filled and historic village of Middleburg, VA, to pay a visit to one of Virginia’s pioneering family-owned and operated farm wineries. The winery, Swedenburg Estate Vineyards, is located amid picturesque settings and in very close proximity (10 minutes) to the Loudoun County winery featured in the previous post, Chrysalis Vineyards. In fact, they are the only 2 wineries with a Middleburg address, so be sure to put them both on your touring schedule when visiting Horse and Hunt Country.

A lovely day at Swedenburg Vineyards


Much like Chrysalis Vineyards, Swedenburg produces a full spectrum of pleasing wines, from easy drinking and unpretentious, to complex wines worthy of cellar aging or special dinner guests (like Dezel). However, unlike Chrysalis who produces wines from some lesser known and native grape varieties, Swedenburg produces wines from chiefly popular European (vitis vinifera) wine grape varieties. Although the noble grape varieties, namely red wine grapes, can be a daunting tasks for local (east coast) growers (especially those adventurous enough to dedicate a plot of land to Pinot Noir), Swedenburg has produced classic European styled wines since 1987 to the liking of those near and far away.

Swedenburg Vineyards

With Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon being two of Swedenburg’s more popular wines, the emphasis on the popular French varietals is likely a direct influence of owners, Juanita and Wayne Swedenburg’s early years spent visiting French colonies during their tenure in the U.S. Foreign Service. I was informed that during those early years the budding couple sampled some of the best French wines offered, and was later destined to produce similar wines in the Old Dominion. As son, and original partner in the family owned & operated business, Marc Swedenburg would tell me, “My mother was determined to make this wine”. The wine Marc refers to is Pinot Noir – a grape variety legendary for its utter difficulty, even in ideal conditions. Swedenburg Vineyards just took home a gold medal at the VA State Fair for their Pinot Noir 2005 vintage. I suggest you try some!

Just recently, the Swedenburg family and Virginia wine community was saddened when it was learned that founder, and pioneering owner Juanita Swedenburg died in her sleep on June 9th. Of her many achievements in support of Virginia wine, Juanita Swedenburg is internationally recognized for winning a hard-fought direct shipping case in the U.S. Supreme Court in 2005. At 82, she was the winemaker, worked the family farm, and could be found in the tasting room on weekends entertaining and educating guests on Swedenburg’s brand of Virginia wine. A memorial viticulture and enological educational fund has been established in Juanita's name to help promote the growth of the Virginia wine industry. Contributions can be made to the Juanita Swedenburg Memorial Educational Fund c/o VWGA, PO Box 10045, Alexandria, Virginia 22310.

Pouring Swedenburg’s fine wines in the tasting room

Marc Swedenburg and family carry on the tradition of producing fine wines for friends and guests alike who have come to know the winery over the past twenty years. Nowadays, in the tasting room, Marc’s wife Betty or one of their daughters can be found ready to pour and tell you all about Swedenburg’s offerings. Tasting fees are reasonably priced at $3 per person, and there is usually 5 to 6 wines to sample. For summer, the off-dry Alsatian-style Riesling is an ideal candidate for Asian cuisine and a variety of cheeses, and also sips nicely on its own. Summertime is indeed the season for Rosé wines, and the semi-dry C’est La Vie with its good natural acidity and bright berry flavors is the perfect picnic wine. Not a big fan of the super-oaked Chardonnays? Try the barrel fermented Chardonnay; a wine of finesse, good balance, and nicely integrated flavors that would be a good mate for seafood and light hors d’ oeuvres. Moving to the reds, the award winning Pinot Noir is a lighter bodied wine with dark cherry flavors, touches of spice and a good peppery kick. Pinot Noir usually is very diverse when it comes to food pairing; so when you taste it, think of a dish that will compliment its spicy character. Also to note here is a medium bodied and easy drinking Cabernet Sauvignon, which offers dark fruit flavors, vanilla notes and spice. Yummy!

Enjoy the new picnic area and a glass of wine

With your favorite wine in hand, cop a seat in the tasting room where large windows provide views of the historic Valley View Farm and vineyard. If it is nice outdoors, you will want to take full advantage of Swedenburg's new picnic area and enjoy the beautiful countryside. Are you a fan of Murder Mystery books? Be sure to ask in the tasting room about the ‘Merlot Murders’, and the ‘Chardonnay Charade’ – two books written by local author Ellen Crosby, who consulted with Juanita Swedenburg when writing these series. The fine folks at Swedenburg look forward to seeing you in their tasting room friends. Be sure to mention you saw them here on Dezel’s Virginia Vine Spot when you visit!


Swedenburg Estate Vineyards - 23595 Winery Lane, Middleburg, VA 20117

  • Stay tuned friends, more to come!


Click Here to vote VA Vine Spot as your wine favorite blog - You can vote 1x per day!

Happy Sipping Friends - Thanks for your support and kind emails !


Dezel



Dezel's Virginia Vine Spot © 2006-2007. All rights reserved.

8/08/2007

Chrysalis Vineyards: Thou Shalt Love Thy Norton


Hello Friends,

Dezel recently jumped back on the Loudoun Wine Trail and rode into the small charm-filled town of Middleburg, VA. Middleburg is a historic (circa 1787) little town in western Loudoun County that is well known by many as horse and hunt country. Additionally, Middleburg is also abundant in beautiful landscapes, fine dining, historic landmarks, and some of Virginia’s most impressive bed & breakfasts and inns.

Follow the sign to Chrysalis Vineyards


Middleburg is also host to Chrysalis Vineyards, a popular Virginia winery nestled amidst lush rolling hills, mature trees, and distant mountain views. Chrysalis Vineyards is somewhat counter-trend in the sense that a glance over their tasting sheet reveals no popular European varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, etc., with the exception of Chardonnay. Instead, owner Jennifer McCloud has planted varieties that are best suited for Virginia’s soil and climate type; for example, an ever popular Chardonnay, a surging Petit Manseng, a rare Spanish Albariño variety, Virginia’s flagship white -Viognier, Petit Verdot, and a soon to be released Tannat, all of which performs particularly well here. The aforementioned varieties are befitting and differing choices from the norm; however, at Chrysalis Vineyards’ the red carpet rolls out for a native variety touted as “Americas Grape” that bears the name Norton.

Arriving at Chrysalis Vineyards

Chrysalis Vineyards has assumed the job of restoring this once popular native grape variety to the rising status it saw over a century ago when it was deemed the “best red wine of all nations” at an international competition. Make no mistake, however, this is no easy task. Native grape varieties already come with a grave reputation of being best suited for juices, and at best, producers of grapey and musky sorts of wines that cannot stand up to their European counterparts. That is what makes Norton so special. It is a native grape variety that produces deeply pigmented, flavorful wines that can be quite interesting and intriguing. It does come with its own set of issues as it is more of a chore in the winery than the vineyard. Those who grow it tell me how prolific and hardy it is; however, it has an awkward acidic structure (high in malic acid) than most wines so the winemaker has to use his or her tricks of the trade to prevent this bad habit from rearing its sometimes harsh and sharp head. Chrysalis Vineyards excels here and does several wines using the Norton grape, including blends and varietal bottles ranging from fruit forward and easy drinking to elegant and complex. Let’s move to the tasting room and briefly talk about some of their award winning wines.

Hump Astorga pouring Chrysalis' tasty Norton wine

The tasting room is cozy and inviting and all the staff appears to be wine lovers themselves, so are very knowledgeable in wine – especially Norton. We were hosted by Hump Astorga, former owner and chef of the acclaimed Middleburg restaurant, Aster. Hump serves as Director of Hospitality & Culinary Operations at Chrysalis Vineyards. This newly formed relationship should spawn off a wealth of wonderful and exciting things for Chrysalis Vineyards so keep your ears to the grapevine! Chrysalis makes over 13 wines and has two tasting options that guests can enjoy. For $5 you can sample their estate wines, which includes their nicely done Viognier, Chablis styled Chardonnay, a few Spanish styled blends, the popular Sarah’s Patio red and white quaffing wines, and an estate bottled base Norton. For $10 you can opt for a reserve tasting that comprises the estate wines and reserve wines, which includes the more elegant Norton examples, a Petit Verdot, and other wines pending availability. I recommend going with the $10 option, which is definitely worth it if you are a Norton enthusiast, or just curious about the grape variety. Unfortunately, the tasting fees are not waived per bottle purchase so this may be something you want to consider. Chrysalis does, however, offer discounts if you become a VIP member, so be sure to ask about these benefits when you visit. Two of their wines that I thoroughly enjoy are their Petit Manseng dessert wine and the Albariño; these are not usually tasted as part of either tasting option, only sold; however, I recommend asking if they have a bottle open and trying these out – you will not find these selections at too many local wineries, and a taste, which is only normal, may lead to a bottle purchase.

Mystery Time !! Be sure to ask how Sarah's Patio got its name

With a full array of red and white wine selections there is something for every palate preference at Chrysalis. They make one of the best Viognier wines in Virginia offering floral and perfumed aromas with good stone fruit flavors and a rich creamy texture. Aptly named, both the Sarah’s patio red and white wines are just that – perfect off-dry patio, deck, or picnic summertime wines that are best served chilled. Looking for a good dry local Rosé styled wine? Try the Mariposa, a reasonably priced wine with good ripe red fruit flavors that is an excellent match for summer salads, pizza, and barbeque, amongst other foods. A good intro into Norton starts with the Norton Estate 2003; a medium bodied wine with good upfront fruit flavors, hints of spice and raisin. Stepping things up a notch, I recommend trying the deeply colored Norton Barrel Select 2005, which is a 100% Norton and done in a fuller-bodied intense fruit style with good balance and structure. This has to be close to what the tasters enjoyed in the Missouri produced Norton that received international praise in 1873 at an international competition previously mentioned. Chrysalis Vineyards flagship red wines, the Norton Locksley Reserve 2003 & 2004 vintages offer the base of the barrel select, but more refined and complex with cocoa, spice and earthy hints – these wines are drinking good now, but are excellent candidates for your wine cellar. Lastly, I had a chance to sample Chrysalis Vineyards’ first vintage Tannat (2005). This wine was just bottled, therefore will spend some time on its side to stabilize before you see it in the tasting room – it shows some smoke and earthy characteristics, and I look forward to tasting it again once everything gels. This is definitely one to get excited about and keep on your palate radar.

Enjoy your wine while sitting out on Sarah's beautiful patio


Found your favorite wine? Good. Grab a glass and enjoy a seat on Sarah’s patio or the covered pavilion, which offers two gas grills for guests to use. So either pack a picnic basket or bring a savory steak meal to pair with Chrysalis’ award winning wines. For more of a park-like feel, head to the lawn area where mature trees and picnic tables, as well as gorgeous pond and piedmont views can be enjoyed.

This lovely location has "picnic" written all over it

Also, be sure to mark your calendars for one of Chrysalis’ most popular winery events; the 7th Annual Norton Wine and Bluegrass Festival. Plan on sharing in good music, great food, vineyard tours, hayrides and a bottle or two of Norton, and have a great time at Chrysalis Vineyards. When you visit, friends, let the staff at Chrysalis know you read about them here on Dezel’s Virginia Vine Spot!


Info: Chrysalis Vineyards - 23876 Champe Ford Road, Middleburg, Virginia 20117

  • Stay tuned friends, visits to Swedenburg and a Sweet Ending coming up!


Click Here to vote VA Vine Spot as your wine favorite blog - You can vote 1x per day!

Happy Sipping Friends - Thanks for your support and kind emails !


Dezel



Dezel's Virginia Vine Spot © 2006-2007. All rights reserved.

8/02/2007

Weekly Sip: Breaux Vineyards Lafayette 2002


Hello Friends,

For the second straight week a Virginia Cabernet Franc makes my “Weekly Sip” rotation. Of course, I also enjoyed a great off-dry summertime quaffing Vouvray (Chenin Blanc), but, when the pairing is right, a good aged Virginia Cabernet Franc will do the trick. For me, the 2002 vintage Cabernet Francs are drinking nicely now; recall the Corcoran Vineyards (formerly Waterford) Cabernet Franc 2002? Elegant and delicious!

This tasty offering hails from Breaux Vineyards, which is located in Loudoun County and follows a Rajun Cajun theme. When I first visited the winery and heard the zydeco music in the background and saw the crawfish wine labels, as well as the traditional Mardi Gras colors, I almost felt like I was back home - after all, I’m from New Orleans. Well, in the Big Easy just about everything you eat is good and spicy, and this is the category the Lafayette 2002 falls under. I paired this wine with a three pepper pork loin dish, that also was also good and spicy, and the two married quite well, complimenting each other nicely.

Breaux Vineyards Lafayette 2002


Review: The Lafayette 2002 is a Cabernet Franc-based wine that contains 15% Merlot, yet still retains its distinct Cabernet Franc characteristics. It clocks in at 13.3% alcohol, is on the lighter side of medium in body, and has a real cork enclosure. The wine is clear garnet in color with a light orange-brown tinge suggesting maturity. On the nose are noticeable raspberry, soft cherry, spice, black pepper, and subtle herbal, leafy aromas. The aromas follow through on the palate with light fruit flavors, spice, and a desirable, almost undetectable, level of green pepper. This wine is more of an easy drinking example with friendly tannins, ending in a spicy medium finish. Overall, a nicely balanced wine with good integration, which is flavorful, yet soft enough to pair with a number of dishes, including grilled or smoked fish, while not overwhelming the flavors. Price: $18


  • Stay tuned friends, visits to Swedenburg and Chrysalis coming up!

Breaux Vineyards, 36888 Breaux Vineyards LanePurcellville, VA 20132


Click Here to vote VA Vine Spot as your wine favorite blog - You can vote 1x per day!

Happy Sipping Friends - Thanks for your support and kind emails !


Dezel



Dezel's Virginia Vine Spot © 2006-2007. All rights reserved.

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