Wine: Articles

October is Virginia Wine Month: Out on the Wine Trails

This month marks the 25th Anniversary of Virginia Wine Month! Restaurants, retailers and wineries across the state are celebrating providing plenty of opportunities to explore!

Virginia is home to more than 230 wineries and vineyards, seven American Viticultural Areas (AVAs), nearly two dozen wine trails and rates fifth in the nation for wine grape production.  Just last year, Wine Enthusiast magazine named Virginia one of the 10 best wine travel destinations. In August, Governor Bob McDonnell announced that the sales of Virginia wine reached an all-time high in 2013, with more than half a million cases sold.

Out on the Loudoun Wine Trail this week, I visited …

  • Breaux Vineyards: One of my favorites as it’s the most gorgeous Autumn spot. Be sure to try their newly released Equation…red wine made of 5 different grapes that are a fabulous combination for only $17. And there were still grapes plumping on the vine.
  • Sunset Hills Vineyard: I’ve heard great things about this winery and really enjoyed our visit. The restored Amish historic barn is an impressive tasting room and it’s decks are the perfect spot for a sipping a glass looking out over the vineyards. For us that meant the Cabernet Sauvignon about to be picked. The Tasting Room Team was excellent and I really enjoyed their 2011 Sunset Red, a delicious combination of Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
  • Salamander Resort & Spa: This gorgeous new spot recently opened outside Middleburg! We stopped in for lunch and wine in The Gold Cup Wine Bar where they are offering a special Virginia White Wine Flight for Virginia Wine Month. It featured an excellent example of the greatness in Virginia wine, Linden Vineyards 2011 Sauvignon Blanc. Look forward to returning here to enjoy the spa and equestrian programs.

The Virginia Wine Marketing Office has a site featuring all the ways you can explore the month of wine. They’re also hosting a Scavenger Hunt you can participate in for great prizes.

And Virginia Wine Month will culminate in The Second Annual Virginia Wine Summit which is sure to be a great event, featuring wine expert Oz Clarke and some great toasts to Governor McDonnell. He leaves office early next year and has been a huge proponent of Virginia Wine. He will surely be missed by the industry.

Cheers to Virginia Wine Month!

Here’s more on Virginia wine.

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It’s Regional Wine Week – Drink Local!

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…

Sawtooth Winery Tempranillo 2009

  • 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.

Stone Hill Winery Blanc de Blancs 2008

  • 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!

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Exploring the World of Spanish Wine with Swirl&Sip

At our September Fine Wine Divas event, we had a great time learning about (and tasting!) wines from all across Spain…from Penedès to León to La Mancha to Rioja. We pulled out the Spanish Wine Region map (check out this great one from Wine Folly) and went on a wine tour with Jason from Swirl&Sip, our wine sponsor for the evening.

We tasted the sparkling, wine, rosé (or rosado in Spain) and red wines.

  • NV Signat Semi-Seco Cava
  • 2011 Heredad de Penalosa Verdejo
  • 2011 Vina Altaba Rosado
  • 2010 Lar de Paula Madurado
  • 2008 Lar de Paula Crianza
  • 2005 Lar de Paula Reserva

And while everyone enjoyed the Cava, the reds were the favorites. The top two were…

2010 Lar de Paula Madurado

  • Variety: Tempranillo
  • Aroma: Dark plum and bright red cherries
  • Taste: Velvety plum and cherries
  • Price: $13.99
  • Pair with: Tapas, roast turkey or lasagna
  • Our thoughts: Light and fruity yet smooth. Great value wine!

2005 Lar de Paula Reserva

  • Variety: Tempranillo
  • Aroma: Spice, balsamic vinegar, roasted meat
  • Taste: Blackberry, tobacco, black pepper
  • Price: $23.99
  • Pair with: Hearty tapas, lamb with cherry reduction, or a beef stew
  • Our thoughts: Big, smooth, spicy, all at a great price.

While both of these wines are 100% Tempranillo from Rioja, they underwent very different aging processes, and, in turn, are very different wines. The Madurado spent only 4 months in oak, lending it a lighter, fruitier characteristic, while the Reserva spent 18 months in oak, and then aged for 18 more months in the bottle, leaving it big, spicy and intense.

One of the Wine Divas summed it up well, “These red wines are the kind I can spend a night with!”

We paired the wines with Spanish cheeses and Mediterranean tapas which truly demonstrated how food friendly Spanish wine is. While the Divas weren’t crazy about the Verdejo and Rosado, once paired with food they were really nice.

Our lovely sponsor, Swirl & Sip, currently offers a selection of high value wines (including all of the wines above) online. Their first wine shop is scheduled to open later this fall in Fairfax’s Mosaic District, and will offer a tasting bar, an expanded selection of unique and delicious wines, hand-crafted beers and gourmet foods from passionate producers. Sign up for their newsletter online to stay up to date on the grand opening!

Now I need a real trip to these wine regions! ;) Salud to Spanish wines!

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Celebrating International Grenache Day in Spain

It’s International Grenache Day! The holiday emerged following the inaugural Grenache Symposium in 2010, which hosted 250 delegates from 23 countries to draw up a blueprint for boosting the global profile of the wine. Grenache (known as Garnacha in Spain) is one of the most widely planted red grapes in the world. It ripens late, so it needs hot, dry conditions such as those found in Spain, Sardinia, the south of France, and California’s San Joaquin Valley. The event gave spotlight to one of Spain’s most popular varietals and most widely planted.

Garnacha typically has strong red fruit expression with subtle notes of sweet spices and floral aromas.  The wine is food-friendly, complementing an array of dishes, including vegetables, beef, lasagna and pasta.

Since the wine is often used in blends, it does not often take the spotlight. However, Campo Viejo, the leading winemaker in the Rioja region of Spain, is celebrating the varietal by launching its first-ever 100% Garnacha. Old vines growing in their original terroirs in Rioja Baja under warm climate conditions, result in a wine with strong red fruit expression, floral aromas and softness in palate.

Campo Viejo Garnacha 2012

  • Variety: Garnacha grapes from Alfaro & Aldeanueva (Rioja Baja, Spain)
  • Aroma: Cassis, violet, vanilla spice
  • Taste: Toasty spice with a berry tart and sweetness with hints of vanilla and caramel
  • Price: $12
  • My thoughts: Light bodied yet complex…berry, sweet and spicy. The wine’s spicy toastiness hit me first then the tart yet sweet lingered.Very nice! It would be a very interesting tasting to compare to Grenache from south of France.

Cheers to Campo Viejo’s new wine and to International Grenache Day!

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Discovering New Wine Varieties & Regions: Furmint from Tokaj, Hungary

This Wine Wednesday I’m trying a grape variety AND region I have yet to write about…Furmint from the Tokaj region of Hungary.

At the lovely new wine boutique, DCanter, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on Friday, Michael introduced me to the wine, Evolúció.

 

Hungarian wine dates back to Roman times.Since the fall of Communism, wine-makers are rediscovering old traditions and experimenting with new grapes and methods. Western producers have recognized the potential of Hungarian wines and have invested and committed themselves to uplifting it. Producers and merchants from Tuscany, Bordeaux and Germany have joined forces with local growers to produce high quality wines. Either by developing vineyards with popular grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon or by attempting to revive interest in regional grapes such as Furmint, Rebola and Plavac Mali and producing truly unique regional wines using modern techniques. (Thank you Boutique Wine Collection for the great information.)

Evolúció comes from the Tokaj region, the oldest and most well known wine region in Hungary. Tokaj produces world class, aromatic dry white wines made from the Furmint and Hárslevelü grapes.

Evolúció Furmint 2012

  • Variety: Furmint from the Tokaj wine region of Hungary
  • Aroma: Apricot, green apple and minerality
  • Taste: Medium-bodied yet crisp green apple taste with spice and apricot
  • Price: $14
  • My thoughts: Wow! I really enjoyed this wine. I knew Michael wouldn’t steer me wrong when I asked for a new and different white wine. He described it as a great cross between Sauvignon Blanc and an unoaked Chardonnay which is spot on. It’s a great transition from summer to autumn white wine.

Cheers to new wine discoveries from new regions!

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