October 2013 Virginia Wine Tasting Party

We again offered a Virginia Wine tasting party at our home for our church auction during Virginia wine month.  Several church members bid on it and many of the winners had previously won this event in years past.

Our concept was the same, compare and contrast two similar quality Virginia wines at a time presented with small plates of matching foods.

Here were our selected wines this year.  The tasting notes are generally from the producing winery, but in some cases, where those were not posted anymore, I used one of my fellow Virginia wine bloggers descriptions.

Whites- Sparkling
Ingleside Virginia Brut: 100% Chardonnay, the Virginia Brut is made using the traditional Methode Champenoise. Tiny pinpoint bubbles reveal the subtle flavors of toasted yeast bread and a finish reminiscent of hazelnuts. 

Whites- Viognier
Tarara Winery 2011 Reserve Viognier: Rich with aromas and flavors of blonde butterscotch, tropical fruit, white flower and honeyed nut. 
Keswick Vineyards 2012 Les Vents d'Anges Viognier: This 100% Viognier, stainless steel aged, is pale and very light. With less than 1% residual sugar, there is just enough sweetness on the palate to balance out its vibrant acidity. The wine is fruit-forward and delicate with notes of peaches, pears, and white flowers. Gold medal at the 2013 Monticello Cup. 

Whites- Petit Manseng
Delaplane Cellars 2011 Petit Manseng: Contains about 2.5% residual sugar, which balances out the acidity in the wine. The wine has honey drenched, light fruit on the nose that dives head first into a very peach and pear forward fruit sensation on the taste buds. It finishes with a honey drenched pear flavor.
Glen Manor Vineyards 2011 Petit Manseng:  This wine is off-dry with a balance of weight and crisp acidity. It has aromas of passion fruit, guava, vanilla bean and peach. 

Red: Norton
Weston Farm Winery 2009 Norton: This Norton is very rich in tannin resulting in a wine that will have a long life.  It has a unique flavor and it has more anthocianins than any other variety of grapes. 
Keswick 2011 Norton:  100% Norton, Virginia's native grape. Matured for 7 months in American oak, this full-bodied red displays a vibrant acidity. Dark fruits on the nose and palate are tightly knitted with tannin. A classic Norton profile of tang and spice. 

Red: Bordeaux-right bank style Blends
Lovingston 2009 Estate Reserve: Bright red fruits permeate the nose after opening but with a slightly earthy undertone.  Hints of mushrooms mingle with the up-front fruit on the palate. The tannins have softened with several years of bottle age for this blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. Gold medal in the 2013 Virginia Governor's Cup.
Boxwood  Estate Winery 2010 Topiary: 61% Cabernet Franc and 49% Merlot estate grown grapes.  Brick-red color, with a very complex nose of strawberry, pepper, tobacco and molasses with some oak notes. Medium-full bodied on the palate. Cherry pit and red fruit predominate, with a round mid-palate and soft/sweet tannins. The finish is fresh and very long, with notes of dried herbs and a touch of oak.  

Red: Bordeaux-left bank style Blends
Breaux Vineyards 2007 Meritage: A blend of all 5 Bordeaux red grapes with Cabernet Sauvignon the major contributor. It reflects the quality of that vintage, and showcases aromas of cocoa powder, dark chocolate and black cherry. It has firm tannins and a very balanced, pleasant acidity with a bright finish. A soft and appealing mouth feel along with flavors of dried cherry, currant, dried fruits, mild plum, and a hint of sweet vanilla and cloves. 
8 Chains North Winery 2009 Furnace Mountain Red Reserve:  The wine is a blend of the 5 Bordeaux grapes, but it is predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon, which is reflected in the beautiful fruit. On the nose there is a blend of blackberry, black cherry, cedar and spices. The 22 months of barrel aging has really been good for this wine. It has a nice acidity, good mid palate, and a creamy finish. 

Breaux Vineyards 2006 Soleil:   This is Breaux’s late harvest, ice style dessert / aperitif wine. It is made of 55% Vidal Blanc and 45% Muscat Blanc. 
Tarara Winery Whitie’s D9 2010:    The distillate for the fortification was from early harvested and fermented grapes, rushed to Catoctin Creek Distillery to get back to Tarara and jack up some Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Simply put, a massive wine loaded with what we can only call crazy yumminess. 

The Whites
This year we offered the Ingleside Virginia Brut as an aperitif as folks arrived.  I enjoyed this sparkling wine, although our guests seemed more interested in moving on to the comparative tastings. They all did say they liked this wine. I thought this wine had lots of nice flavors of toast and nuts. We served this with Marcona Almonds.  We served a large variety of cheeses with all of the wines.

We started with two quality Viogniers, which everyone enjoyed.  One person, who said she was a red-wine drinker, said she liked these Viogniers. We served the Viognier with miniature chicken pot pie pastries and bite sized crab cakes. The wines and small plates paired well.  When I asked our guests which one they preferred, most eventually chose the Keswick Les Vents d'Anges Viognier.  However, everyone liked each Viognier.  One person did note the Tarara Reserve Viognier had more acid, a trend that was noticeable for all the northern Virginia wines when compared to the Monticello area wines.

Probably the closest comparison was between the two 2011 Petit Mansengs.  Many of our guests were unfamiliar with Petit Manseng.  It proved very popular despite this unfamiliarity.  Trying to discern noticeable differences between these two wines led to careful smelling and tasting by the group.  Eventually the group settled on the Glen Manor Petit Manseng being the favorite, although some disagreed.  Everyone did say they were both great.  One guest thought the Delaplane Petit Manseng the best wine of the evening.  We served the Petit Manseng with Thai-flavored lemon grass sticks.  The spiciness of these paired well with the hint of residual sweetness of the Petit Manseng wines.

The Reds
In between the whites and the reds we offered our guests a taste of 868 Vineyards Rosé of Merlot. 868 says this is "A robust, medium-bodied rosé with a bright red-salmon hue."  Our guests tasted it, but were more interested in moving to the Reds.

First up was the Norton.  Most folks had heard of Norton, and some knew the story that Dennis Horton brought Norton back to Virginia.  Both Norton wines were enjoyed by the group.  Most folks preferred the Keswick Norton over the Weston Farm. We paired the Norton with barbecue meatballs.

Following the Nortons, we moved into our "right-bank style" red blends, the Lovingston 2009 Estate Reserve and the 2010 Boxwood Topiary.  After my explaining what  "right bank style" means, everyone tasted the wines themselves. These right-bank style blends were served with smoked turkey sausage. The majority chose the Lovingston Estate Reserve as their favorite. I then retrieved an aerator and poured the Boxwood Topiary though that.  Folks then thought the two wines were much closer.

Something similar happened when we poured the 8 Chains 2009 Furnace Mountain Red Reserve and the 2007 Breaux  Meritage, our two "left-bank style" blends.  The guests preferred the 8 Chains North Furnace Mountain Red Reserve until I poured the 2007 Breaux Meritage through an aerator. Then preferences started to change. Folks were somewhat surprised what a difference aeration made.  We paired these reds with roast beef and beef salami.

Our two dessert wines were very different, so there really was no comparison between the Tarara D9 and the Breaux Soliel.  Folks who liked sweeter wines really appreciated both. We paired our dessert wines with lemon bars, blackberry wine-infused brownies and fresh berries with whipped cream.

Loudoun County dessert wines
We sent our guests home with re-corked bottles of their favorites. We plan to offer another Virginia wine tasting at our church auction for Virginia wine month in October 2014.

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