Loving Lovingston

Virginia wine month passed by very quickly, particularly as I’m the only one in the “A Glass After Work” house that drinks wine.  Between tasting and finishing the bottles I purchased, heading to Dezel from My Vine Spot’s place for the “Discover Monticello” Twitter Taste Live, and settling into my new job, the month was almost over before I knew it.  Hubby and I had grand plans of pumpkin picking at Great Country Farms and then stopping by Bluemont Vineyards for a tasting, but it never happened.  Instead, the weekend that we were supposed to go, we ended up on a fall shopping trip for some “new job” clothes that turned into an all-day extravaganza.  That’s what happens when both husband and wife enjoy shopping.  However, as I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to taste a new Virginia wine, Hubby and I stopped at a local wine store to grab a bottle before relaxing for the evening.

2006 Lovingston Estate Reserve

The 2006 Lovingston Estate Reserve (winery) is a blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc grapes and it had a nice, deep purple-ruby color. On the nose, there were berries, plums, leather, smoked meat, cedar, and a touch of vanilla and nutmeg.  In the mouth, there were similar flavors, although they were subtler than the aromas on the nose.  The wine had a medium body and acidity, with soft tannins. It’s a very small production, with only 50 cases produced.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed. At $22, this wine had characteristics that showed its age in a well-balanced way.  After a shop-til-you-drop day, the wine was great for putting up my feet and relaxing without having to think too much.  It was an ok pairing with the pizza that Hubby and I ordered for dinner, but that was probably not the best choice on my part.  There was some sediment in the wine, and while I didn’t decant it, I should have.  If you buy a bottle, you may want to consider doing so.

Price: $22
Purchased at: The Curious Grape
Overall: 3.5 corks

Painting My Wine Red, Painting My Wine Red

For some reason, I’ve always enjoyed celebrating Halloween.  Growing up, my friends and I had elaborate costumes and went trick-or-treating in a local housing development.  In college, my sorority sisters and I were not only dressing up to go to Halloween parties, but also handing out candy to the local kids trick-or-treating on campus.  When I first moved to DC, I spent a week’s worth of dinner and drinking money on candy because it was my first time living in a city and I didn’t want to run out of candy when all of the neighborhood kids went trick-or-treating from apartment to apartment (I was wrong.  There were no trick-or-treaters in my building, and I was left with a sickening amount of candy for dinner that week).  As I gained more friends in DC, I threw Halloween parties that still occasionally come up in nostalgic conversation.  Now, as a member of the condo association board, I organize the building’s party, which is combined with a fall food drive, as well as a building-wide trick-or-treat.  This year, we only had a few kids come to our door, as there aren’t that many children in our building, but it’s still about the fun of the holiday.

2008 Blenheim Vineyards Painted Red

To keep with that spirit, I wanted to find a bottle of wine that had a Halloween feel.  To make it even more challenging, October 31st was the last day of Virginia wine month, so I went hunting for a Halloween-ish Virginia wine.  I ended up with Blenheim Vineyards’ Painted Red because nothing says Halloween like the Queen of Hearts, particularly when paired with an undercurrent of Alice in Wonderland.

The 2008 Blenheim Vineyards Painted Red (winery) is a blend of 37% Cabernet Franc, 32% Petit Verdot, 28% Merlot, and 3% Malbec grapes and was dark purple with flecks of ruby.  On the nose, there were dark berries, followed by smoke, cedar, and something vegetal.  There was also a hint of all-spice.  In the mouth, there were cherries, blackberries, smoke, and a touch of all-spice.  The wine had a medium body, light tannins, and good acid.

Is this worth a glass after work? Sure…you won’t be drinking anything out of the ordinary, but you’ll have a decent, reliable glass of wine. At $32, this wine was decent, but nothing special.  It helped me get into the Halloween mood and was perfect for enjoying the latest episode of Boardwalk Empire.  To some extent, though, it was the label and the novelty of the wine that I liked just much as, if not more than, the wine itself.

Price: $22
Purchased at: Best Cellars in Clarendon
Overall: 3 corks

Cab Franc: Flirtation or Love Affair?

One of the things that surprised me during my month of drinking only Virginia wines is the constant enjoyment from the various bottles of Cabernet Franc.  When I read about Virginia wines, I rarely see mention of the grape, and very few of the Virginia wine bloggers focus on how the grape thrives in the Commonwealth.  However, Cabernet Francs or Cabernet Franc dominated blends are consistently the Virginia red wine that I love.  I’m beginning to think that Cabernet Franc might be the Virginia grape, in the same way that Pinot Noir is associated with Oregon or Zinfandel is  associated with California. It will take some more tasting to finalize my solidify my affair with Virginia Cabernet Franc, but I’m quite possibly falling in love

2008 Jefferson Vineyards Cabernet Franc

The 2008 Jefferson Vineyards Cabernet Franc (winery) was a medium-to-dark ruby.  On the nose, there were raspberries, cherries, cinnamon, cedar, and a touch of tobacco.  In the mouth, there were raspberries, cherries, and a hint of cinnamon, chocolate dust, and tobacco.  The win had a medium body, light-to-medium tannins, and good acidity.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed. At $20, this wine requires a little bit of patience, but if you’re willing to wait for it, the wine will not disappoint.  It could have used a little more body, but once it had a chance to breathe, this Cabernet Franc was exactly what I was looking for.  I paired it with stuffed baked potatoes for dinner, which made for a nice, hearty combination, and then continued to enjoy the wine on its own once dinner was over.

Price: $20
Purchased at: Harris Teeter
Overall: 3.5 corks

Mountfair’s Fabulous Cab Franc

2009 Mountfair Vineyards Cabernet Franc

As Virginia Wine Month progressed, I found myself looking for Virginia wines in every local wine shop that I walked into. I always glanced before, but it never felt like there was much of a selection. Lately, though, that seems to have changed, and it was exciting to see such variety throughout the DC Metr0 area.  The more I looked, the more it wasn’t just the recognizable Virginia vineyards being sold.  One of the smaller wineries that I was excited to find in two of my local wine shops was Mountfair Vineyards.  Mountfair is located outside of Charlottesville, and my first encounter with their wines was at the September Virginia Wine Festival.  While at the festival, I bought two bottles of their wine, and since then, I’ve purchased several more.

The 2009 Mountfair Cabernet Franc (winery) was a blend of 80% Cabernet Franc and 20% Merlot grapes and was a dark purplish ruby.  On the nose, there were big ripe berries, tobacco, and a hint of violets.  In the mouth, there berries, tobacco, and a touch of violets, smoke, and green peppers.  The wine had medium body, acidity, and tannins.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed. At $20, this wine is one that you can sink into for an entire evening.  It has enough personality to be enjoyable on its own, but also can be a food friendly wine when paired with nice, flavorful dinner.

Price: $20
Purchased at: Virginia Wine Festival
Overall: 4 corks

Drinking Naked…Naked Mountain, That Is

2006 Naked Mountain Raptor Red

After several days of lighter wines, the Virginia red wines on my rack were calling my name.  Instead of going for a wine that I thought was going to be big and bold, though, I opted for the unknown and potentially lighter blend.

The 2006 Naked Mountain Raptor Red (winery) was 42% Merlot, 26% Petit Verdot, 21% Tannat, and 11% Cabernet Franc grapes with a dark ruby color that had a tint of garnet coming through, particularly on the rim.  On the nose, there was smoke, cedar, and meat, with a hint of vanilla, white pepper, sweet spice, raspberry, and cherry.  In the mouth, the wine was very subtle, with the savory notes being more prominent than the fruit.  The wine had a light-to-medium body, medium tannins, and high acidity.

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, I expected a little more from this wine, particularly with such complex aromas. It is wine that does better with food than on its own.  I paired it with Hubby’s beef & broccoli stir-fry, which was a combination that worked nicely. In generally, it wasn’t bad, but it didn’t blow me away either.

Price: $20
Purchased at: Harris Teeter
Overall: 2.5 corks