As part of the Wine Bloggers’ Conference, we have a “Speed Blogging” session, in which we’re to sample a bunch o’ wine and blog about it as we’re tasting. I’ve never tried such a thing, but since some of these wines are most definitely unusual, I think it’s worth a try:
2010 Keswick Vineyards Verdejo: Light, sprightly, acidic, with green aromas. Melon, green apples and grassy flavors. Still experimenting, Keswick Vineyards grows only an acre of this varietal, which is much more likely to be found in Spain than Virginia. $18 retail. Not a bad deal for what’s sure to be a conversation starter.
2009 Tarara Winery “Nevaeh”: Set on the Potomac in the far north of Virginia, this winery focuses on “low yields and terrior.” This wine is a blend of 70% Viognier (a varietal noted as doing well in Virginia) and 30% Chardonnay. Tight, bright aromas, with ample oak but enough balancing acids to make it food-friendly. Buttery and minerally, it’s not as floral as I expected. $30 retail. Expensive, but pretty darn tasty.
2009 Williamsburg Winery Chardonnay: “If you want a Burgundian-style Chardonnay but don’t want to pay for it, this wine is for you,” according to the sales rep. Rich bouquet, with some flinty stone. Nicely balanced, with some of the wine aged in steel and some in oak. Nice and light, with butter offset by food-friendly acids — ideal for fish, cheese… And a great buy for $14 retail.
2010 Cornerstone Cellars “Stepping Stone” Rosé: A light, charming pink, this rosé is 100% Syrah from Oak Knoll in the Napa Valley. Some bubblegum on the nose, I enjoyed its creamy texture and watermelon flavors. The $18 price tag seems a bit of a stretch, but there’s no denying it’s good.
2009 Emma Pearl Central Coast Chardonnay: I really liked this Chardonnay (blended with 10% Viognier); it felt lush and rich, with just enough acids to make me want to pair it with a schnitzel or some saltimbocca. Or maybe I’m just in desperate need of food after six hours of wine tasting. A fine deal at $18 retail. (My neighbor, incidentally, exclaimed “Schnitzel?! F**k yeah!”
2009 Calnaturale Chardonnay: What’s unusual about this California Chardonnay? It’s served in a carton, to reduce its carbon footprint. That’s what. A very pale yellow, it offers some lemons, apples and vanilla on the nose. Its subtle, best served with a delicate fish like sole. It’s a little too subtle for my taste, I must admit, but it’s packaging and price ($13) make it a fine picnic choice.
NV (non-vintage) Clif Family Winery “The Climber” Chardonnay: This Cali Chard comes not in a bottle or carton but a 1.5 liter bag. Even better for a picnic! I find it a little too pointy and overly acidic, but for $17 retail ($8.50 per bottle), it’s priced about right. “An oversized Capri Sun,” according to the sales rep.
2009 Clos Pegase “Mitsuko Vineyard” Chardonnay: There are 365 acres in this vineyard, representing “how many days per year the winemaker loves his wife.” It’s also “sweet and well-balanced, like his wife.” I must concur, adding that his wife must also be pleasantly (but not overly) buttery. Pricey, but not a bad deal for $25.
2009 King Estate Oregon Pinot Gris: This winery boasts the largest contiguous organic vineyard in the world, according to the sales rep. The Pinot Gris is bright and a bit prickly, with prominent red apple flavors. I enjoy drinking it, but its $25 price tag is a bit too much for me.
NV Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noir: A blend of 90% Pinot Noir and 10% Chardonnay, this sparkler is aged 18 months and made in the Methode Champenois. It’s dry, with some ripe raspberries, and a surprising bit of smoke at the very end. The sales rep looked extremely surprised to hear that, and indeed, who knows how trustworthy my palate by now. If someone said “I taste MOONROCKS,” at this point, I would probably say “Yeah! Me too!” So take what I’m writing with a grain of salt. The $20 retail price is a good value for this romantic bubbly.
2010 Barren Ridge Vidal Blanc: This varietal, a hybrid of Ugni Blanc and Rayon d’Or (for whatever that’s worth), “does quite well in Virginia,” according to the sales rep. This particular expression of Vidal Blanc features a grassy nose, minerals and chalk. My neighbor called it “musty and dusty,” but I rather liked it. For $15, it’s worth a little risk.
2010 Rappahannock Cellars Viognier: Wonderfully exotic nose of tropical fruits; pineapple, jasmine, lychee, passion fruit. Dry, aromatic, floral and minerally — it’s a beautiful wine, and surprisingly light on its feet for 14.5% alcohol. I would definitely buy a bottle for the retail price of $23. It would be a lovely wine to serve as an aperitif at a wedding.
Whew! And I better stop writing while I’m ahead, because goodness knows, I never use the spit bucket quite as much as I should.