We were out with wine friends on Monday; during the evening one of our dinner companions mentioned that they had been out to DelFosse Vineyards & Winery over the weekend and the pourer mentioned that DelFosse had purchased Piedmont Vineyards.
If the rumor is true it would be great to have Claude DelFosse's elegant style of winemaking in Northern Virginia. It would also be a huge turn around for DelFosse, who almost lost the winery two years ago.
We are still researching the story and will update as we find out more information.
Wine About Virginia suggested that the "Virginia Wine Mafia" gather for the opening weekend of a new winery, I jumped at the chance to cross at least one of the new wineries off my list. We gathered at The Barns at Hamilton Station, and entered the 102 year old barn for our tasting.
As readers of this blog know the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors is considering legislation that would seriously restrict activities in which Farm Wineries are able to engage.
The Fauquier County Board of Supervisors is planning to vote on the legislation this Thursday, July 12, 2012, at 6:30 PM. The BoS holds its meetings at:
Warren Green Building
10 Hotel Street, Suite 208
Warrenton, VA 20186
While we believe that much of the proposed ordinance is illegal under State law, it is clear that the intent of the Board is to harm or possibly even eliminate the wine industry in Fauquier County.
Please show your support for the wineries of Fauquier County by writing to the Board of Supervisors and the Zoning Administrator listed to the left. We have provided suggested content for your message that you may copy directly into your email if you so choose.
Fauquier County is trying to put Fauquier wineries out of business!!
Like many wine bloggers, when I started writing about wine I had dreams about owning a winery. I even had the brilliant idea of blending two cultures by owning a small winery in Virginia and another in Saint-Èmilion.
Now that I am older and wiser I know better, but I still see a lot of people out there who think they want to own a winery. Let me tell you why you don't:
5. Weather is a bitch
Last year was a difficult year for Virginia Wineries because of weather. That was followed by a mild winter which lead to early flowering and then BAM, frost! Once Virginia Winemakers made it through the frost scare we hit extremely warm temperatures and last week a freaking Derecho Storm swept through the vineyards. Only two people in Virgnia had ever heard of a Derech Storm prior to last week, now it is all everyone can talk about it.
The point is, if you own a Vineyard, your life revolves around weather a mis-timed hailstorm, a dry hot summer or a wet autumn can ruin your crop for a year and you don't have a lot of control over any of that.
4. With Yelp, Twitter, CellarTracker and other forms of social media everyone is a critic, most of them are stupid.
Social media has made it easy for everyone to be a critic, and there has been a lot written about the democratization of wine critiquing. The fact is, most people don't know what they are talking about, which makes their wine and winery reviews worthless. But, it doesn't change the fact that they are out there for every one to see right alongside the reviews from people who know and understand the wine.
For example, this is from the first review about Breaux Vineyards on Yelp (emphasis mine):
But then they veer off with high priced (and well known) varietals like Cab Franc, Merlot, and Cab Sauv as well as the lesser known Nebiollo. They high priced and, IMHO, not that good and VERY expensive.
I was lucky enough to be invited to the Wine Spectator Grand Tour by Château Brane-Cantenac (more on that later). At the end of the evening there were a few bottles left. Corinne graciously allowed me to take them, with the understanding that I would share them with the wine club.
While the 2009 vintage is phenomenal, the truth is Brane-Cantenac has a long history of producing great vintages and I thought sampling those vintages would make for a more fun evening.
In addition to the 2009 vintage we also poured the 2008, 2005, 1995 and 1982 vintages.
The 2009 vintage continues to impress. For Americans who are used to big Napa Cabernets this wine actually drinks well right now, but it has a complexity that Napa Cabernets usually lack which will serve those who age it well.
The 2008 vintage is elegant and, to me, quintessential Margaux. It combines dark floral aromas with black fruit and well-structured but subtle tannins to make a wine that you can drink now, but that will really shine in 4-5 years.
The 2005 vintage was the one that worried me the most. Undoubtedly, 2005 is a great year but there have been reports of 2005 being in a dormant state recently. That was not the case at all. Luscious blackberry, plum and dark cherry fruits combined with Indian spices flowed from the bottle and overwhelmed the palate, filling the mouth with flavor and blending with the powerful tannins. The 2005 vintage is just starting to hit its stride, I cannot wait to see where it goes.
The 1995 vintage was the only disappointment of the evening. Clearly, the wine had not been properly aged and while it was not vinegar, it had a musty taste that turned everyone off.
The 1982 vintage is not as reliably great as it was a few years ago. Now that the wine is pushing 30, there are still some great bottles out there, but not as many. I was concerned when I removed the foil and there was some evidence of seepage, but my concerns were unfounded. The 1982 vintage was almost all fruit, with very soft tannins that still provided structure. Notes of blackberry, cassis, and violet on the nose and beautiful red cherry, pepper, dark fruit in the mouth. Still beautiful and elegant, but without the same power of a few years ago. It was also an excellent match for the dark chocolate Hershey's Kisses with which we ended the tasting.
It turned out to be a great evening and a lot of fun, many thanks to Corinne for the wine and the inspiration!
In a move that surprised no one, Trump Winery has severed its relationship with Patricia Kluge:
At the time of the takeover, Kluge was offered the role of vice president of operations, but the one-year transitional contract has officially expired.
“We gave her a transition contract for the first year, and that has ended. We are still working with her a little bit, and we still have a good relationship with Patricia,” Donald Trump told the New York Post.
In a move that I would normally consider odd, but in this case it makes perfect sense, Notaviva Vineyards has hired 92.5 WINC-FM radio personality Paula Kidwell, as their tasting room manager.
Notaviva, who's tag line is Wine paired with music. Pour. Listen. Believe.®, has always been as much about great music as great wine. It makes sense that they would want a tasting room manager who is well-connected in the local music scene. It also helps that Paula has been working in the tasting room since 2011.
From the press release Notaviva distributed:
"This is an exciting time for Notaviva Vineyards," says Stephen Mackey, co-founder and wine composer. "With our globally unique brand identity of pairing wine and music, Paula's vast experience and talent brings an entirely new dimension to our operation. In addition to managing the tasting room, Paula will oversee our wholesale and restaurant sales channels as we aggressively expand those opportunities."
"Most encouraging however," Stephen continues, "is the potential that Paula brings as Notaviva strategically pursues new media initiatives with our other company, creative agency Mesh Multimedia. The wine industry is rapidly embracing social networking and multimedia technologies to build brand loyalty and create differentiation. With our in-house audio and video production capabilities we are well positioned to exploit cutting-edge technologies for enhanced customer experiences."
Nominations opened today for the 2012 Wine Blog Awards. Looking over the categories Iwas struck by the lack of nominations for best winery blog (full disclosure: I nominated the Boxwood Winery Blog).
I truly believe Virginia has the best wine bloggers. Not just in terms of quality of writing, but the people behind the blogs are great people.
However, our winery blogs leave a lot to be desired. I know part of that comes from the fact that you have mostly family run wineries who don't have time to take care of the wine and blog, but it would still be nice to see more pop up. I have already mentioned Boxwood, some of the other good Virginia Winery Blogs that I know about are:
Virginia Wine Works
These are not updated frequently (ahem, Jordan and Sebastien):
Sebastien Marquet (winemaker at Doukenie)
Your homework assignment, dear readers, is to tell the world what other Virginia Wnery Blogs are out there that everyone should be reading. If you know of one, post it in the comments!
Jacques DuPont, wine critic for Le Point Magazine, has named 2011 Château Brane-Cantenac to his "Coups de Cœur" list.
Coups de Cœur roughly translates to "love at first sight," and is the annual list of DuPont's favorite wines from the vintage. The last time Château Brane-Cantenac was named to the list was with the 2000 vintage.
Images of the Coups de Cœur event are available on the Château Brane-Cantenac website.
Congratulations to Henri and the entire team at Brane on the well-deserved success!
There is something special about a good wine bar and Wine & Soul is definitely a good wine bar. I learned about the bar while touring Chateau Pontet-Canet and had to check it put.
Located at 23 rue du Couvent, near the Quai, Wine & Soul has been open for about 18 months. The bar has a very cozy feel to it, with signs of music and wine all over the walls. There were no live bands on the nights I was there, but the music that was playing was fun and low key, enjoyable but not enough to drown out the conversation.
The wine selection is excellent, I found a 2006 Lafon Rochet the first night and a very nice 2001 Brane-Cantenac the second night.
The food is also excellent with an assortment of tapas a well as traditional French faire.
Of course, what makes any bar great is the people and here Wine & Soul really excels. The guys that run the bar are passionate about the wine they serve and are genuinely friendly. If you are looking for someplace to have an enjoyable evening of wine and food I highly recommend Wine & Soul.
In April I was fortunate enough to have been invited to a unique wine judging event held at Fabbioli Cellars. This was a judging of 2010 Cabernet Francs from across Virginia.
2010 was one of the best Virginia vintages in recent memory, even surpassing 2007. Given the prominence that Cabernet Franc plays within Virginia Wine, and that we were tasting 2010 vintage I was sure it was going to be a great event.
And it was, it was also a very interesting way to do a wine judging.
The judging was done bracket-style and was a mix of bloggers, professionals and lay people.
Our host, Jimmy, has a detailed write up here, here, here, and here.
The way it worked was that they broke us down into four groups, each group blind tasted a different set of wines, the winner from each of the groups advanced to the next round.
This means that not everyone tastes all of the wines, until it gets down to the final groups. I think this method helps remove some of the bias that can be inherent in a judging. For example, every one knows I am big an of Doug's Cabernet Franc, and it is one of the wines I can recognize blind - even amongst other Virginia Cabernet Francs. Since I wasn't in the group that initially tasted the 2010 Fabbioli Cabernet Franc my bias couldn't (subconsciously) inflate the score.
Each wine was judged on several different characteristics and the wines with the highest scores advanced to the next round.
In the end, the winner was the 2010 Jefferson Vineyards. You can see the progression in the chart above, provided by Chris at Beltway Bacchus.
Congratulations to Andy, at Jefferson Vineyards, and to the staff at Fabbioli Cellars for putting together a great judging and I look forward to future judgings like this.
TasteCamp was created in 2009 by Lenn Thompson, of The New York Cork Report. Its goal is to get journalists and bloggers together in a specific region to taste as much wine as possible, and speak to as many winemakers from that region over the course of a weekend. This weekend, TasteCamp 2012 was held in Northern Virginia, where I happen to live. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the majority of the events, but I was able to meet up with the group on Friday night for a wine dinner out at Breaux Vineyards that was catered by Tuscarora Mills Restaurant.
The group rode out to Breaux on a bus (yes, I was the last one on the bus, and if you ask Frank from DrinkWhatYouLike, I made us late!)and upon our arrival, the ever gracious host Jen Breaux greeted us with a 2010 Sauvignon Blanc. After she greeted us, we had a chance to mingle on the patio and enjoy some delicious passed hors d'ouevres such as roasted pear an carmelized onion tartlets and seared scallop on lavosh with fennel salad and orange glaze. We also were able to taste 3 other wines as well. The ever popular 2010 Jen's Jambalaya, a great all around table white, the 2010 Viognier, and the 2002 Merlot Reserve.
After a while, we were directed to the barrel room where the tables were ready and waiting for our arrival. Our first course was a salad with local organic greens, crumbled goat cheese, walnuts and a balseto vinaigrette that was paired with the 2011 Breaux Rose. This is the first wine produced by the new winemaker, David Castano. It is a blend of nebbiolo, cabernet sauvignon and merlot. This rose is a bit drier than in years past, but was delicious!
The next course was Spiced Angus Beef Medallions with bacon fig sauce scented with chocolate, gorgonzola and risotto studded with currants and almonds. This was paired with the 2007 Cabernet Franc Reserve and the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. The Cabernet Franc was done in all French Oak (mostly new) and went really well with the beef. The Cabernet Sauvignon I thought paired better with the risotto, but of the two, the Cabernet Franc was my favorite.
The third course was a variety of cheeses (morbier, valdeon blue, mahon, quince, and some hazelnut-onion marmalade) paired with the 2001, 2002, 2005 and a barrel sample of the 2007 Nebbiolos. I had recently attended the Nebbiolo Vertical at Breaux, so it was interesting to have them again, and note how even in that short time they had changed a bit. The 2007 Nebbiolo was much darker than the others, and definitely seems like it will be as good as the 2001 after it's been bottled for a while.
For dessert we were served a white chocolate-apricot cake with lychee sabayon. This was paired with the 2010 "Chere Marie" Vidal Blanc and the 2006 Soleil. Both great dessert wines, but my preference is the Chere Marie as it is not quite as sweet as the Soleil.
It was a fantastic evening of food, wine and meeting some other great bloggers that I normally only see online!! Thanks so much to Lenn Thompson for allowing me to join the party, even if it was just for an evening, and to Breaux and Tuscorora for putting together yet another Fantastic event! I can't wait to see what all the other bloggers have to say about the rest of the weekend! Cheers!
Friday night I had the pleasure of being able to taste the two new releases from Doukenie. Winemaker Sabastian was on hand to discuss them, and answer questions.
The first wine we tried was Le Vin Rouge (2009). This was a light, but well balanced red that would be good for every day drinking. On the nose I got black currant and Plum, and upon tasting, I got a smooth berry taste that was well balanced. The wine is 64% Merlot and 36% Cabernet Franc with the grapes from Vino Volturno Vineyard.
The next bottle to be released was the Dionysus 2009(named after the Greek God of Wine). This was a rich, full bodied red that had a very smooth finish. On the nose I got tobacco and cherry, but when I tasted, I got the caramel and coffee on my palate. This is a 100% merlot all from "Block 1" at Doukenie. It was aged for 26 months in French Oak barrels from Cognac and Bordeaux. There were only 99 cases of this wine made, so if you want to get it, you should move quickly!
I asked Sebastian if there will be more vintages of the Dionysus because it came out so well, and he said yes, there is a 2010 vintage currently in barrels, but 2011 was too wet, so there was none made for that year. Hopefully 2012 will produce another vintage, because this was a fantastic Red.
According to Bloomberg Businessweek, the Virginia Attorney General has filed suit against serial scumbag Tareq Salahi over his wine tourism scam:
Cuccinelli accuses Salahi and his companies of violating the Virginia Consumer Protection Act, which prohibits the deception of consumers. He said in a statement that the lawsuit was filed based on complaints filed with the Virginia Office of Consumer Affairs and the Better Business Bureau and an investigation by his office.
Some customers reported their tours were cancelled the morning they were scheduled to begin due to a "vehicle malfunction," and that some never heard from the company again. Some complained they were not taken to the wineries they were promised or that the mode of transportation wasn't what was advertised. Others complained that refunds, even those promised in writing, were never delivered.
Cuccinelli said VirginiaWineTour.com's web site also displayed logos of several businesses as "official partners," including United Airlines, the Bed and Breakfast Association of Virginia and Facebook, but that he had reason to believe that many, if not all, were not partners.
In the lawsuit, Cuccinelli asks for civil penalties of up to $2,500 for each violation and requests that VirginiaWineTour.com be required to return money to those are deemed to have been defrauded.