Virginia Wine Tasting Weekend – Day 2

Heading further North and West in Virginia Wine country, only a few miles from the West Virginia border we started our second day of our wine tasting weekend.

breauxvineyards

We arrived at Breaux Vineyards about 10 minutes to early to find the gate closed, while we waited patiently, we were surround by over 100 acres of vines on their 400 acre estate with the mountains in the background it was a beautiful site. The tasting room was a bustle of activity, as they were preparing for a club member party, but there weren’t too many people at the tasting bar. We actually saddled up next to another couple from Richmond and began our tasting. We got the full spiel since we were both Breaux newbies which was nice and dove right into the tasting. I was a bit put off by the fact that the tasting room associate made the point of telling us that the first thing we should know is that Breaux is the #1 winery in Virginia. Shocked by such a bold statement, we asked what she meant by this, she couldn’t really definite it, number 1 in sales, production, acreage?? “No, just #1 in everything” It’s great to be positive about the company you work for and I know they have won lots of awards and have been written about favorably but so have many other VA wineries. For example, Horton wines were poured for the Queen of England, Barboursville wine was served to President Obama and my families winery Woodland Vineyard won Gold at the State Fair. Okay enough of my nitpicking and on to the wines…

Breaux Wine Highlights –

  • 2007 Sauvignon Blanc – very crisp with great pear, apple, and asparagus on the nose followed by grassy notes on the plate surrounded by mineral overtones

  • 2007 Viognier – honeysuckle, peach, apricot and a nice “spicy” acidity, not as viscous as most but very nice

  • 2002 Nebbiolo – spicy and rustic, plum, leather, red currant and roasted bell pepper

The wines at Breaux were good but their prices were a bit high. I love the Nebbiolo but at $48 retail it was a bit much. Their 2002 Merlot Reserve was also quite nice, but the remaining reds were a little heavy on the Brett for my taste, and I like a good dose of barnyard!

notavivatastingrooomNext on our tour was another new winery for us, as well as fairly new winery to the Virginia Wine industry, Notaviva Vineyards. I had followed the building of Notaviva through their blog so I knew a little bit about how they got their start. The proprietors (also winemaker and vineyard manager) have their roots in the music industry and have built a winery that is a state of the art music “venue”. Don’t let me steer you wrong into believing that they have a huge facility but it was built with a first class audio system and acoustics. The music connection extends to their wines as well, on the back of each wine they “pair” their wine to a music genre, a pretty cool concept and the topic of the next Wine Blogging Wednesday. Notaviva is still new and are only pouring a few of their own wines which are mostly from sourced grapes, but in addition they pour some other local wines that don’t yet have tasting rooms.

Notaviva Wine Highlights –

  • 2008 Vincero (100% Viognier) – big round mouthfeel, apple, apricot and honey with a finish of honeydew melon

I enjoyed some of the other wines that Notaviva poured but they weren’t from their winery so I won’t talk about them here.

Traveling on to yet another new winery for us as well as another fairly recent VA Wine addition, we arrived at Sunset Hills Vineyard. Beautiful, rustic Amish restored barn surrounded by vineyards and adjacent to a horse farm. Our tasting associate Guy wins the award for “most enthusiastic” and was a delight to talk with and new his stuff, and if didn’t he knew where to look. I was impressed by that last point, the tasting room was equipped with a nice binder that had detailed specs on the wines for easy access. (Barrel Oak does something similar) I feel this is an invaluable tool, no matter how much you train your staff, you can’t remember everything.

Sunset Hills Wine Highlights –

  • 2007 Unoaked Chardonnay – interesting nose of canned corn and Granny Smith apple followed up with similar apple flavors and Asian pear and great acidity

  • 2007 Cabernet Franc – spicey black currrant, cherry and boysenberry with leathery young tannins

We decided to make use of the Sunset Hills patio and listen to their band they had for the Memorial Day Holiday and enjoy some Viognier and Cabernet Franc with our cheeses we brought. Check out the video below.

john_CorcoranLast up for the day we headed to Corcoran Vineyards to visit Lori and Jim, who we had met once previously but interact frequently with via the internet and social media. What started in her basement has turned in a great full time wine biz, that now resides in a small renovated 1750’s log cabin within site of their house. Lori was excited to see us and was a gracious hostess as usual, so after we tasted we took a glass of wine outside to enjoy by the pond and met up with her husband Jim. Our conversation revolved mostly about social media and blogging, it’s impact on the industry and what we thought of the Virginia wine industry in general. Jim was kind enough to offer us a taste of the Benevino Vineyards wines from James Benefiel, which they also sell but don’t have on the regular tasting menu. Corcoran also sources some their fruit from James’ vineyards. We had a great time, but had to run off to our dinner reservation at Tuscarora Mill in Leesburg. Thanks to Lori and Jim for a great end to the day!

Corcoran Wine Highlights –

  • 2007 Chardonnay – tight nose of Asian pear, with apple, poached pear and nice minerality on the palate

  • 2007 Cabernet Franc – red currant, cherry and black pepper on the nose with seasoned meat, sauteed green pepper and blackberry on the palate, hint of menthol at the start of the finish with dusty tannins

  • 2007 Benevino Cabernet Franc – chocolate, boysenberry, and black currant, big leathery tannins and hints of dried herbs

Stay tuned for day 3 of our trip tomorrow….

Cheers!

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Categories: virginia wine, wine tasting, winery review | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Virginia Wine Tasting Weekend – Day 2

  1. GREAT pics. Very nice visuals, the video was cool as well.

    Question on Nebbiolo… In general, what are the “prize” VA red and wine grapes? Does Nebbiolo have a place in the hierarchy? I’ve had California Nebbiolos that were fabulously disappointing, but I’d love to see another region work it out.

  2. vcuspoon

    Hey Evan
    well much like the North Fork of Long Island Cabernet Franc is the red “prize’ grape and VIognier is the winning white grape of the region. Petite Verdot is moving in Cab Franc though and has been showing well thru the past few vintages.

    Nebbiolo is only done by a couple of wineries and both offer good examples, nothing that comes close to Piedmont though. And are usually priced close to inexpensive Barolos unfortunately.

    thx for the comment

  3. Joshua

    “…the tasting room associate made the point of telling us that the first thing we should know is that Breaux is the #1 winery in Virginia. Shocked by such a bold statement, we asked what she meant by this…”

    I’m pretty sure I can speak to this. Breaux Vineyards was voted Virginia’s favorite winery in 2008 and again in 2009 by Virginia’s Farm Winery Council.

    http://www.virginiawineevents.com/

    As such they’re quick to toss around the title of #1 winery in Virginia. That being said, I will say I had a totally different experience and it sounds like you just got unlucky with an unknowledgeable wine associate there. I agree with the assessment of #1 winery, the wines are great, and in my experiences – the employees who have poured for me have been nothing short of amazing. Their knowledge far surpasses most winery employees (at least the ones we have been lucky enough to get), and they’re very down to earth as well. It quickly became mine and my oenophile friends’ favorite winery. My opinion – #1 winery well deserved, after tasting 115 VA vineyards (still counting!), I am hard pressed to find another that comes close.

    We also love Nota Viva and Sunset Hills – both great considering they’re smaller operations; although for what it’s worth I can honestly say I have never had a good experience at Corcoran. They’ve always felt sort of stuck up there to me.

    Oh and a word about the varietals, personally I’ve been REALLY excited about the Malbecs being produced in VA. The grape doesn’t seem like it’s gotten much attention so far, but beyond Cab Franc and Viognier (and of course the resilient hybrids) – Malbec seems to do really well in the state.

  4. vcuspoon

    Hi Joshua
    Thanks for the comment – the only Malbec i’ve had is Corcoran’s and it was pretty good. I am sorry you haven’t had a good experience with them, I can’t imagine Lori (the owner) being stuck up and she is usually the one in the tasting room.
    I was impressed by Sunset Hills as well and the tasting room staff was quite good. I would say my number of wineries visited is around yours, a bit closer to 100 and although I may have had a non-typical experience at Breaux I still can’t say it would be my #1. Linden, Glen Manor, Pollak – all better wines and better staff. That is my opinion and everybody’s experience is different at each winery – which is an unfortunate shame for lack of consistency. The women that helped us at Breaux said she had 20+ years in the wine industry but when she poured their dessert wine and I asked if the grapes had been botrytisized or affected by botrytis she acted like i was speaking Japanese, she didn’t know what the word meant and asked the lead staff person next to her and he didn’t either. Pretty basic wine word and someone that had been in the industry for 20 years would at least know what it means. (this was just one example) Several of my wine friends have told me I need to revisit them as they have had better experiences similar to yours.
    Thanks again for the comment and for reading the blog – I look forward to your future comments. I’ll let ya know when I get back to Breaux.
    Cheers
    John

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