No Magic in Voodoo Moon

For some reason, when it comes time for vacation, many of my normal way of doing things get thrown out the window.  Weekday or not, I’ll enjoy my first drink at breakfast, and I’ll order both an appetizer and dessert with dinner.  Usually, these changes in my habits are some sort of splurge or self-indulgence.  The problem comes when I change my routine and give into the call of the fun wine labels.  It happens on almost every vacation.  It’s how I ended up with the 2008 Tahoe Cabernet Sauvignon while we were in Tahoe and the 2007 Starborough Sauvignon Blanc while we were at the beach (who could resist the starfish label at the beach?).  In both those instances, I lucked out and the wines were decent.  The problem is that unlike beer, where it’s much easier to say “I want a certain style of beer” (an IPA for example), look at the IPA section for a bottle with an intriguing label, and finding a delicious beer, the chances of finding a good wine when only looking at the “fun label” isn’t very good.  Still, I don’t seem to learn my lesson.  I go on vacation and feel the pull of wanting something that looks fun and adventurous, something different from what I would normally drink.  And, end up with this…

2011 Vinaceous Voodoo Moon MalbecThe 2011 Vinaceous Voodoo Moon Malbec (winery) is from the Willyabrup sub-region of Margaret River, Australia.  The wine was an almost incandescent, deep purple.  On the nose, there were blackberries, black cherry cola, tobacco, and earth.  In the mouth, there were tart cherries.  The wine had a light-to medium body and tannins.

Is this worth a glass after work? Eh…if you have a bottle on hand, drink it, but I wouldn’t go searching it out either.   At $20, this wine this wine was a disappointment.  From the nose, it held a lot of promise.  In fact, I thought it was going to be amazing.  Sadly, when I actually tasted it, it was all acid and tartness.  I tried pairing it with the steaks hubby grilled on the dinner, but that didn’t help.  I tried pairing it with some fancy chocolate that I bought, thinking that it might bring out other characteristics in the wine, but it didn’t.  I tried enjoying it on the deck with a view of the ocean and my book, but that didn’t help either. In the end, I ended up switching to another bottle because vacation is way too short to spend it drinking wine that isn’t working for me, even if the label was a lot of fun.

Question of the Day:  How often do you buy wine based on the label?  Do you find yourself making label-based decisions more with beer?

Price: $20
Purchased at Tommy’s Gourmet Market and Wine Emporium
Overall: 2 Corks

A Not So Radiant ‘Radiance’

2008 Tobin James Cellars 'Radiance'

The New Year has been a very busy one, as the start of the year brought a lot of changes at work.  While my position hasn’t change, there are a lot of new people that I’m working with, which automatically means more work.  Thankfully, though, that first Monday back after the New Year was quiet, so it gave me a chance to get a jump start on reorganizing, meeting new people, and trying to settle in to a new routine.   By the time I got home, though, I was exhausted, so Hubby treated us to a fun dinner and I opened a bottle of Chardonnay that came highly recommended.

The 2008 Tobin James “Radiance” Chardonnay (winery) was a medium lemon yellow.  On the nose, there was a tropical fruit bowl filled with pineapple, kiwi, and mango, which was followed by a hint of wood dust that was reminiscent of a sawmill.  In the mouth, there pineapples, kiwis, and mangos, followed by a hint of pink grapefruits, vanilla, and the woody taste you get when chewing on a popsicle stick.

Is this worth a glass after work? Eh…if you have a bottle on hand, drink it, but I wouldn’t go searching it out either. At $14, I probably shouldn’t have expected too much, as I tend to be picky about Chardonnay, but as I mentioned earlier, this wine came highly recommended from a trusted source.  Unfortunately, it just didn’t work for me.  The wine was trying to strike a balance between being not oaked and being an oak monster, but in the process seems to have lost its personality.  I was hoping that pairing it with steamed lobster tails with drawn butter and sautéed garlic broccoli would create a mouth-singing pairing, but I was wrong there, too.  All the way around, this wine was a bit disappointing.  Even at this price range, there are better Chardonnay options out there.

Price: $14
Purchased at: Arrowine
Overall: 2 Corks

Kicking-Off Virginia Wine Month with a VA Wine Overview (Part 4)

Admittedly, after visiting 10 winery tables and tasting more than 55 wines, my palate was a little overwhelmed and many of the wines were starting to taste the same.   At this point, I mostly stopped making detailed notes because I felt like all of my notes sounded the same.

With that caveat, the wine from Cooper Vineyards made a particularly strong impression.  They had 10 wines available, 3 of which really stood out.  I only ended up buying one bottle at the festival (the 2008 Petit Verdot), but I ended up ordering several glasses of the 2008 Reserve Norton while at Harry’s Tap Room in Pentagon City for happy hour.  Cooper Vineyards is located in Central Virginia,  midway between Richmond and Charlottesville.

2008 Cooper Vineyards Petit Verdot ($21)—a little different; very enjoyable.
4 Corks

2009 Cooper Vineyards Chardonnay ($16)
3.5 Corks

2008 Cooper Vineyards Reserve Norton ($23)—young and fruity; medium, smooth body.
3.5 Corks

Noche ($18)—Chocolate wine, which Cooper is well-known for; different and worth tasting, but not a wine a could drink much of.
3 Corks

2008 Coopertage ($24)—43% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, and 17% Petit Verdot grapes; dark berries, vanilla, spices, and a hint of meat.
2.5 Corks

2009 Cooper Vineyards Viognier ($24)
2.5 Corks

Rhapsody ($12)—sweet white wine; pineapple and honeysuckle.
2 Corks

Vida ($21)—Virginia “ice wine;” very sweet; stone fruits.
2 Corks

Sweet Louisa ($12) —sweet red wine; tasted like grape Kool-Aid.
2 Corks

Sangria (3 for $33)—overly sweet and not very good.
1.5 Corks

After visiting the Cooper Vineyards table, some members of the group started to head home.  So, we said our good-byes before heading over to the Cardinal Point Vineyard and Winery table.  I had hoped to buy a bottle of the 2009 Rosé, which was made from Cabernet Franc grapes, and of the 2008 Clay Hill Cabernet Franc, but by the time our group made it to the Cardinal Point table, they were sold out of both.  One of the women I was with did buy a bottle of the 2009 Rockfish Red, though.

2009 Clay Hill Cabernet Franc ($20)—big, flavorful wine.
4 Corks

2008 Cardinal Point Cabernet Franc & Viognier blend ($18)—very nice; great acidity, good body.
3.5 Corks

2009 Cardinal Point Rosé ($14)
3.5 Corks

2009 Rockfish Red ($15)
3 Corks

2009 Cardinal Point Viognier ($18)
3 Corks

2008 A6 ($19)
2.5 Corks

2008 Cardinal Point Barrel Select Chardonnay ($16)
2.5 Corks

2009 Quattro ($17)—intriguing blend of grapes, but just ok.
2.5 Corks

As we left Cardinal Point’s table, we lost a few more members of our group, so it was only the three of us who took the Washington Wine Academy’s shuttle from Vienna metro station left.  There was one winery that I wanted to taste before leave, simply because I receive regular emails from them, but have never tasted their wines—Paradise Springs Winery.  Paradise Springs is one of the closest wineries to DC, and, to be honest, the guy who was pouring for them knew very little about the wine and was more interested in talking with his friend than in telling us about the wines.  All in all, they were all ok wines, but none of them really stood out and I left the table slightly disappointed.

Paradise Springs Chardonnay ($20)
3 Corks

Paradise Springs Cabernet Franc ($23)
3 Corks

Paradise Springs Merlot ($23)
3 Corks

Paradise Springs Vidal Blanc ($20)
2.5 Corks

Once the three of us tasted the four Paradise Springs wines, we decided it was time for another small break and some snacks before trying our last winery.  For our last tasting, we ended up at Château Morrisette because, admittedly, the dogs on the labels were calling our names.  Normally, I’m not swayed by critter wines, and our experience with the Château Morrisette wines hasn’t changed my approach.

When we arrived at the table, the woman pouring the wines was very brisk with us, making it clear that she only was pouring the white and sweet wines.  My friends and I looked at each other for a moment and, without hesitation, we all agreed that those selections were fine.  I proceeded to ask our pourer for a tasting sheet so I could take notes, and she nastily handed me a wine-stained, note-filled sheet that someone else clearly used before me.  When I asked for a clean sheet, with a bit of attitude, she told me she didn’t have any.  Clearly, we were not off to a good start.

At this point, I was tempted to walk away from the table without even trying the wines, but since I was there with other people and wasn’t sure if it was just some end-of-the-day crankiness on my part, I let it slide and started tasting.

Well, things continued to go down hill, particularly after I saw a pile of clean, unused tasting sheets that I grabbed and started to make notes on.  The woman was not interested in answering my questions about the wines, not willing to deviate from her script, and was all-around unpleasant and unhelpful.  When we left the table, my friends confirmed that she was being very unpleasant and agreed that we probably should have left right away.  Oh, well.

The wines themselves were a disappointing way to end the day.  For the most part, they lacked personality, and the sweet wines were overly sweet and devoid of typical wine flavors.

As a final surprise, in researching the winery for this blog post, I discovered Château Morrisette actually charged more money for wine purchased at the festival than for wine purchased online.  Most of the wineries offered a significant discount on the wines they sold at the festival, although some simply sold the wines at their suggested retail price.  Therefore, you can imagine my surprise when I discovered that buying at the festival would have been more expensive.  The prices beloware the prices that were listed at the festival.

Château Morrisette Chardonnay ($17)
2.5 Corks

Château Morrisette Viognier ($20)
2.5 Corks

Angel Chardonnay, semi-dry ($10.50)
2.5 Corks

Château Morrisette Vidal Blanc, semi-dry ($10.50)
2 Corks

Our Blue Dog, semi-sweet ($10.50)
1.5 Corks

Blushing Dog, semi-sweet ($10.50)
1.5 Corks

After finishing up at our last tasting table, the three of us shuttle-riders headed to the designated shuttle meeting spot.  We were given a bottle of water for the ride and made it back to the Vienna metro station with no hassles.

All in all, it was a wonderful day of tasting Virginia wines with a great group of friends.  Dezel, Leighann, Jacquie, Chris, & Tim–thanks for joining me.  It was the perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon.  For those of you who missed the festival, put it on your calendar for next year!  There is a nice representation of wines from all over Virginia, it’s easy to get to, and it’s a lot of fun.

Leighann, Dezel, Jacquie, & Chris at the Cooper Vineyards Tasting Table

*See Part 1 for reviews of Rosemont Vineyards and Winery, Delfosse Vineyards and Winery, and Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyard.
*See Part 2 for reviews of Tarara Winery, Davis Valley Winery, Wintergreen Winery, and Mountfair Vineyards.
*See Part 3 for reviews of Veritas Vineyard and Winery, Villa Appalaccia Winery, and Unicorn Winery.

Kicking-Off Virginia Wine Month with a VA Wine Overview (Part 2)

After tasting the Krug Estate Winery and Vineyard wines and meeting up with a couple of more members of our group, we all visited the Tarara Winery tasting table.  Tarara Winery is located in Leesburg, VA, near the Maryland and West Virginia borders.

All three of the wines that were available for tasting were delicious, and I was tempted to buy both the Meritage and the Long-Bomb.  However, since Tarara is close to DC, when the woman who was pouring mentioned that Edition Two of the Long-Bomb would be available this fall, I decided to wait.  Then she mentioned that unlike Edition One, which was made with Washington State grapes, Edition Two is made with 100% Virginia grapes.  Waiting for a true VA wine that also gives me an ‘excuse’ to visit the winery was all I needed to convince me to wait.  When Dezel (from My Vine Spot) and I talked about it later, he mentioned having tasted the Edition Two Long-Bomb and said positive things about it, so I’m particularly looking forward to my visit, which will hopefully be in November.  If any of you have a chance to taste the Edition Two, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Long-Bomb Edition One ($20)—Washington State grapes; blackberries, black cherries, cedar, herbs, and a hint of mint; good body and tannins.
4 Corks

2009 Tarara Winery Chaval White ($20)—pineapple, mango, & nectarines with a hint of white flowers; very fresh tasting.
3.5 Corks

2006 Tarara Winery Meritage (?…the 2007 is $40)—Blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot; black cherries, red cherries, & plums mixed with smoky cedar & a hint of chocolate dust; big tannins.
3.5 Corks

From Tarara Winery, we headed to the Davis Valley Winery tasting table, where I not only had a chance to talk with both pourers, but also with the winemaker.  The winery is located in Southwestern Virginia. Unfortunately, while everyone at the Davis Valley table was very friendly and more than happy to talk about their wines, I wasn’t a fan of anything that I tasted. We tasted 6 wines, 5 of which were sweet wines, none of which were my style, and all of which were in the 2 to 2.5 Cork range.

Davis Valley Winemaker and Tasting Staff

Chardonnay ($16)
Semi-Dry White ($13)
Virginia Breeze White ($13)
Virginia Breeze Red ($13)
Chambourcin Semi-Dry ($16)
Autumn Red ($16)

After tasting the sweet Davis Valley wines, our next stop was the Wintergreen Winery table. Wintergreen is located in Southern Virginia, near the North Carolina border.  In addition to the regular wine, Wintergreen had two fruit wines.  The Mill Hill apple wine stood out as a wine that would be fun at a summer BBQ or in a sangria/punch.

Mill Hill Apple Wine ($13)—sweet, green apples; good sangria base wine.
3 Corks

2008 Raven’s Roost Cabernet Franc ($22)—cherries, oak, & lavender; medium body and tannins.
3 Corks

2008 Black Rock Chardonnay Reserve ($22)—lemon, pears, & apples.
3 Corks

2008 Wintergreen Winery Viognier ($22)—peaches, pears, & flowers; very dry.
2.5 Corks

Thomas Nelson White ($15)—Floral and perfumey; sweet; not my style.
2 Corks


The final stop before our lunch break was Dezel’s suggestion—the Mountfair Vineyards tasting table.  Mountfair is located on the Eastern slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains, a little northwest of Charlottesville.  While there were only three wines available for tasting, they were possible my favorite wines from the festival.  I ended up buying two bottles (a 2008 Cabernet Franc and a 2008 Wooloomooloo) for at-home enjoyment and a more in-depth review; and I’ve been excited to see their bottles at several of my LWS.

2008 Mountfair Vineyards Cabernet Franc ($20)—80% Cabernet Franc and 20% Merlot grapes; berries, tobacco, and a hint of violets; medium-to-high tannins, medium body, and medium acidity.
4 Corks

2008 Wooloomooloo ($25)—60% Petit Verdot, 30% Merlot,  and 10% Cabernet Franc grapes; violets and berries; nice, full wine.
4 Corks

2008 Mountfair Vineyards Merlot ($20)—80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc grapes; berries and plums; medium body and tannins.
3.5 Corks

*See Part 1 for reviews of Rosemont Vineyards and Winery, Delfosse Vineyards and Winery, and Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyard.
*See Part 3 for reviews of Veritas Vineyard and Winery, Villa Appalaccia Winery, and Unicorn Winery.
*See Part 4 for reviews  of Cooper Vineyards, Cardinal Point Vineyard and Winery, Paradise Springs Winery, and Château Morrisette.

Kicking-Off Virginia Wine Month with a VA Wine Overview (Part 1)

October is Virginia Wine Month, and while I’m behind in my month of blogging about Virginia wines, I’m looking forward to focusing on them over the next few weeks. Blogging about VA wines couldn’t be more timely, as Virginia is one of the largest wine producing states in the US, and the quality of VA wines has increased dramatically over the last 10 years, which means there are some yummy wines to share.  In addition, the 2011 Wine Bloggers’ Conference is going to be held in Charlottesville, VA, which means that wine bloggers will be paying a lot more attention to the Commonwealth’s wines before heading out here next summer.  With all of that in mind, blogging about the September Virginia Wine Festival seems like the perfect way to begin Virginia Wine Month.

Back in the middle of September, several friends and I met Dezel (from My Vine Spot) for a fun, relaxing afternoon of wine tasting at Bull Run Regional Park.  Three of us took the Washington Wine Academy’s shuttle from Vienna Metro station.  If you’re thinking about going to this annual wine festival next year, I highly recommend taking the shuttle.  For $25, we had a comfortable, 20-minute minibus ride to Bull Run, and five hours later, when we were ready to leave, we were given a bottle of water as we boarded the bus and were safely dropped off at the metro 20 minutes later.  Not that any of us were drunk, because we weren’t, but it was nice not to have to worry about driving after a very full day of wine tasting.

View of the VA Wine Festival Tents at Bull Run Regional Park

The three of us who took the shuttle arrived at the festival before everyone else, but we decided to dive right into the tasting.  The first stop for was Rosemont Vineyards and Winery tasting table.  Rosemont is a family-owned winery in Southern Virginia that released its first vintage in 2007.  Unfortunately, the winery doesn’t have a DC distributor, but their wines are for sale on their website.  The 2008 Cabernet Franc and the Meritage were my favorite Rosemont wines, and if you see either (or both), grab a bottle.

Rosemont 2008 Cabernet Franc ($21)—cedar, earth, molasses, vanilla, with some dark berries; medium tannins, good body.
3.5 Corks

 

Rosemont Meritage ($30)—dark berries, cedar, smoke, vanilla, & tealeaves; good tannins with a full body; would be nice with a soy sauce marinated steak.
3.5 Corks

 

2009 Rosemont Pinot Grigio ($16)—Granny smith apples & limes; good acidity.
3 Corks

2008 Rosemont Traminette ($15)—stone fruits with a hint of limes; very dry, but somewhat non-descript.
2.5 Corks

2009 Rosemont Rosé of Chambourcin ($13)—dark pink color; strawberries & something herbaceous.
2.5 Corks

Rosemont Lake Country Red ($15)­—smoke, oakiness, & dark cherries; medium body.
2.5 Corks

 

Rosemont NV Merlot ($19)—dark plums, cherries, & vanilla; medium body and tannins.
2.5 Corks

 

Rosemont Lake Country Sunset ($13)—juicy pears, flowers, & honey; very sweet with little acidity; not my style.
2 Corks

After tasting all of the wines available at the Rosemont table, we headed down a few tents to the Delfosse Vineyards and Winery table.  Delfosse is located at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, about 30 minutes from Charlottesville.  Having opened in 2000, they are relatively new VA winery.  While their wines show potential and they had one of the nicest people we met all day pouring, there weren’t any wines that I fell in love with.

2008 Delfosse Chardonnay ($18)—apples & pears with some vanilla oakiness.
3 Corks

2006 Delfosse Cuvee Laurent ($18)—blackberries & oak; good acidity.
3 Corks

2007 Delfosse Deer Rock White ($15)—pears & pineapples with some residual sweetness.
2.5 Corks

2006 Delfosse Merlot ($18)—plums, cherries, & oak.
2.5 Corks

2007 Delfosse Deer Rock Red ($15)—flowers with a vegetal hint; sweetish.
2 Corks

2007 Delfosse Grand Cru Olivier ($18)—cranberries, vanilla, & twigs.
1.5 Corks

The Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyard tasting table was our next stop.  Kluge is located in Charlottesville.  They were one of the only tables that charged an additional fee in order to taste several of the wines, but since the whole purpose of the festival was to taste, we all shelled out the additional money to taste both the 2007 Kluge Estate Blanc de Blanc and the Cru aperitif.  The Blanc de Blanc was well worth the extra fee; Dezel even bought a bottle for us to drink with lunch. My surprise favorite wine, though, was the 2009 Albemarle Rosé.  I actually purchased a bottle to review separately for VA Wine Month.

2007 Kluge Estate SP Blanc de Blanc ($25)—100% Chardonnay; persistent, tiny bubbles; lemons & cream with a touch of toastiness; high acidity.
4 Corks

2009 Albemarle Rosé ($13)—cherries, strawberries, limes, & peaches; slight effervescence; bright acidity.
4 Corks

2005 Kluge Estate New World Red ($25)—blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec; blackberries & black currants; full body with good tannins.
3.5 Corks

2009 Albemarle Sauvignon Blanc ($20)—light, greenish-yellow; citrus galore; good acidity.
3 Corks

 

2004 Albemarle Simply Red ($14)—blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot; blackberries, vanilla, & smoke; medium body and tannins.
3 Corks

Cru ($25)—100% Chardonnay; strong bourbon flavor mixed with sweet peaches, pears, and vanilla; not my style.
2.5 Corks

After tasting everything at the Kluge table, we met up with a few more members of our group and decided to visit a few more tables before breaking for lunch.  The next stop was Tarara Winery.
*See Part 2 for reviews of Tarara Winery, Davis Valley Winery, Wintergreen Winery, and Mountfair Vineyards.
*See Part 3 for reviews of Veritas Vineyard and Winery, Villa Appalaccia Winery, and Unicorn Winery.
*See Part 4 for reviews  of Cooper Vineyards, Cardinal Point Vineyard and Winery, Paradise Springs Winery, and Château Morrisette.