Château Coutet has a new wine scheduled to be released in the United States later this week. The wine, called Opalie de Château Coutet, is a dry white wine that is a blend of 50% Sauvignon Blanc and 50% Sémillon from 40-year-old vines.
The inaugural vintage is 2010 and only 250 cases were produced. In the United States the wine is available exclusively from the The Wine House in San Francisco (don't worry, they ship to Virginia) for $42 a bottle.
Congratulations to Aline and the whole team at Château Coutet and good luck on your new venture!
Our friends at Château Gruaud Larose have released a beautiful video documenting the 2012 harvest. It is a great way to provide a harvest report and share images from the vineyard at the same time. Very much worth the watch.
There's going to be another new entry to the list of vineyards in Loudoun County in 2014, and that would be Stone Tower Winery in Leesburg.Stone Tower Winery is the venture of Mike and Kristi Huber, which you may know of them through their other business venture, Belfort Furniture. They recently held a Groundbreaking Ceremony and Inaugural Vintage Release which I attended along with fellow bloggers Paul and Warren of Virginia Wine Time, and Kurt and Carol of Wine About Virginia.
Their family has owned approximately 1400 acres in Leesburg for several years, and have carved out approximately 200 acres of that land for a vineyard. They've scouted a beautiful location that will have some very scenic views for the buildings that will be constructed. They had some of the renderings of what the buildings will look like built on the property, and I must say that no one will complain about the size of their tasting room/space.
Lost Creek Winery recently came under new ownership and we decided to head out on Sunday to see if we could meet the new owners. Unfortunately, when we got there the tasting room was busy and the new owner seemed really stressed, so we did our tasting and left.
Lost Creek is an interesting winery, the previous owners considered it more of a hobby and ran it as such. This has left a bad taste in the mouth of many Virginia Wine Lovers who know that Virginia is capable of producing serious wines.
But, I think Lost Creek can be better. Since I did not get a chance to impart my thoughts (nor am I sure they would have been welcomed) to the new owners, I am going to do it here. Please understand this post is from a position of love, I want all Virginia Wineries to make great wine, but right now, you don't.
First, some things you are doing right: the rumor is you are bringing on Sébastien Marquet, from Doukenie Winery as a consulting winemaker. If this is true, fantastic. Sébastian is great at what he does and he is a perfectionist, his presence will instantly add gravitas to your wines.
Your facility and tasting room are beautifully designed and laid out. Lost Creek is one of my favorite places to spend time. I especially like the dual patios, so if we want to listen to music we can, but if we want to have a conversation we can sit on the other side.
That being said, there is a lot of room for improvement. I am going to give you five tips that I think will help improve Lost Creek, and it's wines:
Many people know some of my own personal favorites as far as vineyards go, and one of them is Hiddencroft. I've long appreciated all of their wines, and their offerings continue to get better and better. During this summer, they released a few new offerings that I feel are very much worth discussing.
The first new offering is aRoséspecifically 2011 ChambourcinRosé This is the first time they've done aone,and it was not initially planned. They had more Chambourcin fruit than they would use for the barrels, so they decided to take what was left over and produce this.What resulted was a very crisp and brightRoséwith a beautiful color. I'm really not normally aRoséperson, but I really do enjoy this. It's a dry styleRosé, but with great fruit up front and a burst of acidity.
It is harvest time in Bordeaux! After a challenging year in 2011, 2012 is looking to be a better year. Our good friends at Domaine de Chevalier sent us this early harvest report:
POWER AND FRESHNESS
After a first pass to harvest early-ripening grapes, the fruit proved to be tasty, aromatic, and with the sort of beautiful acidity that befits great dry white wines. Reflecting substantial natural concentration, the yield was only 40 hectolitres per hectare.
The weather forecast for the next few days is excellent, and should ripen the remaining grapes beautifully. Maturity has been relatively spread out due to the prolonged flowering period. However, the way we harvest is ideally suited to this situation. Our experienced pickers and their supervisors undertake several passes, exclusively in the cool of the morning, to pick bunches at peak ripeness. Tastings of the freshly picked fruit and new wine, as well as laboratory analyses, show that that the hopes raised by the beautiful weather in Bordeaux since early August are fully justified.
We already have a general idea of 2012 Domaine de Chevalier Blanc's flavour profile: powerful and fresh, but also bright, complex and mineral.
A VINTAGE BORN UNDER A LUCKY STAR
After one of the coldest winters of the past thirty years, spring was very wet and replenished water supplies that might otherwise have been deficient after an historically dry 2012. While abundant rainfall meant that flowering was spread out, this nevertheless ensured good vine growth.
Summer was rather timid and cool in July, although there was little rain. Then, beautifully sunny weather set in starting in early August. This has virtually lasted nonstop until today and been conducive to rich, sweet grapes. The thermometer reached nearly 40°C form the 17th to the 19th of August, and then dropped to more reasonable levels. By this time, there was a big gap between daytime and night-time temperatures. At Chevalier, we very much like slightly cool evenings that enhance acidity and aromatic expression in our white wines.
When Notaviva Vineyards announced their Host a Wine Show last year I was intrigued. I have never been a big fan of "wine shows" like the Traveling Vineyard, but this is completely different.
I finally got to host one of their shows in July and it was an incredible event. The Notaviva "Host a Wine Show" brings Notaviva wines to your home or business along with Stephen or Shannon to tell you about the wines.
The cost is only $15 per person and not only do attendees get to taste the wonderful wines that Notaviva produces, but they get to hear about the wines and the winery from one of the owners. For those interested, they can even by wines (which a lot of people did).
Notaviva is a beautiful winery and worth the trip, but it is hard to beat the intimacy of an in-home wine tasting with a winery owner, it makes for a great event.
One of my favorite local events, Vintage Crystal is returning tomorrow and the weather could not be any better for this outdoor event:
Vintage Crystal: A Taste of Wine and Jazz – This Weekend
A convenient, metro-friendly addition to the Virginia wine festival scene, enjoy sips of wine provided by Jaleo and tempting tastes from local restaurants. Free Salsa dancing lessons from The Salsa Room, Latin Jazz from Trio Caliente and wine tasting classes from the Washington Wine Academy round out the sixth installment of this local favorite.
When: September 16, 2pm – 6pm.
Where: Courtyard at 220 20th Street, Arlington, Va.
METRO access via blue and yellow lines to Crystal City.
Admission: Tickets available day of event. $20 – food and wine (includes a tasting glass), $10 – food only.
"Gun Shy" is the word that appears to be defining the 2012 harvest in Virginia. I have heard that phrase from more than a dozen winemakers and vineyard managers around the state. After the difficult 2011 vintage many wineries are concerned about the September rains and their potential impact on the harvest. In fact, many wineries started their harvest a few weeks early in order to avoid a repeat.
The 2012 growing season started in 2011 with what turned out to be the mildest winter in recent memory. The mild winter lead to longer than usual growing season, and unfortunately, also lead to several frost scares. While there was some minor frost damage across the state, it was not nearly as bad as the damage from frost in 2010.
2012 was a dry year with only 14.43 inches of rain between April 1st and August 31st in Loudoun County and 17.82 inches during the same period in Charlottesville. Compare that to an average rainfall of 18.73 inches during the same time period over the previous 5 years in Loudoun and 16.94 over the same period in Charlottesville.
Loudoun County experienced 36 90+ degree days between April 1st and August 31st. Down from 42 and 46 in 2011 and 2010, respectively. This meant that in Loudoun there was a longer growing season that was dry an warm, but not too hot.
Charlottesville had 46 90+ degree days between April 1st and August 31st, including a stretch of 5 strait 100+ degree days between July 4th and 8th. This is also down from 47 in 2011 and 59 in 2010.
While it is never a good idea to make predictions about the wines from a harvest, this is definitely shaping up to be a good year for Virginia wines; provided we avoid the deluge of rain we experienced in 2011 and wineries don't jump the gun and harvest too soon.
Good luck to all Virginia wineries!
Summer is almost over and most wineries expect to do booming business over the weekend. If you are looking for a great way to close out the summer you should try the Loudoun Valley Vineyards Lobster Bake on Sunday.
Reservations are required, you can email Zan Dial with your RSVP.
Looks like a really great time!
Over the last few years the popularity of Rosé has grown in Virginia with good reason. Even in an off year, like 2011, winemakers can produce a quality Rosé. The Sunset Hills 2011 Rosé is a prime example of that. The wine is a blend 85% Cabernet Franc with 15% Merlot and it has bold red fruit flavors of strawberry, cherry and a hint of cranberry.
The wine hints at sweetness, but has very low residual sugar. The bright fruit and acidity make it very refreshing, and while I would consider it a summer wine the body is enough that you can drink it well into the fall.
You can't throw a rock in Virginia without hitting a Virginia Wine Festival, but Craft Beer Festivals are much rarer. Fortunately, that is changing. One of the most promising festivals I have seen is the first annual Virginia Craft Brewer Festival, which is being held Saturday August 25th, from 2:00 to 8:00 at Devil's Backbone Brewery in Nelson.
The list of breweries who will be in attendance is impressive and it should be a great event.