Wine: Articles

Tasting Virginia’s Gold

Last weekend was the fifth annual Virginia Wine Expo in Richmond, a three day event featuring 75 of Virginia’s 200+ wineries sampling more than 450 bottles of wine. Kicking off the weekend’s festivities Thursday night was the prestigious Virginia Governor’s Cup Awards announcement. Nine of the eleven Gold medal winners attended the Virginia Wine Expo which gave me and thousands of others the chance to taste many of the award winners in one place.

And the winners I tasted…

Glen Manor Vineyards 2009 Hodder Hill Meritage… THE 2010 Governor’s Cup Winner

  • Grape Variety: 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, 6% Petit Verdot
  • Aroma: Dark red berries, eucalyptus
  • Taste: Multi layers of red berries, cassis, tea leaf, great tannins paired with bright acidity
  • Price: $35
  • My thoughts: WOW! This is an incredible wine! Glen Manor was a new winery to me but located only an hour outside DC. Jeff White, owner and winemaker, was sampling all weekend at the Expo. What a nice and humble man! When you taste this wine you’ll know why it won and know Virginia wine can rival any wine in the world! Congratulations Jeff!

* Thanks to Virginia Wine Time for the great photo from Glen Manor’s tasting room!

Bluestone Vineyard 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon

  • Grape Variety: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Aroma: Black currant, cedar
  • Taste: Smooth melow cassis with oak undertones and a slight sweet finish
  • Price: $25.50
  • My thoughts: A great example of Cabernet Sauvignon in Virginia…drinkable now or will be perfect after some aging. Bluestone was another new winery to me. Curt Hartman, owner, and his son Lee, winemaker, were on sampling at the Expo and couldn’t have been nicer. Only three years in they are doing some great work.

Veritas 2010 Vintner’s Reserve Meritage Blend

  • Grape 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: This is a great Meritage blend with each grape adding a nice complexity to the wine. Emily is a fabulous winemaker I met at the Virginia Wine Bloggers Conference last July. She is doing amazing work at her winery in red and white!

Potomac Point Winery 2009 Heritage Reserve Meritage Blend

  • Grape Variety: Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot
  • Aroma: Baked cherries and chocolate
  • Taste: Cherries, medium tannins
  • Price: $29
  • My thoughts: This wine is a nice Bordeaux style blend. This was my first tasting of Potomac Point’s wines. They have some different things in their line up like wines made from the Portuguese grape Touriga Nacional including their Rabelos Port 2010.

Other wines included in the Governor’s Case I haven’t yet tasted…

  • Delfosse Vineyards & Winery 2007 Blend
  • Jefferson Vineyards 2010 Cabernet Franc
  • Keswick Vineyards 2009 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Keswick Vineyards 2010 Merlot
  • King Family Vineyards 2008 Meritage Blend
  • Tarara Winery 2010 Honah Lee White Vinifera Blend
  • Trump Winery 2008 Kluge SP Blanc de Blanc Sparkling
  • White Hall Vineyards 2010 Gewurztraminer

The 2012 Governor’s Cups Medal Winners were chose by a panel of world class judges who sampled over 400 Virginia wines and handed out thirteen Gold medals based on a the 100 point Wine Spectator scale. The 12 highest ranking wines will be assembled into the Governor’s Case used to promote Virginia wine in the coming months by the Virginia Wine Marketing Office.

Sales of Virginia wine reached a record high in fiscal year 2011 with more than 462,000 cases, or more than 5.5 million bottles, sold. This volume marks a sales increase of more than 11 percent over the previous fiscal year. Virginia currently ranks fifth in the number of wineries in the nation with 210. Virginia is also the nation’s fifth largest wine grape producer.

In coming posts I’ll share more on this year’s Virginia Wine Expo, some new discoveries and more from my old favorites.

Cheers to Virginia wine!

Tagged As:
, , , , , , ,

And the Moët Oscar Cocktail Winner is…

…the Moët Red Carpet Glamour!

Adam Seger of Chicago is the winner of the inaugural Moët Oscar Cocktail Contest held through the Moët & Chandon USA Facebook page. His Moët Red Carpet Glamour “captures the essence of Hollywood glamour with exquisite notes of heady cardamom and kaffir lime that develop a refreshing and harmonious taste. This winning cocktail was chosen for its modern combination of the Hum® botanical spirit with Moët & Chandon Imperial, which highlights the flavor profile of champagne and truly celebrates the elegance of the Academy Awards.”

The Moët Red Carpet Glamour cocktail and Moët & Chandon Imperial will flow generously at the 2012 Governors Ball, the after-party of the 84th Academy Awards® this Sunday, February 26, 2012. This year the Governors Ball takes on a new spin. Special events producer Cheryl Cecchetto created an open format allowing the Ball’s 1,500 guests (Academy Award® winners and nominees, show presenters and other telecast participants) to circulate among a variety of seating configurations while enjoying the cuisine created specifically for the event by master chef Wolfgang Puck.

The 2012 menu created by Puck and Chef Matt Benciveng features more than fifty dishes, from one-bite hors d’oeuvres to small-plate entrees that will be passed throughout the evening. It includes signature favorites such as smoked salmon Oscars®, chicken pot pie with shaved black truffles, and Pastry Chef Sherry Yard’s gold-dusted chocolate Oscars alongside inventive presentations such as lobster tacos with tomato and pickled Shallots, and beet salad with pistachio butter, burrata and citrus balsamic.

For your Oscar party at home, make your own Moët Red Carpet Glamour Cocktail…

  • Fill a chilled Champagne Flute 1⁄2 way with ice.
  • Stir 1 ounce of Fresh Squeezed Sour Mix and Hum® Botanical Spirit with fresh ice.
  • Strain into Flute to fill 1⁄2 way.
  • Top with Moët & Chandon Imperial.
  • Garnish with a Single Rose Petal.
  • Continually refresh as you wish with Moët & Chandon Imperial as the Champagne will float on top of the Hum Sour, but its effervescence will deliver Hum’s heady cardamom & Kaffir lime notes.
  • Fresh Squeeze Sour Mix Preparation: Combine 1 cup sugar with 1 cup water until sugar is completely dissolved. Add 1 cup fresh lime juice and 1 cup fresh lemon juice and refrigerate.

Other new tools for planning your Oscar party…

  • Evite’s Postmark Invitations: Marc Friedland, designer of the Academy Award winners’ envelope, created the first-ever collection of Academy sanctioned invitations for Oscar Sunday viewing parties for Evite’s new premium site Evite Postmark. The Oscar Collection by Marc Friedland has ten designs from classic golden age of Hollywood to modern, fun takes on Oscar. Each invitation has a matching designed envelope, custom stamp, and features the never before available Oscar statuette and the use the of the “official” Academy Awards title.
  • My Oscar Ballot: Develop your own prediction list and share with friends via Facebook.

Cheers to Sunday night Oscar Parties!

Tagged As:
, , , , , ,

Winesdays Wednesdays

What a brilliant event going on at my local Whole Foods in Alexandria, Virginia every Wednesday! Since the first of the year, they’ve been hosting this 5-7pm event featuring wines from different regions and excellent food pairings.

For only $5 you get a Whole Foods wine glass, five healthy pours of the five featured wines and five sample plates of their five-course menu. If you bring your glass back each week you get $1 off. They also provide you with a little handout of all the recipes.

Last night was my first Winesdays and they were featuring South Africa. Boy was it packed! As you browse through the store, the five stations are scattered throughout creating a party atmosphere that encourages mingling. And boy was it packed…lines were ten to fifteen people deep. They’ve created quite the event!

Last night’s menu featured…

1st Course: Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc + Cold Bean Salad with Curried Vegetables

  • This and the last course were my favorites of both wine and food.
  • Chenin Blanc is a really nice medium bodied crisp wine, honeysuckle and lime aromas and taste.

2nd Course: Rustenberg Chardonnay + Grilled Turmeric and Yogurt Chicken

  • Chardonnay is a medium bodied wine with a hint of oak on the nose, light buttery mouth feel with citrus and spice.
  • The spice in the chicken cut the slight oak in the wine and brought out vanilla and more citrus.

3rd Course: Riebeek Cellars Pinotage + Spiced Lamb and Tomato Stew

  • Pinotage is medium bodied with plum and subtle oak pairing nicely with the stew’s spices.

4th Course: Warwick Three Cape Ladies + Braised Corn and Lima Beans with Potatoes

  • This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Pinotage is a full bodied wine of dark berry flavor and a touch of spice.

5th Course: Jam Jar Sweet Shiraz + Pound Cake

  • The juicy berry of this wine truly tastes like jam.
  • It was a perfect pairing in the glass AND as the topping poured over the pound cake…yum!

According to the Whole Foods team, attendance is growing each week. I’m looking forward to my next one and taking a few friends along.

Cheers to Winesdays!

Tagged As:
, , , , , , , ,

URBAN Enoteca, The Next Generation Wine Bar

Check out my article in Palate Press on this next generation wine bar in Seattle, Washington.

Palate Press is a modern electronic wine magazine, providing the most exciting and interesting wine content available today. Visit their site, follow them on Twitter and Facebook, and download their free iPad app for their magazine.


Tagged As:
, , , ,

Arrogant Frog: This Cute French Frog Makes a Great Wine

Arrogant Frog is an estate-bottled wine from the Languedoc region of Southern France. I discovered it when living in Amsterdam and was so pleased to find it available in the U.S. last summer.

The label grabbed me in our Amsterdam wine shop. The playful art and fun names, like Ribet White (Chardonnay-Viognier), Lily Pad Pink (a Sparkling Rose), Lily Pad Noir (Pinot Noir) and Sticky white (Muscat), said this is a French wine that doesn’t take itself too seriously. And the price was great! I tried it and was hooked. They have fun AND produce a great value French wine…eighteen of them in fact available in thirty countries.

Jean-Claude Mas, the Humble Winemaker, started Arrogant Frog in 1999 at his family’s estate after working at other large south of France wineries. Generations of his family have tended to vineyards and made wine in the Languedoc region. Arrogant Frog is “old world vines with new world attitude” and their goal is to have original, creative and enjoyable wines that are a good value.

My two favorites from the U.S. line up as I’ve tried them over the last several months…

Savvy Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc

  • Grape Variety: 100% Sauvignon Blanc
  • Aroma: Grapefruit, gooseberry, herbal notes
  • Taste: Fruity with hints of herb
  • Price: $9 range
  • My thoughts: If you like Sauvignon Blanc, you’ll like this wine! Also a great wine to take to parties…name & label make people smile!

Croak Rotie, Syrah-Viognier

  • Grape Variety: 85% Syrah, 15% Viognier
  • Aroma: Violet flower, blueberry, spice
  • Taste: Mellow, velvety black currants
  • Price: $9 range
  • My thoughts: A great combination of grapes make this a unique easy drinking red wine.

There are five varieties available in the U.S….in addition to the two above, Lily Pad White (Chardonnay), Lily Pad Noir (Pinot Noir) and Lily Pad Red (Cabernet-Merlot). To find them near you in the U.S., check out Palm Bay International’s wine locator or check with your local wine shop.

Cheers to the cute arrogant frog! :)

Tagged As:
, , , , , , ,