Sunday, October 31, 2010

Farewell #VAwine Month

October is/was Virginia wine month. A month to celebrate, promote, and of course drink VA wine. I celebrated by having at least one VA wine a week. I promoted by participating in the Twitter Taste Live last Monday for VA wine. So today, as I bid farewell to Virginia wine month, I toast FAREWELL to the month with a Chardonnay Reserve from New Kent Winery.

I visited New Kent last year during a trip to Williamsburg, VA. The winery has just opened in May of 2008 and boy was it beautiful! The entire building and it's contents are made from recycled materials. The tasting room staff were so knowledgeable about the winery, the wines, even the are itself. It did help that there weren't too many people in that day since there was a huge storm coming. (We happened to get caught in that storm after the winery visit)

I purchased a few wines during my visit and decided to try the Chardonnay tonight. The Chardonnay Reserve, that I aged a little in the bottle myself, was fermented in the barrel and aged sur-lie (on dead yeast cells). Mostly yeast and bread in the nose but loads of creamy-ness and acidity on the palate, with a bit of apple and pear notes as well. The finish reminded me of buttered toast.

Here's to you Virgina Wine Month!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Happy Trails

I am a supporter of Maryland wines! There, I said it. So when they picked the Patuxent Wine Trail to promote this past weekend, I was all in! Especially since it's the trail that's closest to my house. Of the 7 wineries on this trail, I've already been to 2 of them, 1 was just too far to drive since I was hitting the trails alone...which left me with 4 wineries to hit.

1st stop, Port of Leonardtown. This winery is interesting because it's actually a cooperative. They don't grow any grapes on site, instead their 15 members have vineyards that grow multiple grape varieties that they bottle and sell under the Port of Leonardtown Winery label. They do ferment and age a few of the wines on premises however. Of course, they had all of them available for tasting in their tasting room. Starting with their 1634 Chardonnay, which I'd had at the Maryland Wine Festival last month, I still think this wine is amazing. Fermented in French oak, but the toasty oak flavors were smooth and soft not overpowering. The regular Chardonnay (winner of the 2010 MWA Bronze medal) was fermented in stainless steel it has such a crisp apple and pear flavor. There were even hints of lemon on the finish. The grapes from the Vidal Blanc are grow solely in St Mary's County, which works because Vidal Blanc seems to do well in Maryland. Very floral in aroma with red apple and honey on the palate. McIntosh Run is an apple wine, no grapes allowed! It won a Gold Medal this year from MWA and was voted Best Fruit Wine. Light acidity, with flavors of spice and apple (duh!). Very easy drinking, and although still has alcohol it can be enjoyed by those who really may not be fans of wine. The last white, Breton Bay Breeze, was very aromatic. Rose petals, citrus zest, perfume, and in all actuality I smelled grapes. Go figure!

I tasted 2 reds the Captains Table and Breton Bay Shoals. My fav of the whole tasting was probably the Captains Table. A Chambourcin and Merlot blend, it was very earthy on the nose with mushrooms and dark berry/cherry notes. I was told that this would benefit from a bit of decanting and is also aging well in the bottle. Aging a Maryland red, alright! Now back in the car for the next stop.

I read that Solomons Island Winery is best known for its fruit infused varietals wines so I passed on visiting that vineyard and headed to Cove Point Winery in Lusby, MD. Unlimited tasting for $4. I tasted 6 whites, including a cherry wine and vidal blanc blend, 7 reds including an ice-style pinot noir, and 3 of the 15 mist wines. I definitely had to spit at this winery. Of note was their Symphony, a floral white wine with spicy aromas and a sweet citrus finish; Chambourcin, slightly tart with notes of black cherries and plums, I got a little popcorn on the finish; Cab/Syrah (2007), great acidity and tannins with ripe red fruit flavors. I'm starting to get a little hungry, thank goodness I only have one more stop to make. Let me take a quick moment to say that since there was a big promotion of the Patuxent Wine Trail, I did expect a few more people out on the trail along with a few activities. So far, I've been the only one in the tasting rooms and it seemed like any other day at the winery....

Perigeaux Vineyards and Winery in St Leonard, MD was the last winery stop of the day. A sample of every wine they offered was only $3. I handed the gentleman my money and we got started. 5 whites, 10 reds including 2 semi-organic reds with reduced sulfites. They even had a Pinot Gris Blush that was semi-sweet with a crisp berry finish. Since I was the only one tasting I got the story behind the vineyard owners, wine names, and some of the winemaking techniques. That alone was worth the $3 for the samples! Perigeaux sits on a 27 acre estate with 8 acres planted and they produced their first vintage in 2006, wine sales in 2008. Wines of notes here were the 2007 Merlot, flavors of dark berries and oak and the 2007 Chardonnay, ripe apple and pear flavors moved into a creamy finish. Perigeaux did have an artist on site as well as someone from Knit Works and their whole tasting was done outside which was great because the weather Sunday was wonderful!

The sun is starting to go down and my stomach is growling so I headed to Jake & Al's for dinner. Why there? I had a $50 gift card :-) A lot of good it did once they told me it expired in March 2009 and did I have another form of payment. WHAT?! Nothing on the gift card said anything about an expiration date! Of course I ordered like I had $50 to spend... Thank goodness for credit cards.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Red Alert

It's fall and I couldn't be more excited! The sun is still shining, but the air has a chill that begs for red wine. So, I tasted blends from Italy and Australia to kick off my red wine drinking season.

Vigna Flaminio
Brindisi Do Rosso Riserva 2004
Grapes: Negroamaro, Montepulciano, Malvasia Nera
Medium-bodied with flavors of red cherry, tobacco and herbs. Also got a little meaty-ness on the palate. A little lighter bodied than I was expecting but found a nice roundness to it that will compliment loads of foods.

Razor's Edge
McLaren Vale 2008
Grapes: Shiraz, Grenache
Listed as #22 for Wine Enthusiast Mag's Top 100 Best Buys for 2010. This wine has rich flavors or dark fruit and plum, probably coming from the Shiraz, with minerality and hints of spice on the finish from the Grenache in the blend. The 2 grapes come together to form a very well balanced wine with ripe cherry, good tannins and acidity. Luckily for me I have never had bad luck with these 2 grapes in a blend.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Shake It Up!

I tried something a little different this month for The GrapeVine Tasting Club. Instead of just going through wines and sniffing and tasting and doing the whole, regular wine tasting thing...we mixed it up a bit, literally. Cocktails are so popular now from new inventive one, to re-creating old classics with a new spin. So since I'm a wine girl, I figured my cocktail spin would be making them with wine and sharing that recipe with the Tasting Club. We made like 9 different drinks, trying a couple of different wines with the same recipe and changing the alcohol. The crowd had a few favs, and there was only 1 real miss...Wine Spritzer. But they still had fun tasting everything. A few had a little too much fun if you know what I mean, LOL!

Here are a couple of the main drinks. They're all super easy and hopefully you'll enjoy some of these at home or your next party.

Kir & Kir Royale
Creme de Cassis, White Wine (Sparkling Wine for Kir Royale)

Sour Grapes
Pinot Grigio, Sour Mix (we tried this with Sauvignon Blanc as well)

Wine Spritzer
White Wine, Club Soda

Rioja, Cola, Shot of Rum

Ice Wine, Vodka (we used a white wine & a red wine)

Something Blue
Hypnotiq, Ginger Ale, White Wine

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

More Than Port

When thinking of wines of Portugal, Port is the first thing that comes to the mind of most. Not because it's a part of the name but more because it's the wine that put Portugal on the map. Times have changed. Portugal now has several amazing wine regions that produce whites and reds.

I got a taste of the Alentejo wine region here, but tonight was an all over Portugal tasting at Best Cellars in Clarendon with Matthew McGuigan of wine distributor, Suprex. He gave a great history of wines in Portugal, how they started, how they've developed, and where they are headed. With all that talk...I was ready for the wines!

Caves Vidigal Vinho Verde 2009
Grapes: Loureiro, Trajadura, Arinto
So refreshing with its zesty lime notes and a hint of effervescence. Perfect for the summer or to tone down the spice on Indian dishes.

Caves Vidigal Dao 2005
Young black fruit aromas and nicely balanced with tobacco and herbal notes. Very earthy and rich, this wine is perfect for pairing with food.

Casa Santos Lima Bons Ventos Tinto 2008
Bright ruby color and super aromatic. Notes of ripe berry fruit fills the nose while the palate provides red fruit flavors and a soft hint of oak. Great acidity with a little licorice and spice on the finish. Nice! This was my fav of the evening, I went home with a bottle.

Quinta Seara d'Ordens Colheita Seleccionada Tinto 2005
Aged for 10 mos in French oak and then 8 more mos in the bottle, then it was released. It was def worth the wait. An exotic spicy nose, dark fruit on the palate and firm gripping tannins. This wine and grilled meats will make for a nice date.

Quinta Seara d'Ordens LBV Port 2003
Of course there had to be Port at a Portuguese wine tasting! A long sniff of the glass made me feel like I was transported to a forest. I smelled oak, fig, dark fruit. And the taste was so luscious... A great evening sipper for the holidays or a special night by the fireplace.

5 wines plus an in depth and entertaining look into the region and the wines of Portugal...who says that wine isn't fun?!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I Got Half On It

Enjoying a beautiful fall day, watching football, the Bears are winning, and finishing up the random wines and samples that I have laying around. Out of the wine fridge today:

Pillar Box Red - Australia
Domaine Faiveley Mercurey - France
Bugey-Cerdon - France
Laurenz V Gruner Veltliner - Austria

Oh yeah, and working on a 4-pack of Delirium Tremens

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wine Wednesday - Drinking Bugey

As usual, just when you think you get a handle on something, new information presents itself and blows your mind. So it goes with wine knowledge. Regions gaining AOC status, new grapes being discovered, new wines being available in America...there is always something. My new 'discovery', Bugey-Cerdon.

Renardat-Fache NV Bugey-Cerdon Méthode Ancestrale Rosé

Pronounced Boo ghee Seir dohn, this wine region located in East France sits between Burgundy and Rhone and off to the right. Bugey has produced wines under the Vin Délimité de Qualité Supérieure (VDQS, which is typically just a holding place before a wine region is granted AOC status) since 1958. On May 28, 2009, INAO (the organization that regulates French agricultural products) gave its final approval for the elevation of Bugey to Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) status. Now the producers from the new Bugey AOC appellation are thus seeing their efforts to build an identity for the wines in their region rewarded.

In order to legally have the name Cerdon from the Bugey region, the rose sparkling wine must be made either from 100% Gamay or a blend of Gamay and Poulsard. Being close in proximity to Beaujolais which is home to the Gamay grape, it makes sense that the Bugey region would have luck with the Gamay grape as well. Grapes are picked by hand and fermented in chilled vats. The young and light wine is then bottled, along with its active yeast and considerable unfermented sugars. Under pressure of the cork, the wine continues to ferment, gaining a higher percentage of alcohol but retaining a nice amount of sweetness. This method of making sparkling wine is called the ‘methode ancestrale’, which skips the method champenoise process of disgorgement in order to produce wines with slight sweetness that still contain particles of dead yeast matter in the form of lees in the bottle.

In a couple of online searches the term ‘Adult KoolAid’ was used. Let’s open up this bottle and take a sip!

Typical sparkling wine has 6 atmospheres of pressure in the bottle, I think this one had like 12! As I was untwisting the cage, the cork shot up in the air! Good thing I was outdoors! Dark pink in color with bubbles for days, this sparkler has a delicate, floral nose, reminiscent of an Italian Lambrusco. Slightly ripe cherry, strawberry flavors balanced with medium acidity provide a nice complexity to this rose sparkler. A Jolly Rancher candy comes to mind on the finish, but still retains a crisp dryness. It is not too sweet for the dry wine lover, yet has enough sweetness and flavor for those that like a sweeter sparkler to sip. It’s perfect as an outdoor patio sipper or a sparkler to start off parties during the upcoming holiday season. For after dinner, with its strawberry flavors, I can see this paired with strawberry shortcake or strawberries and cream. The Cerdon is an extremely versatile sparkling wine that you can’t help but love. Drink Up!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

White Out

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day....

The rain has gone, the sun is out, and nice breeze is blowing, so I opened up some whites. OK, a lot of whites!

Jezebel White Blend 2009
Blend of Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, and Riesling. Crisp, aromatic and fruity

J Fritsch Pinot Blanc
Semi-sweet with notes of apricots and peaches. A great aperitif to start off an evening.

Vision Cellars Riesling 2008
Fresh apricot flavors blend into crisp peaches and nectarines. Floral notes of honeysuckle are found on the finish.

J Fritsch Gewurztraminer
Yellow-gold in color, floral with exotic fruit notes. Pineapple and mango on the palate and a little spice on the finish. This would be perfect with some Chinese food.

Now that I have 4 open bottles of whites, I have to go call some friends to help me drink it all! Any takers?