Robert Parker has released his 2011 scores and, as expected, the scores are significantly lower than in 2009 and 2010. He sums up the 2011 vintage thusly:
The bottom line is that it is hard to get emotionally pumped up over the 2011 vintage. To reiterate, the wines are better than expected. A lot of good winemaking has produced excellent wines throughout Bordeaux, but will they sell if prices do not drop significantly? I don’t think so, and neither do I have the answers, but let’s see how it plays out.
Not surprisingly, Alain Vauthier’s 2011 Ausone is one of the greatest wines he has produced. I know this sounds impossible, but it is the reason why I spend so much time tasting and reflecting on what is in front of me. The 2011 could turn out to be better than his 2009 – sacre bleu! Probably the wine of the vintage...
I make no secret of the fact that I am a big fan of Château Lafon-Rochet. The wines that come from this estate continue to excite with the finesse and style. This is reflected in the positive reviews they receive, even in a difficult year like 2011.
Well, now everyone in the DC area has an opportunity to try the wine. Next Wednesday, May 2nd, at 7:00 PM La Maison Française will be hosting an incredible vertical featuring the following vintages:
A few weeks back Jordan Harris, winemaker at Tarara, invited the members of the wine club to a private tasting in Tarara's Great Room.
As always, Jodan did a great job of leading the tasting and did a nice job of showcasing current and older vintages of Tarara's wine.
He also introduced us to the new Boneyard series from Tarara. Boneyard is the name of the area within the vineyard where out of service, but cherished, vineyard equipment is put out to pasture (and not an attempt to cash in on the pirate craze).
The first releases are the 2011 Boneyard White and 2010 Boneyard Red, both priced at $15.
We got a chance to sample the Boneyard White before it was bottled at the Chili Cook-Off and I was impressed. The 2010 vintage is a blend of 42% Chardonnay, 28% Viognier, 19% Petit Manseng and 11% Pinot Gris. As you would expect the wine has a lot of citrus notes and great acidity creating a refreshing, but not effervescent wine. This wine easily serves double duty as a deck wine, to enjoy by itself, or as a companion to a wide array of foods from spicy Thai to oysters and even BBQ chicken.
The 2010 Boneyard Red was almost an afterthought. As they were preparing the Boneyard White, Jordan insisted they have a Boneyard Red to pair with it. The 2010 Boneyard Red is a blend of 31% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Petit Verdot, 21% Merlot, 11% Tannat, 11% Cabernet Franc and 5% Pinotage and is unquestionably the best value in Virginia Wine. 2010 was a powerful year for reds, in fact I would argue it is the best in modern Virginia viticulture. The 2010 Boneyard Red is a complex wine, with great black fruit notes followed by powerful tannins and a long, lingering finish.
The unseasonably warm winter has given way to an early summer and that means wineries are releasing their rosés. We hosted a rosè-off with wines from several Loudoun County wineries: Breaux Vineyards, Boxwood Winery, Fabbioli Cellars, and Hiddencroft Vineyards.
Breaux Vineyards: a perennial favorite, this is the first wine made by the new winemaker at Breaux and it really reflects his style. Where previous Breaux rosés had a sweetness to them, this is a dry rosé. This dryness is a reflection of the vintage as well as David's style. The blend is also new, previous vintages were 100% Cabernet Sauvignon based, but the 2011 vintage is a blend of 53% Nebbiolo, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 13% Chambourcin. The wine had aromas of strawberry and cranberry with some spiciness. In the mouth the wine was bright with nice acidity and good red fruits that lead to a medium finish.
Fabbioli Cellars: We got this wine a week before its official release. This is the third year that Fabbioli has produced a 100% Sangiovese Rosé and the production of this wine is meticulously monitored by assistant winemaker (and CellarBlog favorite) Melanie. The wine is 100% steel-aged, which is reflected in the crispness of the wine. The wine is refreshing without being sweet. I got aromas of of strawberry and peaches, which carried over to the mouth. The wine had flavors of cherry with a surprising hint of cinnamon and soft tannins which lead to a smooth finish.
Boxwood Winery: The most complex of the wines, 2011 Boxwood is a blend of Malbec, Merlot and Cabernet Franc and it is done in a Provencial style. The nose is particularly interesting on this wine with apricot, stawberry, and herbal aromas. The fruit in the mouth gives way to elegant tannins that provide structure without taking away from the fruit and acidity and lead to a nice long finish.
Hiddencroft Vineyards: Slated to be released in the next few weeks, this is the first rosé from Hiddencroft and it is 100% Chambourcin. Of the four wines, this wine had the sweetest feel, though it was by no means a sweet wine. There was red fruit on the nose and strawberry and cherry flavors in the mouth with a soft finish, a very good deck wine.
So, which one was the favorite? If you were part of the tasting panel, leave a comment with your favorites. Based on the comments and votes at the tasting, while all the wines were excellent (not surprising since they were selected based on their track record), the Breaux Rosé was the winner that night!
I was traveling yesterday and didn't see the news until Late in the day and my Twitter stream had gone nuts. Château Latour announced they will no longer participate in En Promeurs. The always brilliant Jane Anson covered it best:
Instead, director Frederic Engerer says, the first wine, Chateau Latour, and the second wine Les Forts de Latour, will be sold – through negociants – when they believe they are becoming ready to drink.
Their last en primeur campaign will be with the 2011 vintage.
Engerer’s motivation, according to negociants who received the letter, is partly a response to the increasing desire of consumers for ready-to-drink wines that have been stored in optimal conditions, and partly to be able to offer vintages to the market over a longer period of time.
@WineKFR Good news for wine buyers as Chateau Latour exits decades-old 'en primeur' system
@Vinalytics @DittonWineTrade @BvdV Re Latour killing off speculation. Using Lafite's China import figures what will be the effect on price based....
@bkwineper Biggest joke of the day? "From 2012 Latour will sell the wines when we think them ready to drink" (Latour chief) bit.ly/IW4ltC
@TheSpitter Latour breaks ranks, Lafite cuts its price in half. Has Bordeaux gone mad. ow.ly/akkiL
As promised, we took advantage of the fact that bud break is well underway in Loudoun County. Here are some images from Fabbioli Cellars:
And from Casanel Vineyards:
Finally, Breaux Vineyards:
There was another frost warning for wineries in Northern and Central Virginia last night. Doug Fabbioli, of Fabbioli Cellars, posted that he was going to start anti-frost measures around 3:00AM. Foolishly, I asked if I could join him and he agreed.
When I got into the car at 2:45AM it was 36 degrees Fahrenheit, at the upper end of frost worries, but by the time I got out to the vineyard it was 32 degrees.
The first thing I noticed was the tarps covering the deer fence, protecting the vineyard from the wind. I stepped out of the car and immediately felt the crunch of frozen grass under my foot and heard the whirring of the anti-frost machine echoing throughout the vineyard.
The machine itself is an inverted funnel lifted about feet off the ground and situated in the middle of an open part of the vineyard. The machine is basically a large fan that sucks the cold air from the ground and allows it to circulate preventing it from settling on the vines.
Many thanks to Doug for giving me the opportunity to watch this process in action.
The National Weather Service has issued a Frost Warning for Northern and Central Virginia:
THIS HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK IS FOR EASTERN WEST VIRGINIA...NORTHERN AND CENTRAL VIRGINIA...AND CENTRAL AND WESTERN MARYLAND WITH THE EXCEPTION OF GARRETT COUNTY.
A FREEZE WARNING IS IN EFFECT BEGINNING AT 2 AM FOR NORTHERN
MARYLAND AND PORTIONS OF THE EASTERN PANHANDLE IN WEST VIRGINIA.
A FROST ADVISORY IS IN EFFECT BEGINNING AT 2 AM FOR PORTIONS OF
NORTHERN AND CENTRAL VIRGINIA...EASTERN WEST VIRGINIA...AND
CENTRAL MARYLAND. PLEASE REFER TO THE LATEST HAZARD MESSAGE /NPWLWX/ FOR FURTHER DETAILS.
.DAYS TWO THROUGH SEVEN...TUESDAY THROUGH SUNDAY
THE FREEZE WARNING AND FROST ADVISORY CONTINUE THROUGH EARLY TUESDAY MORNING.
Unfortunately, I have developed a nasty cold and will not be able to attend En Primeurs. I was able to move my flight to May and I will be in Bordeaux during the week of the Weekend des Grand Crus, an event I have always wanted to attend.
Hopefully, I will get a chance to sample the 2011 then. In the meantime, I will keep you all up to date.
Château Palmer is well-known for the wonderful concerts they host and their unique program of inviting world-renown Jazz artists to compose music to pair with each vintage (separate music for their first and second wines).
They have now compiled their concerts from the last few years and placed information about them on a new website called Hear Palmer. Like their wine, the website is elegant and layered. It provides links to the concerts they have hosted over the last few years, and gives the listener the opportunity to listen to music specifically composed for certain vintages of Château Palmer.
The site is great, as is the music.
On top of the frost warning tonight, it now appears that hail is in the forecast for later this week:
SCATTERED THUNDERSTORMS ARE POSSIBLE WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON AND EVENING. SOME OF THESE THUNDERSTORMS MAY PRODUCE LARGE HAIL AND DAMAGING WINDS...PARTICULARLY ACROSS NORTHERN AND CENTRAL VIRGINIA.
The National Weather Service has issued a frost warning for the DC Metro Area which includes most of Virginia Wine Country. If it happens, it will be overnight Monday into Tuesday:
FREEZING TEMPERATURES POSSIBLE MONDAY NIGHT INTO TUESDAY MORNING...
A COLDER CANADIAN AIRMASS WILL SPILL OVER THE REGION MONDAY NIGHT INTO TUESDAY MORNING LEADING TO THE POTENTIAL FOR WIDESPREAD FREEZING TEMPERATURES. AFTER AN EXTENDED PERIOD OF UNSEASONABLY WARM CONDITIONS...VEGETATION ACROSS THE REGION HAS REACHED GROWING STAGES THAT ARE AHEAD OF SCHEDULE. AS A RESULT...SUB FREEZING TEMPERATURES MAY DAMAGE SENSITIVE VEGETATION.
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BALTIMORE MD/WASHINGTON HAS ISSUED A FREEZE WATCH...WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM LATE MONDAY NIGHT THROUGH TUESDAY MORNING.
TEMPERATURES...UPPER 20S NORTH AND WEST WITH LOWER 30S OVER THE BALTIMORE AND WASHINGTON D.C METRO.
A FREEZE WATCH MEANS SUB-FREEZING TEMPERATURES ARE POSSIBLE. THESE CONDITIONS COULD KILL CROPS AND OTHER SENSITIVE VEGETATION.
This past Monday night, The Boxwood Tasting Room hosted the first ever stop for the Lobster Truck in Reston! As I'm sure you know by the mere fact that I write for this blog, I love wine. As you may not know, lobster is one of my favorite foods! So of course, with both wine and lobster being offered, only a zombie apocalypse could have kept me away!
If you live in the DC Metro area, you are probably familiar with the explosion of specialty Food Trucks in the area. Being a native New Englander, my favorite is the Red Hook Lobster Truck, which serves the BEST Lobster Rolls (both Maine or Connecticut style) south of the New England border! They also have an amazing clam chowder, shrimp rolls and delicious Whoopie pies for dessert! When they originally started out a couple of years ago, they only had 1 truck, and stayed strictly in DC. As their popularity soared, they have expanded both their trucks (now they have 2) and their service area beyond District and into the surrounding areas of Maryland and Northern Virginia.
The Lobster Truck arrived outside of the Boxwood Tasting Room and promptly drew quite a crowd! The small tasting room and sidewalk were quickly overwhelemed with people trying to enjoy a glass of wine with their lobster rolls. Fortunately, I was there with a friend, so while she waited in line for the food, I kept my eye out for a table, which I eventually found just in time for the food to arrive. Boxwood was kind enough to print out the Menu from the Lobster Truck, along with their suggested pairings. Because of the crowds though, I didn't see this until I had already gotten my first glass, the Topiary Rose. Since we had scored a coveted table, we took our time eating and enjoying the food and wine. As another friend showed up to join us, I enjoyed a second glass, this time the 2011 Fire Road Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. Both were enjoyable as I feasted on my lobster and chowder. Despite the craziness of the crowds, it was a delicious meal with great wines. I think the Lobster Truck was sold out of food in record time and ended up having to close up shop close to an hour before they had planned. Clearly this means that they need to come back and do this again!!