Pollak Vineyards, Greenwood, VA

Another winery visited in the Monticello Region was Pollak Vineyards.

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This one opened in 2008 and all grapes are estate grown. But a bit more history on them can be found here, about how they started growing their grapes in 2003. They had a beautiful tasting room and quite the staff to give us information on the wine.

2014 Chardonnay. Characteristically golden straw in color, with an assortment of aromatics ranging from ripe apricots to tropical fruit. Flavors include quince, pineapple and citrus fruit which are all interlaced with notes of fresh white flowers. The wine is crafted to be fruit-forward, medium weight, with a crisp clementine like finish. $24. 80% unoaked/20% oaked. Like the unoaked percentage!

 2016 Viognier. Gold, Finger Lakes International. Bright, tropical and intense apricot and peach aromas that mingle with a beautiful spiciness. Displaying youthful acidity and a clean crisp but creamy finish. $26. Tropical fruit nose. Crisp and clean. Very good wine.

2016 Pinot Gris. Nose of stone fruit, orange blossom and fresh tropical fruit flavors. Rough and creamy with bright minerality and a fruit forward finish. $25. No nose at first, eventually got one after a few swirls.

2016 Rose. The bouquet of aromas range from ripe red raspberry to strawberry and spice. On the palate flavor of fresh red fruit race alongside a great acidity leaving a desire for another taste. $24. All stainless. Sweet smell, ok, not my favorite rose.

2015 Cabernet Franc. Bright ruby in color, with fragrances of pomegranate, cherry jam and fresh cracked black pepper. On the palate: soft impressions of ripe blackberry, cassis, and dark cocoa mingle into a velvety finish. $28. Nice nose, pepper. Really like this one.

2014 Merlot. Gold, Finger Lakes International. Aromas of fresh, ripened cherries and blueberries burst from this perfectly balance Merlot. The wine retains freshness and vibrancy through to the finish, yet has soft, silky but firm tannins. $30. Thick and chocolatey. Very nice.

2013 Meritage. Best in Category Gold, Atlantic Seaboard Gold, Monticello Cup. Complex nose, smooth, rich and silky, this handcraft wine finds its center around a core of blackcurrant, black cherry and sweet raspberry fruit. Spice, cedar and earth notes add complexity, but the generous fruit and supple texture that anchor the mid-palate. $35. Smooth…

2015 Petit Verdot. A very deep and complex vintage of this robust varietal. Full-bodied and rich, this wine is drinking nicely now but also has great potential to improve in the cellar. $30. Nice nose, bad taste.

2012 Mille Fleurs. Port of Viognier. Voted Best Dessert Wine in Virginia, Virginia Wine Lover Magazine. $30. Too sweet.

During the whole time and discussion the folks at the winery also suggested watching Blood Into Wine. Have to check this out because most movies about wine can’t be bad, right?

Much enjoyed this winery and look forward to going again. Cheers!

Ravines Wine Cellars, Finger Lakes, NY

While in the Finger Lakes awhile back, I decided to visit some wineries. It had been awhile since I’d checked out said establishments in that area and I was impressed with what has come about in the past decade. It’s still not the same as what the west coast provides, and definitely not the price, but it’s sure fun to visit!

One of wineries visited was Ravines Wine Cellars, which opened in 2003.

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It is a nice barn-like building with an open area that has large tables and then a more closed area for tastings. A tasting comes with 5 wines for $10, of which you pick whatever you’d like from their ‘menu’. So my friend and I decided to each pick 5 different wines and sample each other’s so we could taste the entire menu.

Dry Riesling 2015
Ravines Dry Riesling is a unique and elegant expression of the Finger Lakes terroir. The bouquet of the wine is delicate with intricate aromas of white flowers mingled with pear, apple and citrus notes followed by a lingering mineral finish and a vibrant acidity. Not much nose, very dry.

Dry Riesling 2015, White Springs Vineyard
The White Springs Vineyard is a unique site with protected slopes of limestone soil. This Riesling is an elegant, dry style with delicate aromatics, distinct minerality and vibrant acidity.  Better than the first one!

Beautiful aromas of rose petal, citrus, and lychee fruit with a bright acidity and spicy finish. Super sweet and heavy.

Keuka Village White 2016
A refreshing blend of Cayuga and Vignoles with delightful tree fruit flavors of bosc pear, green apple, and honeydew melon. Very light green apple taste, nothing overly exciting about the wine.

Chardonnay 2013
Refined and elegant, this wine has great balance between fresh fruit, minerality, crisp acidity, and lightly toasted French oak. Nice minerality to it, not too oaky, which is what I prefer.

A classic Provençal Style Dry Rosé of Pinot Noir. Fruit on the nose. Perfect picnic wine.

 

Pinot Noir 2013

A winemaker’s passion for perfections produced this complex, French-style Pinot Noir. This true representation of Ravines is engaging with ripe cherry, plum and sultry spices, and earthy aromas. Super light — see through. Berry on the nose. Cherry notes.

A fruity blend of Noiret (hybrid) and Cabernet Franc. Ripe red fruit and a distinct peppery finish create a fresh, un-oaked and casual wine. White pepper nose, peppery and smooth on palate.

Ravines Cabernet Franc is deliciously fruit-forward and spicy with perfect balance, soft tannins and a round mouthfeel. Medium body, definitely my favorite.

Maximilien 2013
This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (65%), Cabernet Franc (18%), and Merlot (17%) boasts a beautiful deep ruby color with aromas of plum, cherry, cedar, and cloves. Soft tannins are created by extended barrel and cellar aging, while also increasing complexity. ‘Dirty’ but enjoyable.

Ayre 2016
A Prosecco style semi sparkling wine made from Valvin Muscat. They were very nice and gave us this extra sample. Forced carbonation in tank, not in bottle. Not as sweet as expected. Had fruit notes.

Nice start to visiting Finger Lake wineries.

Ultimate Pinot Party

I’m part of a Meetup group that is in love with wine and hosted an event last night with the theme — Ultimate Pinot Party.  Guests had to bring a wine related to Pinot — Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Pinotage, Pinot Gris/Grigio/Blanc, etc.

Quite the selection came to the table.  I think the breakdown was roughly

3 Pinotage (my favorite, love South Africa)
Many Pinot Noir (Mendocino, Napa, Willamette Valley, other)
Pinot d’Alsace a blend of 3 Pinots: Blanc, Gris, Noir and Auxerrois
Pinot Meunier
Pinot Grigio
Pinot Blanc

There were likely a few others.  Some of them were empty come the end of the night!  Amazing to smell and taste the differences in vintages and regions, and of course varietals.  Cheers!

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Napa Cellars

Was working another wine tasting recently and was introduced to a new wine(ry) in CA —  Napa Cellars.  That’s the great thing about doing the tastings — finding all sorts of new wines (and getting paid to do it)!  The name sort of explains it all, location-wise.  The varietals were their Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.  Both were great wines.

The Sauv had a crisp fruit taste – lemon, grapefruit.  The vintner describes it as “aromas of vibrant gooseberry, pineapple and fresh pink grapefruit followed by flavors of pear, guava, passion fruit, lime, sweet clover and melon.”  The price was $18 (on sale from low $20s)

The Pinot was amazing (I love Pinot!) and had some subtle leather and cherries, and unique spices.  It had a good, medium body to it.  When you read their comments you get “aromas of ripe cherry, sweet tobacco, raspberry, cedar and subtle spice followed by deep red cherry flavors and fantastic acidity.”  The price was $16 (also on sale from low $20).  These prices are in DC, so love to find out how much they vary from state-to-state, sale-to-sale.

Check them out if you’re looking for something new.

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Wild Horses

Over the past several months I have started a part-time job as a wine taster/pourer.  So, 1-2 times a week I get to go to a variety of locations and be that person who pours different wines for the customers to sample, while of course sampling them myself to be educated about them to properly inform the shoppers.  It’s a win-win situation — learn more about the wine and talk to people about it!  It occurred to me the other day — why don’t I write a blog about all my tastings?  It has to start sometime, right?

Ok, so Friday night I was doing a tasting for Wild Horse Winery, which is located in the Central Coast of CA.  Very nice, affordable wines.  I had 3 varietals.

1) Wild Horse Chardonnay.  Oaked, but not overkill on it.  Very smooth, green apple, pear and vanilla notes.  Perfect with fish.  Price is around $15-$18.

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2) Wild Horse Pinot Noir.  Light Pinot, smooth, had both fruit and earth notes, with some mushroom in there.  Pretty nice.  Would pair well with salmon, grilled vegetables, chicken.  Price is around $16-$20.  (for some reason they don’t have this one on their site).

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3) Wild Horse Chardonnay.  Hello happiness, where have you been?  The body, the flavor…cherry, berry, cocao.  WOW!  Wow.  Go find one, buy it, open it, drink it.  Would be great served with a pizza made on the grill or some steak.

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If you go pick any of these up or have had them in the past, let me know what you think.  Cheers!

 

 

Eno

Checked out a (new to me) wine bar in Georgetown (DC) last week — Eno.  It’s part of a national chain with other locations in San Francisco, Chicago, and Southern California.

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They have a both a wine and food menu (oh, beer, too, if needed).  They serve wine in flights and by the glass.  Oh, they have wine on tap, too ($5 during Happy Hour).  They had a special on that day for a blind flight.  If you could identify all three wines you received 10% off.  I had to try it.  I got 1 of 3 right — a very earthy Pinot from Oregon.  They only way I guessed it was from how light it was, color and body-wise.  Otherwise the flight had a Bordeaux and another old world wine I could never have placed.

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Food-wise we went for some amazing olives, a variety of meats and some delicious pizza.

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I would definitely recommend giving Eno a try.  Many options from food to wine and great service!

New California Pinot

Was checking out some wine tastings yesterday and had a (red) wine recommended to me that was not on the tasting menu.  As we got to talking about great grapes and new world wine (my favorite), the pourer/sampler/whatever you’d like to call them, recommended Meiomi Pinot Noir from California.  The grapes are from 3 regions in the state — Monterey, Santa Barbara and Sonoma.  Quite unique — definitely a light color (very Pinot), but was tough to nail down the flavors at first.  Got a bit a spice, then some light vanilla/candy, and a bit of fruit.  Also, a vintner who’s using screwtops, if that’s something that catches your attention.  Worth trying.  At the great store of Rodman’s in DC (a wine lover’s pitfall, among two others in the area) it was $16.

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Wine Recap

Over the past month, I’ve had a nice spread of new wines that I’m finally getting around to posting about.  From red to white to bubbly, I love trying new happy grapes to add options to my wine rack.

#1 — Fire Road Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand. Citrus, apple, crisp, light, but still a nice weight to it.  Price seems to range from $10-$16/bottle (when looking online).

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#2 — Oakley Eighty-Two, California Red Wine.  Who makes this one?  One of my favorite vintners — Cline.  Nice red blend that’s a bit heavier (jammy) and can pair with about anything.  Great to have on hand to open and serve (or drink) whenever needed.  Price is about $10-$12/bottle.

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#3  — Diseno Old Vine Malbec, Argentina.  Fruit and spice can make a wine so nice.  Price is $8-$10.

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#4 — Bleasdale Vineyards Sparkling Shiraz, Australia.  I seek out sparkling reds.  This one is better than some but a bit sweet.  Was drinking it on New Year’s Day, though, so very fun for the occasion.  Definitely worth trying.  Price is $16-$20.  Note, the picture in the link is different than the one below, they might have changed the bottle/label.

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#5 — Alvarez de Toledo Roble, Spain.  Just a nice red wine.  I was at a friend’s place for dinner and it was out and it was so nice.  Doing some searching looks like it’s about $8-$10 bottle.

Wente Chardonnay, Livermore Valley, California.  Some apple, some tropical fruit.  Aged in both barrels and stainless steel tanks it’s a very unique wine.  Definitely a Chard I’ll add to my list.  About $12-$14.

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#6 — Two Hands Gnarly Dudes Shiraz, Australia.  Berries, a hint of chocolate and smoke and a bit of pepper.  Very nice.  About $20-$25.

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International Pinot Noir Tasting

For Thanksgiving we opted to do an international Pinot Noir tasting.  Since the varietal is one that has been rumored to pair well with turkey, we thought it  would be fun to see how different country’s respective grapes compared.  We went for three continents — get everybody to join the party!

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Hob Nob, 2011, Languedoc, France:  Smooth, oh so smooth.  I could taste chocolate.  Not a great pairing for turkey, but we took one for the team and still enjoyed it!  Hand me some chocolate covered pretzels and this wine…oh yes! Very reasonable — about $10-$12.

Nobilo Icon, 2012, Marlborough, New Zealand:  More acidic than Hob Nob, much better pairing for turkey, traditional Pinot taste.  I say that as nothing jumped out about it but still very nice.  About $15.

Schug, 2010, Carneros, California:  Same as above…more acidic than Hob Nob, much better pairing for turkey.  Taste of cherries then a bit of smoke at end.  About $17-$20.

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Definitely a fun element to add to Thanksgiving dinner and it was great listening to all the comments at the table on people’s specific tastes, likes, distinctions, characteristics they took from each wine.  Go Pinot!

Wine from A to Z, literally and figuratively

To wrap up my winery visits in Oregon, I spent some time with the CEO of one of my favorites vineyards, and found out more about it.  I went to what I thought was only A to Z.  Well, there is so much more to it!  They also produce Rex Hill wines, which is actually the primary one at the tasting room, and a few people who work there produce their own wines in small quantities.

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William (Bill) Hatcher gave me a tour of the cellars and I got to taste wines that were still ‘grape juice’ — as in had no alcohol content yet — to slowly working up to perfection.  The ones I sampled went from 1-7 days ‘old’ (there is a much more technical name for this) and it was interesting getting a ‘feel’ for what the process entails.  There is also a labeling system for each wine as they are being produced, then I got info on bottling, corking, distribution and more.

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After that I tasted many of their amazing offerings, from whites to reds, Chards to Pinots.  I don’t love Chards but wow!  Bring…it…on.  I spent more time talking to Bill about the history of the company, what has brought them to where they are and what/where they hope to go in the future.  This is yet another location where I wanted to load up on tons of bottles but I did have to travel across the country to get home so it wouldn’t be the easiest thing to do.  I somehow left with only three, knowing that would give me reason to go back.  The William Hatcher bottle in the middle is Bill’s own and was quite amazing!

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