Dec 18, 2014

Blenheim Vineyards

Following our visit to Trump Winery, we literally went a few hundred yards down the road to Blenheim Vineyards.  One can see some of Trump's vineyards directly behind Blenheim.
The Blenheim tasting room is unique. You walk past windows looking down into the barrel room as you move towards the tasting bar.

Tastings at Blenheim are $5 per person. We tasted 5 wines, all 2013 vintage, that afternoon.

We started with two white wines. We had a Chardonnay ($17), which was mostly aged in steel, but a quarter of the wine was barrel aged. This softened the wine a bit without loosing that crispy fruitiness. We especially liked the Painted White ($25), a blend of Marsanne, Viognier, and Pinot Noir. This wine had seen some oak, but retained a crisp flavor with lots of fruit and a touch of butterscotch.
We next tasted three red wines at Blenheim; a Merlot ($19), a Cabernet Franc ($20), and the Painted Red ($30).  The Merlot was very approachable and tasted of blackberry and plum. We didn't care for the Cabernet Franc at all.  It had a green pepper flavor that was unappealing to us. (The tasting notes did mention this green pepper flavor). The Painted Red is a Bordeaux-style blend, however, a non-Bordeaux grape,Syrah, is added as the second biggest contributor. This Painted Red was a complex red wine with some smoky notes.

We liked our visit to Blenheim Vineyards and think you will too.  We enjoyed four of the five wines we tasted. The staff at Blenheim were all quite friendly too. When you visit Blenheim, tell them you read about them at Wine About Virginia.

Blenheim Vineyards 
31 Blenheim Farm
Charlottesville, Virginia 22902
Phone: 434-293-5366

Dec 14, 2014

Trump Winery

We really don't like Donald Trump (or at least his public persona) so weren't sure we wanted to visit Trump Winery.  We are glad we did.  Service was first rate, as were the wines and the food.
Trump Winery's tasting room is open year round 11 am-6 pm daily. (Closed Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve, and New Year's Day). Tastings are $8 for seven wines along with a Trump Winery souvenir wine glass.

When we arrived inside a staff person greeted us at the door and directed us to a less crowded tasting bar in a side room.  We started our tasting with a 2008 Sparkling Blanc de Blanc ($24).  "White from  white," or Chardonnay.  This refers to the fact that Champagne is made from three traditional grapes: Chardonnay, a white grape; and Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, two red grapes whose juice is referred to as Blanc de Noir or "white from black". This sparkling wine was very good.  We loved the toasty, yeasty aromas and crisp apple flavors. We next tasted a Sparkling Rose 2009 ($28), which we enjoyed as well.  We were also treated to a taste of the 2007 Sparkling Reserve ($45). Not very many Virginia wineries make their own sparkling wines, but Trump Winery shows that Virginia can indeed  consistently produce very good ones.

We then started tasting the still wines. First came the 2013 Chardonnay ($16), a Rose ($16), and  a 2013 Pinot Noir ($20). This Pinot Noir was their first vintage. We enjoyed all three wines, especially the Chardonnay. Then we tasted the 2012 New World Red Reserve ($28), a Bordeaux-style red blend with Merlot as the base wine. This was fruity and very approachable. Finally, we tried an old favorite from the Kluge days, CRU ($28) a sweet white Port-style wine made from Chardonnay and Chardonnay brandy, then aged in Bourbon barrels. CRU is worth the visit all by itself.

We were directed out to the main tasting bar to order food. One minor criticism is that the Trump web site barely mentions they serve food.  They really ought to highlight this more on the website, perhaps upload the menu. The food was very good and sized just right for a winery visit.  I had the most delicious BLT.  Cooked to order and served with a nice side salad. Trump Winery does have a video on their website of the chef preparing this sandwich, but you have to stumble on it.
The beautiful wines for reasonable prices, the great food, and first-class service take the Trump Winery to a whole other level.  We highly recommend a visit.  When you do visit, tell them you read about Trump winery at Wine About Virginia.
Trump Winery
3550 Blenheim Road
Charlottesville, 22902
Phone: 434-984-4855

Dec 8, 2014

Jefferson Vineyards excels

After our visit to Barboursville we traveled to Jefferson Vineyards.  It has been a while since we last visited Jefferson Vineyards.  We tried to on a previous trip to Charlottesville, but there literally was no parking available.
Jefferson Vineyards regular tastings are $10 and include a  very nice souvenir glass, but they were also offering a special that weekend for a combination of the regular tasting with some estate reserve wines (all red wines) for a $15 fee which included a souvenir glass.  Carol had the regular tasting and I had the combination tasting.

The two white wines we tried in the beginning, a 2013 Pinot Gris ($17.75) and a 2013 Chardonnay Reserve ($24.95) were both quality wines.  The Pinot Gris had nice flavors and a long finish.  The Chardonnay was well balanced between the fruit and oak. I even underlined balanced on the tasting notes.
After these two very nice white wines, we tried several very good to outstanding red wines. We tasted, in order, a 2012 Cabernet Franc ($21.95); a red blend called Vin Rouge ($17.95); a 2012 Petit Verdot ($24.95); a 2012 Meritage (29.95); a 2008 Merlot Reserve; and a 2005 Reserve Petit Verdot. I then tried the Estate Reserve wines from 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012. The Estate Reserve wines at Jefferson are real treasures.  Carol took a sip of the 2009 and really liked it. I told her the 2010 was, in my opinion, even better. Later, I recalled that the 2010 Estate Reserve won a gold medal at the 2014 Virginia Governor's Cup competition. It is a blend of 67 percent Cabernet Franc and 33 percent Petit Verdot. The estate reserve wines are said to made with the finest grapes on the property. We finished with a Vin Blanc ($17.95) a semi-sweet, zesty white wine blend of Traminette and Petit Manseng.

We liked the Jefferson Vineyards staff too. They warmly greet you when you enter and explain the tasting options and costs. The folks behind the counter really knew the wines they were pouring or could get you an answer almost immediately.

Jefferson Vineyards continues to make exceptional wines and we are glad we stopped there on our recent trip. When you visit, tell them you read about Jefferson Vineyards at Wine About Virginia.

Jefferson Vineyards 
1353 Thomas Jefferson Parkway
Charlottesville, VA 22902
Phone: 434-977-3042