Boxwood Winery

It’s Regional Wine Week – Drink Local!

And with wine produced in every state of the U.S., we can all participate!

Regional Wine Week is the sixth annual celebration of the growth of the U.S. wine industry beyond the West Coast. As co-founder and Washington Post wine writer Dave McIntyre said this week in his article, “It is sponsored by Drink Local Wine, an effort formed in 2008 to draw attention to the impressive wines being made right around here — wherever “here” happens to be.”

While “here” for me is Virginia (I’m enjoying a White Hall Vineyards 2009 Merlot as I write this), on Monday at Siema Wines Portfolio Tasting I was able to taste a great selection of wines from the lesser known wine states with Andrew Stover of Vino 50.

Vino50™ celebrates American winemaking at its best, with a focus on eclectic and unknown American wine regions. Thanks to Andrew’s Vino 50 many of the great wines across the U.S. are getting out there. In addition to tasting two of my favorite Virginia wineries at the event, Breaux Vineyards & Boxwood Estate Winery, I tasted from Missouri, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico and New York. There were many great ones among the 20+ but here were my two favorites…

Sawtooth Winery Tempranillo 2009

  • Variety: 100% Tempranillo from Snake River Valley, Idaho
  • Aroma: Plum, hints of spice and cigar
  • Taste: Medium bodied red with nice balance of black cherry and oak
  • Price: $25.00
  • My thoughts: Who knew? Wine in Idaho AND Trempranillo!? Sawtooth has a great line up and this was one of my favorite tastings.

Stone Hill Winery Blanc de Blancs 2008

  • Variety: primarily Vidal grapes
  • Aroma: Toasty
  • Taste: Crisp, soft with hints of floral and vanilla
  • Price: $18.99
  • My thoughts: Yum! Bubbles from Missouri! This sparkling wine is made in the traditional French method. And is a big award winner! Stone Hill Winery has a great story…”Nestled among the rolling hillsides of the Missouri River, in a countryside reminiscent of Germany’s Rhine Valley, is the little town of Hermann. Perched prominently on one of these hills, with a commanding view of the village, is Stone Hill Winery. Established in 1847, Stone Hill grew to be the second largest winery in the United States. The wines were world renowned, winning gold medals in eight world’s fairs, including Vienna in 1873 and Philadelphia in 1876. By the turn of the century, the winery was shipping 1,250,000 gallons of wine per year. Then came Prohibition…” Check them out.

Cheers to great things happening across the U.S. in regional wine!

It’s Regional Wine Week: Drink Local!

This week marks the fifth annual Regional Wine Week. It’s a week put together by Drink Local Wine encouraging wine writers to write about wines from the Other 47 States (wines that aren’t from California, Washington or Oregon…the biggest wine producing states in the country) to encourage you readers to drink wines from the Other 47!  With wine now produced in all 47 states, everyone has options.

Drink local for me means Virginia. If you’re looking for some Virginia wine to explore this week, here are some of my recent posts for recommendations.

There’s also a great event this Saturday, the Thomas Jefferson Wine Festival at Mr. Jefferson’s personal retreat Poplar Forest, where you can sample from fourteen Virginia wineries and meet Gabrielle Rausse, the father of modern Virginia wine.

Cheers to the other 47! What’s your favorite?

DC Wine Week: Explore the DC Area Wine Scene

Today marks the kick-off of the 2nd annual DC Wine Week…a week long celebration dedicated to enjoying wine, wine education and an opportunity to help support the DC area’s growing local wineries, wine shops, wine bars, restaurants and merchants.

There are hosted events each night this week, as well as paired menus and special offers from participating bars and restaurants. Learn more about the local wine culture and offerings…including Virginia’s 27 wine trails and 210 wineries, and Maryland’s 45 wineries.

Friday night’s event at the Washington Wine Academy is the perfect event for exploration. Food & Wine Magazine voted the Academy one of the top five places to study wine. Celebrating DC Wine Week and Virginia Wine Month, they’ll be pouring from some of Virginia’s best wineries, including twelve wines from Virginia’s Governor’s Case from 6:30-8:30pm.

At Saturday night’s Opening Party at Sonoma Restaurant and Bar, the wine was flowing. My favorite wine of the night…

Boxwood Winery’s Trellis 2010

  • Variety: 68% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Franc, 14% Malbec
  • Aroma: Cherry and spice
  • Taste: Cherry, clove and touch of white pepper on the finish
  • Price: $18
  • My thoughts: This just released wine is a great red blend and example of the fabulous wine you can find in Virginia at a good price point! Enjoy a glass at one of their Tasting Room Wine Bars in the area or you can order it online.

It’s a great week for drinking local during DC Wine Week!

Taste Camp 2012: The Wine Stand Outs, Part 2

In The Wine Stand Outs, Part 1, I covered five of the eleven stand out wines from Taste Camp 2012, focusing on wineries I was tasting for the first time. Now let’s take a look at the six wines from wineries I’ve tasted and/or covered before.

Boxwood Winery Boxwood 2007

  • Variety: 42.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42.5% Merlot, 15% Petit Verdot
  • Aroma: Dark red fruit with hints of spice
  • Taste: Nice concentrated spicy cassis
  • Price: No longer available
  • My thoughts: 2007 was a very good year for their signature wines, Boxwood and Topiary. I like this Left Bank Bordeaux-style blend (Topiary is a Right Bank style). Adam McTaggart told us this was a huge turning point vintage for them…it set their style for going forward. I loved the big fruitiness of this wine. Rachel told us there may still be a few bottles out there to find. For more on Boxwood and our time Taste Camp visit, see Loudoun County, DC’s Wine Country.

Blenheim Vineyards Rosé 2011

  • Variety: Blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Mourvedre
  • Aroma: Big bouquet of strawberry, honey and a touch of cinnamon
  • Taste: Refreshing red fruits with a watermelon finish
  • Price: $14
  • My thoughts: Regular readers know I love Rosé and I love Kirsty Harmon, the fabulous winemaker at Blenheim. I’m always thrilled when I see Kristy and Greg Hirson, assistant winemaker, pouring their wines at events or in their gorgeous tasting room in the country outside Charlottesville. Every wine they make is approachable, easy to drink and delicious. On by BEST of Virginia wine list!!

Veritas Winery Vintner’s Reserve Meritage Blend 2010

  • Variety: 42% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc, 25% Petit Verdot, 16% Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Aroma: Cherry, chocolate and cedar
  • Taste: Cherry with a hint of pepper finished with vanilla and caramel
  • Price: $35
  • My thoughts: I tasted this 2012 Virginia Governor’s Cup Gold winner back in late February at the Virginia Wine Expo and it was even better this tasting! It’s really opened up nicely…a great Meritage blend with chocolate, red fruit, vanilla and caramel hints. What more could you ask for! This again is one of my Virginia winery favorites… Emily is a fabulous winemaker and she is doing amazing work at her winery in red and white! Located outside of Charlottesville.

Breaux Vineyards Nebbiolo 2007

  • Variety: 100% Nebbiolo
  • Aroma: Red fruits with hints of tobacco
  • Taste: Spicy dried red fruits
  • Price: Coming 2014
  • My thoughts: Another 2007 wine shaping up very nicely and it’s not even bottled yet. We were lucky enough to have a barrel sample during our Friday evening dinner at Breaux. They will bottle it this year and then hold for two years before selling. This was a grape Paul Breaux really wanted to grow after his visit to Piemonte, Italy. As Jen Breaux Blosser told us over dinner, “it’s a hard grape to grow and always changing.” Breaux is another one of my Virginia favorites…with their breadth and variety, they have a wine for everyone and their 475-acres are worth the visit for a sip on their patio. For more on our time Taste Camp visit, see Loudoun County, DC’s Wine Country.

Tarara Winery Petit Manseng 2011

  • Variety: 100% Petit Manseng
  • Aroma: Pineapple & citrus
  • Taste: Refreshing crisp citrus and pineapple notes
  • Price: $20
  • My thoughts: This grape is becoming a specialty of Virginia. Most versions I’ve tasted are sweet but this one was perfect! As we boarded the wagon at the winery for a ride into vineyards with winemaker Jordan Harris, he poured us a glass of this. It hit the spot…crisp and refreshing…as we rode in the sun! Jordan said they don’t usually do this wine but with the conditions of 2011 (cloudy & wet September), they decided to try it. Great results! I brought home a bottle and its chilling in the fridge. You can buy it on their website. Located in Loudoun County.

Linden Vineyards Avenius Chardonnay 2009

  • Variety: 100% Chardonnay
  • Aroma: Tropical bouquet with hint of oak
  • Taste: Peach, pear with hints of white pepper
  • Price: $28
  • My thoughts: We had the great pleasure of tasting five wines with Jim Linden, owner/winemaker and one of Virginia’s greats, on his crush pad after our vineyard walk. They were all fabulous and really demonstrate the terroir in which they are growing. I really like this Chablis-style, nice balance of fruit with hints of pepper which Jim said is due to the Avenius vineyard it comes from. Bottled August 2010. This wine should plateau from 2013 to 2017. Guess I’ll have to cellar the bottle I bought. 🙂 Located in Fauquier County.
  • Cheers to some of Virginia’s best wineries and winemakers showing Taste Camp writers everything Virginia wine has to offer!

Taste Camp 2012: The Wine Stand Outs, Part 1

Clearly one of the main reasons forty wine writers came together for Taste Camp 2012 in Loudoun County, Virginia, DC’s Wine Country, was to swirl, sip, spit, taste Virginia wine. Throughout the 48 hour journey across this wine country, we had the opportunity to taste wines from 28 wineries, either at their winery or at Grand Tastings.

A special thank you to ALL the wineries that came out to pour for us or hosted us at their winery…

In total, I tasted from 26 wineries, about 113 wines. Of those, I’ve narrowed it down to 11 stand outs to share with you. Let’s start with the wineries that I tasted for the first time at Taste Camp…

Ankida Ridge Vineyards Pinot Noir 2010

  • Variety: 100% Pinot Noir
  • Aroma: Cherry and blackberry
  • Taste: Delicious blackberry and raspberry red fruits with nice balanced tannins
  • Price: $35 (only 92 cases made so get it while you can!)
  • My thoughts: People say Pinot Noir can’t be done in Virginia but Congratulations to Ankida Ridge! Their first vintage is showing very nicely. This winery was one of my treats of the weekend. Sitting an hour south of Charlottesville in what they are calling “Virginia’s Little Burgundy,” they are growing only the Burgundy classics, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Ankida, an ancient Sumerian word meaning ‘where heaven and earth join,’ the lovely Vrooman Family was pouring their wines for us and I can’t wait to get down to see them!

Stinson Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2011

  • Variety: 100% Sauvignon Blanc
  • Aroma: Crisp floral and grapefruit
  • Taste: Passionfruit, grapefruit with grassy notes
  • Price: $21.99
  • My thoughts: “One concrete egg and two stainless barrels.” That’s what Rachel Stinson, winemaker, said the recipe for the delicious crisp Virginia Sauvignon Blanc was. Love it! This was another great new winery find of Taste Camp. Located in a historic spot in Crozet outside Charlottesville, the unique farm store tasting room is open for visitors and a tasting with Rachel and her fabulous line up of wines is worth the visit.

Zephaniah Farm Vineyard Chambourcin Reserve 2010

  • Variety: 100% Chambourcin
  • Aroma: Bouquet of berries with hints of violet
  • Taste: Rich red fruit and plum
  • Price:$27
  • My thoughts: The Hatch family farm for 62 year finally planted grapes on the land and had their first vintage in 2007. With only 800 cases per year, according to Bill Hatch, they are focused on getting the quality right first. The Chambourcin was a great example!  This is definitely the first time I’ve tasted this grape, made as a rich red wine and liked it! Nice work to Bill Hatch and his son Tremain.

Vint Hill Rosé 2011

  • Variety: 100% Chambourcin
  • Aroma & Taste: Strawberry bouquet
  • My thoughts: Vint Hill Craft Winery was founded in 2009 by veteran Virginia winemaker Chris Pearmund of Pearmund Cellars. It was great to meet Chris and taste his wines including this nice one made at the ‘custom crush’ facility near Warrenton in the historic barns at Vint Hill Farms Station. I’m a big fan of rosé and this one made of Chambourcin, a great use of the grape, is yummy!

Rappahannock Cellars Viognier 2011

  • Variety: 100% Viognier
  • Aroma: Citrus and floral
  • Taste: Fruity peach and orange with hint of oak
  • Price: $23
  • My thoughts: The Delmare Family came to Virginia from California with wine making experience and have now been producing Virginia wine for 10 years. Located between Front Royal and Flint Hill in Huntly, Virginia, the family was drawn to this spot at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The three wines we tasted were very nice, especially this example of Virginia’s official grape, Viognier.

In my next article, I share stand outs from many of the wineries I’ve covered before.

Cheers to these new Virginia finds!