6/28/2010

Jefferson would be Proud: The 2011 Wine Bloggers Conference


Hello Friends,

Yesterday’s good news following the successful Wine Bloggers Conference in Walla Walla just gave Mr. Jefferson one more reason to be proud. It was announced that the 2011 Wine Bloggers Conference would be held in Charlottesville, Virginia – Jefferson ’s backyard, from July 22nd to July 24th, 2011. Yesterday’s "tweets" swept through Twitter with a lot of excitement and anticipation, and a lot of “tweeps”, including myself, are looking forward to it. Many thanks to the Virginia Wine Board, Virginia Tourism, Charlottesville Convention and Visitors Bureau, and WBC and partners for making it happen. I believe the current state of the Virginia wine industry and the wines being grown and vinified here will make those who attend  #WBC11 proud too!

Have a question about this post, friends? Feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail at myvinespot@yahoo.com, and as always, Happy Sipping! Stay tuned friends ...More to come!

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Wine Geek Speak: Vertical


Hello Friends,

I clearly remember when I first got into wine and received an e-mail from one of the producers I had just recently visited inviting me to a “vertical” tasting. I had no idea what a vertical tasting was, but was eager to learn more about wine, so I gladly accepted the invite. When I found out what a vertical tasting was via Google, it was much different than what I initially thought. Let’s just say I figured there would be a lot of standing-up that day.

A vertical at Waterford, now Corcoran Vineyards


A vertical tasting is a type of wine tasting where the wines selected are from the same producer, but different years. The point of such a tasting is to better understand and identify similarities and differences of the same type of wine (i.e. Merlot, Viognier, and Petit Verdot) from vintage to vintage; therefore, contiguous years are preferred. An example of a vertical tasting would be having a 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007 vintage of Cabernet Franc from your favorite Virginia producer all lined up and ready to sip and chat about.

Dave Collins guides us through a vertical @ Breaux Vineyards


Here in Virginia, we have up, down, and okay wine growing seasons. Fortunately, there are more "up" and "okay" growing seasons than "down" - 2003 was the last overall bad vintage for the state. Quality is not so much of an issue for the guys doing it right, but keeping the style of a particular wine consistent from vintage to vintage is. One year, you may have a fuller bodied and ripe red wine and the next year the same wine may be lean with softer fruit and good acidity. Therefore, when trying to determine or make a guess at what style of Virginia wine you are buying, it’s always good to know the vintage and producer.

Breaux Vineyards Merlot and Beef Tenderloin (from Grandale)


One of Virginia’s top wine producers, who host several vertical tasting events througout the year, is Breaux Vineyards. Breaux is on their 13th year in business and has over 100 acres under vine and their wines are almost all made from 100% estate grown fruit. Breaux has vertical tasting events for their Nebbiolo, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot, which usually go back to 1999-2001 to the current vintage. These vertical tasting events are hosted by Jen Breaux and winegrower Dave Collins. Your job is simple and fun! Listen with an attentive ear and think while you sip, while Jen and Dave guide you through each vintage and the role the growing season played in making the wine you are swirling, sniffing, and sipping. Another bonus is Breaux typically uses nearby local farm–to-table restaurant Grandale Farm to cater their vertical events, so you can go local in the plate and glass. Many other Virginia producers host vertical tasting events, so check out the events calendar on some of your favorite producer's websites. I believe Breaux is finished vertical events for 2010, but be sure to check their website  to see what's being offered for 2011. If you collect enough of the same type of wine from the same producer, you may want to think about hosting your own vertical tasting with friends at home. That can be a lot of fun too. Either way, a vertical tasting should be enjoyable, educational, and an enlightening experience for you. Have a question about this post, friends? Feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail at myvinespot@yahoo.com, and as always, Happy Sipping! Stay tuned friends ...More to come!

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6/24/2010

A Sweet Treat from Michigan


Hello Friends,

I recently hosted a Pinot Noir tasting that ended in one of my wine pals bringing a sweet treat from Michigan for us to enjoy. Like Virginia, Michigan belongs to a special group called the “other 46.” These are the other 46 states that are not California, Oregon, Washington, and New York. For clarification, this is nothing against those four states; I very much respect what they are doing and enjoy wines from those regions often. It’s just that the other 46 states tend to fall under the radar of major wine publications and wine consumers. However, for those who have swirled, sniffed, and sipped serious efforts from Virginia, Texas, Maryland, North Carolina, etc, you know these areas are capable of producing high-quality wines. Local wine blogs, in combination with social media, are essential in getting the word out about the high-quality wines coming out of the other 46 states. One of the top local wine blogs doing this for Michigan is Michigan by the Bottle. I highly recommend book-marking this blog and learning more about the wines of Michigan.

Free Run Cellars Indulgence 2007


The wine we uncorked, from the Lake Michigan Shore AVA, is the Free Run Cellars Indulgence 2007. In the glass, the wine displays a pale, medium-yellow color. The swirl and sniff boasts pleasant floral and sweet, fleshy stone-fruit aromas. On the sip, the Free Run Cellar’s Indulgence is semi-sweet, but balanced with good acidity, and offers apricot and soft citrus touches with a medium-sweet finish. The wine label does not indicate the grape variety or varieties used in making the wine, but if I had to guess, I would say Gewürztraminer and maybe some Vidal Blanc. This crowd-pleaser clocks in at 13.0% alcohol by volume and was around $18 for a 375ml bottle. Try this wine with cheesecake or one of my favorites, carrot cake, or enjoy it on its own. This was my introduction to Michigan wine, and in the future, I hope to try a Michigan grown Riesling, Cabernet Franc or Ice Wine, all of which I have heard positive things about. Have a question about this post, friends? Feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail at myvinespot@yahoo.com, and as always, Happy Sipping! Stay tuned friends ...More to come!

Info:Free Run Cellars,10062 Burgoyne Rd,Berrien Springs, MI 49103
Tel (269) 471-1737

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6/18/2010

In Review: Tarara Fine Vine…Just Say Viognier!


Hello Friends,

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to join a panel of distinguished wine enthusiasts, wine writers, and industry professionals to judge a blind tasting of Virginia Viognier wines. Tarara Winery, in Loudoun County, organized this tasting event and the top four wines scored, along with Tarara’s 2008 Viognier, would represent the “Best of Virginia” at Tarara’s Fine Vine Festival.

Fine Vine...Just Say Viognier!


The festival took place off the shores of Shadow Lake last weekend, and was an elegant evening spent enjoying live jazz music, delicious food, good company, and Virginia Viognier. The evening featured a delectable five course menu created by PS7’s Restaurant and Market Salamander that paired with each of the Virginia Viognier wines selected. The food and wine pairings were well thought out and both visually and palate pleasing.

Tarara's Beautiful Shadow Lake


The evening ended with the relaxing sounds of smooth and mellow jazz, a few oldies but goodies, and a vineyard tour. Guests were also given an opportunity to sample the Tarara 09 Honah Lee Vineyard Viognier. I’ve recently enjoyed a Viognier from a different producer who gets their Viognier from the same vineyard and this farm produces solid Viognier, so keep an eye out for the release date.

Happy Sipping from Tarara's Fine Vine Festival!


In closing, I’ve included the menu and the “Best of Virginia” Viognier wines below. Get out and try these delicious Virginia wines and shoot me an e-mail or post a comment and let me know what you think. Big thanks to Jordan Harris, Robert Piziali, Kim Parker and the Tarara Team for making this such a special event.

Tempt
Chesapeake Soft-Shell Crabs
Served with Green Tomatoes
Chef Vaughn Skaggs , Market Salamander


Allure
Lonzino
House-cured spiced ham served with local asparagus and textures of parmesan
Chef Peter Smith, PS7’s Restaurant

Shrimp & Watermelon (Yum) ~ Who would have thought?


Intrigue
Roasted Shrimp
Served with watermelon and scallion salad
Chef Peter Smith, PS7’s Restaurant


Enthrall
Smoked Chicken Roulade
Served with Wild Mushrooms and Verjus
Chef Peter Smith, PS7’s Restaurant

Smoked Chicken & Barrel Fermented Viognier paired nicely!


Captivate
Virginia Honey Shortcake
Served with Local Berries
Chef Jason Reaves, Market Salamander

Have a question about this post, friends? Feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail at myvinespot@yahoo.com, and as always, Happy Sipping! Stay tuned friends ...More to come!

Info: Tarara Winery, 13648 Tarara Lane, Leesburg,VA, T(703) 771-7100


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6/14/2010

Taste Live with Nautilus Estate


Hello Friends,

Last week I had the pleasure of participating in the Nautilus Estate east coast wine bloggers tasting event via Twitter Taste Live. Taste Live is a popular online wine tasting community that utilizes social media platforms to bridge consumers, bloggers, press, etc., with the wine growers, wine makers, and industry professionals for a unique, engaging, and enjoyable tasting experience.

Nautilus Estate produces Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir from six estate vineyards in the Marlborough wine growing region. Marlborough is the largest and best known wine region in New Zealand and the sunny days, cool nights, free draining soils, and long growing season are keys to the success of Marlborough’s distinctive Sauvignon Blanc and other cool climate varieties. Nautilus Estate's first release was in 1986 and, while there is much focus on Sauvignon Blanc, Nautilus has started a “Pinot Project” aimed at producing premium Pinot Noir wines. Nautilus wines are nationally available and are good QPR (quality-to-price-ratio) wines. So if you see Nautilus in your local wine shop, I encourage you to give them a try. Below are the selections we enjoyed:

Nautilus Sauvignon Blanc 2009

  • Nautilus Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2009 - Attractive wine with a nice mouth-feel and texture offering vibrant aromas of grapefruit, green pepper, fresh cut grass, sweet herb and soft tropical notes. On the sip, the wine is crisp and zesty with good mouthwatering acidity. 13.5% ABV Retail $16.99
  • Nautilus Marlborough Pinot Gris 2008 – The swirl and sniff offers honey-like notes of apples and pear fragrance with baking spices and toasty notes. A small portion (15%) of the Pinot Gris was barrel fermented in old barrels giving it a round and smooth mouth-feel. In my humble opinion, this wine would be best paired with smoked white meat and creamy white sauce dishes than sipped on its own. 13.5% ABV Retail $18.99
  • Nautilus Marlborough Pinot Noir 2008 – The Pinot is a blend of six clones. Winemaker Clive Jones, at one point during the Twitter tasting, commented that “A mix of clones is like seasoning in cooking, but base ingredient is site.” The Pinot Noir has an inviting dark cherry, raspberry, vanilla, caramel and brown spice nose with pleasant red fruit flavors, spice box, and toasty notes. This is a very nice, well balanced, and moderately-complex example of Marlborough Pinot Noir. 14.0% ABV Retail $24.99
Thanks to the Nautilus Estate team, winemaker Clive Jones, and Twitter Taste Live for making this East Coast Bloggers event possible. Have a question about this post, friends? Feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail at myvinespot@yahoo.com, and as always, Happy Sipping! Stay tuned friends ...More to come!

Info: Nautilus, 12 Rapaura Road,Renwick, Marlborough NZ, T +64 3572 6008

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

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6/10/2010

In Review: 29th Annual Vintage Virginia


Hello Friends,

This past Sunday I attended the 29th Annual Vintage Virginia Wine Festival at Bull Run Park in Centerville, Virginia. I usually opt to attend wine festivals on Sunday since it’s usually less crowded and a golden opportunity to sample Virginia wines from north to south. Additionally, a number of winery owners, growers, and winemakers are available to talk about their wines and invite you to their tasting rooms. And, while some producers only bring their ‘summer wines’, others bring their entire portfolio, including their reserve wines.

Pours of Joy at 29th Annual Vintage Virginia


I state the aforementioned facts because some people view Virginia Wine Festivals as “drunk-fests” or “Carnivals”, as I saw tweeted on Twitter about Saturday’s event. While any wine festival can be a little or a lot of both, I think it is what you make of it. Virginia Wine Festivals are a great way to connect with producers and sample the diverse wines made in Virginia from the good folks down south to my friends up north in Loudoun County.

Horton Vineyards - First in Viognier!


This year, Vintage Virginia featured a “Virginia by the Glass” tasting theme which grouped producers into popular Virginia wine trails. Virginia has over a dozen wine trails so this was a chance to swirl, sniff, and, preferably spit, the offerings from several Virginia wine trails in a single weekend. As with past Vintage Virginia events, hundreds of Virginia wine lovers gathered to enjoy delicious food, arts and crafts, live entertainment, and the headliner – Virginia wine! Below are a few of my noted highlights:

Breaux Vineyards: One of Loudoun's Top Producers

  • Ever heard of Dornfelder? It’s a German red wine grape variety that WindSong Winery grows. WindSong is a new producer in Central Virginia and is the only Virginia producer to grow and make a wine out of Dornfelder. It’s their flagship red and is a unique medium-bodied wine with dark fruit, anis, and smoky notes.
  • Two stems up to the three B’s - Breaux Vineyards in Loudoun County and Barboursville and Blenheim Vineyards on the Monticello wine trail. All three producers were pouring some very nice selections at the event and, if you haven’t visited their tasting rooms yet, I strongly recommend a summer trip. Blenheim’s winemaker Kirsty Harmon was at the festival pouring and talking about her wines and I finally got a chance to taste her Painted Red 2008 red wine blend. Owner and rocker Dave Matthews designed the “cool” label, while Kirsty rocked the delicious wine inside the bottle. If you hit the Monticello wine trail, be sure to put Blenheim on your “must visit” list.
A Rocking Cool Label and A Rocking Good Wine (Blenheim)

  • My friends at Mountfair, who was my “new winery find” at a Virginia wine festival last year, are doing good things with their tasty 2008 Engagement (Bordeaux-style blend) and Brad McCarthy’s Stick Dog Riesling. Riesling and Virginia do not necessarily go hand-in-hand, but Brad’s Riesling has good varietal character and makes for a nice summer sipper. Mountfair is located on the Monticello wine trail and, for a new producer, is making some nice Bordeaux-style blends.
  • For my friends who enjoy wines with a touch of sweetness, check out Chrysalis Vineyards Sarah’s Patio White and Sarah’s Patio Red. These popular wines are priced right and excellent for patio or deck sipping on a warm summer day. Chrysalis is on the Mosby Cluster Trail in Loudon County and specializes in Norton wines and makes a very nice Albariño wine too.
Chrysalis Vineyards Sarah's Patio Wines

  • Loudoun’s Tarara Winery was on hand pouring some of their tasty wines. Tarara kept a pretty good crowd at their booth which is a good sign that the wine must be good! Tarara is located on the Potomac Cluster Trail in Loudoun County and winegrower Jordan Harris is doing good things there. Be sure to check the Tarara Winery website; their summer concert series just started.
  • James River Cellars was pouring a pretty good off-dry Vidal Blanc that would pair nicely with spicy cuisine. Jams River Cellars is located on the Heart of Virginia Wine Trail in Central Virginia. These guys have an ice-styled dessert wine called Divino for $14 that’s pretty good too.
  • Fox Meadow Winery was pouring an elegant, moderately complex 2008 Chardonnay that was pretty nice. These guys are located on the Fauquier County Wine Trail and offer great views and a wide selection of wines.
Cardinal Point pouring their refreshing 09 Quattro

  • Say Hooray for Viognier, friends! Check out the 2009 vintage from Horton, Veritas, and Keswick! All three are swirling, sniffing, and sipping nicely and are great summertime selections. All these guys are located on the Monticello Wine Trail and if you haven't visited their respective tasting rooms, make a date to sip with each this summer.
  • Our friends at Cardinal Point were pouring their popular 2009 Quattro, a refreshing off-dry white wine blend of Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Viognier, and Traminette that’s perfect for a warm summer day and picnic fare.
I'm really not this short, she is that TALL!


In closing, if you missed Vintage Virginia this year, mark your calendars for 2011.  I look forward to seeing you there! I know I missed a lot of good Virginia wines and producers in this post, but that's what next year is for. Have a question about this post, friends? Feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail at myvinespot@yahoo.com, and as always, Happy Sipping! Stay tuned friends ...More to come!

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6/04/2010

Quick Sip: Tarara Winery Meritage 2007


Hello Friends,

Today’s Quick Sip is the Tarara Winery 2007 Meritage. This delicious Bordeaux-style blend recently earned a well-deserved gold medal at the 2010 Virginia Governor’s Cup competition. This wine was crafted by winegrower Jordan Harris, who started at Tarara in 2007, following a successful winemaking career in the Niagara region of Ontario. I’ve had the pleasure of talking to Jordan on several occasions and conducting a Q&A with him on the blog and he is all about employing gentle and non-interventionist techniques in the winery to better express the vintage and vineyard in the bottle. For most Virginia grape-growers, 2007 was a good to very good vintage year that reflected fuller bodied and well-structured red wines with riper than usual fruit. I recently paired grilled rib-eye steak with this nicely made Bordeaux-style blend and the wine’s full tannin components and solid structure complemented the steak perfectly.

Tarara Winery 2007 Meritage


The Tarara Winery 2007 Meritage is a full bodied, well-structured, muscular, and complex wine. In the glass, the 2007 Tarara Meritage displays a rich, dark garnet color. The swirl and sniff offers complex dark fruit aromas, exotic spice, currant, black pepper, and toasted oak. On the sip, this wine has a rich mouth-feel, good flavor intensity, a firm tannic backbone, and a lasting flavorful finish. This wine has good aging potential and will improve over the years if you are patient. It is also the perfect accompaniment to red meat dishes, such as the grilled rib-eye steak mentioned above. The Tarara Winery Meritage 2007 clocks in at 14.0% alcohol by volume and has a screw cap enclosure. This wine has not been officially released yet, but should be available some time between October and November. If you just cannot wait, I was advised that it is available by request in the tasting room. With the fall release date, this wine is perfect for the cooler temperatures and hearty autumn fare, so be sure to check the Tarara Winery website for further information on its release. Have a question about this post, friends? Feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail at myvinespot@yahoo.com, and as always, Happy Sipping! Stay tuned friends ...More to come!

Info: Tarara Winery, 13648 Tarara Lane, Leesburg, VA 20176-5236, (703) 771-7100

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Meritage


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6/01/2010

Wine Geek Speak: American Viticultural Area (AVA)


Hello Friends,

This week’s wine geek speak is American Viticultural Area (AVA). An AVA is a geographic wine-growing region within a US state that is registered and recognized by the federal government. An AVA is defined by its wine-growing attributes (e.g. soil, climate, elevation), generally resulting in distinct wines of a certain style and type. The system, first implemented in 1978, is the United States answer to the French appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC). However, an AVA only defines a “geographic location”, whereas an AOC defines which grapes can be grown, where they can be grown, maximum yields per hectare (2.4 acres), and other defined requirements that regulate and enforce quality control in wines designated as AOC on the label. In the United States, if a producer wants to put the AVA on the label of his / her wine, then 85% of the fruit must come from that AVA. Additionally, you can have an AVA within an AVA to draw greater distinction to a sub-appellation’s unique climate, soil, elevation, etc. Examples of this would be the Chehalem Mountains AVA located within the greater Willamette Valley AVA and the Stag’s Leap District AVA located within the greater Napa Valley AVA.

Monticello AVA (Virginia)


In Virginia, there are currently six AVA’s. These AVA’s are the Eastern Shore AVA, Monticello AVA, North Fork of Roanoke AVA, Northern Neck George Washington Birthplace AVA, Rocky Knob AVA, and Shenandoah Valley AVA. Of the six, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello AVA is probably the most well-known. I’m sure Mr. Jefferson has something do with that, combined with the high-quality wines coming out of this AVA. One of Virginia’s fastest growing (in terms of tasting rooms being opened) and most popular wine-growing areas, Loudoun County, does not yet have an AVA designation. If you start winery-hopping in north Virginia and work your way south, specifically southwest Virginia, there are differences in soil, climate, harvest time, wine styles, wine types, and even price. As the Virginia wine industry matures I’m sure you will see more AVA’s established to define geographic attributes of distinct wine-growing areas. Did you know? The first AVA established in the United States was the Augusta AVA (Missouri) in 1980. The Augusta AVA has something in common with Virginia in that it shares a love for the Norton grape variety. So much so that Norton was named the Missouri State grape in 2003. Have a question about this post, friends? Feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail at myvinespot@yahoo.com, and as always, Happy Sipping! Stay tuned friends ...More to come!

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