Virginia Wine Festival

Virginia Wine of the Month Club

Just in time for Virginia Wine Month (starts tomorrow Saturday 1 October), I received my first shipment from the Virginia Wine of the Month Club!

I discovered this convenient service at the Virginia Wine Festival a few weeks ago. They’ve been delivering monthly shipments of Virginia wine to members for 22 years! Each month they hand-select one or two bottles of wine from around the state through their expert tasting panel. They seek out hard-to-find wines, especially those not widely distributed.

How does it work? There are no membership fees or obligations, just the cost of the wine and shipping each month. The prices are great…$15.95 for one bottle or $26.95 for two + shipping! You can chose one or two bottles each month then all reds, all whites or a variety. I went with two bottles, one red and one white.

Each shipment comes with The Virginia Wine Journal featuring in-depth information on the featured vineyard, the featured wines and recipe pairings with the wines. It also lists upcoming wine events and this month included several flyers on the events.Shipments are made the 4th Monday of every month.

This month’s offering? Chatham Vineyards 2009 Church Creek Steel Chardonnay and Church Creek Merlot. Ironically I have a bottle of this Chardonnay on my wine rack already…discovered this Eastern Shore winery in May at the Mount Vernon Wine Festival and really liked their Chardonnay. Looking forward to enjoying both!

Visit their website to place your own order (or as gifts). And each month I’ll share my wine arrival and tasting notes with you here.

Coming tomorrow…details on Virginia Wine Month.


Wine Judging Made Simple

Wine judging has been a bit of a mystery topic to me topic, but thanks to the Wine Judging Made Simple seminar at Sunday’s 36th Annual Virginia Wine Festival, I now have a great understanding of the process!

Walter Rachele, a graduate of the American Wine Society Wine Judge Training Program and judge in their commercial wine competitions, spent an hour with us on the basics of wine judging. After a brief helpful introduction, he led us through our first judging as a group using the standard U.C. Davis School of Oenology Scoring Sheet.  Then we judged three more wines at our tables.

Here’s how it works. The U.C. Davis Scoring Sheet is a 20 point system that judges wine on Appearance, Aroma(of the grape variety)/Bouquet (of the wine), Taste/Texture, Aftertaste, Overall Impression to get a total score.

  • 18-20 are Extraordinary = Gold Medal
  • 15-17 are Excellent = Silver Medal
  • 12-14 are Good = Bronz Medal
  • 9-11 are Commercially Acceptable
  • 6-8 are Deficient
  • 0-5 are Poor and Objectionable.

This is what the sheet looks like. To get you started on judging, you’re told what grape variety or varieties the wine is so you can judge appropriately.

I was extremely surprised how overall simple it is! It does require a basic understanding of each grape varieties classic characteristics (I used my cheat sheet on my iPhone from my session at the Wine Bloggers Conference in July) so you can accurately judge the wine. And you MUST leave your preferences at the door. I’m not an oakey chardonnay fan but I should still be able to judge the wine in the 5 categories above.

As the nose can get ‘tired’ smelling glass after glass, Walter shared a trick with us…run your nose along your arm to ‘clear’ the scents (note no lotions or perfumes are allowed).

Wine judging…a great way to increase your knowledge of wine, educate friends or even become a pro!

Nine Virginia Wines Worth the Sip

My goal at Sunday’s 36th Annual Virginia Wine Festival was two part…1) Buy a few great examples of Virginia wine for my upcoming girls’ weekend, and 2) Discover a few new Virginia wineries I haven’t tried.  Success on both fronts!!

The two-day event held in Centreville, Virginia (about 30 miles west of Washington, DC) brought together 40+ wineries sampling wine, workshops and seminars presented by the Atlantic Seaboard Wine Association, and 100 artisans and vendors. Sunday was a great day to attend … smaller crowds = tasting table waits.

After visiting 12 winery tents and tasting 75 wines, I bought 9 bottles to share with my girlfriends. The wines below should give them, many who are skeptical about Virginia wine, a great taste of our state’s offerings. This is also a great list for those of you new to Virginia wine!

* Montdomaine

This was a great new discovery….a winery with a long Virginia history re-introduced in 2008. The wines are made by Michael Shaps of Michael Shaps Wines and Virginia Wineworks.

  • 2009 Chardonnay: Citrus aromas and taste, minimal oak, a result of the old French Oak cooperage. $20

* Breaux Vineyards

  • Equation Merlot “X”: This Merlot blend with 12% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4% Petit Verdot is a fabulous wine! Red fruit aromas followed by a dark red fruit taste that’s round and smooth. $15

* Horton Vineyards

  • 2008 Cabernet Franc: Aromas of violets pair with spicy, peppery, cassis flavor. $15

* Barboursville Vineyards

It’s hard to showcase Virginia wine without the great wines from Barboursville so I had to pick up some of their festival offerings.

  • Barboursville Brut: This was my first time tasting their sparkling wine. A very nice blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes. Fruit aromas and a great pear taste. $18
  • 2010 Chardonnay: This wine is aged in stainless steel creating a crisp Chardonnay with apple aroma and flavor, and a touch of pear and lemon. $11
  • 2010 Chardonnay Reserve: This is a great contrast to the regular Chardonnay as its aged seven months in barrel creating a rich and complex Chardonnay with heavier apple aroma and flavor now adding pear and vanilla to the mix. $15
  • 2010 Pinot Grigio: True Italian style…aromas and flavor of apple, pear with a touch of pineapple. $15
  • 2009 Viognier Reserve: Great example of Virginia’s official grape. Smooth tropical fruit and floral aromas and flavor.$22
  • 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve: This wine is only created in the best vintages. Strong berry aromas combine with pepper and currant flavors. $30

(I’ll also take a few Virginia bottles from my wine rack this weekend…Blenheim Vineyards, Virginia Wineworks and Breaux. More to come after our tasting!)

Tomorrow an overview of the informative Wine Judging Seminar I attended at the Festival.