3/26/2009

The Wine Kitchen: Catch a Flight and a Bite!

Hello Friends,

Looks like Dezel has found another “favorite” in Loudoun County. Surprised? Located in the heart of historic downtown Leesburg is an exciting new wine bar – The Wine Kitchen.

Catch a Flight & Bite at The Wine Kitchen


The Wine Kitchen is a wine bar restaurant that is a great destination for food and wine lovers. The menu offers a great selection of wines and savory fare for the ultimate sensory experience. I found the atmosphere to be inviting and unpretentious and good for conversation, laughter and good old-fashioned fun. The décor is stylish, yet comfortable, maintaining a country kitchen feel, much like the name suggests. Seating consists of an attractive wine bar, tables and chairs, and a long community kitchen table.

Wine Bar Picture

The Wine Kitchen offers wine by the glass, bottle, and a popular option, the themed wine flight. Dezel is a flight guy, and some of the themed flights offered are: “The Plains of Spain”, “The Hills of Italy”, “A Riesling to be”, and “Roll out the Red Carpet”. These are just a few of the flights available, and each flight features three wines equaling one full glass. Whether you order a glass, flight, or bottle, every wine comes complete with a wine card written by owners Jason Miller and Michael Mercer. A snippet from a glass of Spanish Garnacha I recently enjoyed reads, “A big handful of super-ripe blackberries just waiting to wrap themselves around your taste buds and take you back to that warm Saturday afternoon you took the kids berry picking at Great Country Farms in Bluemont.” Cool or what?

Charming & Cozy

The food is described as seasonal American Bistro and takes full advantage of local and organic ingredients by local and regional farmers. A review of the menu gives an impression of country comfort food swirled with upscale restaurant-quality fare served up tapas-style (as in portion size). Try a gourmet cheese platter, olives and nuts, a fresh citrus or harvest salad, or move on to something more substantive like the red wine braised local pork or the Maine diver scallops. Yummy! There is something for every palate preference on both the wine and food menu – and yes, you can eat and drink local, as The Wine Kitchen carries select Virginia wines.

Wine Cards accompany every Glass – Collect them all !

The Wine Kitchen also offers free wi-fi, and other drink selections including imported beer and organic juices and tea. Also, if you find a bottle you like, you can purchase that bottle to consume off store premises for $10 off the menu bottle price. The wine selection has been carefully selected, so you will not find these selections at nearby wine retail stores. In closing, if you have not visited The Wine Kitchen yet, step inside and indulge your senses in delicious food and tasty wine while enjoying the great ambiance and warm hospitality. I did, and ready to do it all over again!

Happy Sipping, friends! I'm enjoying the Wine Kitchen :-)

To view the Wine Kitchen Food menu CLICK HERE

To view the Wine Kitchen Wine List CLICK HERE

Info: The Wine Kitchen, 7 South King St., Leesburg, VA., 703.777.9463; www.thewinekitchen.com


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 © 2006-2009. All rights reserved.

3/20/2009

Jefferson Vineyards visit

Hello Friends,

Next stop on the Monticello Wine Trail took us to one of the trail’s most well known wineries, Jefferson Vineyards. Jefferson Vineyards is located in Charlottesville, VA, and is literally a grape’s throw away from Thomas Jefferson’s abode, Monticello and historic Michie Tavern. As a matter of fact, when visiting Monticello and Michie Tavern a few years ago, a Virginia winery grape sign caught our attention and delivered me to Jefferson Vineyards. This was my very first winery experience, and it’s been history, mainly written on this blog, ever since. Guess you can say I caught the wine bug, huh?

We're Here!

While not associated with Jefferson’s mountain top home, Monticello, Jefferson Vineyards is steeped in history. The present day tasting room, production facility, and vineyard resides on land once owned by Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson’s plan for this land was to establish a vineyard to grow wine grapes that would produce wines as good as he tasted during his travels to Europe as a young man. In 1773, Jefferson and wine merchant Filippo Mazzei attempted to plant cuttings Mazzei had brought from Spain, France, and his native Italy. This venture proved unsuccessful, and by 1809 Jefferson gave up on growing European varieties and concentrated on wild native grapes, which in his later years he surprisingly favored. While unsuccessful, Jefferson was right about one thing when he stated, “We could, here in the United States, make wines as good as any in Europe, not exactly the same kinds, but doubtless as good.”
Image of Jefferson's Wine Cellar at Monticello

Some would say that time is nearing, others would say that time is here. Whatever the opinion, some two hundred years later, Jefferson Vineyards fulfills and oversteps the dream Jefferson and Mazzei shared in establishing a wine industry in Virginia. So, while soaking in the history, we were equally as eager to sample Jefferson Vineyards current day wines. For this, we met with winemaker Andy Reagan.
Winemaker Andy Reagan

Andy is a Virginia native, and has worked in wineries and vineyards throughout the east coast before becoming the head winemaker at Jefferson Vineyards. Andy took us on a tour of the production facility and barrel room, where we stepped through the winemaking process from the time the grapes come in from harvest, to the time the wine is enjoyed in the glass. If tours are being offered when you visit, I highly recommend signing up for one, as everyone found it enlightening and enjoyable.
Tasting Bar
Following the tour, we entered the Jefferson tasting room, which is cozy and charming with distinctive character. Jefferson is a high volume tasting room, so the tasting bar is long to accommodate the large crowds and the only seating option is outdoors, which is great news with spring just around the corner.
Pours of Joy!

Andy guided us through a full tasting of Jefferson’s wines including library and reserve wines. Ironically, most of the wines made at Jefferson are produced from vinifera grape varieties; the very thing Thomas Jefferson and Filippo Mazzei were unable to grow. Wines tasted included a Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Viognier, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, a tasty Meritage blend, and a delicious Late Harvest Vidal Blanc for the sweet ending. Andy’s wines reflect balance, moderate acidity, good varietal character, and made in an accessible style to be consumed while young.
Waste the Day Away on the Shaded Patio
Following a tasting, find a bottle you fancy and grab a seat on the shaded patio amongst horse farms and vista views and savor the day. Got a little time? Start off by taking in the sights at Monticello, and then fill up at the southern ‘comfort food’ buffet at historic Michie Tavern before or after heading to Jefferson Vineyards. In closing, Jefferson’s dream is alive and kicking in Virginia, and he would be excited, as many locals are, to have such a booming wine industry a short distance away. When you visit, tell the kind folks that you heard about them on Dezel’s http://www.myvinespot.com/ wine blog.



Stay tuned friends ...more to come! To see my last visit to Jefferson Vineyards click here.

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 © 2006-2009. All rights reserved.

3/09/2009

Breaux Vineyards: Gumbo, Wine, and Good Times!

Hello Friends

I recently hopped on the Loudoun County wine trail to pay a visit to Breaux Vineyards in Purcellville, Virginia. Breaux Vineyards sits on over 400 acres with over 100 acres of vine plantings, and is one of the largest grape growers in the region. And yes, they have the wine selection to prove it – something for every palate preference - even yours!

Breaux Vineyards


Being a native New Orleanian, Breaux Vineyard’s Cajun theme is a major attraction for me – I mean, Mardi Gras events, an annual Cajun Festival and Crawfish Broil, Gumbo Day’s, zydeco music - what more could a crazy Cajun ask for? Who knows, a little wine and gumbo perhaps? You betcha!

The Gumbo at Breaux is Yum-O!

We strolled into the attractive and modern tasting room and was warmly greeted by Jennifer Breaux, who oversees the family-owned operation. After chatting with Jennifer, we were introduced to winemaker David Collins. We happily agreed to take a tour of the facility with David and sample the developing wines in barrel and tank and come back and taste through the finished wines with Jennifer.

Barrel Tasting with Winemaker David Collins

Before the conception of Breaux Vineyards as a grape grower or wine producer, winemaker and vineyard manager David Collins was part of a small collection of adventurous Virginia growers in the mid 80’s who was planting a little of this and that to see what was best suited for Virginia’s soil and climate type. About ten years later, Paul Breaux purchased the property where these vines had been planted and sought David out, who was fortunately working in the area, to ask about the vines he had planted. The three to four acres of vines had been neglected over the years and in need of some serious attention. To make a long and special story short, the vines were repaired and the first harvest took place in 1996. David produced small batches of wine from this fruit and it was served at a dinner party, and you guessed it, David’s wines were a big hit. The rest is history, not to mention a lot of sweat and hard work. Today, Breaux Vineyards is one of Loudoun County’s premier winery destinations, offering a full spectrum of red and white wines and spectacular views of the Blue Ridge and Short Hill Mountains, as well as sweeping vineyard views.

Having a Great Time Tasting with Jennifer Breaux

We followed David to the back where we started off with a lively, fresh, and clean Sauvignon Blanc 2008 tank sample. This wine is more reminiscent of a Loire Valley example, as opposed to the zing and zip of the popular New Zealand style, and should be ready for spring time sipping. We moved to the barrel room where we sampled two Chardonnay 2008 wines, one aged in American oak, and the other in French oak. The first sample had not gone through secondary fermentation and retained good natural acidity, offering mellow oaky flavors and hints of spice. The latter was rounder, creamier, with a full mid-palate texture and toasty oak notes – very nice. Moving to the reds, we tasted through barrel samples of a nicely structured Cabernet Franc 2007 that offered good red fruit flavors with hints of spice and a medium length cocoa finish. Next, we moved to an inky and mildly spicy fleshy Petit Verdot 2007 and a rustic, earthy, and tasty Malbec 2007. Last but not least, we sampled a wine that is going to be a big hit at Breaux Vineyards, the Nebbiolo ice-styled dessert wine. This sweet sensation is not overly cloying and makes for a delicious and lip-smacking sweet ending. Although it is still in the tank developing, fresh mixed berries and jolly ranchers came to mind when sniffing and sipping this wine. We had a great time tasting with David and talking about the barrel and tank samples tasted, as well as chatting about the Virginia wine industry and David’s winemaking philosophy. David is first class and is all about the wine; just visit Breaux Vineyards and taste for yourself.

Vine Spot Chocolate Platter (Thanks, Breaux!!!)

After tasting the developing wines, which was a blast, we stepped into the tasting room to taste through Breaux Vineyards’ full line-up of finished wines with Jennifer Breaux. Breaux Vineyards has over twelve wines to sample as part of their basic tasting, which ranges from dry, off-dry, to downright sweet and savory. Even the most discriminating of palates will find something enjoyable. We were treated to some of the Reserve and Library wines during our visit, which included a vertical tasting of Cabernet Sauvignon from the 1999 through 2003 vintage, as well as a 1999 through 2002 Merlot Reserve. Yummy! Perfectly paired with these wines was a delicious bowl of Breaux’s delicious gumbo and a chocolate plate with “Vine Spot” written in a tasty raspberry drizzle (Thank You, Breaux Vineyards!). Also, during our visit, we bumped into Charlie Adler of Taste D.C., who joined us at the tasting bar. We all agreed in the end, that the wines were pretty darn good, and really enjoyed the vertical aspect of our tasting.

We had a great time tasting at Breaux Vineyards!

Vertical tastings are designed to taste the vineyard and vintage, and Breaux Vineyards offers a few opportunities every year to partake in a Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Nebbiolo vertical tasting, so check out their events page for the next tasting event. Speaking of tasting, we had a chance to taste the new Jen’s Jambalaya. Now for my fellow New Orleanians, jambalaya is a classic, spicy Creole dish usually made with rice, spices, sausage, chicken, shrimp, tomatoes, celery, etc. At Breaux Vineyards, the Jambalaya is an easy drinking white wine blend with a pinch of sweetness that would pair well with the New Orleans classic dish for which it is named.

Enjoy yourself this spring on Patio Madeleine

In closing, and as always, I had a great time at Breaux Vineyards and I know you will too. Spring is a great time to visit, friends. Look for new wine releases including the Nebbiolo Ice, and several fun-filled family friendly events. It is always a party at Breaux, in and out of the glass. Dust your picnic baskets off and hit Patio Madeleine – I guarantee you will have a great time. When you visit, tell the kind folks that you heard about them on Dezel’s http://www.myvinespot.com/ wine blog.



Stay tuned friends ...more Monticello Wine Trail 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 © 2006-2009. All rights reserved.

3/03/2009

Viognier Blind Tasting II: Honey Moon Strikes Again!

Hello Friends,

This past Sunday, we held another blind tasting at Corcoran Vineyards in Loudoun County. If you recall, the last time we tasted some tasty Cabernet Franc wines, a popular varietal here in Virginia. This time, we pitted several Virginia Viognier wines against Viognier wines from other wine producing regions, including the exquisite and exotic grape variety's homeland in the Northern Rhone, Condrieu.


Bottles dressed in the best brown bags money could buy!

Many Viognier enthusiasts believe the famous appellation of Condrieu (which includes Chateau Grillet), where Viognier is the only grape grown, to be one of the few, if not only, place in the world to capture the true essence of Viognier. Enter Dennis Horton, of Horton Vineyards, who popularized Viognier in Virginia with his outstanding 1994 vintage, which was considered the best Viognier example nationally. This wine put a spotlight on Virginia, and many local wineries followed suite and began planting and bottling Viognier shortly after. Today, Viognier varietal wines can be found in a number of Virginia tasting rooms, and many in the industry, as well as local consumers believe this to be the grape variety that could one day put Virginia on the global wine map.

Tasters Evaluating the Wines

Back to the tasting; evaluating these wines was a great cast of palates, ranging from a local sommelier, to Virginia winemakers, winery owners, wine shop owners, and wine enthusiasts like myself. One common bond amongst this tasting group was that they all have an appreciation and enthusiasm for Virginia wine, and are well seasoned in tasting Virginia Viognier. Enough of my rambling - check out the rankings (and some of the notes) and enjoy the pictures below. (Scores based on UC Davis 20 point scoring system)

Honey Moon Strikes Again!

1. 2007 Honey Moon Viognier (California) Price: $5.99 Score 16.75
Lighting strikes twice with Honey Moon. The 2005 won my last blind tasting of Viognier wines. This is a basic, entry level Viognier that is pretty consistent from vintage to vintage. This wine has something the European and Virginian styles did not. While many of the Viognier wines we tasted offered citrus and stone fruit character, the California example teetered on citrus/stone fruit with tropical notes and honeysuckle undertones. It was also a lush and rich example and had a smidgen of sweetness. Great bang for the buck, for sure. Everyone enjoyed this wine and it can only be found at your local Trader Joe’s.

2. 2007 Seven Hills Viognier (Washington St.) Price: $19.99 Score 15.25
This was an elegant example of Viognier, which walked the tightrope on many levels, never falling off or slipping in. It was a wine of delicacy and poise, yet rich, with good fruit character, moderate acidity, complexity, seamless oak integration, and a nice long lingering finish. Great QPR for a refined example of Viognier. This wine can be found at Unwined in Alexandria - check with Vanessa, who recommended this tasty wine.

3) 2007 Horton Vineyards Viognier (Virginia) Price: $16.99 Score 14.25
This wine is sleek, racy, clean, and dominated by a stone fruit nose and flavor profile. Easy drinking in style, and an excellent quaffer, this wine dances on the palate and everyone thought that it was ripe for spring time sipping.

Lori Swirls, Rick Sniffs, Gary Sips...

4) 2007 Veritas Vineyards Viognier (Virginia) Price: $20.00 Score13.75
Nice and delicious example - very clean, with a fresh fruit character, good balance and mouth feel.

5) 2008 Barrel Oak Reserve Viognier (Virginia) Price: $23.00 Score 13.50
This wine is done in a traditional European style with a medium floral and toasty nose, good fruit flavors and classic varietal character, framed in toasty oak and spice nuances. Barrel Oak delivers a nice Rhone style Viognier here, check out their website for release dates.

6) 2007 Sunset Hills Vineyards (Virginia) Price: $26.00 Score 13.00
This is a refined example with a floral and perfumed nose heighten by soft vanilla and toasty oak notes and a nice lingering finish.

7) 2006 Vidal Fleury Blanc (Cotes du Rhone) Price: $12.99 Score 12.75
A few tasters found this Southern Rhone example to be out of varietal character, but it came across as an interesting and complex wine that had a lot of other desirable things going to give it a satisfactory score.

8) 2007 Corcoran Vineyards (Virginia) Price: $24.00 Score 12.50
This wine had a lot going - easy drinking in style, distinct varietal character, good flavor and aroma profile, moderate acidity, fresh fruit, very clean, but was tagged by a few tasters as being hot. Unfortunately, this wine is about sold out so you may have trouble confirming that for yourself.

9) 2004 Condrieu Yves Gangloff (Condrieu) Price: $75.99 Score 11.75
Although many tasters found this wine to be complex and rather interesting, it was also tagged by a few as being hot, and by a few as being sweet (barrel sweetness disguised as residual). This is a heady wine, not for the soft at heart, which had a good floral and toasty character about it. This is no fruit forward easy drinker. Many Virginia Viognier wine lovers are not used to the famed white wines of Condrieu, which may come off as more masculine and opulent than accustomed to. Not a bad wine, but the price for most could not be justified.

10) 2006 Cooper Vineyards Viognier (Virginia) Price: $25.00 Score 11.50
Everyone though this was a great picnic or deck wine with good up front fruit – loads of it. This wine was tagged as having all the fun up front and lacking in the middle and finish.

11) 2007 Domaine de Coussergues (Languedoc) Price: $9.99 Score 11.50
Tagged as a simple quaffing wine with soft flavors and good acidity with a medium tropical / stone fruit nose.

12) 2008 Tarara Winery Viognier (Virginia) Price: $30.00 Score 10.5
I believe the Tarara wine would have and should have shown much better, but this was a barrel sample and was visually marred by cloudiness; the visuals transferred to the taste for some, but several agreed that it displayed nice fruit and toasty flavors with hints of graham cracker crust and coking spice. When finished, filtered and bottled, this will be a wine to seek out. But, do not expect a fruit forward easy drinking wine, this is made in more of the classic Condrieu style.

13) 2008 Las Perdices (Argentina) Price: $11.99 Score 10.00
Deck wine at best. This wine was tagged with having a soft nose and higher than average acidity; strange for an overall low acidity grape.

14) 2007 Yalumba Viognier (Australia) Price: $9.99 Score 6.00
This wine came in last place in my last blind tasting of Viognier wines also. It comes across as having too much winemaker manipulation to fix inconsistencies or flaws in a troubled wine. It does not taste like a Viognier, or a wine you would want to drink for that matter (just our 2 cents)

By the way, friends…see the last Viognier tasting results here:

http://vinespot.blogspot.com/2007/05/vine-spots-viognier-blind-tasting.html


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 © 2006-2009. All rights reserved.

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