The wines of Virginia at the ’09 LIWF w/video

I know it may seem like I’ve been banging on about English wine, English vodka, the English, etc., but I am living here, in England. I have however, not forgotten about my country…”My country tis of thee, sweet land of liberty…”…ahem, um…now where was I? Oh, yeah…anyway, we all know about California wine, the wines of Oregon and Washington and New York’s cool climate offerings but what about Virginia’s wines? Yup, you heard me right, the wines of Virginia. The Jamestown settlers were the first to try and cultivate wines but without much success. Even T.J. (Thomas Jefferson, our third president) back in the day, brought over cuttings from France to his estate in Monticello in the hopes of producing fine wine but to no avail despite his efforts over 30 years. Until recently grapegrowing and wine making in Virginia were pretty much a quixotic affair. I remember going to a vineyard about 8 years ago and it was an “interesting” experience. Since then however, Virginia wineries have made improvements in leaps and bounds and now are known for producing aromatic, creamy viogniers and fragrant, full cabernet francs. There are now over 140 vineyards in Virginia and only California, New York, Oregon and Washington have more wineries. If you want to know more of the history, click here. I met the folks from New Horizons Wines, Christopher Parker and his colleague Judy at the ’09 London International Wine Fair. I had a chance to try the Veritas Viognier ’07 and have a chat with Judy… Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Clos du Val Merlot 05, Cab. 05 – Napa Valley

Getting a winery tour or tasting can be difficult with some wineries requiring reservations up to 3 months in advance! Fortunately, many have tasting rooms that don’t need any such thing. Driving down the road, you just look for the little A-board signs sitting by the roadway, inviting you in for a taste. Clos du Val was once such winery. I’ve had their wines before and vaguely remember enjoying them. The hostess was a very friendly sort, although she did ask me for ID to prove I was old enough to drink. Let me tell you, she made my day! Clos du Val was set up 35 years ago by the Frenchman Bernard Portet. His mission was to produce classic estate-style wines and to that end, I think he has succeeded. I tasted and bought the 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2005 Merlot. The 2005 Napa Valley Merlot is a Bordeaux blend, as are most of the wines from Clos du Val, primarily merlot with a bit of cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon added to give it structure and balance. California merlot can be flabby and jammy but this blend was most definitely not. Pleasing aromas of plum and blackfruits, a rounded, full bodied mouthfeel and juicy blackberry, licorice and sweet spice flavours. Well balanced acidity was another big plus along with a nice long finish. A smoothly elegant merlot to have on it’s own or with a meal. The 2005 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is a classic Bordeaux style blend of cabernet sauvignon, cab franc and merlot. It’s big and meaty with plenty of tannins in there to help it age gracefully. Lots of currants, blackberry and cassis with a generous bit of spiciness and cedar to finish it off. One of the perks of dining out in Napa is that all the restaurants allow you to bring in your own wine for a reasonable corkage fee (usually between $15 – $20). I took one of my purchases with me to dinner at...

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A swing by Napa Valley

Since I’m out on the West Coast visiting family, I thought it would be nice to take a short trip over to Napa to do a bit of compare and contrast with European wines. First stop was Darioush Winery. A rather OTT sight greets you as you turn off into the driveway. A forest of Persian columns topped by two headed horses leads the way to the entrance. The interior is all cool marble and glass dominated by a large square tasting area. Darioush is known for their shiraz but I was more impressed by their 2007 Signature Viognier. The grapes were all sourced from the Oak Knoll appellation which has a reputation for cooler temperatures and higher humidity then the rest of Napa Valley which preserves the aromatic components of the grapes. A perfect showcase for the aromatic viognier grape. A swirl of honeysuckle, jasmine, white peach and cantalope leap from the glass and greet your nose first off. I could have sniffed this wine all day long, it was so pleasingly divine. That nose leads off into a mouthful of succulent, juicy white peaches and cantalope with hints of green apple and a citrus finish, nicely balanced acidity leaves you wanting another sip. I bought a bottle of this one to take home with me. Another winery that I really enjoyed was the Artesa Winery in Carneros The winery is situated on a hilltop and has various pieces of sculpture scattered around the grounds. Artesa is a subdivision of Codorniu but since 1999 they have specialized in red wines. They did have a fume blanc but I’m not a big fan of oaked S. Blanc. Artesa is producing a limited release of that Loire classic, Cabernet Franc. The grapes are from the mountainsides of Alexander Valley which has rocky soils and gets plenty of sun. The grapes were hand-harvested and no detail was overlooked in the winemaking process. We sampled the 2005 Cabernet Franc Limited Release. A juicy nose of raspberry and...

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