Monthly Archives: May 2009

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.


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….


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

Virginia Wine Tasting Weekend – Day 1

If you have been following me on Twitter or Facebook, you probably know that Megan and I were up in Northern Virginia Wine Country for the past few days. We visited a total of 9 wineries over the weekend, 6 of which were completely new to me (this was actually part of the point of the trip since Loudon County is a bit of a hike for a day trip).

Day 1 – Barrel Oak Winery, Vintage Ridge and Aspen Dale

barreloak_barrelshotI first wrote about Barrel Oak over a year ago, before the winery had even opened. We were invited up by owners Brian and Sharon to talk about their new project and the vision for Barrel Oak Winery (BOW). Now as they celebrated 1 year of being in business, we hung out with Brian, Sharon and Rick Tagg, talking about the past year, the new plantings and sampling both the wines at the tasting bar as well as those in progress in the barrel room. The first vines planted are under their 3rd leaf, and the hills surrounding the winery are now completely covered by vines, but the wines we tasted were produced from purchased grapes. The vibe at BOW was hopping and there was not a face without a smile on it in the entire place, including the staff. Brian and Sharon have a true joy for what they are doing and it is infectious to say the least.

My Barrel Oak wine highlights –

  • 2008 Traminette – tons of rose petal on the nose, apricot, peach and lots of Asian pear on the back of the palate, crisp acidity

  • 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon – blueberry and hot cocoa on the nose, raspberry, cherry, sautéed green pepper with big ripe tannins

  • 2007 Cabernet Franc – raspberry and cherry on the nose, followed up by mint, fresh herbs, red currant and black pepper on the palate; nice acidity and velvety tannins

I didn’t take a ton of notes from the barrel tasting but I loved the Cab Francs, the Petite Verdot and their Viognier was killer. I look forward to seeing how these wines progress into bottle.


Thanks again to Brian, Sharon and Rick for showing us a great time as well as Kim who was our tasting room assistant.

Vintage Ridge

This was my first visit to Vintage Ridge, although I had wanted to go several times but always seemed to be in the area when they were closed. I was really excited about their concept of pairing wine and food together during the tasting, and didn’t realize how “intense” the experience was going to be. I imagined that they would give visitors a couple of cheeses or meats as pairing suggestions, but the actual experience was far more elaborate. The tasting was conducted in more of a restaurant style– you actually sit at a table and the wines are poured one by one along with an amazing platter of cheeses, sauces, mustards, nuts and even a mini Panini (it also came with meat, but we requested our plate sans meat).


Although the experience was fun and I was looking forward to it, I think I would have just rather done a tasting without the pairings (particularly since each tasting cost $12 and you are expected to tip your “waitress”). I don’t think they offer a wine tasting alone, though–we were told “they do things differently here” and weren’t given an option to just taste the wine. They were quite busy, so I won’t complain too much about attribute the time between wine pours (the entire experience took about an hour, with little information or dialogue about the wines). I do have a couple of complaints, though.

  • First, the foods, although very good, for the most part didn’t highlight the wines at all and actually detracted from most. The most absurd pairing was the hot, spicy mustard with Petite Verdot. Luckily I had tasted the PV before the mustard wrecked my palate, but if it is any indication of the PV quality, we actually chose to purchase the mustard (which incidentally was sold out). While the winery provides a FUN experience which people really seem to enjoy, the pairings were poor and made it difficult to evaluate the wines in and of themselves.

  • My second complaint will actually be the topic of a separate post later this week, though I feel I should mention it here, as it sparked the issue for us over the weekend. The winery owner actually poured one of our wines, so I took the opportunity to introduce myself as being part of a Virginia Winery, a wine store manager that sells VA wines, and a wine blogger. Surprisingly, the conversation ended there without further dialogue—the owner didn’t ask which winery I was associated with, the name of my wine shop, or about my wine blog. At the time I assumed that he was merely too busy at the moment and would stop back by over the next hour as the tasting room thinned out–NOPE! Not once did he come back by to talk, despite the fact that we work in the same industry, I could possibly put his product on a wine store shelf, and I could write about his winery on my blog, which gets steady readership among VA wine drinkers. I really couldn’t understand this, and was honestly baffled!

Vintage Ridge Wine Highlights –

  • 2005 Cabernet Franc – mocha, boysenberry and raisin with plum, roasted meat, black pepper and a hint of menthol on the palate

  • I don’t remember the name of the woman doing our pouring but she was very nice, relatively knowledgeable, and had a smile on her face the entire time despite the fact that she was extremely busy.

Aspen Dale Winery at The Barn

shay_aspendalewineryWe heard about Aspen Dale while we were at Barrel Oak—Aspen Dale was celebrating their grand opening that very day, so the folks at Barrel Oak asked us if we had heard about it (there was little or no fanfare or publicity around their opening). Intrigued, we snagged some directions from an email that Rick Tagg had, and after Vintage Ridge made our way over to check out the new “speak easy”. The place is an adorable old restored barn that has tons of charm and unassuming character. Shay, the owner and wine maker was doing our tasting, and explained her family’s history and her philosophy on simple, extremely small lot wine making. I won’t go into this much, as Megan will be writing more about this on her blog Wine Conscience in the next couple of days. Currently, all the fruit is being sourced and produced at Breaux Vineyards (we visited them the next day) but Shay oversaw the wine making decisions.

Aspen Dale Wine Highlights –

  • 2008 Hildersham Sauvignon Blanc – grassy with apple and Asian pear and asparagus and tons of minerality, crisp but full across the mid-palate

  • 2007 Rockawalkin’ Cabernet Sauvignon – baking spice, dark fruit highlighted by black cherry and leathery notes; full bodied with good acidic structure and dusty tannins


Thanks to Shay for showing us around, we were glad to be a part of their opening weekend and can’t wait to see what they offer in the future.

Stay tuned later this week for our visits to Breaux, Notaviva, Sunset Hills, Corcoran, Cross Keys and Pollack.


Categories: virginia wine, wine tourism, winery review | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

Quick Weekend Update – Virginia Wine Country

Yesterday Megan and I ventured out into the Northern Virginia wine country to visit some wineries both new and old to us. First stop was to our friends Brian, Sharon and Rick over at Barrel Oak Winery, where we tasted through their entire lineup, including everything that was in barrel downstairs.

Next was a new one to us, Vintage Ridge Winery, who does an interesting twist on wine tasting, with more of a restaurant style format, with seated wine pairings, it was very interesting and the food was delicious.

Last on the day was a new one that we heard of through the grapevine at Barrel Oak, and opened just yesterday called Aspen Dale. We met with Shay, wine maker and owner of the winery, and she was more than delighted to talk about her new project as well as share with us some of her new wines brewing in the barrel room.

Check back during this week to get more detailed stories about these, and all the wineries that we are visited on this long weekend.


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Wines of Chile Online Blogger Tasting

Last night I had the opportunity to taste through 8 wines from all over Chile with the wine makers. Well I wasn’t actually with the wine makers, but I was watching them virtually via a webcast hosted by the folks at Wines of Chile.

In a moderated fashion we were introduced to each of the wines by the winemaker and then tasted through them while having the opportunity to ask questions through the webcast. The pace was a little fast at first but once we provided some feedback the paced eased a bit and the questions were being answered in time with the wines we were sipping. Here is some video of my setup and the online action:

In attendance were the following wine makers and wines with some brief tasting notes –

  • Antonio Bravo from Emiliana and his 2008 Natura Sauvignon Blanc – aromas of “cat pee”, dried apricots, honey and stone with tart apple, grass, mineral and a touch of smoke on the palate; razor sharp acidity ($10.99) – for more info on this wine and their organic practices check out my wife’s blog Wine Conscience

  • Adolfo Hurtado Cerda from Cono Sur and his 2008 Vision Pinot Noir – aromas of strawberry, flower petals and cedar with crushed red fruit, red currant and cherry on the palate; medium body with ripe acidity ($15.00)

  • Marcelo Gallardo from Vina Los Vascos and his 2006 Los Vascos Reserve – got some nice red fruit on the nose but then some cork taint was starting to come through and was definitely apparent on the palate, unfortunately ($20.99)

  • Andres Caballero from Carolina Wine Brands and his Santa Carolina 2007 Reserva de Familia Carmenere – aromas of mocha, raspberry and boysenberry followed by leather, cranberry, red currant and green bell pepper on the palate; huge tannins very full bodied ($14.99)

  • Francisco Baettig from Errazuriz and his 2007 Single Vineyard Carmenere – aromas of blackberry, blueberry, boysenberry, and mocha with cedar blackberry, black cherry and tobacco on the palate; spicy and full bodied with BIG fuzzy tannins ($26.00)

  • Rafael Urrejola from Undurraga and his wine 2007 T.H. Syrah – after talking with the folks on Twitter last night, I think I may have had a bad bottle because all I tasted and smelled was plastic. Like the smell of taking a new action figure out of the box, it was really weird. Have to give this another shot sometime. ($24.00)

  • Cecilia Guzman from Haras de Pirque and her wine the 2006 Haras Character Cabernet Sauvignon/Carmenere – aromas of raw roast beef, red fruit, oak and earth with fire roasted green peppers followed up by spicy red fruit, cassis, cedar, oak and mint on the palate; full bodied and powerful tannins ($21.00)

  • Christian Aliaga from Veramonte and his 2006 Primus – aromas of smoke, grilled ribs, dark fruit and red clay followed by red raspberry, leather and tons of cherry on the palate; leathery, firm ripe tannins ($20.00)

I was most impressed by the Carmenere, they were big full bodied, with loads of fruit and acidity, definitely would be interested in tasting these two wines in 5 years or so. The Pinot Noir surprised me the most, I wouldn’t expect the wine to perform well at all but it showed well and $15 the Cono Sur was a great value. Thanks again to the folks at Wines of Chile for the opportunity!


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Tuesday Quick Sip – 2006 Hedges Three Vineyards Red Mountain

2006 Hedges Three Vineyards Red Mountain

Wine Information –

Appellation: Red Mountain, Washington

Vineyards: Hedges, Bel Villa, Red Mountain

Grapes: 51% Merlot, 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc, 4% Syrah

Fermentation: 15 months in 40% new oak consisting of 60% American, 35% French and 5% European

Price: $27

2006hedges_redmountainMy Tasting Notes –

nose: black cherry, leather, raspberry

taste: cassis, boysenberry, vanilla, all spice, cedar, cola

mouthfeel: full body, leathery tannins, good acidity

finish: long with loads of fresh fruit flavors

Nice bottle of wine, although it’s not inexpensive, it is drinking well now but seems as if it will continue to improve for the next 3-5 years. Was looking to get a bit more spice and bell pepper notes from the Cabernet Franc, but I guess 7% wasn’t enough, but I think it was providing the nice acidic backbone.


Categories: $20-$30, wine review | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Taste Camp tasting notes – Day 3: part 1 (headin’ South)

On day 3 of Taste Camp East, our group of bloggers had thinned slightly after the palate bashing during the first day and a half. But I was wolffer_blancdeblancrefreshed and excited to be heading over to the South Fork of Long Island to the Hampton’s appellation, yes THE Haaampton’s. We were making two stops on the South Fork, the first of which was Wolffer Estate Vineyard whose Estate Selection Merlots we had tasted during the first evening of Taste Camp.

After meeting Roman Roth, the wine maker for Wolffer, he offered us a glass of there 2005 Estate Sparkling Blanc de Blanc to sip on as we waited for the rest of the Taste Campers to arrive. It was a nice and refreshing sip that awakened my palate quickly.

Once we were all accounted for, we were escorted to a private room for our wine tasting with Roman.

Lets get into my tasting notes:

2005 Estate Selection Chardonnay

nose: tight, with oak and fresh cut apple

taste: Asian pear, almond, toast, butter, hint of citrus

mouthfeel: full body, round with “spicy” acidity at the back of the palate

finish: nice and long with toasty overtones

2000 Premier Cru Merlot (1.8 ton/acre, extended maceration, 21 months in new French Oak)

nose: chocolate, raspberry, black cherry

taste: green pepper, cherry, cabbage, raspberry and bacon

mouthfeel: soft and smooth but not flabby, full bodied

finish: long and fruity

wolffer_grapesofroth2002 Grapes of Roth Merlot (Bottled under Roman Roth’s name)

nose: licorice, red currant, nice “bright” fruit

taste: bacon fat, black currant, cassis, green pepper

mouthfeel: full body, velvety tannins, very smooth on the mid palate with spicy white pepper at the back of the palate

finish: long, high lighted by lingering meaty notes

2004 Premier Cru Merlot

nose: meaty, fresh wet earth, red currant, cured meat, cherry

taste: smoke, black currant, bacon fat, leather, rhubarb

mouthfeel: leathery and dusty, full big and spicy!

Finish: long and HUGE

2005 Premier Cru Merlot (Christian’s Cuvee)

nose: blackberry, boysenberry

taste: raspberry, black currant, cassis, roasted meat

mouthfeel: big and spicy with leathery tannins

finish: long and dusty

2005 Amarone (Cabernet Sauvignon)

nose: coffee, oak, fig

taste: chocolate, toffee, blackberry

mouthfeel: leathery tannins, full bodied

finish: long with black fruit and plum flavors

2007 Late Harvest Chardonnay (icewine style with 12% Viognier, 10 % Gewürztraminer, 3% Trebbiano)

nose: honeysuckle, apricot

taste: orange rind, tangerine, hazelnut, apricot

mouthfeel: intense with huge viscosity and enough acid to make it not overwhelming

finish: long rich and honey


Roman and the folks at Wolffer gave us the royal treatment, the same we had seen from our visits on the North Fork. Roman brought out the big guns for us, with these reds being in the $50 – $125 range but their Estate Selection Merlots are more in the $30 range and their La Ferme Martin line are all around the $15 price point. They were delicious though, my favorite being the 2004 Premier Cru and the 2000 Grapes of Roth. Both of which I bought and was lucky enough that Roman had a bottle of his 2000 with him as he usually doesn’t sell it from the Wolffer tasting room.. These Merlot’s showed the power and meatiness of California Syrah with the suppleness and elegance of Washington state Merlot, well at least that’s what my palate thought, and I dug it!!

Thanks again to the folks at Wolffer and to Roman Roth, it was a treat and a pleasure.


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Taste Camp tasting notes – Day 2: part 3

P5020241After leaving Paumanok Vineyards we headed over to Shinn Estates Vineyards for lunch and of course some wine tasting. Shinn Estates also doubles as a B&B and we ate in the dining room that separates the guest rooms and where the owners Barbara Shinn and David Page live. Prepared for us was a beautiful feast with quite a few vegetarian friendly items that I of course didn’t write down. But my friend and fellow Taste Camper Erika Strum put up the list of what we ate on her blog yesterday, so I snagged it.

What we ate: rocket salad with a mustard-thyme vinaigrette, peconic bay calamari, piccolini pasta with asparagus, spring onion, lemon and fire-roasted shiitake mushrooms with ramps and fregula and crescent duck breast with sea salt, pepper and apricot-mustard sauce.


To go with all this fabulous food we had 8 or so wines to pair with it all. Providing the wines were of course Shinn Estates as well as Jamesport Vineyards and Macari Vineyards. While we sipped and savored all the food and wine, wine makers from each of the estates gave us a good rundown of what they are all about, as well as their philosophies on sustainable viticulture.

shinn_SBWhat we drank:

2008 Shinn Estates Sauvignon Blanc (blended with 4% Semillion)

nose: grassy, gooseberry, lemon rind, slightly tropical

taste: lime, grass, general citrus note, touch of grapefuit

mouthfeel: clean and crisp, razor sharp acidity

finish: long and clean

2008 Macari Sauvignon Blanc

nose: “tight”, lemon, grapefruit

taste: citrus, minerality

mouthfeel: touch of effervescence, bright acidity

finish: medium in length, nice mineral note

2008 Jamesport Sauvignon Blanc

nose: tropical with apricot and guava

taste: lime, apricot

mouthfeel: softer acidity than the previous two, but still crisp

finish: short – medium in length, clean

2008 Macari Rose

nose: watermelon rind, strawberry

taste: fuji apple peel, mineral/slate

mouthfeel: slight effervescence, medium body

finish: long for a Rose

2006 Jamesport Pinot Noir (Sarah’s Hill)

nose: cedar, walnut, cherry, cassis

taste: cherry, slightly chemical, truffle and herbs

mouthfeel: medium body, beautiful acidity

finish: medium – long in length, bright red fruit flavors

2007 Shinn Estates Cabernet Franc (barrel sample, release date 2010)

nose: mushroom, red currant, raspberry and cherry

taste: hazelnut, caramel, boysenberry, clove, thyme

mouthfeel: full body, smooth and velvety with a nice hint of spiciness towards the back of the palate

finish: long with earthy mushroom and nut flavor lingering

2005 Jamesport Cabernet Franc

nose: earth, toast, black currant, fresh herbs

taste: cherry and spices

mouthfeel: slightly hot, full body with leathery tannins

2005 Shinn Estates Reserve Merlot

nose: mocha, black cherry, coconut and boysenberry

taste: cocoa, cranberry and cherry

mouthfeel: full body, big velvety tannins

finish: long and fruity

The wines are all very nice and the pairings worked out great with the delicious food. After lunch we headed out to the vineyard with David and Barbara to talk more about their vineyard practices. I wrote about it last week and put up a video here.

Next up was a trade style tasting in the Shinn barrel room with quite a few Long Island wineries including Lieb Family Cellars, Sparkling Pointe, Croteaux Vineyards, Harbes, Bouke, and the The Old Field. I was too diligent during this part of the tasting but did take a few notes here and there, and here are a couple of my highlights/legible notes!

2007 Croteaux Vineyards Merlot “3” Rose

nose: toast, vanilla, strawberry, coconut

taste: strawberry, watermelon rind, sour cherry, SLATE

mouthfeel: clean, crisp, crisp acidity

2007 Lieb Bridge Lane Chardonnay

nose: apple, “rich”, a slight bread yeast component (??)

taste: tropical, coconut, apple and pear

mouthfeel: full body, round and smooth

Thanks again to Shinn Estates for hosting us for lunch and to all the wineries that poured their wines for us. It was my pleasure.


Categories: Taste Camp, wine review, winery review | Tags: , | 4 Comments

Tuesday Quick Sip – 2007 Wild Horse Vineyards Pinot Noir

wildhorsepinot2007 Wild Horse Vineyards Pinot Noir

Wine Information

Appellation: Central Coast (Santa Barbara County and San Luis Obispo County)

Grape: 100% Pinot Noir

Cooperage: 10 months in 25% new French Oak

Price: ~ $22

My Tasting Notes

nose: plum, raspberry, cedar and earth

taste: cedar, red currant, wet earth and cherry

mouthfeel: medium body, fair amount of acidity

finish: good long length, fruity

I am hit or miss on Central Coast Pinots most of the time but the Wild Horse Vineyards faired pretty well. The mix of dark and red fruit on the nose and palate with a healthy dose of woody damp forest floor, it was layered and suitably complex. The tannins were nice and velvety, but not lack in structure especially after “they” teamed up with the acid.


Categories: $20-$30, Pinot Noir, wine review | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Taste Camp tasting notes – Day 2: Part 2

After leaving Roanoke Vineyards we headed to Paumanok Vineyards for a sampling of their wines. The tasting was more casual in style than the Roanoke tasting as we milled around in the tasting room as their wines were poured for us. As the spitting commenced, and the wines were poured, each one was discussed in brief by either owner Charles Massoud or his son and now wine maker Kareem.


My Tasting Notes –

2007 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay (8 months in 15% new oak)

nose: ripe tropical fruit, flinty and honey

taste: apple, Asian pear, lemon rind, almond and vanilla

mouthfeel: medium to full body, bright acidity

finish: medium in length and fruity

2007 Sauvignon Blanc

nose: tropical “sweet” fruit, citrus

taste: grapefruit, lemon, sweet pea

mouthfeel: medium body, crisp and tart

finish: short to medium in length and clean

2008 Chenin Blanc

nose: crème fraiche, apple, Asian Pear

taste: tons of citrus, tangerine, ugly fruit

mouthfeel: full body, nice acid across the back of the palate

finish: long and fruity

2005 Merlot

nose: tight nose with hints of red cherry

taste: cherry, boysenberry, brussel sprout, leather

mouthfeel: medium body, velvety tannins

finish: medium in length with mostly red fruit flavors lingering

2004 Assemblage

nose: black currant and blackberry

taste: boysenberry, blackberry, red currant

mouthfeel: very full bodied, fuzzy mouth coating tannins

finish: long and drying

2005 Tuttles Lane Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

nose: black cherry, leather and espresso

taste: black pepper, olive, green bean, cassis

mouthfeel: full body with good acidity and big tannins

finish: long in length with a cocoa aftertaste

After tasting through the wines in the tasting room, we headed down to the barrel room to taste some of the reds from the amazing 2007 vintage.

paumanokbarrelroomBarrel Sample #1 2007 Assemblage

nose: “sweet”, ripe dark fruit, black currant and boysenberry

taste: baking spice, cardamom, vanilla and blueberry, oak

mouthfeel: full body, loads of tannins

finish: long and fruity

Barrel Sample #2 2007 Tuttles Lane Merlot

nose: dark cherry and blueberry

taste: blueberry, boysenberry, black cherry

mouthfeel: big, round and full

finish: long and tight

Barrel Sample #3 2007 Petit Verdot

nose: tight nose, hints of dark fruit and molasses

taste: almond, blackberry, leather

mouthfeel: full up front but a little thin in the middle, needs time to round itself out

finish: long, lean and leathery

The barrel tasting showed the depth of what the 2007 vintage will have to offer for Paumanok as these wines were big boys in the barrel. Barrel tasting is always a great experience especially when you can refer back to your notes down the road as you taste the wines again upon release. Although we tasted some great red wines, the high light and surprise of the day was the Chenin Blanc. This was a fabulous wine and the one that we purchased from our visit to the winery. If this is an example of how well the Chenin Blanc grape can perform in Long Island, more wine makers should be working with it.

Thanks to the Paumanok staff for a great tasting and second stop on our North Fork journey.


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Taste Camp tasting notes – Day 2: Part 1

tastecamplogoTasting began “early” on day 2 of Taste Camp as we arrived, at Roanoke Vineyards at 10:00am. Greeting us was a beautiful private tasting setup and owner/vineyard manager Richard Pisacano. Check out Richard in the video below as he introduces us to his winery and how he got into the business.

My Tasting Notes of the 5 wines we tasted…

2006 Cabernet Sauvignon (20 months in barrel)(88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc)

nose: smoke, red currant, dusty

taste: cranberry, leather, dried herbs, black pepper

mouthfeel: medium – full body, leathery, spicy and good acidity

finish: long and “herby”

2005 Merlot (100% Merlot)

nose: boysenberry, cherry, baking spices, vanilla

taste: green pepper, waxy/fondant, sour cherry, hazelnut

mouthfeel: noticeable acidity, fuzzy tannins

finish: huge cherry on the finish, dusty with good duration

2004 Blend One (sold out)(43% Cabernet Franc, 32% Merlot, 24% Cabernet Sauvignon)

nose: raspberry, red currant

taste: “sweet” red fruit, green bean, blueberry, mint, strawberry

mouthfeel: medium body, velvety tannins across the mid-palate turning dusty by the finish

finish: medium in length and dusty

2006 Cabernet Franc (12 months in barrel)(88% Cabernet Franc, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Merlot)

nose: dried cherries, toast and hazelnut

taste: cherry, red raspberry, red currant with hints of fresh herbs

mouthfeel: medium body, smooth and velvety

finish: medium – long in length, with hints of white pepper

2007 Marco Tulio (57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 39% Cabernet Franc, 8% Merlot)

nose: earth, cherry, pomegranate, toast

taste: black cherry, coffee and thyme

mouthfeel: full body and fuzzy, mouthcoating tannins

finish: long, fruity and drying

roanoke_meganOf the 5 we tasted the ’05 Merlot and the ’06 Cabernet Franc were my favorites and I am wishing I had bought a bottle of each! Guess we will HAVE to plan a trip back North sometime soon.

Thanks again to Richard and the Roanoke Vineyard staff for kicking off our Taste Camp Day 2 of tastings with a bang.


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Full Redux of Night 1 of Taste Camp East 2009

rob_raphaelAfter the first night of Taste Camp, I put up a quick post about the evening and mentioned one of my favorites of the evening the 2000 Wolffer Estate Selection Merlot. That Merlot was also poured during the great 5 course dinner that we enjoyed. As each of the wines were poured, representatives of the wineries got up and gave a quick rundown of what we had in our glasses. The wines poured for dinner and featured in the video were the 2006 Raphael Sauvignon Blanc, 2004 Clovis Point Merlot, 2000 Wolffer Estate Selection Merlot, 2004 Sherwood House Cabernet Franc, 1997 Pellegrini Vineyard Vintners Pride Merlot, Pellegrini Vineyard “Finale”. For some reason I didn’t have a video of Raphael talking about their Sauvignon Blanc so they aren’t featured in the video.

thegang_raphaelAll of the wineries that are listed above, also provided verticals of several of their Merlots prior to starting dinner. Unfortunately I didn’t move quickly enough and didn’t get a chance to taste the Pellegrini Vineyards wine, except for at dinner. As well we were treated to tasting a vertical of the Merliance wines, from the Long Island Merlot Alliance. Merliance is a unique blend made of 100% Merlot varietal grown on Long Island and made exclusively by the members of the Long Island Merlot Alliance, all 5 of which were represented at Raphael and listed above.

As mentioned earlier the 2000 Wolffer Merlot was my favorite on the evening but there were quite a few close runner-ups.

2005 Merliance Merlot

nose: cedar, bananas foster, black cherry

taste: brussel sprouts, red currant, plum

mouthfeel: medium body, nice acidity

finish: long and fruity

2004 Sherwood House Cabernet Franc

nose: plum, black cherry, black tea

taste: plum, green bean, black peppercorns

mouthfeel: medium to full body, leathery tannins

finish: firm tannnins, fairly long in length

Of the wines that I didn’t favor, I found similar “green”, stem like qualities with slight plastic and chemical off notes. This wasn’t held by one particular winery as these traits were seen across the board on the wines I didn’t like. As I said in yesterday’s post these are off notes that I find in wines that I don’t like here in Virginia as well. It would be interesting to do some sort of study to find out if there is a larger geographical terroir as the Virginia and Long Island landscape are so different.

Check back soon for more notes on day 2 of our visit to wineries on the North Fork of Long Island.


Categories: New York Wines, Taste Camp | 2 Comments

Taste Camp East 2009 – Long Island Impressions

tastecamplogoIn case you hadn’t noticed, Anything Wine was in Long Island this past weekend for the first of hopefully many “Taste Camp East”s (2010 is tentatively planned for the Finger Lakes and 2011 in Virginia). The first annual event was dedicated to Long Island wine country and was spearheaded by New York wine guy Lenn Thompson of LennDevours. In addition to reconnecting with all of my blogger buddies and meeting some new ones, I discovered a “new” wine region, which made some great and surprising first impressions on me.

Megan and I had no idea what to expect as we made our way up the North Fork of Long Island to our hotel in Greenport. We were delightfully surprised by the cuteness of the landscape as we were suddenly surrounded by vineyards and farms. The flat, vine-dotted landscape reminded me of the Niagara Peninsula wine region which I visited a few years back.

Over the next few days I’ll be putting up some posts with individual tasting notes and some videos and pictures from the weekend’s tastings, but this post is intended to summarize my overall impressions of the region.


Camaraderie – Several times as we drove from winery to winery, Megan and I reflected on the obvious camaraderie that we felt and saw between the vintners in the region. Perhaps because of the small size of the region, the relative youth of the wine industry there, and the unique challenges that wineries face in the region, the vintners really seemed to learn from each other and to leverage others’ knowledge and experiences, successes and failures. I think this is a must in a burgeoning wine region and is something I have seen in my explorations here in Virginia as well.

Price – I am sure I will not be the only Taste Camper to mention price after this weekend’s festivities, so I will be brief. As here in Virginia, price is always a point of discussion when it comes to the QPR of LI wines, and this is something I have discussed with Lenn several times. Although I was impressed by the quality of the many of the wines I tasted, it was hard for me to warrant the many $40+ price tags that these wines garnished. That being said, I did buy several bottles, two of which were $50 and $100, and we did taste several fabulous wines that were under the $20 price point.

Long Island vs. Virginia – I am a big proponent of Virginia wines and have some favorites from the region that I think deserve accolades against some of the top wineries in the country. With that being said, I think the overall quality of what we tasted in LI was slightly higher, on average, than what I taste in Virginia. Obviously that average is slightly skewed because Lenn, I’m sure, had us taste the best of what the region had to offer. An interesting observation was that when I didn’t like a wine that I tasted this weekend, it had similar aromatic and taste faults to those that I sometimes find in Virginia wines. Specifically slightly oxidized notes, chemical/metallic aftertaste and the over use of oak, the last of which isn’t held by Virginia alone.

Passion – WOW! The LI winemakers’ extreme passion and enthusiasm for viticulture and enology was truly palpable. It was really exhilarating, and added an invaluable component to my tasting experience.

Thanks again to all the Long Island Wineries that made us feel at home, poured hundreds of wines for us, and opened my eyes to what this region has to offer. Check back soon to see all of my tasting notes and more pictures and videos from the weekend.


Categories: New York Wines, Taste Camp, wine industry issues | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Taste Camp Day 2 – Lunch at Shinn Estate Vineyards

tastecamplogoOn day 2 of Taste Camp East 2009 (really the 1st full day) we had a flurry of tasting appointments that took us up and down the North Fork of Long Island. I will be updating the blogosphere with my dozens of pages of tasting notes in the days to come but I wanted to put up a quick video of Barbara and Dave from Shinn Estate Vineyards where we had lunch and tasted wines from many other surrounding vineyards.

After lunch and before the “trade” style tasting in the Shinn barrel room, Dave and Barbara took us out to their vineyard and gave a great talk on their philosophy of biodynamic and sustainable viticulture.

Check back soon for more of that I thought about the Shinn wines and others from day 2 of Taste Camp.


Categories: New York Wines, Taste Camp | 1 Comment

Taste Camp East Kick Off

tastecamplogoLast night was the first evening of Taste Camp and it was what seemed to be a great success. The dining room at Rapheal was a beautiful setting for the great dinner and wine service sponsored by both Rapheal Winery and the Long Island Merlot Alliance.

Prior to dinner we had the opportunity to taste a slew of Merlot verticals from the various wineries that were in attendance. I think my favorite of the evening was the Wolffer Estate vertical that was highlighted (IMHO) by the 2000 vintage. Lots of blackberry and black currant on the nose, followed up by cedar, hay, raspberry and leather notes on the palate.

I will be putting up more videos of each of the winemakers that spoke at last nights dinner as I get them cleaned up and edited.


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