Happy July 4th!
What better way to celebrate Independence Day than with several bottles of red, white and (sitting in for blue) pink? One of these days, we'll come across a blue wine during our drunken explorations of Virginia's vinos, but until then.....
We toast the Nation's Independence with a favorite from these three colors, and hope you toast with us.
Cabernet Franc, Meritage, Merlot, Malbec, Chambourcin, Norton, Petit Verdot, Tannat, Syrah, table red...so many to choose from in the state. Nearly every winery in Virginia offers a Cabernet Franc, Chambourcin and Petit Verdot are clipping at Cab Franc's heels as the signature red for the state. So, we'll go with something more unique this year: Touriga Nacional. High tannins and notes of blackberry, black cherry and vanilla characterize this unusual varietal, with origins in Portugal. Because of its home country, Touriga is used for blending in ports. This is a hardy wine that will sit on your rack nicely for several years, but tonight we're breaking it out. This touriga is from Grayhaven Winery, between Richmond and Charlottesville off I-64.
Continuing with the July 4th traditional of imbibing with unusual wines (for Virginia), we next uncork Chardonel, with its off-dry and fruity notes is a perfect chilled summer wine. Chardonel, as the name indicates, is a cross of Chardonnay and Seyval, and has its origins at Cornell University. Oddly enough, this wine is relatively scarce in Finger Lakes tasting rooms. The grape thrives in slightly more humid climates, so Virginia (as well as Missouri, another state that excels with Chardonel) is a natural fit. Notes of citrus and fig dominate the typical Chardonel, and the wine is a perfect match with crab dishes. Our Chardonel is from The Hague Winery, in Virginia's Northern Neck.
Filling in for Mr. Blue is Mr. Pink, and "pink wine" can only mean one thing: Rosé. Virginia is working valiantly to build credibility with rosé. Virginia's rosés are not Kool Aid sweet "white zins" that were popular cheap wines in our college years. These are some dry (some extremely dry) white wines that happen to be pink in color, because the grape skins were left on the grapes during the processing. There are many wineries in the Commonwealth that offer stellar rosés; our favorites include
North Gate Vineyards, near Purcellville in Loudoun county; Fabbioli Cellars, also in Loudoun county (off route 15, north of Leesburg); and
Flying Fox Vineyard, southwest of Charlottesville in Nelson County.
This year, we celebrate with a dry rosé from Glen Manor Vineyards, near Front Royal and the entrance to Skyline Drive. Blended with Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, this pink starts with a burst of red fruit and finishes crisp and dry. Their 2013 Morales Rosé is the best rosé we've had all year, although the offerings from the other aforementioned wineries are very close runners-up.
We hope you uncork (or unscrew) some of Virginia's best this 4th while taking breaks from igniting your Chinese fountains, sparklers, snakes and glow worms. Cheers!