1/23/2008

Sweet Beginnings: James River Cellars Divino


Hello Friends,

Usually my dessert wine posts are titled “Sweet Ending;” however, since this is my first Virginia dessert wine of the New Year I find it appropriate to title it “Sweet Beginnings.” Officially, my sweet beginnings started off with an indulgent and hedonistic Tokay Aszu (4 Puttonyos). Yummy! For those of you that have a hankering for sweeter wines and have not heard of this Hungarian liquid gold, visit your local wine shop and seek some out today. These are some of the most prized dessert wines in the world.

Chardonel Grapes

My Virginia “Sweet Beginnings” kicked off with the popular James Rivers Cellars Divino dessert wine. Divino is an “ice-styled” wine made using the Chardonel grape variety. In terms of wine grapes, Chardonel is a fairly new hybrid variety created in New York State from Chardonnay and Seyval Blanc parentage. It was released in 1991 and created namely for its hardiness and adaptability to colder climates like that of New York. While not as popular here in Virginia, I found the Chardonel grape used in blends and made into varietal wines when I visited the Finger Lakes 2 years ago. The wines produced by Chardonel are usually crisp and lean with good acidity; however, with Chardonnay as one of its parents, it is very capable of producing more medium-bodied, high quality, complex wines.

James River Cellars Divino


Ice-styled wines produced in places such as Virginia where cold temperatures do not cooperate, are basically late harvest grapes that are picked and frozen post harvest and then pressed. True ice wines are picked while frozen on the vine and then pressed; no need for the Canadians and Germans to freeze these ultra ripe grapes. Ice wines are usually made from grapes that are naturally high in acidity (ex. Riesling) in order to balance the high sugar levels. Ice wines, both true or not, are typically housed in 375 ml bottles and are usually pricey; this holds accurate for true ice wines. This has a great deal to do with the winemaking process as well as the fact that since the grapes are frozen you are getting a droplet of liquid gold per grape, versus what you would get if the grapes were not frozen. Lastly, in my opinion there are differences between true ice wines and ice-styled wines other than the price tag. Other notable differences include sight and taste. True ice wines have greater depth and intensity in color, as well as more intense flavor characteristics. True ice wines are opulent and more mouth-filling than the ice-styled wines. With that said, ice-styled wines can be beautiful and complex, so lets take a look at the James River Cellars Divino, shall we?

Review: The James River Cellars Divino 2005 is a half-bottle dessert wine exhibiting a light golden color. The wine has a real cork enclosure, but there is no indication on the label as to the alcohol content. The nose is sweet and inviting, lending itself to flavors of pear, apricot and subtle hints of honey racing about the palate. This wine goes down smooth with a sugar- laced medium length finish. Nothing overly complex, just a good sweet table wine as the label suggests. Try this with cheesecake, pumpkin or sweet potato pie, or sip it on its own as an after dinner sweet ending. Price: $20

TIP: Stop by World Market or Total Wine and also try a bottle of Jackson-Triggs Proprietors' Reserve Vidal Ice-wine. This Canadian selection is also $20, and is a nice introductory true ice wine offering. Try both of these scrumptiously sweet selections and enjoy every golden droplet!

Producer: James River Cellars, 11008 Washington Hwy, Glen Allen, VA 23059

  • Hope everyone's 2008 is off to a great start !!! Stay tuned ...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 © 2007-2008. All rights reserved.




      Dezel's My Vine Spot © 2006-2014. All rights reserved.

      1/14/2008

      Virginia Wine Showcase Tickets - Feb 9, 10th - Dulles Expo Center

      Virginia Wine Showcase 2008 !!!

      Hello Friends,

      Do you enjoy Virginia wine? Are you looking for a good Valentine’s Day primer? Good! I have discounted tickets for sale to the Virginia Wine Showcase at the Dulles Expo Center on February 9th and 10th, 2008.This show will be the cream of the crop, so to speak, for Virginia wine events this year.

      Once indoors, you can indulge in unlimited tasting from over 35 of Virginia top wineries. Additionally, enjoy educational wine seminars, local arts and crafts, fine nibbles, live entertainment, and lots more!!!

      Tickets to this event are $35 at the door and $25 online with a $2 service charge, so that is $27 total. I can sell these tickets for $23 each. Either drop me an email to arrange pick-up or you can send me the money and I can mail you the ticket. Each ticket comes with a Wine & Food Pairing Chart.

      This is going to be an exciting event so start your Valentine’s weekend early and attend. And don’t forget, swirl, sniff, and sip – every time!



      Website: Virginia Wine Showcase



    • Hope everyone's 2008 is off to a great start !!! Stay tuned ...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 © 2007-2008. All rights reserved.




        Dezel's My Vine Spot © 2006-2014. All rights reserved.

        1/09/2008

        Doukénie Winery: New Year, New Beginnings

        Hello Friends,

        This past weekend Dezel took full advantage of a sunny, clear, and slightly warm day and paid a visit to Doukénie Winery located in Loudoun County. As most of you probably know, Doukénie Winery was formerly known as Windham, and in 2008 not only does the charming farm winery find itself sporting a new name, but also a new winemaker, vineyard manager, and staff. Change is truly in the air at Doukénie, as even their signature dessert wine, Raspberry Merlot, which visitors cannot seem to get enough of, will have a new name due to rules and regulations regarding titling a wine with the name of a fruit (ex. raspberry) and a wine’s varietal name (ex. Merlot).

        Doukénie Winery

        Rest assured, however, that change can be a good thing, and from chatting with Sales and Marketing Manager Janette Sawyer, the outlook for Doukénie looks bright. Despite the changes, what remains a constant at Doukénie is the warm and relaxing atmosphere, a friendly and informative staff, samples of Hope’s homemade baklava in the tasting room (best in state !!!), and being greeted at the door by one of the most popular winery dogs in Virginia, Lucy the Lab. Last but not least, let’s not forget about the wine, which have been very drinkable, easy on the palate wines that appeal to a wide spectrum of palates.

        Relax by the pond with a glass of wine this spring ...

        While visiting, I re-sampled some of the 2005 and 2006 vintages that I enjoyed in the past. Popular selections like the Alsatian styled Riesling 06 and the Raspberry Merlot were sold out; however, their fresh fruit Chardonnay, off-dry Mandolin blend (Traminette, Vidal Blanc, and Chardonnay), tasty Cabernet Franc, and particularly, the Vintners Reserve Bordeaux- styled blend are all drinking well.

        Looking forward to 2008, Doukénie Winery expressed excitement about the 2007 harvest and the progression of their young wines. The 2007 vintages will all be made by their new winemaker, Sebastian Marquet, and it will be interesting to see where he takes their wines. The winery wishes to increase its case production, and at the same time retain the quality of their wines, which will take a clever balancing act. The new winemaker, as I was told, is a well seasoned veteran of the trade who has successfully made wine in Burgundy, as well as California’s Sonoma Valley – both of these areas are hot spots for premium Chardonnay (I personally love a good expressive white Burgundy). I said that to say, that to the winemaker’s credit was a score of a 93 from influential wine critic Robert Parker for one of his Chardonnay vintages. Even though I do not personally follow Parker’s picks, that is huge!

        Upcoming wine releases at Doukénie will include a Syrah, a dry blush wine made from Syrah grapes, and Riesling 2007. Also, friends of the winery can expect an increase in winery events – almost double! For example, this coming weekend is Baked Potato weekend and Chili weekend follows that on January 26th-27th. Dezel is telling you now that the Cabernet Franc or Vintners Reserve would be a nice match with a bowl of homemade chili. Be sure to check Doukénie’s web site for a list of future events, there is something going on at the winery nearly every weekend.

        I'm Dezel, see you on the wine trail friends!

        In closing, be sure to bookmark Doukénie’s web page and participate in some of the fun-filled winery events. Doukénie is opened daily from 10am-6pm and tasting fees are $5 per person with a tasting fee waived per bottle purchase. Good deal! When you visit the kind folks at Doukénie Winery be sure to let them know you read about them here on Dezel’s Virginia Vine Spot!


      • Hope everyone's 2008 is off to a great start !!! Stay tuned ...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 © 2007-2008. All rights reserved.




          Dezel's My Vine Spot © 2006-2014. All rights reserved.

          1/02/2008

          Georgia Wine: A Glimpse into Dahlonega


          Hello Friends,

          First off, I would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year 2008. I trust that everyone brought the New Year in with loads of fun and some great wine – sparkling or not. May smiles and prosperity find all in 2008!

          BlackStock Cellars

          Over the Christmas holidays I was back in Georgia visiting my mother, and one of the things on my agenda was to take my folks out and visit some of the small family-operated farm wineries in the area. Although Mother has lived in Georgia for over a decade, she and her hubby have never visited any of the local wineries; that is until I took everyone to Château Élan this past Thanksgiving. So could Dezel convince them to ‘go local’ and give up their daily Yellow Tail Shiraz and Cabernet Blends? You will have to read on to find the answer to that, friends.

          Tasting Room overlooks BlackStock Vineyard

          After doing some investigation I found a cluster of wineries in Lumpkin County, GA, in a small historic town named Dahlonega. As I mentioned before, there are a little more than 20 operational wineries in the state of Georgia, and Dahlonega contained 5 wineries that were in close proximity to each other. Additionally, Dahlonega is a wine producing area known more for classic European varieties, whereas further south, sweet wines made from muscadine and other alternative grapey-grape varieties rule the roost. After plugging one of the winery addresses into Map-quest I found that we were only an hour away – Mother lives in the suburbs, about 30 minutes from Atlanta, so this was similar to driving to Middleburg or Warrenton for me. Let’s go!

          View from BlackStock wrap around deck

          To get a picture of Dahlonega think of Middleburg – small town charm commingled with novelty shops, art stores, restaurants, and, of course, wineries, in a relaxing atmosphere. In the early to mid 1800’s this small historic town was known for its mountains of gold as it was the site of the very first gold-rush in our nation. Nearly two centuries later, Dahlonega is turning its attention to liquid gold, and planting the types of classic vinifera varieties they hope will produce such wines.

          Frogtown Cellars

          All 5 of the wineries in the area are young, from 1 to 7 years old. I got the impression that Dahlonega, although young and developing, will be the wine producing area to one day put GA on the map. The tasting fees at the Dahlonega area wineries are $10, and that seems uniform across the board and includes a souvenir Bordeaux styled glass. Our first stop, BlackStock Vineyards, is Dahlonega’s oldest vineyard, but youngest winery. Got that?

          Frog Town Cellars: Elegant & Spacious Tasting Room

          BlackStock recently opened doors to the public in April of 2006. Although young, their vineyard was planted in 1997 and they are the largest wine grape grower in the state of Georgia. Because of this, they supply other wineries in and out of Dahlonega with wine grapes, while producing 5000 cases annually themselves. The tasting room is a beauty with wall to wall windows that overlook a 40 acre vineyard back-dropped by captivating vista views. BlackStock offers classic European varieties vinified from estate grown grapes. Some of the wines we tasted through were a fruity Chardonnay 06, a toasty Reserve Chardonnay 05, two differing 2005 Viognier examples – one having more oak aging that the other, a good food pairing Sangiovese, a Merlot 2004, and a Cabernet Sauvignon 05. These wines are very drinkable, ranging from soft to medium in flavor intensity with varying degrees of complexity. Prior to leaving, I expressed how Virginia was excited about the overall success of the 2007 harvest and was curious about the GA 2007 harvest. No one said growing grapes on the east coast was easy, however, as they conveyed to me a disappointing story about the enemy, early spring frost, which has their 2007 production numbers down by 70%. Despite the lofty challenges, BlackStock aims to be one of the premier producers for quality wines in the state of Georgia.

          Frogtown Cellars: View from the deck

          Our next stop, less than 10 minutes away was to Frogtown Cellars. The tasting room sits atop a hill of vine plantings and is housed in a stunning tri-level classic structure. As we exited the vehicle we were greeted by two friendly winery dogs who escorted us to the door, but the truth is, they were eager to get inside the tasting room because it was a very chilly day. Once inside, and after a few head scratches we made our way to the attractive tasting bar to sample some of Frogtown’s offerings. Frogtown has several different tasting options that cater to both red and white wine drinkers, and a special tasting option for their reserve wines. Frogtown produces wines under two different labels. The 13th Colony label is your everyday drinking wines, while their signature Frogtown label is reserved for their estate bottled premium wines. Frogtown produces all the classic European varietals found at BlackStone and some nice Bordeaux styled blends. Frogtown also does a varietal Tannat, Roussanne, Marsanne, and Vidal Blanc. To my surprise, they also produce a Norton and shared a barrel sample with me since they knew I was from Virginia– oddly enough, the wine had an intense Port-like bouquet, but tasted like a true young Norton with bright ‘wake you up’ sort of acidity up front and slight grapey flavors. Certainly, I will be sure to follow up on this Norton on my next trip to Georgia. One wine that exemplifies the potential of Georgia wine in good vintage years is the Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Nice color, an attractive nose with good fruit flavors and complexity, but a price tag of $48.99. If you are passing through Georgia, or already a resident and have not paid a visit to the Dahlonega wineries, you will certainly want to hop over to Frogtown Cellars! The folks behind the bar are great!

          Raise a toast for a Happy New Year !!!

          Well, Dezel admits to chatting a little too much at the aforementioned wineries, thus never making it to the remaining three. Hey, time flies when you are having fun, right? I guess I have something to look forward to the next time I visit.

          From what I experienced, however, the Georgia wineries in Dahlonega offered warm southern hospitality and awesome views, all wrapped in a becalming atmosphere. The wine industry is still very young and maturing, but the potential is definitely there. These wineries have already won numerous awards in national wine competitions.

          Lastly, to answer the question about my folks and their Yellow Tail obsession – let’s just say its simple economics. It is no secret that east coast wine prices are competitive on the east coast, but not so much in the global market. New World producers like Australia cannot be touched in my opinion in the $5 to $10 range, and we are not talking joke wines. These are highly drinkable wines, just not overly interesting, however, a lot of $20+ wines lack complexity also. My folks will definitely visit these places again as they had a wonderful time and loved the atmosphere, but until east coast prices are able to compete with what’s on the store shelves, I’m afraid they will be hopping with the $6 kangaroo, and enjoying the local Georgia wines for special occasions. With that said, they were sipping on a Georgia Sangiovese as I headed out for the airport.


        • Happy New Year 2008 friends !!! Stay tuned ...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 © 2007-2008. All rights reserved.




            Dezel's My Vine Spot © 2006-2014. All rights reserved.