Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wine Wednesdays - Virginia Tasting

A dear friend got married recently in Charlottesville, VA, giving me a good excuse to visit a wine region I keep hearing more and more about.  

I spent two days driving through the surrounding areas of Charlottesville and managed to visit 4 wineries.   

A favorite of the bride & groom, I started my touring at King Family Vineyards.  I tasted through their classic tasting, starting with the Viognier.  I later came to find that Viognier is the state grape of Virginia, and prevalent throughout all of the wineries I visited.  A varietal I tend to dismiss, these were actually exceptionally good.  Balanced fruit, medium bodied with a backbone of acidity that led to a smooth finish, I will definitely be keeping my eye out for VA Viognier from now on.

Great bonus at King Family - their wonderful selection of meats, cheeses, and treats in their help-yourself fridge, all to be paired with warm baguettes!  Perfect place for a picnic.

My thought overall on VA wines was that the whites were generally better than the reds, but I truly enjoyed the Cab Franc at King Family.  Again the other prevalent grape in the region, it's unusual to find 100% Cab Franc, and when you do, they tend to be rather expensive and on the greener side with herbaceous, mineral notes.  These were reasonably priced, much riper, with juicy red fruit and bright acidity, though the tannins were still there on the finish.  

Next stop, White Hall Vineyards where the lovely Kathy tasted me through their flight as well as shared some great insight into the backroads of Charlottesville so that I could enjoy my tasting and still make it to the airport on time to pick up Aislinn!

Post-brunch on Saturday we continued exploring and made our way to Pollak Winery.  Our group unanimously preferred the whites here vs. the red.  Read more about our visit and favorite wines over on my friend Nick's blog at Best Coast Wines.   

Our group decided to split, half returning to Charlottesville to visit Monticello while Aislinn and I decided to check out one more winery.  I prefer to get my culture out of a glass ;-)

We ended up at Pippin Hill Winery.  What I was afraid would be a gigantic marketing machine/wedding venue with not so great wines was thoroughly impressive.  Absolutely beautiful setting, and great wines indeed!

We tasted through their white selection, with a Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, and two Chardonnays, one oaked and one unoaked.  My favorites were the Viognier and unoaked Chardonnay.    

Sadly the wait for food was too long so we didn't get to enjoy lunch at Pippin Hill, but if you're in the area I highly suggest making an afternoon out of your visit as the setting was just breathtaking (even in the freezing cold!).

We had a wedding to get back to!  The bride got her wish; the drizzle stopped just in time for an outdoor ceremony.  Every detail of the wedding was exceptional, pinterest worthy, and a DIY dream!

Cheers to the happy couple!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Weekend Things

Welp, I think it's officially fall, the weather has changed and I finally changed over my closet (every NYers favorite biannual activity).  

I also crossed off two activities on my fall bucket list!  Friday night we visited the Whitney for the Jeff Koons exhibit followed by a yummy dinner at The East Pole.  

Saturday I joined the Cyclones for a bike ride through Brooklyn, Long Island City, and ended up in Astoria at the Astoria Bowl!  It was a great way to get a new perspective on NY outside of Manhattan as I usually just end up in Brooklyn from various subway stations and never have any idea how they relate to one another on a map.  We rode along the water through Williamsburg, Greenpoint, into LIC with a stop at the Socrates Sculpture park before continuing into Queens.  All in all a great weekend!

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Bike Parking

Astoria Bowl had no idea what it was in for when 100+ cyclists descended upon its lanes!
Old school Queens at its finest!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Wine Wednesdays - Phelps 2003 Insignia

My aunt's birthday called for a celebratory wine; I was lucky enough to enjoy the 2003 30th Anniversary Joseph Phelps Insignia while out to dinner at Farm in Carneros.  First produced in 1974, Insignia was the first proprietary Bordeaux-style blend produced in California.  A blend of primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Merlot, and Malbec, this wine was smooth and rich, a beautiful dark ruby color, I'm afraid I dove right in and forgot to take a picture but it really was so pretty!

The mouth was everything I love in a Napa Cab; fruit forward, luscious mouth-feel, long smooth finish, and while there are still some tannins, they were not over-powering.  That being said, I think there's still many good years ahead for this wine.  While this wine may be a bit above my everyday budget, it truly was a treat and rounded out our celebration dinner nicely!

Wine:  2003 30th Anniversary Joseph Phelps Insignia
Purchased:  Generous contribution to dinner by family friend
Price: apron. $170
Would buy again: Yes - special occasion wine :-)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Wine Wednesdays - The Art of Blending

Of course we all know there's quite a bit of science that goes into winemaking....but I'll admit my knowledge extends about as far as the basic equation of fermentation (I much prefer the consumption side of things).

While home I got to unleash my inner vintner and experiment with blending percentages of our 2013 Cabernet and Syrah.  

It all starts with a little handy-dandy tool called a "pipette".  We measure out mLs of each varietal and blend to get percentages that would be representative of the bigger blend. 

A fun experiment but hard work with all those exact measurements!

I put together 3 different blends and then shared them with our family and friends who were more than happy to be the final judges!

Stay tuned to find out the final blend, coming Spring 2015!

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