Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Tasting notes: Wintergreen and White Hall

Justin's friend Sara visited us over Easter weekend, and in between masses we had time to visit a couple of local wineries. This is one reason I look forward to guests--Justin's not so big into the wine-tasting thing, although he's happy to drink it at home.

We drove a few miles down the Blue Ridge Parkway and coasted down to Wintergreen Winery. (Note: it's a 15% grade and we toasted our brakes on the way down. A nice person who pulled over while we were on the side of the road with our hood up, trying to figure out what the godawful smell was, advised us to drive down the steep grade in a low gear. For future reference.) They only had three wines available for us to try: the Black Rock Chardonnay, the Three Ridges White, and the Cabernet Franc. The whites were both nice, especially the fruity Three Ridges. The Cabernet Franc has an interesting flavor shared by a lot of Virginia reds that I can't quite peg, a bit old-fashioned--like Oakencroft's Jefferson Claret, which consciously tries to be like the sort of wine Jefferson would have vinted, if he could have gotten grapes quite figured out. We took home a bottle of Cabernet Franc and bought the Three Wines for picnicking, along with assorted cheeses and such. The winery is nestled in an idyllic setting at the foot of the Blue Ridge; a creek runs through it and there are picnic tables. Very fun.

Then we drove back up through Crozet to White Hall Vineyards, which was hopping on a Saturday afternoon and had a lot of wines for us to try. The whites were just splendid, and we took home several: a lovely Viognier (I adore Viognier anyway, and this was better than most), a fruity Gewuertztraminer with flirty gardenia flavors (this went straight to Easter dinner at Jane's the next day), and the Soliterre, a dessert wine. Of the reds, we liked the Edichi, a port, and I think the Petit Verdot (I think--see, this is why I have to write this stuff down!), although the tasting notes that said it had "deep intense aromas of earth" (among other things) were a little off-putting.

If we'd had time we'd probably have visited Oakencroft on the way back, but it's so close that we can always go some other time.

Virginia wines aren't cheap, alas (I can get my dear old Washington and Oregon wines at World Market for much less), but the good ones are very good, and they are always fun to visit because they're in such beautiful spots. And both our tastings were free, which was also neat. Please visit me so I have an excuse to try more!

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