Friday, June 6, 2008

Travelin' Oenophile: Thursday, Part II, Friday, Part I

Greetings once again from the hot and sticky mid-Atlantic states. We seem to be good at invoking heat waves when we travel. So much for my notion of a cool Atlantic breeze as I had on Jekyll Island. I've never heard the phrase "delightfully tepid" to describe a shower until just now when Hubby came out of the bathroom to stand in front of the air conditioning vent. At least he left me some hot water.

I left off yesterday's adventures after our third winery. In vino veritas, or, "in wine, there is truth," as the old saying goes, but I never found out whether that was the inspiration for the fourth winery's name. Veritas has an absolutely gorgeous tasting room with views over forest and field. It's a space that the American nobility we partially came to pay homage to would feel comfortable in. The wine wasn't bad, either.

Again, my ratings are first, then Hubby's (at least it's not checks and crooked checks -- who can figure that one out???). It's funny to both of us how we do and don't agree on some of them. Sometimes purchase negotiations resemble international peace negotiations.

2007 Sauvignon Blanc: Good / :)

2007 Sauvignon Blanc Reserve: Not Bad / :)

2007 Chardonnay: Very Good / :)

2007 Viognier: Bad to Not Bad / :|
Had a funky finish.

2006 Petit Manseng: Not Bad / :|

2005 Kenmar: Bad to Not Bad / :(
Odd nose to it, like Handy Wipes.

2005 Mousseux (sparkling blend of Chardonnay and Cab Franc): Very Good / :D
Seriously, this one has flavors of milk chocolate-covered cherries. Oh yeah, we got a bottle.

2007 Rose: good / :|

Red Star (Cabernet Franc & Chambourcin): Very Good / :(

2006 Cabernet Franc: Good / :)

2006 Claret (Cab Franc & Petit Verdot): Very Good / :| (Hubby deducted points for the nose)

2005 Merlot: Good / :)

2006 Vintner's Reserve (misc. blend of red grapes): Very Good / :)
I have to quote the tasting notes on this one: "Reserve VR for a sumptuous feast of red meats, particularly T-bones, Tenderloin, Moose and Elk..." Has anyone seen Moose or Elk at the Farmer's Market? It might be with the elusive kangaroo.

2006 Petit Verdot: Very Good to Excellent / :D
A dark, almost inky wine, this one was finally the big ass red we'd been looking for.

2005 Othello (port-style dessert red blended from Tannat, Touriga Nacional, and Petit Verdot): Very Good / :)

Other information: $5/tasting for either whites or reds, but they pour enough for two if you want to share, which is what we did. They waive the fee if you buy a bottle from the list. We got our fees waived with the Mousseux and Petit Verdot. Our only complaint was that it was fairly busy, and there was just one pourer.
Bottom line: Deserves its good reputation, but the tasting room needs more staff.

We also went to Cardinal Point and Afton Mountain. Neither had anything worth writing about, and we didn't bring home any of their wines.

We had dinner at a cute South American-themed restaurant Zocalo (not related to the recently deceased one in Atlanta). I started with the butternut squash soup and had the duck breast for dinner. I also had a glass of Malbec, but there's no way I can comment on it, as burned out as my palate was by then. Hubby had the caesar salad and pork tenderloin. We then went on to Enoteca for after-dinner wine and dessert. The flourless chocolate cake is fantastic.

"I was really hoping for a big finish to the day," Hubby sighed as we got in the car after Afton Mountain. We might not have finished the day with a bang, but we did finish the state with one. Tarara Winery , the northernmost winery in Virginia, was our favorite of the trip. We liked it so much we sent a case home to ourselves. We tasted the reserve list and were very impressed. We sat down with our lists and said, "we're in trouble." Finally, the full-bodied, fruity reds we had been seeking the whole time! Our favorite by far was the Merlot. Please email them and beg them to fill out the necessary paperwork to ship to Georgia once the state opens up on July 1 so we can join their wine club. We promise, we'll share!

So, here's the bottom line for Virginia: definitely plan on spending some time at the northernmost part of the state near Maryland. In general, skip the Cab Franc unless you like somewhat wimpy reds. True red lovers, go for the Petit Verdot. As for whites, they're hit or miss.

We drove on to Maryland after lunch at an average Asian buffet (it was late, we were hungry, it was there). We started at Sugarloaf Mountain, which has its tasting room in a tent until the real one is completed this summer. It definitely felt like tasting wine in the country, but it was nice in spite of the heat.

'05 Chardonnay: Very good / :)
Apple and citrus with a little roasted nut.

'06 Independence Rose (grapes from Southern Virginia???): Good / :)

'06 Circe (Cab Sauv, Cab Franc, Merlot, Malbec, and Petit Verdot): Good to Very Good / :|

'06 Cabernet Sauvignon: Good

'06 Comus (same blend as Circe, but more Merlot): Good

We came away with a bottle of the Chardonnay, which I liked because it was unoaked.

Other Information: Small tasting fee, no glasses included.
Bottom Line: Good practice for drinking on the back porch.

And that's it for me tonight. More Maryland wines tomorrow.

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