A few weeks ago on my way home to New York after visiting my sister and brother-in-law in Virginia, I decided to stop at a couple of Virginia wineries after hearing conflicting opinions about Virginia wines.
The first winery I stopped at was Lost Creek Winery in Leesburg. The tasting room is beautiful and I was pretty curious to try the wines.
First was the 2010 Chardonnay, a pale yellow wine with characteristics of citrus, apple, and a bit of stoniness, bright acidity, and a crisp, clean feel. The wine seemed very food friendly and I liked it.
Next was the 2010 Spring Time, a blend of Vidal, Viognier, Chardonnay, and Muscat Canelli. This was another pale straw colored wine, with notes of slightly sweet citrus, orchard fruit, and a caramelized characteristic and a bit of macerated fruit. On the palate, it is a bit tart, and far less sweet than the aromas would indicate, and the finish was quite long.
The third wine I enjoyed - it was the 2010 Vidal Blanc, light colored with lemon, orchard fruit (including apple, pear, and peach), and white blossom characteristics. On the palate it is just slightly sweet with nice acidity and a clean finish.
Next was the 2010 Sweet Summer, a blend of Vidal, Chardonnay, and apple. I really wasn’t connecting with this wine - it has a hint of citrus with lots of tart apple, raisin, and baking spice characteristics, but the apple and something almost indescribable overpowered the other aromas and flavors. In my opinion, the wine was not at all food friendly, and the flavors seemed to be fighting with each other a bit.
We then moved on to the Rose, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay, and the wine is salmon pink in color. The wine has aromas of very light, under-ripe strawberry and raspberry, and both sweet and tart characteristics, laced with a bit of fresh cut grass. Considering the wine seemed so light on the nose and on the palate, I liked the structure very much, with bright acidity and a long finish. I think it would be quite food friendly.
It was then time for the reds, and first was the 2009 Chambourcin. The wine is a deep purple color, with notes of both red and dark fruit, a bit of raisin, plum, spice, and pepper. However, I felt that the wine lacked structure, there was little texture on the palate, not much acidity, and not much finish.
The next red was the 2009 Merlot which was kind of disappointing. It was a pale ruby red and approaching the wine I had expected regular Merlot characteristics - however, the wine had an overwhelming aroma and flavor of green bell pepper that almost completely masked the hints of dark fruit and spice that were a bit difficult to detect.
I then tried the 2009 Reserve, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. This wine was better than the other reds so far - ruby colored with a very slight water rim, and notes of soft fruit and a hint of spice. There was some bright acidity and a decent finish, and I think the wine would be pretty food friendly.
The final red was the 2009 Chambourcin Gold, and probably my least favorite of the tasting. Deep purple, the wine had berry undertones but the prevalent aroma and flavor was reminiscent of ink, and it was difficult to extract any other aromas or flavors, and very difficult to assess the structure of the wine, as I couldn’t keep it on my palate for too long. I was really disappointed with this wine.
Interestingly, the two dessert wines were fun and I finished the tasting on a somewhat higher note. The first of the two dessert wines was the Courtney’s Christmas blend of Chardonnay, Vidal Blanc, Chambourcin, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. The color was a slightly amber pink, and the aromas and flavors reflected the “Christmas” name - the wine is perfect for autumn and winter months, with characteristics of spice, clove, gingerbread, and orange spice. This was a really fun surprise.
The final wine of the tasting was the 2010 Late Harvest Alyce (Vidal). The wine is a light golden color, with notes of pineapple, pear, mango, and passionfruit - mostly tropical fruits. There wasn’t much acidity and the wine wasn’t particularly well balanced but the aromas and flavors were nice.
I then visited Tarara Winery, also very beautiful and also in Leesburg. Tarara’s tasting room is quite simple but I was immediately impressed upon hearing that only Riedel glasses are used for tasting, and I could sense that the staff is quite knowledgeable. And I am happy to report that the wines are equally as impressive.
We began with the 2009 Charval, a blend of Chardonnay, Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Gris, fermented mostly in stainless but partly in barrels. The wine is straw colored, with notes of white citrus, green apple, and mineral, and buttery and smooth characteristics and just a hint of yeastiness, nice acidity, and a clean feel followed by a long finish. This was an excellent start to the tasting and I was already excited to try the others.
Next was the 2010 Rose, a blend of the juices of all the reds produced by Tarara. The color is a brickish pink, and the characteristics were those of strawberry, a hint of raspberry and cherry, soft sweet citrus, white flowers, and a bit of grassy herb, and on the palate just a bit of spice. The wine shows bright acidity and a very long finish. This was quite a unique Rose as it had so many layers and a personality of its own, I think it would be very food friendly and I enjoyed it very much.
We then moved on to the reds, and first was the 2008 Cabernet Franc, which was ruby colored with a slightly brickish rim. The aromas are mostly dark fruit and berry, a bit of cherry, herb, and spice, and the flavors were complex with cherry, dark berry, herb, spice, and a bit of raisin, with slight smokiness. The structure is excellent with a nice balance of acidity and tannin, and the smooth finish carried with it the smokiness as well as the dark fruits.
Next was the 2008 Long Bomb Edition Two, a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tannat, Petit Verdot, Touriga Nacional, and Pinot Noir. The color is a very deep ruby with a crimson rim, and the wine shows characteristics of dark ripe fruit, bold berry aromas and flavors, stewed fruits, a hint of dried flowers, and an almost scorched earth sort of aroma. The structure is nice with a good balance of acidity with soft tannins, and an excellent finish. This wine is absolutely lovely and I was really impressed with it.
We then moved on to the 2007 Long Bomb Edition One, which is a bit different as the grapes are all from the Columbia Valley in Washington State. The wine is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot, and it has an intense, dark ruby color. The characteristics include dark fruit and berry, plum, spice, and earthiness. The acidity makes the wine particularly food friendly and the firm tannins gave it great balance and texture, the finish is long, and this was another fantastic wine.
The final wine of the tasting was the 2008 Nevaeh Red, an estate red blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon, with a ruby color and a crimson rim. The wine is so expressive of its Virginia terroir, not only for its grape types, but also because it is aged in new Virginia oak and fermented on indigenous yeast. The characteristics were of dark and red fruit, berry, plum, dry leaves, a floral hint, earthiness, and cedar and spice. I loved the many layers of this wine and its complexity, plus its excellent structure of nice acidity and modest tannin, and its rich finish. This was a particularly nice end to my day of tasting at the two Virginia wineries I visited.