Thursday, June 5, 2008

Travelin' Oenophile: Little did I know...

Check almost any book on writing, and the "little did I know technique" is considered to be a cheesy way of building suspense. I apologize for its use here, but give me a break, I've been to six wineries today, and I'm a bit tired and glad I can even type straight. So, here it is:

Little did I know that yesterday's blog ending would prove to be prophetic.

Prophetic? Oh, yes. You see, we ended up going west, but a little further than we intended. First, let me back up to last night.

We ate dinner at a cute little Italian bar and restaurant called Fellini's Number 9. The food was really good. We split an appetizer of the sauteed calamari, which is one of their signature dishes. It was sauteed with sun dried tomatoes, calamata olives, and grapes and served with a butter sauce that had balsamic vinegar in it. Then we had mixed green salads, and for our entrees, I had the spaghetti bolognese because they were out of clams for linguine with clams, and Hubby had the seafood lasagna. Dessert was cannolis and a cake with espresso caramel mousse and pound cake covered with chocolate ganache. We had a fabulous chianti, the 2006 Buondonno Chianti Classico.

That brings me to our adventures of today. We slept in, ate breakfast, and hit the road west-ward at about quarter to eleven. Our first stop was Oakencroft Winery, which is going to close at the end of the year due to its founder retiring. For the sake of sanity, I'll only give ratings and then comment on the notable wines:

2006 Chardonnay: Very Good

2006 Seyval Blanc: Very Good

2006 Viognier: Good

NV Countryside White (blend of Seyval Blanc, Vidal Blanc, Viognier): Very Good/Excellent

2006 Jefferson Claret (blend of Merlot, Chambourcin, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Sauvignon): Good

2006 Merlot: Very Good

NV Countryside Red (blend of Chambourcin, Cab Franc, Cab Sauvignon, Tannat, and Petit Verdot): We came home with a bottle of this excellent red. It has a grape nose, light fruit, and is good slightly chilled. Should be a great summer wine.

2006 Encore (Vidal & Traminette): Very Good/Excellent -- like apple pie in a bottle

2006 Estate Reserve Chambourcin: Good

2006 Cabernet Franc Reserve: Very Good

Other Info: Tasting fee was $3/person, glass is souvenir. Nice gift shop attached to winery. Beautiful property, worth a look before they close.
Bottom Line: Bummed they're closing

General Virginia wine tasting note: We tasted lots of Cabernet Francs and lots of Viogniers today. None of them were fabulous.

The next stop was White Hall Vineyards.

2006 Vin Gris: Not Bad

2005 Chardonnay Reserve: Good (even though it was oaked)

2006 Pinot Gris: Good (too light for Hubby)

2006 Gewurtztraminer: Not Bad

2006 Petit Manseng (semi-dry): Very Good

2005 Breakheart Red (Tannant, Cab Sauv, Cab Franc, and Malbec): Good

2006 Cabernet Sauvignon: Very Good to Excellent

2006 Touriga: Good

2006 Petit Verdot: One of these came home with us. A nice, fruity nose and long, buttery finish. Has 10% Cabernet to give it some character.

2005 Cuvee des Champs (whoops, didn't get blend): Good

2006 Sugar Ridge White (Vidal Blanc & Riesling): Very Good

Other Info: Tasting is free.
Bottom Line: A very nice winery, definitely worth a look. Ask for the Petit Verdot, which is not on the tasting list.

We got directions to our next intended destination, King Family Vineyards.
This was where we got a little off the beaten path. The road signs and directions didn't exactly match, so we ended up on a gravel road that ran beside the area's reservoir. Finally, I was able to convince Hubby that it wasn't the right road, or maybe it was the fact that it got narrower and narrower, and so he did an eleven-point turn. I did get some pretty pictures of the river.

Doesn't sound very exciting? After three cups of coffee and two wine tastings, it definitely was. We found a bathroom and lunch at la Cocina del Sol, a cute little Southwestern/Latin American place in Crozet. It gave us just what we needed: food to soak up an afternoon of wine tasting. I had the chicken burrito, and Hubby had the chicken burger, which was cooked with a Southwestern twist.

We finally got back on the beaten path and followed the grape signs to King Family Vineyards, where polo is played on Sundays. The large fireplace, which thankfully was not going, dominates the tasting room and still makes it smell smoky. They do have some good wines. At this point, Hubby decided to take independent notes, so we have two ratings. I'll put mine first, his second.

2006 Viognier: Good / :)

2007 Roseland (Chardonnay/Viognier): Good / :)

2006 Chardonnay: Good / :)

2007 Crose: Rose blend of Merlot and Cab Franc. Good / :|

2006 Merlot: Very Good / :)

2006 Meritage (Merlot, Cab Franc, Petit Verdot): A little smoky/oaky on the nose, but really good fruit, and a clean, slightly acidic finish. Yep, one of these came home with us.

2006 Late Harvest Cabernet Franc: Good / :)

2006 'Loreley' Late Harvest Viognier: Very Good / :)

Other info: Tastings are $5/person, and you get to keep the glass. Picnic areas available as well as picnic supplies.
Bottom line: Very nice

Okay, it's time to get ready for dinner. Here's the tally thus far:

Bottles bought: 6
Glasses collected: 6

Later: The last three wineries on Thursday and Thursday's dinner destination, which is still a surprise, even to me.

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