"Honey, why would you want to drink that?" A question posed to me in the maple sugar tones of a very charming and brilliant gentleman farmer, whose much vaunted efforts in Northern California have eclipsed his Southern heritage. Still, his comments were less terrifying than Napa's North Carolina graftee who assured me, when I overheard her saying all Virginia wine was White Zin, that she had meant that comment in the best sense.
I was already all in ...not just for the conference, but for two full days of preconference in Loudoun County. The promise of seeing Monticello in person as well as wine blogger camaraderie was going to have to be enough. I could hoard my Sharing Wine if worse came to worse. Maybe I could load up at Vino Volo on my way out of the State?
Bitch slapped by the mean heat of Minneapolis (92 degrees in the jetway at 5:30 am local time? Really?) as I changed planes, the discordant rhythm of my day did not seem set to improve as I slogged through Dulles ready to take my lashes and take on the soggy heat and the prospect of days of white Zin.
However, the universe favors the intrepid.
As soon as I saw Stacey, I knew I was in capable hands. Visit Loudoun
was officially on. Air conditioned coach. Fellow bloggers. And one of my favorite people in the whole world, Melanie Ofenloch, aka Dallas WineChick
. Our first stop was Tarara
. We were met by the enthusiastic and engaging winemaker, Jordan Harris. Even though the team was so welcoming, the phrase "Whywhywhywhy...White Zin." kept repeating Rod Serling-style in my head.
With the first sniff of the '09 Charval, Virginia ($20),
the voices of the haters fell away. A delightful blend of 66% Chardonnay, 18% Pinot Gris, 9% Viognier and 7% Sauvignon Blanc, the cacophony I now experienced was delicious aromatics. Sigh of relief. This wine is good!
We went on to try:
'10 Viognier, Williams Gap Vineyard, Virginia:
100% Viognier The aim of this to have a fresher style was acheived. Exotic fruits. white peach, with interesting notes of white flowers, the wine also had a nice mouthfeel and lovely finish. Yum!
'09 Nevaeh (na-VAI-ah) White, Virginia: 70% Viognier with 30% Chardonnay. Interesting blend produced aromas of mandarin orange sections, cedar and spice. It had a nice mineral quality, which they said came from the limestone deposits in that section of the vineyard. It felt a little food slutty; it was better with a snack than alone. Luckily, the table was a locavore's delight.
'09 Three Vineyards Chardonnay, Virginia: 100% Chardonnay Golden color, long finish with aromas of pear, fennel seed, baking spice. The cooperage was interesting in that on this wine, Tarara uses oak from a small forest near the Loire, Jupilles, where the trees are 150 years old and in a cool climate, so very dense. 50% new and 50% 2nd year. The oak treatment was pleasantly balanced.
'97 Chardonnay, Virginia: Golden dark straw color. Aromas of toasted marshmallow. Super smooth with ripe pineapple at front palate and Marin County forest floor in the middle and in the finish.
'09 Three2One Cellars - Tranquillity: Collaboration of three wineries who use fruit from the same vineyard. The three offer their two best barrels to blend. With aromas of eucalyptus, raspberries and hint of Meyer lemon peel and interesting woody flavors and subtle raspberry flavors in finish, it was delicious.
'08 Commonwealth CasaNoVa, Virginia: 53% Merlot,31% Cab Sauv, 9%Petit Verdot, 7% Cab Franc Dark gorgeous color, alluring aromas of black fruit, chocolate and hint of mint. Cocoa oak in the flavor and a pleasant and elegant finish.
After tasting through the Tarara wines, they took us to the caves where we sampled from the barrel a Petit
Manseng that tasted like it wanted to become a sherry, with Tio Pepe like cuminy hints. All in all an auspicious start to my VirginiaWine Odyssey.