Posted: 2013-05-16 07:20
Mother's Day Weekend consisted of two days visiting relatives in Scottsville, a small town located on the James River, about 20 miles south of Charlottesville. Previous we would look forward to hitting a couple of wineries along Route 20 and perhaps a tubing exhibition on the river. Now our trips to the area have been enhanced by the arrival of the James River Brewing
company - who brew several English and German styled beers right on main street. And being in Bud Light country, they brew a wide range of beers to hopefully entice the lager crowd and the craft beer crowd. The "River" series takes care of the lager drinkers from the English bitter River Runner to the lighter River Walker. My father-in-law enjoyed a few of these while I experimented with their more complex creations. The "Green Eyed Lady" is a sweet, but balanced treat brewed with pistachios. The Barbados Brown Ale is aged in used Rum barrels giving a nice bite to the tail. There is also a Baltic Porter (quite nice) and the Midnight Mistress, a Baltic Porter brewed with cacao nibs and paprika. I have a bottle for a future post. And finally, my favorite was the Fluvanna Fluss Wheat Ale - refreshing with an interesting banana flavor.James River Brewing also support local music, so there's another reason to visit the brewery.
One regret from the weekend is that we didn't head east on Route 6 to visit Thistle Gate Vineyard
. This winery will be our starting point on future visits and if you want to start your tour from the furthest point southeast, they will be your destination - particularly if you enjoy Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc. From there, head through Scottsville and north on Route 20. Your first two wineries will be on the left with First Colony Winery
and Virginia Wineworks
on the same road. On previous trips First Colony was our destination, so this time we stopped by the old Mountdomaine facility that Michael Shaps now utilizes for his VW and Michael Shaps brands. We were looking for boxed wine and our post at VirginiaWineTV
explains why. Returning to Route 20, you will soon cross over a bridge spanning the Hardware River. Taking a right will lead you to Blenheim Vineyards
& Trump Winery
; both are popular destinations in their own right and highly recommended. From there, you have two choices, head north to 708 or backtrack to 721. The first will lead to Wisdom Oak Winery
, formerly Sugarleaf Vineyards, whereas the second to the Laird & Company
apple orchard. Not sure if tours are available at the distiller of Apple Jack brandy - but we will soon attempt to visit. Regardless, both roads intersect Route 27 where you will find Albemarle CiderWorks
and Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards
. In fact, if you took Rt 721, then just cross over 27 to Pippin Hill, whereas take a right on 27 if traveling on Rt 708. For you, cider will be your next stop - and quite good cider. At Pippin Hill, get ready for solid wines and spectacular views. Once again our VirginiaWineTV
post provides more information. Cheers and safe travels.
Posted: 2013-05-07 17:00
This past month I've been learning all about Croatian wine through the Monday night #winestudio Twitter series courtesy of Bill Eyer of The Cuvee Corner
wine blog and Tina & Guy from Protocol Wine Studio
. The wines were available for purchase through Protocol as well as Blue Danube Wine
. The first three weeks focused on white wines (Sipun Zlahtina 2011 Blanc, Piquentum Malvasia 2011 Blanc, Daruvar Grasevina 2011 Blanc); but this week attention turned to reds and the famous Plavac Mali, from the Dingač area of the Pelješac peninsula.
Dingač is a small area of vineyards interspersed along the steep (45 degree) southern hillsides of Pelješac - itself located in southern Croatia on the Adriatic. The slopes are so steep, that only donkeys were able to transport the grapes over the mountains to the wineries and explains why the donkey label is a proud reminder of the Croatian winemaking tradition. Never mind that winemakers paid for a tunnel to be built though the 400 m mountain pass that now allows trucks transport grapes. The peninsula also provides intense sunlight, 2800 hours annually, which can lead to intense grapes and intense wines - 17.5% alcohol. In 1961 Dingač became the first protected Croatian wine area - and only wine sourced from the historic Dingač vineyard can be labelled Dingač. These wineries include Matuško, Vinarija Dingač, Bura-Mokalo, Miloš, Kiridžija, and Bartulović. As you can see, there are three meanings of Dingač, the area, the vineyard, plus a winery.
|The Dingač area is shaded in orange|
Dingač is also the home to Plavac Mali, which translates to the "Little Blue" grape. The oldest written mentions of Plavac Mali go back to 1821 and you can still find 100 year old vines bearing fruit. Plavac Mali is the offspring of Dobričić and Crljenak Kastelanski and through DNA analysis, researchers from UC Davis
have determined that Crljenak Kastelanski is the same grape as California Zinfandel (as well as Italian Primitivo). Consequently, Plavac Mali shares some characteristics of Zinfandel, most commonly, that spicy finish. The Dingac Plavac 2010 Red ($12.95)
we sampled during #winestudio exuded blackberries - in the nose and flavor - followed by the anticipated spicy finish. Featuring the donkey label, this is a dependable everyday wine.
Next week (5/13), #winestudio examines another historic Croatian red, the Babić grape, through the Bibich R6 Riserva 2009 Rouge
Posted: 2013-05-02 21:40
One of the benefits of attending the annual DrinkLocalWine.com
conference is the after party where attendees bring wine local to their region for all to sample. I struck out totally with four rather pour east coast Lembergers, but a pleasant surprise were two Massachusetts wines contributed by Richard Auffrey
. And the producer that really caught my attention was also mentioned in the original StarChefs.com
article: Westport Rivers Vineyard & Winery
. Now you may ask, how can a winery in The Bay State produce quality wine? Too cold? Nope - the gulf stream provides the warmth. Soil? Don't be surprised to learn that apparently the owners, Bob and Carol Russell, found favorable soils in southern Massachusetts - "rich New England loam on well drained gravel". Add in a a family history in producing wine and you have the conditions for a nice wine. And that was just what we decided at #dlw13 - the 2010 Pinot Noir. As I recall, the wine was very smooth, more plum than cherry, with an earthy-dirty character in the mid. Very pleasant, but at $30 - be prepared to pay for local.
|StarChefs.com: The United Grapes of America|
Posted: 2013-04-27 12:09
This past week I was invited to participate in a tasting of four biodynamic, Gruner Veltliner wines from Austria for the weekly #winechat discussion. Gruner and Austrian wine has been high on my radar, but biodynamic - not so much. I'm familiar with the concepts, but not the theories or practical applications. And the practical applications and preparations that a vineyard must undergo in order to be certified as Biodynamic by the Demeter
classification system can be quite bizarre. Here's one take from the San Francisco Weekly
. Another set of practices involve celestial movements. For instance, wine is racked on a descending moon because it is thought that more aromas are lost during a fuller or higher standing moon. Other lunar practices are listed here
. But the main focus for biodynamic should be the beneficial vineyard practices, using manure instead of chemicals; using composts; using natural insectacides - all which must have a positive impact on the vineyard and the surrounding countryside. And apparently, organic and biodynamic farming is quite popular in Austria with organic farming accounting for 20% of total grape production - the highest in Europe.
But for me, the primary concern was the wine, and in my opinion, they were quite good. We started with the Meinklang Burg White ($15), a blend of Welschriesling, Gruener Veltliner, and Muscat Ottonel. The grapes were harvested from the eastern side of Lake Neusiedl, technically the Neusiedlersee in Burgenland. All these wines were produced using natural yeasts, so the aromas come from the vineyard as well as the Mucat for this wine - floral-citrus, long and powerful. This is a refreshing wine, citrus flavors and even a bright mid that transitions naturally to the finish.
The next wine was the Nikolaihof Wachau Hefeabzug ($28), 100% Gruner grown in the Wachau region - located west of Vienna and perhaps the best known region for Gruner Veltliner. This wine possesses a creamy texture a result of neutral oak treatment as well as six months on their lees. It also displays earthy-hay characteristics which intertwine with a lemon citrus nose and peach flavors. An excellent wine.
The Wimmer-Czerny Fumberg came to us from Wagram/Donauland, also in Lower Austria, just north-west of Vienna. The wine is spicier than the previous with a citrus - almost pinesol-ish aroma - some pear-ish minerality on the palette, before finishing with a short dose of acidity. Very different than the previous - but in a good way.
We completed the night with the Sepp Moser
Grüner Veltliner Schnabel 2011($27). The grapes were also harvested from vineyards in Lower Austria - this time surrounding Krems or the Kremstal region. The winery is named for Sepp Moserl, son of legendary Dr. Lenz Moser, and now managed by Sepp's son Nikolaus. I nice lineage there; in fact the Mosel family has been producing wine since 1848 so years of knowledge are handed down to successive generations. The nose is all floral and big, with the flavor starting as citrus, then moving to a more spicy, creamy character to finish with roasted nuts on the finish. Could be the biggest Gruner I've tasted: full of flavor, mineral depth, and a long finish. Savory is the word. I great finish to the evening. Cheers
Posted: 2013-04-25 20:56
Now that Savor
has moved to NYC, American Craft Beer Week®
is my favorite time to celebrate craft beer.And now that I'm a member of the Brewer's Association I need to spread the gospel. So make plans for May 13-19, I may be heading to Frederick, Maryland for the Brewers Association of MD "Maryland Craft Beer Festival
Celebrations Expected in All 50 States from May 13-19
Boulder, CO • April 25, 2013—From May 13-19, craft beer connoisseurs and beginners alike will come together for the eighth annual celebration of American Craft Beer Week (ACBW). With the tagline “Big Week, Small Breweries,” ACBW is an opportunity to toast the more than 2,400 small and independent American craft brewers who continue to make the U.S. the world’s most diverse brewing destination. Once again, ACBW celebrations are expected to be held across all 50 states. “The popularity of American Craft Beer Week is indicative of the craft beer renaissance that continues to captivate the U.S.,” said Julia Herz, publisher of CraftBeer.com and craft beer program director at the Brewers Association. “This week is about uniting for a common cause: support and celebration of our nation’s small and independent brewers and the millions of beer lovers who have helped evolve an industry and put the U.S. on the brewing map.” New for 2013 is the American Craft Beer Week Coast to Coast Toast. For the first time ever, ACBW will be commemorated by a simultaneous toast. At 8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT on Thursday, May 16, small brewers and craft beer lovers nationwide will raise a glass of their favorite craft brewed beer to toast ACBW and the delicious beer that it celebrates. To find a toast location near you, visit the official American Craft Beer Week events page, hosted by CraftBeer.com. Untappd, the mobile-based social network that connects breweries with craft beer lovers, is also offering an American Craft Beer Week Badge for users who check-in during ACBW events. Additionally, craft beer fans from across the country can sign the American Craft Beer Week Manifesto, pledging their support to craft beer and their love for “the artisans who approach their craft with originality, dedication and passion.” From tap takeovers and tasting tours to food pairings and festivals, ACBW will be celebrated in many ways across the U.S. To find a local celebration, event or promotion, visit the above-mentioned ACBW events page. A selection of scheduled 2013 celebrations includes:
American Craft Beer Week National Toast
Find an expanded list of U.S. beer weeks and join the conversation on Twitter with #ACBW.
# # #
About the Brewers Association
The Brewers Association is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital/familial status. The BA complies with provisions of Executive Order 11246 and the rules, regulations, and relevant orders of the Secretary of Labor.
Hume, Virginia -
Friday, December 16, 2005
From Rappahannock Cellars, we traveled a short distance to Oasis Winery, the largest wine producer in the state of Virginia. The winery started in 1977 when Oasis planted some of the first Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot vines in Virginia. Since that time Oasis has produced consistent medal winning wines such that it is rated on of the Top 10 in the World. In addition to vinifera wines, Oasis is known for producing international award winning sparkling wines, which are produced in the traditional method "Méthode Champenoise". Oasis wines are available at many retail outlets and we recently had the pleasure of enjoying Oasis Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon on an Independence Airlines flight. Oasis Winery also provides a comfortable environment to enjoy their wines with a terrace overlooking rolling hills - which is impressive even in the winter.
Oasis makes one of our favorite summer wines, their Dogwood Chardonnay. This wine consists of 75% Chardonnay and 25% Seyval Blanc and is fermented in stainless steel. This process creates a clean and refreshing white wine. They also produce a more traditional oak-aged Chardonnay, which is slightly buttery, but very smooth. The wine is malolactic fermented in French oak and won a Gold medal at the San Francisco International Wine Competition.
Oasis Winery produces several excellent red wines. Their Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve is blended from 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, and 8% Cabernet Franc. The wine is aged for a year in French Oak. Their Merlot is aged in both American and French Oak and consists of 86% Merlot and 7% each of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Their best red wine is the Meritage, which is equal parts Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a full-bodied, intense wine.
It is likely that at some point you will be exposed to Oasis wines – either from visiting the winery, fine wine shops and restaurants or if flying on Independence Airlines. Regardless of the source, you will be able to enjoy wines from some of the oldest plantings in Virginia.
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