3/30/2008

Dezel’s Tasting Room Tips to Sip by

Tasting Room Tips

Hello Friends,

Spring is here, the sun is shining, and the flowers are blooming, and Dezel knows that many of you will be coming out of hibernation and planning weekend trips to Virginia’s award winning wineries to sample the new releases. With good positive feedback from readers about my Top 10 Wine Events and Festivals posting last month, I decided to throw together some tasting room tips for you, which will hopefully lead to a pleasurable tasting experience for you and others. Of course, even with these tips and the best of preparation, it is largely up to the Virginia wineries to have a friendly and knowledgeable staff on hand to make you feel like part of the wine family. Without further ado, and in no particular order, here are a few tips to having a great time while visiting Virginia tasting rooms this spring and summer.

Review the tasting sheet for descriptions of the wine

  • I will start off with something that I stand guilty of – well, sometimes. Before leaving out for your wine tasting adventure, limit or do not use any perfume, cologne, or lotions. Although pleasing, they will definitely affect your ability to pick up the aromas of the wine, which will in turn alter your perception of its taste. And if it affects you, it can certainly ruin the experience for others too.
  • Before leaving out to go wine tasting have a good breakfast or lunch and bring a few bottles of water with you. Actually, packing a cooler with snacks and water is a very good idea.
  • Plan ahead, friends! Many Virginia wineries have limited hours, and some even go by appointments (especially for large groups and tours), so pick up the telephone and give them a call to make sure they will be open and ready to pour.
  • Here is one I wish I had in my back pocket: a Designated Driver. This is a prudent decision for a carefree day of wine tasting. If everyone wants to taste, there are also many local tour services available that are fun and affordable. I recommend trying Deidra at Virginia Wine Adventures.

Listen up - lots of great info will be shared with you

  • If you plan to picnic, call the winery you plan to picnic at and ask if they allow baskets. A few wineries are no longer allowing guests to bring food. You can also call the winery and find out what types of foods they offer - a cheese, sausage and baguette platter will usually do the trick.
  • When you taste, follow the flow from white wines to reds and then dessert wines if applicable. Wines are tasted from light, to drier, to sweet for a reason. You would not want to start off your tasting with a big tannic red and then try to fully enjoy a light fruity white wine – that big bad red won’t allow it!
  • When tasting, refresh the palate with plain crackers and water if available. If the winery offers cheese samples during the tasting save the cheese for later. Cheese can hide flaws in wine, and reduce your ability to detect subtlety. Simply put, you do not want cheese or perfumes affecting your sense of aroma and taste.
  • Some people will say that they are a red wine or white wine person; others may like only sweet wines. Keep an open mind and open palate and try everything if it doesn’t kill you or give you a migraine. You might just find something new that you like, and if it is all together not your style, do not feel ashamed to pour it out or spit.

Ask questions, you can learn a lot during a tasting session

  • Very important: always look at your wine. The color can give hints about the quality and age of the wine, and remember, always swirl, sniff, and sip every wine. As you do these things, think about the color, aromas and flavors – is the color attractive and brilliant, are you smelling apples, pears, apricots, cherries, or hints of vanilla, are the flavors consistent with the aromas?
  • Ask questions: be Curious George the Wine Lover. Wine tasting is your opportunity to not only educate your palate, but to learn more about the wine making process at the winery you are visiting. In most Virginia tasting rooms you will find a warm and knowledgeable staff, winery owners, and if you are lucky, the winemaker(s) themselves, ready to make your tasting experience memorable. Most wineries know the importance of a good staff - it provides repeat business and word of mouth promotion. Not all wineries are created equal, however, so if you encounter someone in the tasting room trying to rush you through your tasting, or not at all interested in the wine they are pouring, write or email the owners.
  • All wineries will have a tasting sheet listing what is being poured. Take the time to review the tasting sheet and as you sample the wines, see if you can pick the suggested aromas and flavors out in the wines.

Take notes – jot down what you liked, loved, and may buy

  • If you are on the bubble about a bottle purchase, ask for a second sampling to confirm your thoughts of the wine. Usually after a tasting, your pourer will ask if there is anything you would like to re-taste. But if they do not, ask politely.
  • Do not feel pressured to drink all the wine in your glass, especially if you are visiting a number of wineries. No one wants to get tipsy, right? Feel free to sip and spit or sip and swallow a little and throw the remaining wine in the dump bucket provided by the winery.
  • Some wineries, not all, have a tasting fee; usually a souvenir glass and great service is included with this fee. As mentioned below, some wineries will apply these fees to a bottle purchase.
  • Some wineries have a two tier tasting fee, one for tasting their everyday wines, and another fee for their reserve wines. Some wineries waive a tasting fee per bottle purchase, so be sure to ask about this before tasting. It just may help you decide which tasting option is best for you.

Smile! You are sure to make a friend in VA's tasting rooms

  • Spring and summer are busy times for Virginia wineries so try not to crowd the bar. If you're in a tasting room that is obviously busy, back away from the bar after completing your tasting to give others a chance to be serviced. There's nothing worse than fighting a crowd when trying to taste. Sometimes it is just the nature of the beast, but deal with it like the dignified wine lover Dezel knows you are!
  • I know I said in no particular order, but, last but not least is to have fun while enjoying Virginia wine at the source this spring and summer!

Inspired by mirth wine and having fun – Happy Sipping, friends!

Stay tuned friends ...Cellaring, and 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 © 2006-2008. All rights reserved.

    3/21/2008

    Coming Soon: Barrel Oak Winery


    Hello Friends,

    This past weekend I had the pleasure of visiting with Brian and Sharon Roeder, owners of the soon –to- be open Barrel Oak Winery. Barrel Oak Winery, the latest edition to the popular Fauquier County Wine Trail, is located in the quaint village of Delaplane, a charming little town known for its historic landmarks, equestrian heritage, picturesque landscapes, and, of course, Virginia wine.

    Barrel Oak Winery

    Upon arriving, we were warmly greeted by Brian, Sharon, and their playful and fun-loving Golden Retriever. After some friendly conversation, we hopped on “Wally” the farm mule, which is another name for an all terrain farm buggy. Since I’m not too farm savvy, guess what I thought we were going to ride over to the winery on? Boy was I nervous! So off we went, over the hills on a short journey to the Roeder’s new state of the art wine production facility and tasting room.
    Beautiful views await you....

    The winery is nestled on a hill surrounded by beautifully tended acres, graced with rolling hills, duck ponds, a neighboring horse farm, historic structures, and sweeping vista and vineyard views from the tasting room and expansive stone floored patio – a truly undisturbed and calming symphony of nature. Barrel Oak Winery offers the ideal location to engage in conversation and laughter with friends while relaxing in a peaceful and enchanting setting and sipping on your favorite Barrel Oak wine. And yes, there will be a nice selection to choose from, including a Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Norton, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, a Chocolate Lab Infused Dessert Red, Late Harvest Viognier, Seyval Blanc, and last but not least, Viognier. There is something for every palate preference, no doubt.

    The winery is nestled atop a hill (middle picture)


    The large hand-built wine production facility and tasting room is currently under construction. The facility is being constructed using the latest innovations in green building practices. This practice provides environmental, economic, and social benefits, among other things. The Roeder’s expect to host their Grand Opening Celebration on Memorial Day Weekend, so mark your calendar, friends! From what Brian and Sharon showed us, the tasting room will be comfortable and spacious, boasting tall ceilings, a stone built fireplace, and wall to wall windows, allowing stunning views of the countryside and an abundance of natural lighting. The multi-level facility will also offer guided and self-guided wine tours to see how wine is made from beginning to end at Barrel Oak Winery. Other niceties will include light gourmet fare to pair with your favorite wine, a library room and gift shop, wireless internet, state of the art tank and barrel rooms, a custom covered crush pad, gravity flow processing system, and a lot more.

    Brian shows us the area where wine will be made (middle picture)

    Barrel Oak recently planted estate-grown varieties including Traminette, Seyval Blanc, Chambourcin, Vidal Blanc, and Petit Manseng. The latter, one of my personal favorites out of the Jurançon AOC of South West France, is bound to emerge here in Virginia. For their other wines, the winery sources in fruit from several top vineyards in the surrounding area. Heading the wine-making duties are Rick Tagg, a name familiar from Pearmund Cellar’s successful line-up of wines, and owner Sharon Roeder.

    Enjoy the multitude of comforts at Barrel Oak Winery


    So, what more can I tell you, friends? You are going to have to bookmark their web page and pay close attention to this winery's development. The grand opening is something that you will definitely want to be a part of, and from talking with Brian and Sharon, they would love to have you there. The winery is located less than an hour from the DC Metro area, but it feels like worlds away. If you enjoy Virginia wine and beautiful views this is the place for you because both are difficult to escape at Barrel Oak Winery. When you visit be sure to tell them you read about them here on Dezel’s Virginia Vine Spot.

    Visit Barrel Oak Winery web site here.


    Stay tuned friends ...Cellaring, and 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 © 2006-2008. All rights reserved.

      3/15/2008

      Corcoran Vineyards Traminette 2006: A Floral Fascination

      Hello Friends,

      Our grape variety for today is Traminette, a hybrid variety whose name rolls off the tongue just as easy as the wine it produces. At least that is what we expect, right? In this posting we will chat a little about this hybrid grape variety, as well as sniff and snip a fine local example.

      Traminette Grapes

      Traminette was developed in 1965 at the University of Illinois. Traminette is a hybrid grape variety that is a result of crossbreeding the more popular Gewürztraminer with a variety known as Joannes Seyve 23.416, which is closely related to Seyval Blanc. To draw reference to the number mentioned (ex. 23.416), it is worth noting that a myriad of grapes are created and are simply known as numbers. Only the ones selected for their quality and other important characteristics are released for production and given attractive names – like, you guessed it, Traminette.

      By 1968, Traminette, which was then known as NY65.533.13, was under the scope, so to speak, at Cornell University in Upstate New York. The grape research program at Cornell has turned out other significant hybrid varieties like Chardonel and Cayuga White, which are popular among the Finger Lake communities. The basic idea here is to cultivate a grape that is winter hardy and disease resistant with the finesse and quality of the classic European varieties, but without their defined and much preferred growing conditions. Thus we have hybrids, varieties created by man, in a lab by crossing grapes of two different species. What they were attempting to do in New York with Traminette, was to retain the flavor profile and basic structure of the parent Gewürztraminer, yet preserve the cold hardiness and vigor of Joannes Seyve 23.416. I think it worked.

      Corcoran Vineyards Traminette 2006

      Traminette’s coming out party took nearly three decades. I think it is safe to say that this is one patient grape, right? Traminette was officially named and released in 1996 and its popularity soon took off. Traminette is more winter hardy and disease resistant than Gewürztraminer and many fans of the hybrid grape variety argue that the quality of a Traminette wine in good vintage years can supersede that of its parent, Gewürztraminer. Their flavor profiles are comparable and both pair well with similar dishes, with spicy Indian and Thai cuisine being great mates for these wines. Outside of Upstate New York, Traminette is produced in Missouri, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Jersey, and our very own state, Virginia, as well as a host of other cool climate states. Here in Virginia you will not find too many varietal bottles of Traminette. I get the impression that Traminette is used more as a blender in Virginia wines to add aroma, acidity or complexity. One Virginia producer that makes a nice Traminette varietal wine is Corcoran Vineyards in Loudoun County. I suggest all Virginia wine lovers secure a few bottles of this fragrant and well-made wine for the upcoming seasonal warmth. To the best of my knowledge, this wine can only be found at the winery, so pay the tasting room a visit one weekend and try some. That said; let’s pop the cork on a bottle of the Corcoran Vineyards Traminette 2006.

      Enjoy a glass outdoors by the pond this spring

      Review: The Corcoran Vineyards 2006 Traminette is lemon yellow in color with inviting floral aromas, highlighted by fresh cut roses and subtle hints of lychee fruit. On the palate are flavors of melon, honeysuckle, and touches of spice on the finish. There is good balance between the residual sugars and acidity and a slight tanginess, making this a nice springtime sipper on its own or a mate to Indian or Thai cuisine, even light picnic fare. This wine is drinking well now, so grab a bottle at the winery and bask in the friendly ambience while enjoying a glass by the relaxing pond. Price: $16 Alcohol Percentage: 12.5% Enclosure: Synthetic



      Stay tuned friends ...Cellaring, and 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 © 2006-2008. All rights reserved.

        3/13/2008

        Weekly Wine Fact: Do you know ?


        Hello Friends,

        Do you know how many wine lovers will visit Virginia tasting rooms this year? Any guesses? It was estimated that a whopping 950,000 wine lovers visited Virginia wineries in 2006, from 400,000 in 2004.

        Spring is here, and wine is near!

        Projections for 2008 tops out at over 1 million wine lovers visiting Virginia tasting rooms. Wow! I’m willing to bet that if you are a reader of this blog you are definitely one of the million. Have fun tasting and enjoying the picturesque views of Virginia wine country this spring. The fact here is that the popularity of Virginia wine continues to grow!

        Stay tuned friends ...Traminette, Cellaring, and 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 © 2006-2008. All rights reserved.

          3/05/2008

          Tastefully Fun! The 9th Annual Washington D.C. International Wine and Food Festival


          Hello Friends,

          This past weekend I had the pleasure of sampling some great foods, attending educational and entertaining wine seminars, and connecting with a number of passionate wine enthusiasts, as well as the opportunity to taste up to 800 international wines. What fun! Of course, I did not taste that many wines, but trust me - I had fun trying to. And, yes, I did practice what I preach and spit. So where can one do all this, you might ask? Well, all this and more took place at the Ronald Regan Building, where the 9th Annual Washington D.C. International Wine and Food Festival was held.

          9th Annual Washington D.C. International Wine and Food Festival

          The Washington D.C. International Wine Festival is a very popular event, attracting those in and out of the trade and wine lovers from near and far. I attended both Saturday and Sunday and conducted my wine tasting during the special time that was set aside for the press and trade. This was a few hours prior to the consumer tasting hours, which translates into no lines, no pressure, and significant time to interact with the wineries. I was also very pleased to find that most of the people pouring were affiliated with the wineries for which they were representing, if not the winemakers and / or owners themselves.

          Producers from all over our great globe were represented at this huge event, and several Virginia wineries were in attendance including the following: Corcoran Vineyards, Fabbioli Cellars, Pearmund Cellars, Winery at La Grange, Horton Vineyards, Oasis, Barboursville, Tarara, Tomahawk Mill Winery, Mediterranean Cellars, and last, but not least, Kluge Estate Winery. The beauty of this show for me personally was not so much the producers who are already well represented and easily found in most local grocers’ and wine shops, but the smaller producers who were trying to have a spot-light shined their way for their often times limited production and quality hand-crafted wines. I would be remiss if I did not mention popular producers who were in attendance such as Fetzer, Rex Goliath, Barefoot, Clos du Bois, Blackstone, Ravenswood, Monkey Bay, Alice White, Sebeka, etc. for their wines, which, by the way, hit our store shelves at very reasonable prices with overall good quality-to-price ratios. It is worth noting that this event was a showcasing of wines in which tasting could only be conducted; bottles were not available for purchase through the event. Wines poured that I tasted ranged from $10 to over $75 to give you some idea of what was offered; however, the majority were in the $15 to $40 range.

          Dezel & Weekend Wino (middle picture)

          Some of my personal event highlights and experiences are as follows: First, I had the pleasure of meeting with Rob Lane and his lovely wife, who are founders of the Finger Lakes Weekend Wino blog (<- - Great resource to learn about Finger Lake wine country). Rob and his wife were helping out at the Finger Lakes booth both Saturday and Sunday. The wineries representing the Finger Lakes fine brand of Riesling wines were Standing Stone Vineyards, Hazlitt 1852, and Dr. Konstantin Frank’s Vinifera Wine. Up until this event, I had only read about Long Island wines on Lenndevour’s Long Island wine blog. That changed when I visited with Wölffer Estate who was pouring a nice Reserve Chardonnay and an easy drinking and flavorful 2004 Reserve Merlot. Like the Finger Lakes boasts world class Rieslings, a longer growing season and abundant sunshine gives Long Island an edge for growing vinifera red wine varieties such as the Merlot I sampled.

          Wine Lovers enjoying a pour ...

          Although I did not taste any red Burgundy wines like I would have preferred, I did taste a few very nice Pinot Noirs from Oregon’s own Willamette Valley and Amity regions that made up for it. Amity is a region just north of Willamette Valley that I knew little about. One of the Amity producers that stuck out to me was Amity Vineyards, who offered a smooth and elegant single vineyard Pinot and a more robust Reserve example that ranked up there on my Pinot meter. I look forward to visiting Oregon’s much talked about Pinot region sometime in the near future. A trip that is already on my schedule is right across the bridge to Maryland to jump on the Frederick Wine Trail. The trail consists of 6 wineries that are in close proximity to one another. Visiting Frederick’s Elk Run Vineyards during the event piqued my interest to find out more about our next door neighbor’s offerings. One last Pinot Noir offering worth positive mention was from Fulcrum Wines. Fulcrum is a very small producer out of Anderson Valley that is about 2 hours north of San Francisco. Fulcrum Wines poured their inaugural offering - a Pinot Noir that had great fruit, complexity, velvety, and was age worthy – this wine was pretty darn good for their first vintage, and Pinot is all they do.

          And that’s me, yeah, sipping!

          Other palate pleasing pleasantries came from Château Julien; a California producer in the Monterey wine region specializing in limited production premium wines. I found favor in both their Private Reserve Chardonnay and Merlot that was offered. The Merlot was soft, yet beautifully interesting and smooth. Speaking of Merlot, I was told by several California producers that the Sideways Effect is still in effect. Shame, Shame, give Merlot a chance! Lastly, were two nice Italian Pinot Grigio examples from Barone Fini Doc Wines. These were reasonably priced, dry, balanced, and crisp examples with good floral and fruit aromas – a nose definitely indicative of spring, which I’m sure all locals are ready for.

          Happy Sipping!

          In closing friends, if you missed this event be sure to mark your calendars for next year. Also, for another review of the festival visit my pal Todd, founder of Wine Compass Blog. Todd gives a great 2 day review of his wine experience at the show. Although I tasted so many wines, I missed many too. I felt like a kid in a candy, and so did many others. Hey, great wine, tasty food, and a plethora of budding wine enthusiasts – now that’s how to spend a weekend. See you next year!


          Stay tuned friends ...Cellaring and 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 © 2006-2008. All rights reserved.

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