11/27/2009

Quick Sip: Blenheim Vineyards Chardonnay 2008


Hello Friends,

This week’s quick sip is the Blenheim Vineyards Chardonnay 2008. Chardonnay is the world’s most popular white wine grape variety and virtually every wine producing region in the world does a Chardonnay. In fact, here in Virginia, I’m pretty sure that Chardonnay is the most widely planted grape variety. Additionally, just about every Virginia tasting room has one or more Chardonnay wines to sample, ranging from crisp and clean in style, to lush and round with toasty oak framing. Based on my visits to a number of tasting-rooms in Virginia, Chardonnay does well in the vineyard and the winery, and although there are some great examples out there to taste, there is also a lack of consistency in terms of overall quality. If you are a Chardonnay lover, Blenheim Vineyards currently offers three different styles of Chardonnay, all of good quality. Let’s unscrew the Blenheim Vineyards Chardonnay 2008, and see, swirl, sniff, and sip what’s inside.

Blenheim Vineyards Chardonnay 2008

In the glass, the Blenheim Vineyards Chardonnay 2008 displays a clear lemon-yellow color with straw hues. The swirl & sniff offers caramel apple, toast, baking spice, and a smidgen of honey graham cracker crust aromas. On the sip, the wine is medium in body with good balance, refreshing acidity, and a nice medium-long and clean finish. Enjoy this wine on its own or try pairing it with smoked white meats, seafood, or white cream sauce dishes. This wine clocks in at 13.3% alcohol by volume and can be found at Blenheim Vineyard's for $15. Get out and grab a bottle of the Blenheim Vineyards Chardonnay 2008, friends, and drop me a line with your impressions of the wine.

Stay tuned friends ...Next winery review: Del Fosse Vinyards & Winery!

Please Click Here to vote Dezel's Vine Spot as your favorite wine blog - You can vote 1x per day! Many Thanks :)

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


Dezel's Virginia Vine Spot © 2006-2009. All rights reserved.

11/19/2009

Wine Geek Speak: Eiswein a.k.a Ice Wine

Hello Friends,

This week’s wine geek speak is Eiswein, which is German for “ice wine.” In the U.S we call it “Ice Wine”, and in Canada it goes by “Icewine.” While you may find some tasty ice-styled wines here in Virginia tasting-rooms, for the real deal, we look to wine regions like Germany and Canada, and as nearby as the Finger Lakes (Upstate New York) for these sweet liquid treats. I was recently reminded of my appreciation and affinity for these dessert wines when fellow wine-blogger and friend Brian Kirby of theother46 wine blog made mention of cupcakes on Twitter. The very first thing that popped into my head was a moist and rich ‘Actually Dipped Chocolate’ cupcake from Cupcakes Actually in Fairfax, paired with a glass of Inniskillin Cabernet Franc Icewine. So we raise the question - what is Eiswein and why do we care?

Grapes Frozen on the Vine

For a true Eiswein the grapes must picked while frozen on the vine and pressed before thawed. For this reason alone, there are only a few places in the world where this wine can be produced. Because much of the water in the berries is frozen, when pressed, the resulting juice is far less yield-wise, but highly concentrated, rich, and flavorful. That is one reason why true ice wines can be so pricey - you are not getting much juice out of those berries. Additionally, the frozen berries are usually left hanging up to three months after harvest and picked at night when it’s the coldest. Leaving grapes to hang this long after ripening is risky. What if Mother Nature decides to be difficult? And let’s not forget our feathered pals, who crave ripe grapes – frozen or not. When everything works correctly, the resulting wines are typically mouth-filling, rich, and deliciously sweet with high natural residual sugars, balanced by high natural acidity. These wines drink well young and have long aging potential due to their high sugar and acidity levels. Now keep in mind that my description of Eiswein is very basic and meant to give you an idea – in the real world there are a number of standards and strict regulations involved to ensure genuineness and quality in the bottle. Eisweins are generally complex and interesting, and that is where, as wine lovers, we come to appreciate the vineyard risks, the hands that picked the berries in the dead of winter, and the winemaking process, which produces this pure and often-times pure & golden hedonistic pleasure we find packaged in attractive 375ml half-bottles. In closing, Eiswein is best served after dinner with a fruit-based dessert such as tarts, pastries, Crème brûlée, or better yet, enjoy a glass on its own as an aperitif and savor and enjoy every last drop! Got a favorite? Drop me an e-mail.

Stay tuned friends ...Next winery review: Del Fosse Vinyards & Winery!

Please Click Here to vote Dezel's Vine Spot as your favorite wine blog - You can vote 1x per day! Many Thanks :)

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


Dezel's Virginia Vine Spot © 2006-2009. All rights reserved.

11/14/2009

Quick Sip: Brad’s Stick Dog Riesling 2008

Hello Friends,

This week’s quick sip is Brad’s Stick Dog Riesling 2008, produced by award-winning winemaker Brad McCarthy. I first discovered Brad’s Stick Dog Riesling a few months ago at the 34th Annual Virginia Wine Festival with wine bloggers and friends, John and Megan Witherspoon . After a swirl, sniff, and sip of this wine at the Mountfair Vineyards booth, we were like, “nice, this Virginia Riesling is bringing it!” Needless to say, we all came away from the booth with a bottle of Stick Dog Riesling, as well as some of Mountfair’s delicious Bordeaux-style red blends.

Brad's Stick Dog Riesling 2008

Riesling is considered to be one of the world’s top white-wine grape varieties and is one of the few white wines that have the potential to gain complexity with age. In my visits to Virginia tasting rooms, it’s not too often that I come across a Riesling. Instead, I typically find it used in refreshing white wine blends with catchy names - and this is not too common either. The best examples of Riesling, as least for my taste, come out of its homeland of Germany, as well as France (Alsace), and Washington State. To be quite honest, when I think of Riesling, I generally would not think of Virginia. The few examples I have had in the past have been okay, but didn’t move me. With that being said, Virginia has diverse soils and varying microclimates, so if the site is right and it is a good vintage year, you just may end up with what we have here in the bottle – the Brad’s Stick Dog Riesling 2008.
In the glass, the Brad’s Stick Dog Riesling 2008 displays a pale straw color with green hues. The swirl and sniff offers delicate stone fruit (peach & apricot) and citrus aromas with subtle floral and mineral nuances. On the sip, the wine is bright with pleasant acidity and a refreshing touch of effervescence. The aromas carry onto the palate finishing clean and crisp with a dash of sweetness. Enjoy this wine on its own or with (spicy) ethnic cuisine. The low alcohol (11% alcohol by volume) and good acidity makes this wine extremely versatile and food-friendly. Brad McCarthy’s white wines (Chardonnay & Riesling) can be found at Mountfair Vineyard's tasting room in Crozet. The wine is priced at $15, which is a pretty good value. If you know where else Brad’s wines can be found, feel free to post the location. Get out and get some Stick Dog Riesling in your glass and be sure to drop me a line and let me know what you think, friends.

Stay tuned friends ...Next winery review: Del Fosse Vinyards and Winery!

Please Click Here to vote Dezel's Vine Spot as your favorite wine blog - You can vote 1x per day! Many Thanks :)

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

Dezel's Virginia Vine Spot © 2006-2009. All rights reserved.

11/09/2009

King Family Vineyards: Red & White Delights!


Hello Friends,

Our next stop on the Monticello Wine Trail was to King Family Vineyards, located just west of Charlottesville in Crozet. King Family Vineyards is a small family-owned winery owned and operated by David and Ellen King. I often refer to King Family Vineyards as a true symphony of nature, offering magnificent mountain views in a beautiful setting. The spectacular views, paired with high-quality estate-grown wines, make this one of the most popular wine destinations on the Monticello Wine Trail.

King Family Vineyards

On this visit, we had the pleasure of meeting winemaker Mathieu Finot, who hails from one of my favorite wine producing regions – the Rhone Valley. Mathieu has also honed his winemaking skills with stints in Italy, Burgundy, Bordeaux (St.-Émilion), Provence, and South Africa – bringing both Old World and New World experience to the Commonwealth. When I asked Mathieu what attracted him to making wine in Virginia, he responded, “the challenge.” Arriving here in 2003 to a very wet vintage year known for its torrential downpours, a challenge is what greeted the young winemaker. Six vintages later, Mathieu is still doing what he enjoys – making high-quality Virginia wine for Virginia wine lovers like you and me to appreciate and enjoy!

At the Tasting Bar with winemaker Mathieu Finot

King Family Vineyards has recently expanded the tasting room, so there is more seating with large picture windows emphasizing the dramatic views, a warm fireplace for the cooler months, and a second tasting bar to keep things flowing smoothly. We moved to the second tasting bar where Mathieu guided us through King Family’s full line-up of red and white wine selections. King Family wines are produced from almost 100% estate-grown fruit, with the exception of the Petit Manseng, which is sourced from a nearby vineyard. I should elaborate some on estate-grown wines. These are wines that are grown, produced, and bottled on the property and are a reflection of an individual producer’s distinct climate, soil, location, exposure, etc. – we call this terrior. Not all wineries choose to do this, or can - for those who do, it allows you, the taster, to draw a close relationship with the fruit in the glass from vintage to vintage.

Enjoy a glass of wine by the toasty fireplace

The wines poured were the 2008 Viognier, 2008 Roseland (Chardonnay & Viognier blend), 2008 Chardonnay, 2008 Cabernet Franc, 2007 Merlot, 2007 Meritage, 2007 Petit Verdot, the 2007 Seven (a Port-styled wine aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels for 2 years), and last, but not least, the 2008 Loreley 'Late Harvest Viognier' (a dessert wine made in the “vin de paille” style, a.k.a straw wine). Some of my personal favorites were the crisp, yet round, aromatic Viognier that displayed pleasing stone-fruit and floral aromas and was clean and mouthwatering on the palate. I also enjoyed the fruit forward and easy drinking 2008 Cabernet Franc, as well as the 2007 Meritage, which offers dark fruit, currant, and toasty aromas in a medium-bodied, well-structured wine with integrated tannins. Lastly, the 2007 Petit Verdot, a variety that Mathieu particularly enjoys working with, had a lot going on – red fruit, spice-box, black pepper, and dark undertones of smoke and red meat. It’s wickedly complex and darn tasty! Try it, buy it, and enjoy it.

Barrel Tasting with Mathieu

We later moved to the barrel room where Mathieu was kind enough to let us sample his developing white wines in tank and red wines in barrel. Barrel tasting is truly a treat; it is the only time you get to sample the developing wine while it matures prior to its final resting place in the bottle. Based on the samples I tasted, let’s just say the future looks bright for King Family Vineyards. What was not so bright, at least in color, was a developing deep purple and inky Petit Verdot (2008) barrel sample that offered a dark and rich nose and is definitely something to look forward to when it is released.

On warm days, the patio is the place to be!

In closing, be sure to put King Family Vineyards on your calendar. The newly expanded tasting-room is warm and cozy and the picture windows offer spectacular views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, green rolling hills, and surrounding area. Next year you will want to pack a picnic basket and catch an outdoor polo match in the spring and summer months while enjoying your favorite King Family wine. Check King Family Vineyards events page for further information on this popular event. When you visit, friends, be sure to let the kind folks know you read about them on Dezel’s Vine Spot blog.


Stay tuned friends ...Next winery review: Del Fosse Vinyards & Winery!


Please Click Here to vote Dezel's Vine Spot as your favorite wine blog - You can vote 1x per day! Many Thanks :)

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



Dezel's Virginia Vine Spot © 2006-2009. All rights reserved.

11/03/2009

Wine Geek Speak: Veraison

Hello Friends,

This week's wine geek speak is another term I heard used in a Virginia tasting room when I was still fairly new to the wonderful world of wine. I was reminded of this term a few months ago when I strolled through a local vineyard during growing season and the red wine grapes were maturing and starting to lose their youthful green color.

Grapes going through Véraison

It was in August of 2006, during a tasting at King Family Vineyards & Winery in Crozet , Virginia , when owner Ellen King showed me a young Petit Verdot grape bunch and told me the grapes were going through veraison. So what is veraison and why do we care? As Ellen explained, veraison is the point in the growing season when grapes start to ripen, soften a little, and change color. For red wine grapes, the color typically transitions from a youngish green to a mature purple. Veraison also exists in white wine grapes, but the change is not as showy as the red wine grape varieties. White wine grapes typically go from green to yellow(ish) depending on the variety. The term we use, veraison, is French, and means for the point at which berries begin to turn color. Also, during this period the grapes start to pick up more sugars and lose acidity. Next year when the grapes are back on the vine at Virginia wineries, take a stroll through the vineyard in the July-August timeframe and see if you can catch any red wine grapes going through veraison. Oddly enough, when I first got into wine, I assumed red wine grapes started out red (silly me). Needless to say, it is always good to get an education in the tasting room while tasting through wines – almost three years later, I can say that was a memorable Virginia wine tasting experience!

Stay tuned friends ...Next winery review: King Family!

Please Click Here to vote Dezel's Vine Spot as your favorite wine blog - You can vote 1x per day! Many Thanks :)

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


Dezel's Virginia Vine Spot © 2006-2009. All rights reserved.

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