12/31/2008

Weekly Wine Tasting: Whole Foods Market

Hello Friends,

I’m putting in a friendly plug for a weekly tasting that I have attended religiously for over a year now. Perhaps you will find some interest and put this weekly tasting on your calendar for 2009. Raise your glass and join in the fun every Wednesday at Whole Foods Market in Fairfax, VA. For $25 we sample about eight wines, paired with various food samples. Wine tasting is usually based on a wine (region or grape variety) or food (Indian, Chinese, etc.) theme. Start time is 7pm and tasting sessions will resume next year. If you have any further questions about this weekly tasting, visit the store’s website or feel free to drop me an email.

Tasting Group

By the way, these sessions are held upstairs in the state of the art Enomatic Tasting Room. If you are a wine lover and have not visited this wine room it is a must visit. I blogged about it in April of 2007 – CLICK HERE to check it out. Also, if you know of any other weekly wine tastings in the area drop me an email or feel free to post it. Have a safe and Happy New Year, friends.

Stay tuned friends ... More to come!!!

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

    Happy Sipping Friends - Tell your friends about the blog and thanks for your support and kind emails !

    Dezel


    Dezel's Virginia Vine Spot © 2006-2008. All rights reserved.

    12/24/2008

    Cheers to Christmas


    May your days be filled with joy, and glasses filled with wine this holiday season.

    Merry Christmas & Happy New Year, friends.

    Happy Sipping!

    12/16/2008

    Chilly Outside: Time to Court a Port

    Hello Friends,

    Enjoy any good Port wines lately? A good Port wine makes for a delicious after-dinner wine, as well as a satisfying and warming wine to enjoy on a cold winter night – much like the balmy nights we are experiencing now. I personally refer to Port as a “great fireplace wine” - nothing quite like a rich and sweet Port wine, a good book, and a toasty fireplace.

    A little background: Much like champagne, port came about by accident. During the late 17th century, rivalry and war with the French heightened, compelling the British to seek out alternative wine sources for their market. Up until this time, most of what the Brits consumed was French wine. Portugal was a benefactor of this rivalry along with Spain. There was one problem, however. The British needed to find a way to get the wines across the sea from Portugal without spoiling. The solution was to add brandy (neural grape alcohol) to fortify the wine. Over time, this rich, sweet, and powerful wine came to be fancied by many. This process leads us to what we know today as Port wine.

    Court a Port lately?

    Many grapes varieties are allowed in the production of Port (40+), but the main ones are Touriga Nacional (grown and produced as a varietal wine here in Virginia) and Francesa, Tinta Barroca and Roriz (also known as Tempranillo), etc. The sweet fortified wine of Portugal goes through the usual wine making process with one exception. Partway through fermentation, neutral grape alcohol is added, which stops fermentation. The brandy spirits kills the yeast before fermentation is allowed to complete. This results in 8-10 percent of residual sweetness and an alcohol level of 18-20 percent, which is nearly double that of regular table wines. Depending on style and type, the wine is later barrel- aged from 2..3..5 to 50 years. This gives Port its richness, character, sweetness, vigor, and in some, elegance and complexity. TIP: With so many port-style wines on the market today, genuine port wines are sometimes labeled “Porto” to distinguish themselves from the herd.

    Many Shades of Port

    Port can basically be broken down into 4 categories: Ruby, Tawny, Vintage, and White Port. Ruby Ports are made from mediocre batches of blended wine and aged in wood for two to three years. These affordable wines are ready for consumption upon release and are not very age worthy. Ruby wines exhibit a bright red color and can best be described as sweet, fruity, and approachable. Tawny Ports see more time in the barrel than Ruby Ports, and are aged in wood anywhere from 5 to 50 years. A Tawny Port will lose the youngish red color to a more brownish / orange (tawny) color. This wine is slightly drier than a Ruby and usually displays added complex nuances of nuttiness, spice, and dried/ baked fruit flavors. Some Tawny Ports will be labeled 10, 20, 30, etc., which indicates the average age of the wine in the blend. Try these out as they are usually made of higher quality wines and, of course, cost a little more. Next is Vintage Port, which is some of the most adored and most expensive Port wines. Vintage Port is a blend of high quality wines from a single vintage (declared year). Not every vintage is declared, so these are only made when Mother Nature does right by the vineyards. To give you an idea, these make up about 3% of total Port production. These generally spend two years in wood and are bottled. Aged vintage Port is regarded by connoisseurs to be some of the best Port wines offered: smooth, elegant, rich, forward, perfumed, and complex are descriptors that can used to describe these types of Port wines. Also look for (LBV) Late Bottle Vintage Port wines, which are also made from a blend of wines from a single vintage and aged in wood longer. Note, these wines are generally not as high in quality as Vintage Ports, but similar in character and less expensive. White Ports, which I do not try enough of, are produced in the same manner as the red, but white grape varieties are used instead. These are usually fruity and slightly sweet and ready to be drunk upon release.

    Only thing missing: A glass of Vintage Port


    There are also numerous Port-style wines from the U.S. and other wine producing regions to try. While these admirers are all good, I’m sure, genuine Port wine, especially aged Tawny and Vintage Port are at the peak of the Port game. For a Virginia spin on Port, try Snort, a popular Port-styled wine produced at Winery at La Grange in Prince William County. A lot of Virginia wine lovers that I know rave about this wine. Also, try the Rabelos Virginia Dessert Wine, another Port-styled wine produced by Potomac Point Winery in Stafford County. Lastly, be sure to drop me an e-mail and let me know of any great Port experiences.

    Stay tuned friends ... More to come!!!

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

      Happy Sipping Friends - Tell your friends about the blog and thanks for your support and kind emails !

      Dezel


      Dezel's Virginia Vine Spot © 2006-2008. All rights reserved.

      12/02/2008

      Montaluce Winery: A True Georgia Gem!

      Hello Friends,

      This past Thanksgiving I visited my mother in Georgia and paid another visit to Dahlonega. Dahlonega is a city in Lumpkin County that is a popular tourist destination for its historic downtown attractions , novelty shops, dining options, the gold museum, and, of course, Georgia wineries! Dahlonega is about an hour’s drive from Atlanta, which makes it a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

      Montaluce Winery

      While there are over 20 operational wineries in the state of Georgia, Dahlonega has six that are all in fairly close proximity to one another. Most of the Dahlonega producers make wines from classic European grape varieties, whereas further south, sweet wines made from muscadine and other alternative varieties are generally used.

      Tasting Bar


      The last time I visited Georgia wine country I went to Blackstock Winery and Frogtown Cellars - two really nice wineries with good Georgia wines to taste. On this trip I visited the newest addition to the Dahlonega wine trail, Montaluce Winery. Montaluce is best expressed as a hip slice of Tuscany served smack dab in the middle of the North Georgia Mountains.

      Tasting Room


      To be more specific, Montaluce is a stunning 400-acre, unique housing development surrounded by green rolling hills, mature trees, and vista views. At the center of this Italian-styled commune are food, wine and friendship. The good folks at Montaluce call it "La Vita Bella," also known as the beautiful life. The tasting room and the Le Vigne restaurant are housed in a beautifully crafted structure that is situated at one of the highest points on the property providing sweeping views of the vineyard and surrounding countryside.

      Ready for a pour

      The tasting room, located on the main floor of the multi-level structure, is one of the largest and most beautiful I have visited. The handsome granite topped tasting bar provides the perfect setting for tasting. Visitors should rarely feel crowded or rushed. The staff on hand is highly knowledgeable and wine lovers themselves. The tasting room also features an outdoor shaded deck which is a great place to take in the views with a bottle of wine during the warmer months. Tall ceilings, picture windows, contemporary furnishings, a warming fireplace, are added niceties making Montaluce a wonderful place to enjoy the kitchen’s gourmet selections paired with a glass of wine. Be sure to ask about the “Wall of Bottles” when you visit and if Rob Beecham, whose family crafted this 400 acre masterpiece is there, he can tell you the story behind just about every bottle on the wall – very entertaining stories I might add.

      Tasting developing wines with Rob Beecham

      Tasting at Montaluce features an assortment of wines from Italian to US wines since they are also a full service restaurant. Montaluce estate wines are currently in barrels waiting bottling. The 2008 harvest was the first yield from their estate vines. While these wines develop, the tasting room has three tasting options for guests to choose from: Taste of Italy, Italian Splendor, and Discover Piedmont. These options range from everyday to special occasion wines. To see the tasting menu, click here. Most of these selections are great food-pairing wines as the Italians love food and wine. I savored antipasti starter plates of roasted lamb, artisan chesses, grilled calamari, and marinated artichokes with a refreshing Prosecco while enjoying time with family.

      Tasty antipasti starter plates offered

      Currently, Montaluce has vine plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Chardonnay, Viognier, Sangiovese, Petit Verdot, and others. I had an opportunity to visit their barrel room and sample a developing Viognier and Merlot – two grape varieties that Rob says make very good overall wines in Georgia. I look forward to returning in a year or two and trying a full tasting of Montaluce’s estate wines. From site selection to meticulous vineyard management and bringing in a top Italian winemaker – the focus of their wines is solely on producing small batches of quality hand-crafted wine, representative of Georgia.

      On the deck enjoying the Million Dollar View

      In closing friends, if you are anywhere near north Georgia be sure to pay Montaluce a visit. If you are a lover of wine, food and good times, then nothing comes close to this in the Peachtree state. When you visit tell them you saw them here on Dezel’s VA Vine Spot Blog. As a kicker, I was recognized in the tasting room by the owners who had seen my blog. Wine blogs really get around – and I admit, when it come to wine so do I!

      Stay tuned friends ... More to come!!!

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

        Happy Sipping Friends - Tell your friends about the blog and thanks for your support and kind emails !

        Dezel


        Dezel's Virginia Vine Spot © 2006-2008. All rights reserved.

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