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  • Off the Beaten Trail in Virginia Wine Country with Rosemont Vineyards

    Posted: 2018-05-20 06:00
    Located in a remote area of the Commonwealth, Rosemont Vineyards and Winery is relatively disadvantaged when selling their wine. It is the sole craft beverage producer situated in southeastern Virginia along I-85 -- which runs from I-95 south of Richmond-St. Petersburg to the Raleigh-Durham triangle. Since they cannot leverage an existing wine or craft beverage trail to attract consumer traffic, they must attract customers through the quality of their portfolio. That is what enticed us to visit the winery as well as most other visitors who travel from Richmond, Raleigh, and nearby Lake Gaston.

    The 450 acre Rosemont Estate has been a working farm ever since the Rose family purchased the property in 1858. In 2003 Stephen Rose, along with his wife Chandra, returned home and planted 22 acres worth of grapevines. And in 2007 they produced their first wines using an underground and modern gravity-flow wine production facility. Their son Justin volunteered to assume the winemaker position and "subsequently enrolled at Napa Valley College to study viticulture and oenology, while interning at O’Shaughnessy Winery and Capiaux Cellars."  Since their first release, the vineyard continues to expand as the winery maintains releasing only estate wines.

    Upon arriving at the winery, their large tasting facility is partly enclosed by newly planted vines and a large picnic area suitable for dogs and children. Inside there are also spacious accommodations both at the tasting bar and at various tables to enjoy a sip at your leisure. Tasting fees are $10.00 per person which amounted to 11 wines during our visit, with each wine reasonably priced.

    Traminette 2016 ($16.95) - the grape is a cross of the French American hybrid Joannes Seyve 23.416 and Gewürztraminer with the intention to produce the distinct varietal character of its vinifera parent. And this dry wine lives up to that reputation. It possesses the floral aromatics of Gewürztraminer as well as it's distinct spicy character. The winery recommends serving with spicy foods or oysters.

    Virginia White ($14.95) - is a bright, dry wine blend of Vidal Blanc, Chardonel and Traminette. There is abundant stone fruit and citrus character throughout - from the nose to the tail - creating a refreshing summer sipper.

    Pinot Grigio 2017 ($18.95) - in 2016 Rosemont lost 88% of their Pinot Grigio crop to frost and as a result experimented by barrel fermented the harvested fruit. That process was well received so they continued into 2017 with a portion of the grapes fermented in barrel. This results in a wine with more body than anticipated while retaining the refreshing green apple and acidity character. One of our favorite wines.

    Rosé 2017 ($18.95) - produced from lightly pressed Chambourcin grapes that combines both strawberry and tart cherry with refreshing acidity. This wine is what attracted us to visit and we were not disappointed.

    Virginia Red ($15.95) - is a medium bodied blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chambourcin and Syrah. This is an easy sipper - perhaps an entry point into red wine - with hints of oak and tobacco that melds with the cherry profile.

    Syrah 2015 ($19.95) - this is a medium bodied wine that still packs plenty of fruit alongside the grape's spicy character. Although it spent 16 months in oak before bottling it is not overdone as the vanilla easily mingles with the spice and fruit.

    Merlot 2015 ($20.95) - an estate favorite as Rosemont believes their Merlot "shows the best of our terroir" and it was the wine we opened at the hotel that night. It is a delicious wine, plenty of berry fruit with hints of chocolate and baking spices. The winery suggests pairing with rustic Italian, hard cheeses, and steak; but we preferred solo surrounding a fire pit.

    Cabernet Franc 2015 ($22.95) - this was once considered Virginia's unofficial signature grape as its relatively thick skins and loose clusters handle the region's high humidity. This release includes 12% Merlot which softens the wine's prolific profile. This wine would still benefit with aging to soften the remaining rich tannin structure and spicy and nutty characters. We have a couple that hit the cellar on our return.

    Kilravock 2015 ($32.95) - is a Meritage blend of 40% Merlot, 36% Cabernet Franc, and 24% Petit Verdot and named from the Scottish castle where the Rose family traces their ancestry. This is an excellent wine, our favorite of the reds, with a structured backbone, leather and tobacco, and a little vanilla to soften the finish.  The tannins and finish are also very approachable. Nicely done.

    Lake Country Sunset ($12.50) - the first sweet wine in the portfolio is made from a blend of early and late harvest Vidal Blanc. It is sweet, but the grape's acidity counters the sugar allowing the citrus and stone fruit to shine through.  At this price, it's worth opening at dock side.

    Blackridge Red ($12.50) - made from 100% Chambourcin, this wine is sweet and jammy. Although well made, for my palate, the acids do not compensate enough for the high sugar profile. But residents of the area seem to disagree.
  • #AccessAlbarino with Snooth and Rias Baixas Wine

    Posted: 2018-05-17 09:22
    Galicia is located in the northwest corner of Spain and is home to Rías Baixas Albariño wine. DO Rías Baixas was created in 1980, but when Spain joined the EU in 1986 the DO was changed to simply Rías Baixas as EU laws did not recognize a DO named for a single grape variety. In order to be labeled Rías Baixas the wine must comprise at least 70% Albariño. The denomination also permits six other types of wines which includes the Rías Baixas Albariño - 100% Albariño from any sub-region.

    There are five of these sub-regions. Ribeira do Ulla is the newest (formed in 2000) and is the most northern region. Val do Salnés is known as the birthplace of the Albariño grape. This is the original and oldest sub-region and it's fingers reach out into the Atlantic. Soutomaior is the smallest of the sub-regions where the soil is light and sandy over granite bedrock. Condado do Tea (The County of Tea) is named after the river Tea, a tributary of the Miño River which separates the border with Portugal, and is the warmest and driest region. O Rosal also resides against the Miño River -- adjacent to the Atlantic.

    Wednesday May 16th Rías Baixas Wine partnered with Snooth to market the region through an Access Albariño Virtual Tasting featuring eleven Albariño wines. Snooth is offering 3, 6, and 9 packs of theses wines at a special sale by clicking here (excluding Paco & Lola and Terras Gauda): https://www.snooth.com/offers/access-albarino-taste-pack-4/. As a participant here our my notes for the tasting - and as usual for the region - all the wines recommended for value and quality. Unless otherwise stated all are 100% Albariño.
    • Condes dei Albarai Val do Salnés ($15) from Salnés Valley - creamy lemon, slightly saline, refreshing acidity
    • Bodegas As Laxas Condado do Tea ($18) is excellent: fresh lemons, minerals, depth, and finishing strong
    • Don Pedro de Soutomaior O Rosal ($19) from estate vineyards in Meder and Goián in Condado do Tea - Saline driven, citrus and green apple, long refreshing finish
    • Pazo Señorans Val do Salnés ($25) creamy tropical fruit and lemons, less saline - but depth and dependable acids.
    • Valmiñor O Rosal ($19) has solid citrus and tropical fruit, less saline, and fresh acids
    • Señorío de Rubiós Robaliño Condado do Tea ($18) is light and crisp - minerals and citrus
    • Altos de Torona O Rosal ($20) is saline driven, tropical and lemon, great acids
    • Nai e Señora Val do Salnés ($16) is an association of top growers in Salnés Valley. The wine shows deep - deep lemon, slight saline, & refreshing acidity
    • Fillaboa Condado do Tea ($20) - Fillaboa ("good daughter" in Galician) is the biggest estate in Pontevedra (Tea and Miño Rivers) & one of the oldest in Galicia. The wine is intense with tropical and lemon fruit, saline & acids
    • Paco & Lola Val do Salnés ($22) is a cooperative of 400 members & almost 500 acres of vineyards. The wine is fantastic: full bodied lemon creamsicle, chewy, and fresh acids
    • Terras Gauda O Rosal ($24) is a unique blend of 70% Slbariño, 15% Caiño, 15% Loureiro providing depth and citrus & stone fruit, plus minerals. Excellent.
  • Miner Family Winery 2017 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc

    Posted: 2018-05-14 05:30
    In July 1993 the Oakville and Rutherford AVA's were carved out of the central Napa Valley AVA in order to accentuate their specific micro-climates best suited for Bordeaux varieties. Both areas contained well drained gravely soils and moderately warm with each region influenced by early morning fog and afternoon breezes (with Rutherford warmer, lower in elevation, and less affected by wind and fog). Whereas Cabernet Sauvignon is the principle crop in both AVAs, each also shares an affinity for Sauvignon Blanc. The same is true with the Chiles Valley AVA, another sub-AVA in northeastern Napa Valley. This AVA is located in the Vaca Mountains and has a cooler climate than the majority of Napa Valley due to its higher elevations and a cooling breeze from the Pacific Ocean. Miner Family Wines encompasses these three AVAs with their 2017 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($22) where 40% comes from Rutherford's Shartsis Vineyard, 52% from Chiles Valley Sage Creek Vineyard, and 8% from Oakville's Crossroads Vineyard.  It is an excellent wine, lemon but not New Zealand grassy, more Bordeaux with texture and depth, finishing with refreshing acids.
  • Dave Phinney Back with More Locations Wine

    Posted: 2018-05-11 16:44
    Locations is a concept by winemaker Dave Phinney that attempts to create a wine encompassing the various wine regions within a country or state. Can that wine represent "the essence of a country or place and are non-appellation, non-varietal and non-vintage"? After covering several Locations releases I can answer in the affirmative. Here are four of their latest releases:





    E5 – Spanish Red Wine ($19.99) is a blend of Grenache/Garnacha, Tempranillo, Monastrell, and Carignan/Cariñena grapes with Mediterranean and Continental influences and sourced from five primary regions: Priorat, Jumilla, Toro, Rioja, and Ribera del Duero. They targeted old vines with low yields that produced a rustic wine with complexity, juicy tannins, and solid acids. My favorite of the group.

    F5 – French Red Wine ($19.99) is a blend Grenache, Syrah, and assorted Bordeaux varietals from Rhone, Roussillon, and Bordeaux. One again old vine blocks were targeted that helped create another rustic wine with even more juicy tannins and dirt covered cherries. This is an old world wine.

    NZ7 – New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc ($19.99) is the second release from the Land of the Long White Cloud and targets Marlborough growers that have been farming since before this area was recognized as a premier wine growing region in the 1970’s. The wine includes tropical and lemon grass characters from fruit sourced from the Wairau Valley as well as minerality and balance from the Awatere Valley and Waihopai. This is a solid New Zealand styled Sauvignon Blanc, refreshing with plenty of complexity.

    WA5 – Washington Red Wine ($19.99) is a blend of Syrah, Merlot, and Petit Sirah aged 10 months in French and American oak. The wine was sourced from diverse lots in the Evergreen State's greatest appellations: Walla Walla, Woodenville, Yakima Valley, and more. The wine is new world and medium-bodied with fruit forward dark fruit, various spices, chocolate, and easy tannins.
  • Chalk Hill 2016 Estate Sauvignon Blanc

    Posted: 2018-05-07 06:49
    The Chalk Hill AVA is one of Sonoma County's 13 appellations and was carved out of the northeast corner of the Russian River Valley AVA in 1983.  It is distinguished from its neighbors - the cooler Russian River Valley to the west and the warmer Alexander Valley to the northeast - by its higher elevation and chalky white ash that characterizes the soils and its name. This is also the name of Chalk Hill Estate Vineyards & Winery,  The estate is one of only four wineries in the AVA and is a collection of 60 different small vineyards - each growing a diverse set of grapes from Chardonnay, white and red Bordeaux, Viognier, Syrah, Sangiovese, Zinfandel and even Pinot Noir. I recently received a sample of one of the wines made from these grapes: Chalk Hill 2016 Estate Sauvignon Blanc ($33). Bluntly, this wine is fantastic, a much different Sauvignon Blanc from NZ as its powerful with a strong lemon-pineapple profile combined with depth and texture, finishing with refreshing acids.  Highly recommended.

Featured Visit

The Food & Wine Festival at National Harbor®; National Harbor, Maryland - Saturday, June 06, 2009
On June 6th, we attended the The Food & Wine Festival at National Harbor® with a twist, accompanied by a four year old. This is one of the few such festivals that even allow children and in fact, actively court them, by providing content specific seminars for youngsters. Good for them. Oh yea, there's still plenty of food, wine, beer and spirits for the adults.

We started the day talking to the Mar-Del Watermelon Queen, Jessica Leigh Haden, while sampling the fruit, then headed directly to the end of pier. Better to start in the less crowded rear and work our way forward. At least that was the plan until we saw the Belgium beer display and couldn't pass up a glass of Leffe. Then the Paint Branch Ramblers started playing and before long it was time to rush to our first seminar, "Watermelon Strawberry Smoothies". For the next hour we sat with a couple other parents and a hoard of youngsters watching Ms. Haden and Bravo's Top Chef contestants Carla Hall and Ariana Duarte provide an entertaining session on smoothies. And yes, it was very entertaining and informative. We no longer our hostage to the expense Edible Arrangements and our boy now asks for smoothies instead of popsicles.

We trekked back to the entertainment area to listen to Sam’O and the band JFC and have another beer, this time a Hoegaarden. Not for too long. We had to head back to the seminar area for the Peanut Butter Apple Spread and Breakfast Raisin-Banana Roll-ups and picture time with Buddy McNutty. I kid you not. Actually it was a nice session, a little smaller than the first, but just as informative. Sloppy food, but good; and comic books as a bonus. They came in handy at the Robert Mondavi display.

This time on our return trip to the entertainment area, we stopped to discover the excellent food offered by the vendors. Chili, mussels, carrot soup, gazpacho, cakes; the list goes on. Now this is a food festival; unlike a similar sounding event hosted downtown. Even the simple Giant\Nature's Promise display of chips, cheese, and tea was a hit. So was the Discover Rums of Puerto Rico. While loitering around their tent, we met several others that preferred the Don Q Anejo neat. Cheers. By this time, members of our party were getting a little weary. We decided to skip the Decorate your Chef Hat seminar and instead spend a few minutes at the previously mentioned Mondavi display. Their Fume Blanc was much better than I had remembered, as was the Cab.

That was it. No wines tasted, definitely a first. Sorry Trefethen Vineyards, Michael & David Phillips Vineyards, Charles Krug Winery and locals: Fabbioli Cellars, Loudoun Valley Vineyards, Tarara Vineyard & Winery, and Boordy Vineyards. We will see what our companions have to report and make sure you visit Dezel at My Vine Spot - he will have excellent analysis of the festival and wines.

Finally, we applaud the organizers of the The Food & Wine Festival at National Harbor for not only allow children but providing entertaining events targeted towards them. And thanks to the Peanut Board, Ms. Haden, Ms. Hall, and Ms. Duarte, and the other seminar hosts for providing the entertainment.

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