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Quievremont Wines

Date: Fri, Feb 28, 2014 Wine Tasting

During a recent lovely evening with friends at a local wine bar, the sommelier of the wine bar had pointed out to us a new entry to their Virginia Wine section: Quievremont Wines. I hadn't heard anything about this vineyard previously but I was excited to try to learn more.

From some quick research, I'd found several other places that were already distributing this newer entry to the Virginia Wine world. This only made my curiosity regarding this place climb even higher. It seems to be rare that a VA Winery/Vineyard starts out initially with getting more business through distribution than through a tasting room...that to me appears to be developed usually after a winery is opened and established a bit more.

Currently, tastings are by appointment only as they have not built out their official tasting room yet. However, I received a quick response on Facebook from John Guevremont (the owner) regarding how I could set one up. A quick email later, and we were all set for a tasting.

Thankfully, we had a beautiful break in the weather this past Saturday that made the drive out a very beautiful and pleasant weekend drive to their location in Rappahannock County. The winery is part of the larger Reality Farm that was purchased by the Guevremont family in 2006. Reality Farm encompasses approximately 200 acres nestled in the foot hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Reality Farm itself is full of history as it dates back to 1753, including having been used as an outpost and an encampment during the Civil War.

As this was by appointment only, this afforded us a very nice intimate wine tasting led by the owner. We tasted in a small kitchen of a building on the property. John led us through 6 wines in total, but started in an order reverse to what you would normally expect:

  • 2011 Merlot: 100% Merlot aged 8 months in new French oak, $24. While there was some wonderful fruit (black cherry and plum) in this, it was nicely balanced with the tannins and acidity. While I'm not usually a fan of most Merlots, I really did enjoy this.
  • 2012 Meritage: 44% Cabernet Sauvignon/33% Merlot/22% Cabernet Franc aged 9 months in new French oak, $32. This wine was impressively smooth. With notes of blackberries and hints of pepper, I found this wine to be probably my favorite in a star-studded lineup. When I took a bottle of this to a gathering with friends later that night, the bottle quickly disappeared.
  • 2012 Vin de Maison: 37.5% Cabernet Franc/37.5% Merlot/25% Syrah aged 9 months in new French oak and 0.35% residual sugar, $23. This wine was a much lighter red and would make a great table wine or for the friend that isn't as keen on red wines as you are.
  • 2011 Chardonnay: Steel barrel fermented, aged 2 months in neutral oak, $24. Some lemon and tropical fruit in the mouth without any sort of buttery finish.
  • 2012 Chardonnay: Steel barrel fermented, aged 2 months in neutral oak, $24. While there was a slight creaminess to this Chardonnay, the tropical fruit (especially pineapple) that came through on this was wonderful. Either of these Chardonnays would be great with a meal or just chill to sip on a hot summer's day.
  • 2012 Rosé: Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc; Steel barrel fermented done in a saignée method; with 0.95% residual sugar, $22. This was a great end to the tasting with a lot of berry notes but not being too sweet. This would be another great wine for that summer sipper.
The 2012 Chardonnay, 2011 Merlot and 2012 Meritage all received Silver Medals in the Governer's Cup Competition.

All of the wines here are from estate grown grapes. The vineyards were planted in 2007 and the first vintage from the estate is 2011. While many vineyards had some problematic weather for the harvest season during 2011, they managed to escape much of the rain that vexed other vineyards for a month. Currently, they have 7 acres under vine with Chardonnay, Viognier, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. They have plans to expand that further by planting Malbec this year. Additionally, they will be bottling their first Viognier this Spring. Their winemaker currently is Theo Smith.

I really enjoyed all of their wines and would highly recommend trying their wines out.

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Château Coutet on Downton Abbey

Date: Sun, Jan 19, 2014 Wine Tasting

When most people think of Downton Abbey and Bordeaux, they probably think of the Downton Abbey labelled Claret released last year. But, the truth is that during the period in which Downton Abbey took place white Bordeaux ruled.

Which is why it was so exciting to see that Downton Abbey, featured a bottle of 1919 Château Coutet, a 1er grand cru classé en 1855 (first classified growth), on episode two of season four which aired on Sunday, January 12, 2014 at 9pm ET.

The bottle of Château Coutet 1919 was served at a house party hosted by Robert and Cora Crawley, Earl and Countess of Grantham and their family. The guests included opera singer Dame Nellie Melba played by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, who delivered two beautiful performances.

“We are thrilled to see Coutet featured on Downton Abbey. The show has been a favorite amongst our team -- we’ve always been especially excited to see the presence of Sauternes at each of the series dinning scenes. There is no other show that has been such a strong advocate of our region’s wines,” commented Aline Baly, co-owner and director of marketing and communications of Château Coutet. During this time period, Bordeaux’s sweet wines ailing from Sauternes and Barsac were generally served with desserts and often referred to as pudding wine.

The Château Coutet 1919 was selected by the show’s production team for its period appropriate authenticity and its recognized quality amongst wine enthusiasts. The estate’s 1919 vintage was produced by the Lur-Saluces family, the then owners of Château Coutet and Château d’Yquem.

As Seen on TV logo courtesy Wikipedia.

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Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux Tasting in DC

Date: Tue, Jan 14, 2014 Wine Tasting

53 members of the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeau are presenting the 2011 vintage this Friday, in an event sponsored by Calvert Woodley.

Details of the event are on the Calvert Woodley website. The event takes place at the Park Hyatt from 3:00 to 6:00 and costs $80.00 per person.

This is the second year in a row that the UGCB has hosted a tasting in DC. Last year's event was hosted by Pearson's Wine and Spirits and was a huge success. This year's tasting looks to be successful as well.

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Is Your New Year's Resolution to Own a Virginia Vineyard?

Date: Thu, Jan 2, 2014 Wine Tasting

If your New Year's resolution is to own a Virginia Vineyard, your opportunity has arrived! John Ince with Nest Realty has listed South River Vineyard for sale.

The property in Charlottesville along the Monticello wine trail and consists of 92 acres, seven of which are already planted with Chardonnay, Vognier, and Petit Mensang.

According to the listing, the property is "...rated superior by the Virginia Tech Viticulture Department in terms of elevation, slope, soils and aspect."

There are also another ten acres that are ready for additional vines (which is good, so you can mix some red in with those whites).

So, make your New Year's Resolution come true and own your very own Virginia Vineyard!

image from Nest Realty listing
H/T to reader JB for the heads up!

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Spend Part of Small Business Saturday at a Virginia Winery

Date: Sat, Nov 30, 2013 Wine Tasting

Today is Small Business Saturday a day that celebrates local businesses and encourages people to shop at them (and avoid the disaster that often accompanies Black Friday).

While you are out supporting local businesses, don't forget your local wineries! Many wineries are offering Small Business Saturday specials, which is a great time to stock up on local wine for Christmas, your holiday party, or to give as gifts (Fabbioli's Raspberry Merlot and a small box of chocolate makes a great gift).

Some wineries are offering great deals today, definitely check out the sales at Loudoun Valley Vineyards, Hiddencroft Vineyards, Tarara, Willowcroft Farm Vineyards and a host of others in Loudoun County!

Image courtesy American Express.

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Château Coutet Releases 4th Annual Thanksgiving Menu

Date: Mon, Nov 25, 2013 Wine Tasting

For the fourth year in a row, Château Coutet has released a specially prepared Thanksgiving menu, putting a unique spin on traditional Thanksgiving menu items and pairing them with Château Coutet wines.

This year, Château Coutet worked with personal chef Sarah Heller to develop the menu, which is posted on the Château Coutet website.

The press release is below:

This innovative idea of pairing Château Coutet with Thanksgiving stemmed from the Baly family’s personal experience of this holiday as newcomers to New England in the late 80s, when faced with the challenge of preparing a moist, flavorful turkey. “There are traditions but absolutely no rules when it comes to food pairing and the sweet wines of Bordeaux. Sauternes’ texture and balance make these beautiful golden wines very flexible. Château Coutet’s warm notes of spices, such as gingerbread, and exotic nectars provide a broad array of delicious holiday pairing options,” shares Aline.

Since 2010, Château Coutet has commissioned a different chef to create a menu for this annual family gathering. This year, personal chef Sarah Heller (http://www.sarahhellercooking.com, Yountsville, California) was selected specially for her originality, great sensitivity and honest approach to food and wine as well as her mastery of poultry cookery, due to her experiences in America’s best kitchens and Michelin-star restaurants.

Featured for Thanksgiving 2013 will be a Pomegranate-Maple Glazed Turkey, recommended with Château Coutet 1997, 1998 or 2004, accompanied by Butternut Bacon Bread Pudding with Leeks and Sage and Château Coutet 2006, a Gruyère Gougère filled with Sweet Potato and Goat Cheese Mousse served with Château Coutet 2002 or 2008 and, to conclude, a Buttermilk Semolina Cake with Cardamon and Caramelized Pear with Château Coutet 2010.

(Images courtesy Château Coutet)

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Climate Changes Will Produce Wine Winners and Losers

Date: Sun, Oct 6, 2013 Wine Tasting

I don't normally print press releases in their entirety, but climate change is a critical issue that is already impacting vineyards around the world. It is important to raise awareness. There is a lot of good information on the UMD CIRUN website that is worth checking out. Read below for more information.

In the not too distant future, your favorite French wine may not come from its namesake region or even from France!

Climate change is altering growing conditions in wine producing regions and in coming decades will change the wines produced there, in some cases shifting to new areas the growth of grape varieties long associated with regions further south, says leading climate scientist and wine expert Antonio Busalacchi of the University of Maryland.

“Climate change will produce winners and losers among wine growing regions, and for every region it will result in changes to the alcohol, acid, sugar, tannins and color in wine,” says Busalacchi, who directs the UMD Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center and chairs the World Climate Research Programme’s Joint Scientific Committee and the National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate.

Busalacchi, and research assistant Eric Hackert have analyzed climate change impacts on 24 of the world's major wine producing regions; providing snapshots of what conditions will be like at the middle and end of this century. Busalacchi notes that several Champagne houses already are looking at land in Sussex and Kent in southern England as potential sites for new vineyards because as climate warms the region is becoming more hospitable to quality grape growing. The soil type in the region, as seen in the white cliffs of Dover, is similar to the chalky substrate of Champagne, and the cost of land is 30 times less than in France.

“Vineyards in higher latitudes, at higher altitudes or surrounded by ocean will benefit from climate change with more consistent growing seasons and a greater number of favorable growing days,” he says. “These include the Rhine in Germany, U.S. states Oregon and Washington, the Mendoza Province of Argentina and New Zealand.” says Busalacchi who comes from a family of restaurateurs, is an advanced sommelier and operates a wine and vineyard consulting firm.

On the other hand, Bordeaux and some other regions will suffer compressed growing seasons that yield unbalanced, low acid wines that lack complexity. South Africa and South Australia, likely will see declines in wine production due to severe droughts, according to Busalacchi. More generally, extreme events such as heat waves that shut down photosynthesis and hail storms that can ruin a chateau’s annual production in a matter of minutes will become more commonplace.

In both warm and cooler regions, one result will be the same; wines will lose their traditional character.

“Taken to an extreme, a wine from the Left Bank of Bordeaux may move away from the classic aromas of cedar cigar box, blackcurrants and green pepper and more toward the full, rich, spicy peppery profile of a Chateauneuf-du-Pape from the Southern Rhone,” says Busalacchi. “Given that most grapevines produce fruit for 25 to 50 years, grape growers and wine makers must consider the long term when determining what to plant, where to plant, and how to manage their vineyards.”

Building Climate Understanding
The University of Maryland is a national leader in collaborative research to understand our earth and its changing climate. As part of that work, UMD has major research partnerships with federal agencies in earth science, climate and energy research. These include a NOAA-supported Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites; the long-standing cooperative agreement between UMD’s Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center and the NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center; and the Joint Global Change Research Institute, a partnership between the university and the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

To aid individuals, institutions, industries and governments in effectively planning for and responding to climate change impacts, UMD’s CIRUN initiative (Climate Information: Responding to User Needs) is building diverse partnerships among climate scientists, behavioral and social scientists, engineers, agricultural scientists, public health and risk management experts and private and public sector decision makers.

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Domaine de Chevalier Welcomes Bordeaux Lovers to 2013 Bans des Vendages

Date: Mon, Sep 30, 2013 Wine Tasting

On September 14th, the great team at Domaine de Chevalier hosted this year's Commanderie du Bontemps where they inducted 36 new members to to the prestigious organization.

The revelers at Domaine de Chevalier had a number of reasons to celebrate. Read all about it and check out pictures and videos on their blog.

In conjunction with the Commanderie du Bontemps and the Crus Classés de Graves, DOMAINE DE CHEVALIER welcomed more than 1,000 guests from all the continents to the 2013 BAN DES VENDANGES on Saturday 14 September.

This pre-autumnal gala evening was particularly brilliant and on a par with the Fête de la Fleur (another prestigious annual Bordeaux reception), but with more of a family... and a Gascon atmosphere. Olivier Bernard also celebrated the 30th anniversary of his family's presence at Domaine de Chevalier, which he has managed since 1983.

The heavy showers that fell on the Graves region did not dampen spirits as 36 new members – including Her Excellency the Austrian ambassador to France, Mrs Ursula Plassnik, the fashion model Adriana Karembeu, and the saxophonist Manu Dibango, among others) – were inducted into the Commanderie in the château cellars.

The Gascon dinner, prepared by Jean Coussau (chef at the two-star Relais de la Poste in Magescq), was preceded by a tasting of white Graves great growths and a short address by Mr Alain Juppé, Mayor of Bordeaux and former Prime Minister. The red great growth Graves wines served at dinner began with an emblematic wine, 1983 Domaine de Chevalier (Olivier Bernard's first vintage...) and ended in apotheosis with a 1998 Château La Mission Haut-Brion!

The rain had stopped by then, so everyone could go outside to enjoy dessert in an immense open tent looking out over the estate to admire a firework display over the vines to the sound of music.

What a wonderful way to celebrate the 2013 vintage!

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Early Late Harvest Starts in Bordeaux

Date: Sun, Sep 29, 2013 Wine Tasting

A year that has been fraught with challenges for winemakers in Bordeaux took another turn this week as many chateaux began harvesting their reds a week earlier than expected.

October 7th was set as the start of the red harvest for many in Bordeaux. A later harvest than in recent years necessitated by the late bud break and the very wet early summer.

But, a surprise heat wave coupled with the forecast for rain over the next week caused many chateaux to start harvesting on September 26th or 27th.

Because of the odd weather and the hailstorms that decimated so many vineyards on the right bank the 2013 harvest is expected to have a small yield. Hopefully, the early harvest won't further impact the vintage.

Good luck to all who have started to harvest, and to those who are holding out until the 7th!

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Attimo Winery to Set Two Records, Raise Money for Auburn Elementary

Date: Thu, Sep 26, 2013 Wine Tasting

Our friends at Attimo Winery are attempting two world records on Saturday, September 28 to raise money for building a playground at Auburn Elementary. From their press release:

Attimo Winery, LLC and the Montgomery County Chamber Foundation and the Montgomery County Regional Tourism Office (Virginia) announces an attempt to break two records: The Longest Toast Relay, and, the “Most Bottles of Wine Uncorked Simultaneously”. Labeled as “Salute Vantaggio,” this history-making event will take place Saturday, 28 September 2013, in the heart of the New River Valley at Attimo Winery.

The current record for the longest toast relay consists of 886 participants and was organized by Tsubamesanjo Junior Chamber Incorporated (Japan) at Tsubamesanjo station, in Sanjo, Niigata, Japan, on 10 November 2012. The most people uncorking wine simultaneously (within 30 seconds) is 474 achieved by WineFest No. 18: A Toast to Children's Health (USA) in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA on 10 May 2013.

More from the release:

Salute Vantaggio was created by Attimo Winery with support from the Montgomery County Chamber Foundation and the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce. Profits of the event will contribute to a playground and outdoor community area at Auburn Elementary.

If you are in the Blacksburg area and want to participate you can. Salute Vantaggio is open to participants and spectators. To participate as a record-setter, attendees must purchase a participant ticket for $60. Those who want to enjoy the event as spectators are invited to purchase Spectator tickets for $35. In addition, local food, art, and craft vendors will be at Salute Vantaggio. In addition to Attimo, several local wineries are also invited so participants can taste local wines from the region. Tickets can be purchased at www.attimowinery.com/salute.

This is a great event and we wish the team at Attimo the best of luck!

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Righteous Cheese Offering Virginia Cider and Cheese Pairing

Date: Mon, Aug 26, 2013 Wine Tasting

Righteous Cheese is another Kickstarter alum that is thriving at Union Market in DC. Offering a wide selection of cheese plates as well as wine and beer selections and flights of wine and cheese pairings.

We stopped by on a Sunday to check it out. We ordered a plate of 5 cheeses for $25 and a glass of the Lambrusco. The cheeses come from around the world including France, England, Spain, Italy and, of course, Virginia. Everything was good, but our favorite was the Bleu des Basques from Béarn France.

Not only was the cheese good, but the service as excellent. We learned a lot about the cheeses and why they were included. We also brought some of the cheese home with us.

If you are down near Union Market Righteous Cheese is worth a visit.

After our visit Righteous Cheese began offering a Virginia Cider and Cheese Flight. The flight is $24.55 and includes 3 cheeses and 3 ciders:

  • Potter's Craft Cider with Jasper Hill Harbison

  • Albemarle Ragged Mountain with Caromont's Esmontonian

  • Foggy Ridge Serious Cider with Westfield Farm's Bluebonnet.

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Crooked Run Brewing is 4th Nano-Brewery to Open in Loudoun

Date: Sun, Aug 18, 2013 Wine Tasting

If you were watching Kickstarter in February, you may have seen a project pop up for a "Farmhouse Nanobrewery" called Crooked Run Brewing. Not only was the project successfully funded, but it actually exceeded its goal by 14% and today Crooked Run Brewing is open and thriving at Market Station in downtown Leesburg.

While wine gets the lion's share of attention in Virginia there is a burgeoning craft brew industry growing here as well and the most exciting and innovative brewers in that industry are the nano-brewers. Led by Jim and Lori Corcoran at Corcoran Brewing, the nano brewing industry is getting ready to explode in Loudoun County. There are currently 4 nano-breweries open, but there are 16 nano-breweries who are currently going through the (painful) licensing process.

A nano-brewery is defined as a brewery that produces less than 4 beer barrels at a time. While nano-breweries are small scale, don't confuse them with your average home brewer, There is a lot of complexity associated with nano-brewing, both in ingredients and equipment.

We stopped into Crooked Run Brewing on a Saturday after they opened and talked to Jake Endres, the 25 year old owner of Crooked Run.

Of the 5 beers on tap, Jake had 3 available: Logan's Song, an English Pale Ale; Logan's Bite, an English IPA; and Summer Night a raspberry dark Belgian.

We tried the Logan's Song and the Summer Night, both were excellent, but the Summer Night stood out as something unique. The Belgian style ale, had power to it that was tempered by the very subtle raspberry notes which gave the beer a fleeting sweetness, but not to point that it was sickly sweet. The flavors mellowed out the 7.5% alcohol ABV, making it a refreshing drink on a hot day.

While Jake has 5 beers on tap, he has more than 21 recipes ready to go, giving him plenty of opportunity to rotate through the selections.

How does someone so young have so many recipes? He spent the year waiting for the licensing for his brewery to go through Virginia ABC experimenting with different recipes and taking advantage of the many local ingredients Loudoun has to offer.

But the care Jake takes goes beyond local ingredients. He is careful about all of the ingredients he uses. He only uses three yeast strains for all of his beers, and he reuses the yeasts right away.

If you take a few minutes to talk to Jake you will be impressed with his passion and the depth of his knowledge. He spent 10 minutes explaining the different yeasts he uses, their attenuation advantages and benefits in different types of beer.

It is definitely worth stopping by Crooked Run Brewing and checking out the beers they have on tap. A great way to spend an afternoon or an evening after dinner.

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Veraison Comes to Virginia!

Date: Sun, Aug 11, 2013 Wine Tasting

One of my favorite points in the vineyard cycle is veraison, the time of year when grapes turn from green to purple. Veraison signifies that harvest is a few short weeks away. I started hearing reports that veraison was appearing last week, so we went out to see for ourselves.

We started at Fabbioli Cellars:

Next, we went to Vineyard & Winery at Lost Creek:

Finally, we went to Casanel Vineyards where we got to see the first in state planted Carménère.

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"You Will Be My Son" Finally Coming to the US!

Date: Fri, Aug 9, 2013 Wine Tasting

I am a sucker for movies set in vineyards, but there is a dearth of films set in Bordeaux, which is why I was so excited when I fond out about You Will Be My Son.

Set in the vineyards of Saint-Émilion, the movie centers on a winemaker and his relationship with his son. From the media kit:

YOU WILL BE MY SON, focuses on the problematic relationship between Paul Marseul, (Niels Arestrup), the vineyard owner, and his son, Martin (Loran Deutsch), who works with him on the family estate. Paul is a demanding and passionate winemaker but is a domineering father. He is not happy that his son may one day succeed him. He dreams of a son who is more talented, more charismatic . . . and more in line with his own aspirations. Things deteriorate as Paul's trusted manager Francois (Patrick Chesnais) is dying of cancer. When Francois' son Philip(Nicolas Bridet), also in the wine business, returns from California to look after his father, Paul sees Philip as his ideal son and turns away from his own flesh and blood.

The film was first released in France in 2011, and will finally be released in the United States on August 16th.

This film is worth checking out, I have embedded the tailer below.

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