And with wine produced in every state of the U.S., we can all participate!
Regional Wine Week is the sixth annual celebration of the growth of the U.S. wine industry beyond the West Coast. As co-founder and Washington Post wine writer Dave McIntyre said this week in his article, “It is sponsored by Drink Local Wine, an effort formed in 2008 to draw attention to the impressive wines being made right around here — wherever “here” happens to be.”
While “here” for me is Virginia (I’m enjoying a White Hall Vineyards 2009 Merlot as I write this), on Monday at Siema Wines Portfolio Tasting I was able to taste a great selection of wines from the lesser known wine states with Andrew Stover of Vino 50.
Vino50™ celebrates American winemaking at its best, with a focus on eclectic and unknown American wine regions. Thanks to Andrew’s Vino 50 many of the great wines across the U.S. are getting out there. In addition to tasting two of my favorite Virginia wineries at the event, Breaux Vineyards & Boxwood Estate Winery, I tasted from Missouri, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico and New York. There were many great ones among the 20+ but here were my two favorites…
- Variety: 100% Tempranillo from Snake River Valley, Idaho
- Aroma: Plum, hints of spice and cigar
- Taste: Medium bodied red with nice balance of black cherry and oak
- Price: $25.00
- My thoughts: Who knew? Wine in Idaho AND Trempranillo!? Sawtooth has a great line up and this was one of my favorite tastings.
- Variety: primarily Vidal grapes
- Aroma: Toasty
- Taste: Crisp, soft with hints of floral and vanilla
- Price: $18.99
- My thoughts: Yum! Bubbles from Missouri! This sparkling wine is made in the traditional French method. And is a big award winner! Stone Hill Winery has a great story…”Nestled among the rolling hillsides of the Missouri River, in a countryside reminiscent of Germany’s Rhine Valley, is the little town of Hermann. Perched prominently on one of these hills, with a commanding view of the village, is Stone Hill Winery. Established in 1847, Stone Hill grew to be the second largest winery in the United States. The wines were world renowned, winning gold medals in eight world’s fairs, including Vienna in 1873 and Philadelphia in 1876. By the turn of the century, the winery was shipping 1,250,000 gallons of wine per year. Then came Prohibition…” Check them out.
Cheers to great things happening across the U.S. in regional wine!
Tagged As: Boxwood Winery
, Breaux Vineyards
, Drink Local Wine
, Idaho Wine
, Missouri Wine
, Regional Wine Week
, Sawtooth Winery Tempranillo 2009
, Siema Wines
, Sparkling Wine
, Stone Hill Winery Blanc de Blancs 2008
, Vino 50
As the end of July approached, I found my usual favorite summer white wines, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio, growing a bit tired on the palette.
Then at a wine tasting in Virginia wine country, Early Mountain Vineyards turned me on to a white variety I haven’t had much of…Seyval Blanc. The 2012 Lovingston Winery Seyval Blanc, while similar to a Sauvignon Blanc, had more floral and citrus notes. So now I’m out trying more.
Seyval Blanc is a hybrid grape variety, meaning it’s the breeding of other ‘parent’ grape variety vines. Seyval Blanc was originally released in 1921 in Saint Vallier, Drome, France, where it was known as Seyve-Villard, named for its creators, Bertille Seyve and his son-in-law Villard.
Seyval Blanc has characteristic citrus aroma and tastes, but also more minerality making it similar to a white Burgundy from France.
While today the European Union does not allow hybrid grape variety wines, you’ll find Seyval Blanc grown mainly in England and the east coast of the United States in New York’s Finger Lakes region and in Virginia. Some refer to it as “East Coast Chardonnay.”
Last weekend at Breaux Vineyards in Virginia, I tasted their Seyval Blanc and bought several bottles for home.
- Variety: 100% Seyval Blanc
- Aroma: Citrus, white floral
- Taste: Crisp, dry white grapefruit with nice body and floral notes
- Price: $18
- My thoughts: The name, Jolie Blond, is nod to the Breaux family’s Cajun roots, meaning “pretty blond.” It’s a great white wine for summer’s favorite dishes, like the barbecue chicken I’m enjoying tonight.
Cheers to a new end of summer white, Seyval Blanc!
Tagged As: Breaux Vineyards
, Breaux Vineyards 2012 Jolie Blend
, Seyval Blanc
This week marks the fifth annual Regional Wine Week. It’s a week put together by Drink Local Wine encouraging wine writers to write about wines from the Other 47 States (wines that aren’t from California, Washington or Oregon…the biggest wine producing states in the country) to encourage you readers to drink wines from the Other 47! With wine now produced in all 47 states, everyone has options.
Drink local for me means Virginia. If you’re looking for some Virginia wine to explore this week, here are some of my recent posts for recommendations.
There’s also a great event this Saturday, the Thomas Jefferson Wine Festival at Mr. Jefferson’s personal retreat Poplar Forest, where you can sample from fourteen Virginia wineries and meet Gabrielle Rausse, the father of modern Virginia wine.
Cheers to the other 47! What’s your favorite?
Tagged As: Blenheim Vineyards
, Boxwood Winery
, Breaux Vineyards
, Drink Local Wine
, Early Mountain Vineyards
, Gabriele Rausse
, Pollak Vineyards
, Regional Wine Week
, Taste Camp 2012
, Thomas Jefferson Wine Festival
, Veritas Winery
, Virginia Wine
It’s Virginia Wine Month! With nineteen days left in October, there’s still time to discover your local Virginia crush…which one of the 210 wineries AND which grape variety?
One of my favorite grape varieties is Virginia’s official grape, Viognier. A grape and wine variety originating in the French region of Condrieu in Northern Rhône, Viognier grows very well in Virginia’s climate and soil. Typically a dry or slightly off dry white wine with a lovely bouquet of tropical fruit, pear and honey in nose and taste. Horton Vineyards helped put Viognier on the map in Virginia with its first vintage in 1992 which received many accolades.
At last week’s Virginia Wine Summit, there was a panel discussion about Viognier…why this grape makes a great wine in Virginia and what the characteristics are. Wines represented on the panel were all lovely with slight variations…
Overall sentiments from the panel, which included Jennifer Blosser (Director of Sales and Hospitality at Breaux Vineyards), Matthieu Finot (winemaker at King Family Vineyards) and Stephen Barnard (winemaker at Keswick Vineyards), were this…
- Viognier in Virginia tends to be closer to the French Old World style of the wine than the often heavier New World California style.
- Aromatics express themselves very nicely thanks to Virginia’s climate and soil.
- There’s lots of variation with the variety based on the year’s conditions which is a great thing for Virginia.
- One of biggest challenges with the grape is acidity. Achieving balance in Virginia’s climate is tough, and all wineries agreed, they acidify the wine if needed. As Luca Paschina, Winemaker and General Manager at Barboursville Vineyards, attending the discussion said, “Why not add acid if the wine needs it? It’s like a chef that adds salt or lemon juice to a recipe if it needs it.”
- Viognier is a great example of how Virginia wines are a bridge between West Coast wines and European wines.
Tasting the wines and listening to the discussion, you could see, taste and hear why this is a great official grape for Virginia, a distinguishing variety for the state.
As Jennifer Blosser put it best, “Viogner is like Chardonnay with perfume and heels.”
Get out their and discover your local crush!
Tagged As: Barboursville Vineyards
, Breaux Vineyards
, Horton Vineyards
, Keswick Vineyards
, King Family Vineyards
, Virginia Wine
, Virginia Wine Month
, Virginia Wine Summit
In The Wine Stand Outs, Part 1, I covered five of the eleven stand out wines from Taste Camp 2012, focusing on wineries I was tasting for the first time. Now let’s take a look at the six wines from wineries I’ve tasted and/or covered before.
- Variety: 42.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42.5% Merlot, 15% Petit Verdot
- Aroma: Dark red fruit with hints of spice
- Taste: Nice concentrated spicy cassis
- Price: No longer available
- My thoughts: 2007 was a very good year for their signature wines, Boxwood and Topiary. I like this Left Bank Bordeaux-style blend (Topiary is a Right Bank style). Adam McTaggart told us this was a huge turning point vintage for them…it set their style for going forward. I loved the big fruitiness of this wine. Rachel told us there may still be a few bottles out there to find.Â For more on Boxwood and our time Taste Camp visit, see Loudoun County, DC’s Wine Country.
- Variety: Blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Mourvedre
- Aroma: Big bouquet of strawberry, honey and a touch of cinnamon
- Taste: Refreshing red fruits with a watermelon finish
- Price: $14
- My thoughts: Regular readers know I love Rosé and I love Kirsty Harmon, the fabulous winemaker at Blenheim. I’m always thrilled when I see Kristy and Greg Hirson, assistant winemaker, pouring their wines at events or in their gorgeous tasting room in the country outside Charlottesville. Every wine they make is approachable, easy to drink and delicious. On by BEST of Virginia wine list!!
- Variety: 42% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc, 25% Petit Verdot, 16% Cabernet Sauvignon
- Aroma: Cherry, chocolate and cedar
- Taste: Cherry with a hint of pepper finished with vanilla and caramel
- Price: $35
- My thoughts: I tasted this 2012 Virginia Governor’s Cup Gold winner back in late February at the Virginia Wine Expo and it was even better this tasting! It’s really opened up nicely…a great Meritage blend with chocolate, red fruit, vanilla and caramel hints. What more could you ask for! This again is one of my Virginia winery favorites… Emily is a fabulous winemaker and she is doing amazing work at her winery in red and white! Located outside of Charlottesville.
- Variety: 100% Nebbiolo
- Aroma: Red fruits with hints of tobacco
- Taste: Spicy dried red fruits
- Price: Coming 2014
- My thoughts: Another 2007 wine shaping up very nicely and it’s not even bottled yet. We were lucky enough to have a barrel sample during our Friday evening dinner at Breaux. They will bottle it this year and then hold for two years before selling. This was a grape Paul Breaux really wanted to grow after his visit to Piemonte, Italy. As Jen Breaux Blosser told us over dinner, “it’s a hard grape to grow and always changing.” Breaux is another one of my Virginia favorites…with their breadth and variety, they have a wine for everyone and their 475-acres are worth the visit for a sip on their patio.Â For more on our time Taste Camp visit, seeÂ Loudoun County, DC’s Wine Country.
- Variety: 100% Petit Manseng
- Aroma: Pineapple & citrus
- Taste: Refreshing crisp citrus and pineapple notes
- Price: $20
- My thoughts: This grape is becoming a specialty of Virginia. Most versions I’ve tasted are sweet but this one was perfect!Â As we boarded the wagon at the winery for a ride into vineyards with winemaker Jordan Harris, he poured us a glass of this. It hit the spot…crisp and refreshing…as we rode in the sun! Jordan said they don’t usually do this wine but with the conditions of 2011 (cloudy & wet September), they decided to try it. Great results! I brought home a bottle and its chilling in the fridge. You can buy it on their website. Located in Loudoun County.
- Variety: 100% Chardonnay
- Aroma: Tropical bouquet with hint of oak
- Taste: Peach, pear with hints of white pepper
- Price: $28
- My thoughts: We had the great pleasure of tasting five wines with Jim Linden, owner/winemaker and one of Virginia’s greats, on his crush pad after our vineyard walk. They were all fabulous and really demonstrate the terroir in which they are growing. I really like this Chablis-style, nice balance of fruit with hints of pepper which Jim said is due to the Avenius vineyard it comes from.Â Bottled August 2010. This wine should plateau from 2013 to 2017. Guess I’ll have to cellar the bottle I bought. Located in Fauquier County.
Cheers to some of Virginia’s best wineries and winemakers showing Taste Camp writers everything Virginia wine has to offer!
Blenheim Vineyards, Boxwood Winery, Breaux Vineyards, Chardonnay, DC's Wine Country, Kirsty Harmon, Linden Vineyards, Loudoun County, Nebbiolo, Petit Manseng, Red Blends, Rosé, Tarara Winery, Taste Camp 2012, Veritas Winery, Virginia Wine