Went for a nice long hibernation for a few weeks, drank a lot of wines that I should have said something about. The best was probably a 100% grenache from Maison Bleue in Washington State. Stuff was nuts. Oh, well.
Yesterday I had a weird one. A Napa Valley syrah that I bought on deeeeep discount. JAQK Cellars Soldier of Fortune Syrah. The winery lists it at $48. A local discounter was blowing it out at about $14 and I bit due to the discount alone.
It was very good! Very smooth and polished and expensive tasting (ie, new oak). No rough edges at all. Second bottle of the night so I don’t have a detailed recollection. I would have guessed Australia. No complaints at $14 for a change of pace kind of wine.
I’d buy again at that price. Paying twice or nearly three times that would have been made me feel dumb.
We recently stopped by these two Nelson County Vineyards, each of which is a short and pretty drive from Charlottesville.
Flying Fox seems to avoid a lot of the traffic of some of its better known neighbors by virtue of it being a bit of the beaten path, but travelers who make the trip will be rewarded with some of the best red wine in the area.
We tried a perfectly fine pinot gris and rose, but the standouts were a 2010 Merlot and their red meritage blend called Trio. A sweeter, easy-going “Fox Red” was a bit sweet and simple for my tastes.
But the Merlot was exceptional. Easily one of the best examples from what was thought to be an excellent vintage. We bought a bottle and you should, too. I’m just sorry they were sold out of their 2010 Cab Franc, which I’m sure was very good.
$5 a tasting for about 6 wines. Nice people.
Afton was a less successful trip. You hate to say anything negative about a local place filled with nice people, but the wines just aren’t on the same level as their Nelson and Albemarle county peers. The gewurtztraminer was not unpleasant, and the best of the lot.
$10 for tasting.
Here are two standout wines from wineries that lie about 2 miles from each other in Albemarle County. I drank them on successive nights, and was really pleased with both.
While the White Hall Viognier is a workhorse that outperforms its $15 price point in almost any vintage, the Stinson Rose was new to me.
The Stinson bottling is 100% mourvedre, which I believe came from the valley around Woodstock. (I can’t quite remember the explanation I got at the winery.)
It pours a coppery light pink and tastes like you’d want a quality rose to taste. Dry. Berries. Some grapefruit. Some minerality. It’s a great wine, and one of the best Virginia roses I know of. Just 220 cases were made, so buy it if you see it.
Not sure what else I can say about the White Hall Viognier. It’s a great tasting Virginia viognier that can be purchased for a pittance.
These are both also great wineries to visit. Low-key with friendly staff pouring solid wines for about $5. Not a tour bus or bachelorette party in sight.
B+ for both wines.
All of the Chapoutier Bila-Haut wines seems to offer a ton of bang for the buck, and this rose is no exception.
I have a high tolerance for mediocre roses, but I feel like I’ve had more than usual this year and I’m getting tired of the also-rans. Luckily, this widely available bottling is a home run at $13 or so. (It seems that the days when all of the good, cheaper Frence roses cost $9.99 are behind us, sadly.)
This is killer rose. It’s a pretty salmon color and dry and refreshing and tastes like strawberries. Buy it if you see it.
The deal is this: This could pass for champagne. Like, real champagne. Not the best stuff, certainly, but something that you’re too poor to drink on a weeknight.
And yet. This costs something like $16. WINNER WINNER WINNER.
All of the d’Orschwihr bottles of still Alsation varietals have been very good, but this one takes the cake for having such a strong QPR.
And maybe partially because this is 7 years old or so now, but this sports a complex, almost oxidized biscuity taste to go with the green apple.
Super solid buy. Maybe the best sparkling wine value in the U.S.
You don’t see a lot of domestic gewurtztraminer.
To the degree you do see it, it’s probably either Fetzer or Hogue. And while both those mass market bottles are not bad at all, this Washington state product is the best stateside gewurtz I’ve ever had.
Smells and tastes like roses and lychees. Somewhat thick and sweet, but not at all cloying. We had it with asian pork barbecue, and it worked great. Solid buy at $15 or so. Seek it out.
We drank this wine over a week ago, so the notes are a little hazy. I can say that like almost all Blenheim wines, it’s competently made and easy to drink.
There’s some chocolate and oak and a very Virginia nose to this Merlot-dominant wine, which is one of the two Blenheim flagships and sports a cool, Dave Matthews-painted label.
Priced in the high $20s, I would not rate this terribly highly on a QPR scale, but it’s solid Virginia wine from a good vintage. Also, Blenheim gets extra points for bottling everything they do under twist-off. I wish everyone in the state was as forward thinking.