D.C International Wine and Food Festival

Thanks to Craig Camp of The Wine Camp Blog for his assistance in getting me a press pass for this event!

I will be attending both days of the festival, and look forward to visiting many of the over 200 wineries and vineyards that will be pouring their wines. I’m also hoping that John of Anything Wine will be able to attend as well, he was also granted press credentials, and it would be exciting to meet more Virginia Wine Bloggers! By the way, if you haven’t been checking out John’s blog, it’s definitely one to add to your list.

The D.C. International Wine and Food Festival is scheduled for this Saturday and Sunday at the Reagan Building in D.C. The festival features around 240 exhibitors, both of wine, spirits, food, and other related items. I found this short list of featured Wineries/Vineyards/Distributors but cannot find a full list. Anyone have any suggestions of places not to miss based off the short list?

Also, anyone have any thoughts on strategies for tackling such a large festival? I have not attended anything of this magnitude in the past! I’m thinking backpack instead of purse so I can have a hand free for my notebook and another for my wine glass, probably sneakers since I’ll be on my feet most of the day, dark clothes because I’m bound to spill on myself or be spilled on, I’m considering attaching my Nalgene to my backpack via my Carabiner Hook so I don’t have to be concerned about having a 3rd hand to carry a water bottle….Anything else anyone thinks I must do (besides the obvious of eating a solid breakfast/lunch and making sure to spit/dump and continue to eat while there!)?

Wine and Cheese

What could be better when your favorite food is cheese and your favorite drink is wine? Not much in my humble opinion. Especially when those cheese are local artisan cheeses and the wines are delicious and pair very well with the cheeses.

Prior to heading to CA, I found a link to Michel-Schlumberger on Fork and Bottle and decided to check it out. On poking around the website, I found that they offer tasting by appointment only and also have a special wine and cheese pairing by appointment. I was sold.

We were a few minutes earlier so we had a chance to wander around the beautiful courtyard of the winery and sit by the fountain as we waited for the other people to arrive. Our tasting mates turned out to be a very nice couple from North Carolina whom we ran into latter at Passalacqua.

Eventually we were moved to a large kitchen where our cheese plates and wine glasses were set at individual tasting stations around the kitchen island. The pairing event is $26 per person.

First up was the 2005 La Brume Chardonnay for $20 with an Aged Acapella cheese. The wine showed pear and lemon flavors with a slight hint of oak. It seemed slightly crisp, but drinking it with the cheese turned it into a nice light, creamy wine. Yum, this cheese was AMAZING!

Next was a 2002 Merlot, which cost $30 and our attendant said should age for 8-10 years. The wine was paired with Carmody Farmstead Cheese. The wine showed alochol, raspberries, spice and cherries. I could see that it needed time to age. Once I took a bite of the cheese however, the fruit came jumping out of the glass with gobs of black cherries and raspberries. Delicious wine with the cheese!

Third was a 2003 Pinot Noir for $32. It was paired with blue cheese. I described the wine before cheese as clean, with strawberries and quite earthy. After the cheese, I found mushrooms along with the other flavors. I loved this match.

Fourth was a 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon for $38 that our attendant said to age for 10 or more years. It was paired with St. George cheese. The wine showed black currants and was very reserved, but after the cheese the wine opened up in the mouth.

Next we had a Late Harvest Semillon Dessert wine called “Silk Purse.” It was floral with apple, pear and honey notes. We tried it with the leftover blue cheese and the flavors jumped out of the glass. This was Matt’s favorite pairing.

Finally we tried a 2006 Pinot Blanc for $21. It is aged for 6 months in stainless steel. No cheese match for this one, but the attendant suggested buttery cheeses. The wine had a sweet aromatic nose, with lemon and pineapple. It was very light and would make a great summer sipper. We took a bottle home.

Overall, a great experience and it was really fun to taste in such a small group over an extended hour. I would certainly recommend this to anyone heading out that way.

Wine with a Smile

Pulling up to Yoakim Bridge reminded me of pulling up to a cabin to go camping at. The winery was rustic and looked very inviting. And, as many people say, first impressions are often right; everything about Yoakim Bridge was inviting. The winery is only open to the public Friday-Sunday, unless you call for an appointment. Tasting fee is supposedly $10, though we were not asked for it and it was never mentioned.

Walking into the tasting room, we were immediately greeted very exhuberantly by Virginia, one of the two owners of Yoakim Bridge. We were then offered meatballs, which she had simmering in a crock pot behind the tasting bar. And they were delicious, made in their own special wine sauce. Virginia made sure we were red wine drinkers, as, in her words: “We don’t do white wines here, we’re red only!” Much to the disappointment of the people who walked in behind us, as they were looking for white wines and walked away with out even tasting, despite our encouragement to try something new….red is divine!

Yoakim Bridge is a very small operation. They’ve been around for just over 10 years and don’t have any tasting room help, just the two owners, both of whom were pouring wine that Friday. Along with the very friendly and adorable winery dogs. I would highly recommend a visit to Yoakim Bridge. The wines were delicious, the people fantastic and the atmosphere great, even after we got home, we got a personal email from Virginia thanking us for visiting and for purchasing wine. Little things like that go a long way with me.

2001 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel: $32. Raspberry and chocolate on the nose. Oak and raspberries in the mouth with a long finish. Could age longer in my opinion. We took home 2 bottles.

2004 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel: $32. Pepper, blackberry and oak. Overall, quite spicy!

2004 Dry Creek Valley Merlot: $34. Toasty, with the distinct scent of sausage. Strawberries and spice in the mouth, I relaly liked the flavors in this one.

Three Valley Cuvee NV: $34. Violets and other flowers on the nose. Mint, and dried raspberries, the tannins were heavy on this wine. The grapes come from 13 differents vineyards.

2002 Dry Creek Valley Syrah: $34. Dark fruit, blackberries and blueberries. Vanilla notes and spice. Definitely age this one longer.

Weekend Wine Events (and more!)

First of note, is a wine dinner coming up on June 4th being hosted by Church Street Cellars in Vienna. The dinner will take place at Bazin’s on Church and feature a Robert Mondavi Reserve Wine Dinner. The festivities begin at 6:30 with appetizers and the cost is $100 per person. Entrees include Pekin Duck, Double Thick Lamb-Chops…..reservations will be taken by the restaurant at 703-255-7212.

Church Street will be tasting on Saturday from 12-3 with Grappoli Imports. Wines include: Barbi Orvietto, Graofoli Sparkling, James Judd Cabernet Sauvingon and James Judd Petite Verdot.

On Sunday from 12-5 and Monday from 12-3 Church Street will feature 16 wines from an Enomatic Wine Dispenser! It looks like they may be getting ready to introduce this feature in shop in the future!

Today from 6-8 at the Curious Grape in Shirlington you will find Artisanal American Wines and Chocolates on the tasting bars. Wines will be featured from California, Oregon and Washington.

On Saturday the Curious Grape has All New-Zealand Favorites looks like a great line-up, including one of my favorite summer styles, a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.

If you are in town on Monday, head to the Curious Grape from 10-2 and receive a 20% case discount mix or match. Nothing is excluded, so take this opportunity to pick up some of those wine’s you’ve been eyeing or perhaps to do your own at home mixed case learning as Eric Asimov of The Pour has been encouraging us to do!

Arrowine in Arlington offers wines from Dionysos on the tasting bar tonight from 5:30-7:30, indcluding a French Rose and a red Portugese wien they claim is perfect for grilling.

On Saturday from 1-4 Arrowine will be featuring a dozen wines in a SuperTasting of Tuscan Burgundy and Other Wines of Terrior from Rosenthal Wine Merchant.

Out of Site Wines in Vienna is also featuring a Memorial Day Weekend special, though be careful as you will have to carry your wines due to the street being closed for the ViVa Vienna Festival. On Saturday and Sunday they are offering $20 off any purchase of $250 or more if you mention the ViVa Vino Vienna Email Special. Try saying that 5 times fast.

Tonight Out of Site Wines will be tasting the 2005 Obvio Torrentes (a wine I have previously reviewed) and a 2001 Bodegas Valsacro “Valsacro Red.”

Saturday from 12-2:30 Out of Site will feature Portugal, France and Spain with a Verdelho, a Sancerre and a Grenache/Tempranillo blend. From 2:30-5 they will feature a selection from Grappoli Imports including a Prosecco, a Verdicchio and a Sangiovese.

On Sunday at Out of Site you will find, from 12-2:30 Sauvignon Blacn from Chile, Chardonnay from France, and Malbec from Argentina. From 2:30-5 look from a Veltliner, a Garnacha and aPaso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon.

Not to mention, if you are feeling adventureous and want to leave the hectic tourism of DC behind you, the West Virginia Wine and Arts Festival is going on from Saturday-Sunday. It’s located at 601 South Queen Street in Martinsburg, WV. The cost is $15 per person and looks like a great way to spend a Memorial Day weekend.

Be safe this weekend and I hope that everyone has a festive and relaxing Memorial Day Weekend!

A Random Stop

One afternoon on our trip we were bored and had managed to hit all the places I had planned on us seeing. As we were driving around we decided to stop at a winery on the road called Mazzocco. The tasting room set up on slight hill among the vineyards was very pretty, especially later in the afternoon with the sun glowing behind it. I gather they were purchased by Wilson Winery several years ago, but prior to that had been owned by a Dr.Mazzocco.

Inside, the tasting room was enormous and very open. The tasting bar was huge, easily 30 people could have stood around it without feeling crowded. Our tasting room attendant was friendly, though a little busy with several groups showing up all at once.

2004 Russian River Sauvignon Blanc: $14. Some oak and lemon, very reserved.

2004 Sonoma County Chardonnay: $18. Oak and spice. Peah, smooth and very flavorful.

2004 Sonoma County Reserve Chardonnay: $28. Buttery nose, oak. More “reserved fruit” than the non-reserve, lemon, drier in flavor.

2003 Alexander Valley Carignane: $18. Chocolate and cracked pepper. Pepper and scpicy red fruit in the mouth.

2002 Sonoma County Merlot: $25. Milk chocolate on nose, berries. Smooth and tart with some drying tannins on the end. Bought one bottle.

1999 Matrix Estate Bordeaux Blend: $40. Blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot. Black currants, bell pepper. Bell pepper in the mouth too, very spicy.

2004 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel: $24. From the Cuneo and Saini Vineyards. Oak, dark flavors, currants. Currants, spice, and earthy in the mouth.

2004 Alexander Valley Stone Ranch Zinfandel: $24. Spicy blackberries, leather. Chocolate, blackberry jam and spice in mouth. Bought one bottle.

2004 Dry Creek Valley Home Ranch Estate Zinfandel: $27. Currants, raisins, peppery, a little blackberry. Strong tannins, more juicy than jammy.

2002 Dry Creek Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve: $50. Dark cherries, leather on the nose, fresh raspberries in the mouth. I liked this the best, but not enough to spend $50. Served with brownie covered in chocolate wine sauce.

Visiting Passalacqua Winery

Another stop on our marathon tasting day in Sonoma, just before lunch, was Passalacqua Winery. Overall impressions: tiny tasting room and tiny tasting bar. It was too crowded (with only 3 groups) when we first walked in for us to even taste. We waited for 2 groups (of only 2 people in each) to leave before we stepped up for our tasting. However, the tasting room was bright and cheery with plenty of things to look at while we waited. The winery charges a $5 non-refundable tasting fee, and they are the only winery we visited where the fee was actually enforced even though we bought several bottles of wine, though the attendant only charged us for one tasting instead of two.

2005 Alexander Valley Sauvignon Blanc: $16. My favorite white wine of the trip I believe. Grass and citrus on the nose. Crisp and clean with melon flavors in the mouth. We took home 4 bottles.

2005 Dry Creek Valley Chardonnay: $21. NMS. Flowers spice and citrus in this one. It didn’t work for me.

2005 Sonoma County Barrel Chardonnay: $30. Oak, reserved nose. Lemon, creamy and reserved in the mouth.

2005 Sonoma County Zinfandel: $25. Jammy nose, pepper. Raspberries in the mouth. Lighter than I am used to for a Zin, but it worked for me. We took home 2 bottles.

2004 Dry Creek Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: $40. Currants, old red fruit and saddle leather on the nose. Cherries with a spicy after taste in the mouth.

Visiting Ridge Vineyards Lytton Springs

One of my pet peeves about websites is when they contain outdated information. Such was the case of Ridge Vineyards at Lytton Springs. The website says it has no tasting fee. Well, they do. We asked if they waive the fee if you buy wine, no dice. Oh well, we went ahead with the tasting anyway, and thankfully, our attendant ended up not charging us for the fee when she rang us out. Yay!

My impressions of the tasting room: The tasting bar was fairly large and very high off the ground. The interior really lacked any personality, I would say it was sterile and cold. Not really any decoration. I like to see something in a tasting room, especially if it’s not a busy day for the tasting room I like to wander around and look at pictures of the vineyards and such. Their overall wine list made my jaw drop. I had NO idea that their wines went for so much money! Not the ones that were being tasted, the ones for sale!

2004 Geyserville Zinfandel: $33. Blackberries, cherries, spicy, cracked black pepper.

2004 Lytton Springs Zinfandel: $33. Vanilla, blackberry pie (blackberry desserts and vanilla were common wine experiences for me this trip…), blueberries. This wine was very juicy. Matt’s favorite from this stop, we took home 1 bottle.

2004 York Creek Zinfandel: $28. More peppery than the Lytton, and the fruit had a darker quality. Blackberries and jucier than the Lytton. This was my favorite offering at Ridge and we took home 2 bottles.

2003 Lytton East Zinfandel: $30. Younger tasting fruit than the previous offerings, oddly enough given that it was a 2003. Juicy fresh blackberries, vanilla with a pepper note.

2002 Lytton Estate Petite Sirah: $30. Alcohol on the nose of this one, I had trouble getting past it. Cracked pepper, blueberries and blackberries.

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