Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Rosé Bowl

Rosé, like non-grape fruit wine, is treated like the evil stepchild (Damien....) of the wine scene. However, rosé is making a name for itself in the rolling hills of the Commonwealth.

Associated far too long with the likes of Riunite and white zin (aka "blush"), rosé is a white wine with a pink color. Imagine a good table white with pink food coloring, and you wouldn't be far off. Rosés around Virginia run from bone dry to sweet. Since sweet wines are not the favored of the blogmasters, we'll recommend a few spots with stellar dry or off-dry rosés. Some of these Virginia wines are available at Total Wine, so if the bad weather prevents you from visiting a winery in the Old Dominion, or the winery is closed for the next few weeks, consider a jaunt to Total Wine (Sterling and Fairfax, VA are the preferred locations for the blogmasters).

Five Solid Virginia Rosés:

From semi-sweet to dry, here are five to try---

(1) Rockbridge "Jeramiah's"
Complete with a bullfrog on the label (you have to be of a certain age to get the reference....) This affordable wine is available at Total Wine and goes down smooth after chilling. You can also warm it up in a crock pot, add spices, and create a great mulled treat.

(2) Dry Mill Rosé
This relatively new winery, one mile from downtown Leesburg in Loudoun County, is serving up some real treats - from hearty dry reds to sweeter whites. Their rosé is 2% residual sugar and works nicely with salty foods like Virginia peanuts.

(3) Kluge Estate SP Rosé
This delightful rosé from popular Kluge Estate near Charlottesville comes packaged and billed as a sparkling. A bit on the pricey side (for a rosé), but a great alternative to overly sweet sparkling wines.

(4) Hartwood Rappahannock Rosé
Just north of Fredericksburg lies this charming family-owned spot, with a surprisingly large list of whites and reds for all tastes. Their rosé is crafted from Chambourcin, the "white wine drinker's red," which translates into a sharper, but still fantastic, little wine.

(5) Cardinal Point Rosé
Cardinal Point is one of the Charlottesville area's oldest wineries, and they specialize in lighter wines (both whites and reds) that are very easy to drink, especially on hot summer days. They also make the driest rosé on our list - this is a wine that does not come packaged in a plastic bag and a box.

Seek out one of these rosés, and taste what you may have been missing. Virginia is proud of its rosés.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Fruit Wine - An Unexpected Treat

The holiday season is in full swing and life is crazy for the blog masters, so we only have time for a brief mid month post.

FRUIT WINE.....two words that make many wine fanatics shudder. (Although last we checked, grapes are fruit....) Images of Manischewitz in strangely-shaped bottles or Arbor Mist are immediately conjured. Truth to be told, there are some very good non-grape wines out there - and Virginia has several wineries that offer them. And not all of them are Charms lollipop sweet........

Below are five Virginia wineries that are worth a visit, if you really want to dive into the surprising pleasures of fruit wine. One big bonus is fruit wines are typically less expensive than grape wines. And many of them are dry. And many of them will get the job done - whether it's experimenting with different foods, or drinking the holiday chaos (or blues) away.

This charming spot is located in the heart of Charlottesville wine country - the grape wineries are usually the destination for folks visiting this part of Virginia, but Hill Top Berry Farm is a nice way to start the day, or end the day. And they also make mead (honey wine), if you really want to be bold!
Visit their website and check out their selections.

Home of some truly unique wines. Chili wine? Pumpkin pie wine? A blend with tomatoes? Why not?

And three wineries that offer both grape and non-grape selections, which is a great compromise if you have a pure wine snob in tow...

Norton, Viognier, Cab Sauv. AND strawberry, blackberry and peach (actually the peach is blended with a unique grape from eastern Europe called rkatsiteli, which has surprisingly delicious results).

Another Loudoun County winner. Clyde offers magnificent white and red grape wines, but also has a soft spot for blueberry, raspberry and blackberry (and hopefully soon, the return of his greatest non grape offering--sweet cherry).

Mountain Cove Vineyards, between Charlottesville and Lynchburg, is the oldest winery in the Commonwealth - they opened their doors when Three Dog Night and The Carpenters were ruling the airwaves (that would be 1973). Their apple wine is heavenly, and their blackberry and peach goes down like liquid preserves.

Several other Virginia wineries are lightening up a bit regarding non-grape wines - popular spots like Fabbioli Cellars and North Mountain Vineyards in Loudoun County and the Shenandoah Valley, respectively. If a winemaker is passionate enough about a fruit wine, as Doug Fabbioli and Clyde Housel of Hiddencroft are, indulge in something different!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

8 Chains North--Part 2

A brief discussion with 8 Chains North Winery owner/winemaker Ben Renshaw on traditional vs. synthetic corks.