Weekend Round-Up

Lots going on in the Northern Virginia area this weekend! You’ll probably find us out apple picking as it’s that time of year, but be sure to check out some of these great tastings too!

At Out of Site Wines in Vienna, tonight, from 5-8pm you will be able to sample 2 Australian wines, a Chardonnay and Shiraz/Grenache Mourvedre blend that sounds very interesting.

On Saturday from 1-4pm at Out of Site you will find “Autumn Weight Wines” poured by the County Vintner, including a Shiraz-Viognier, something I’ve been dying to try!

Head on over to Arrowine in Arlington tonight from 5:30-7:30 to find a tasting that is great for WBW! Value wines of Portugal poured by Dionysos Imports.

Find yourself at Arrowine tomorrow from 1-4 and Michael Downey selections will be pouring Italian wines.

At the Curious Grape in Shirlington tonight from 6-8pm you will be tasting “Earth and Vine American Wines” including a CA Sauvignon Blanc and a WA Cabernet Sauvignon.

You can stop by on Saturday for a tasting of fine chocolates as well!



Drinking Virginia Wines

The wine for the evening, served with my homemade pepperoni pizza, was a 2006 Hillsborough Serefina. We picked this bottle up at Hillsborough on our recent visit, it was my favorite Hillsborough offering that day.

The wine checked in at 13% alcohol by volume and had a real cork closure.

On the nose I found strawberry jolly rancher and watermelon. The wine smelled a bit sweet on the nose. However, in the mouth the wine was tart and much drier than I expected it to be. It showed strawberry and watermelon jello in a very nice balance.

The wine paired fairly nicely with our pizza though I think I would love to drink it sitting on the porch on a hot summer day.

Touring Tuesday #2

Our second stop of the day found us at Doukenie Winery, formerly Windham Winery. Doukenie was our favorite stop of the day and we have already returned since our first visit. We were supposed to go back for a third visit for an event to meet their new winemaker, but unfortunately, the weather that was called for was terrible and there was no way we were heading out over an hour’s drive with torrential rain on the way!

Doukenie looks like a friendly red barn as you drive up. The grounds are gorgeous, and if we hadn’t had a few more stops we wanted to make that day we would have sat out by the pond for the afternoon and enjoyed the salad of the day and some of the cheeses that were for sale in the tasting room. When we arrived, we were the only guests in the tasting room, which gave us plenty of time to talk to the attendant, until the room filled up fast and furious about half-way through our tasting!

Overall, the wines at Doukenie were fantastic! The tasting menu was solid, and each offering was very good, I liked all the wines, a first for me at a VA winery. We liked it so much we took my brother in law and sister in law to visit about two weeks later, where our tasting was poured out on the porch on a gorgeous VA day by the brand new winemaker. He was great and really knew his stuff, you can tell he loves wine and I look forward to his first vintage at Doukenie.

2006 Sauvignon Blanc: $18. Light and crisp with lemon and orange zest. Barely a bit of oak from the neutral oak aging. My favorite of the day, we bought 3 bottles.

2006 Riesling: $17. I was surprised to see a Riesling in VA, a first for me I believe. Honey, tropical, mineral notes, slightly sweet. We took home 3 bottles.

2005 Chardonnay: $15. Slight butter, tastes like candy (maybe caramel?), with a slight tropical note. A little oaky.

Mandolin: $15. Flowers, red apples, sweet on the end of the palate. Matt’s favorite of the day, we took home 4 bottles.

2005 Merlot: $18. Strawberry, light, good balance, very good for a VA red.

2005 Cabernet Franc: $19. Earthy, herbs, fruity, with jammy red fruit, slightly tannic.

2005 Cabernet Sauvignon: $23. Earthy spice, tobacco, raspberry, plum.

Hope’s Raspberry Merlot: $21 for a small bottle. Just delish. Intense raspberry, tastes like fresh berries, amazing with dark chocolate. We bought 2 bottles.

If you are in the area, I would highly suggest a stop at Doukenie. I hope that we are able to visit many times in the future.

Lurking in the Cellar

(Okay, that sounds a bit ominous.)

I found this bottle of 2005 Fritz Chardonnay hiding in our basement when Matt and I were reorganizing the wine last weekend. A surprise to me, as I thought I had written up all the white wines in my collection.

The wine had a real cork closure, clocked in at 14.2% alcohol by volume, and cost us $20 in a club shipment.

On the nose I found lemon, oak, butter, vanilla cream, and apple. In the mouth I found the wine to be buttery and oaky. Additionally, I got lemons, peach and more oak in the mouth. Overall, this was an oaky, buttery Chardonnay. It wasn’t flabby or anything, but I was overwhelmed by the butter and oak. It’s just NMS.

IHO Domaine 547

I noticed Domaine 547’s post on Christmas/Holiday packaging for wine, and I know they were looking for ways to display multiple bottles in a gift basket minus the basket kind of way, but wanted to share this anyway. Last Christmas when I was looking for a gift bag for wine for friends at Christmas time, I came across this gem and just had to buy it.

BTW, apparently, I can’t figure out how to get an image to appear in comments. Can you even do that??

Weekend Round-Up

At Arrowine in Arlington this weekend, you will find two events:

Friday Wine Down
Friday, September 21, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Francisco “Friday Fran” Astudillo of Elite Wines Imports will be here to present a selection of wines from around the world. Among the selections will be the new vintage of Torbreck’s “Woodcutter’s” Shiraz, the Parker favorite that has scored between 91 and 93 points in the Wine Advocate for four years running and has been called a “knock-out” and “one of the great values in the marketplace”. Take advantage of special discounts during the tasting.

Saturday Tasting
Saturday, September 22, 1-4 pm

Tom Kiszka of Potomac Selections will be here with new wines from France. Try lots of new wines and new vintages including the great new vintage of Crozes Hermitage wines from Domaine des Hauts Chassis. These reds have earned raves in the Wine Spectator and they’re only at Arrowine. Try lots of great new wines and load up on your favorites; we’ll have special discounts on all the wines in the tasting!

At Out of Site Wines in Vienna, two events will also be going down:


  • 2004 Rijckaert Macon-Montbellet – This Chardonnay has a lot of the characteristics you would expect from Burgundy: pronounced minerality, pleasing acidity and good barrel flavor integration. But Rijckaert has a style that is unmistakably unique and somewhat difficult to describe. The word that comes to mind is precision. But rather than reading our words, better that you come and taste it.
  • Bookwalter Lot No. 21. Having been exposed to a lot of great wines from Washington State over the summer, we were pleased to find yet another. Bookwalter fits the classic image of a cult winery – small production of finely made wines that are snapped up immediately upon release. This wine is a delicious multi-vintage blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec. We’re told there is quite a celebration in Washington State when these wines are released; come join our celebration in Vienna as we introduce you to this wine. (We don’t expect it to last long. We’re told that only 40 cases come to VA and it sells out at wholesale in only a day or two each year.)


Cindy Yim, one of the owners of Elite Wines, has just returned from a week in northern Spain where she visited the producers whose wines Elite imports. In addition to their direct imports, Elite is our distributor for the imports of Aurelio Cabestrero’s Grapes of Spain. That gives them one of the best portfolios of Spanish wines in VA. We’ve worked with Cindy to select four terrific Spanish wines to feature on the tasting bar this Saturday. Beyond her discussion of the wines, if you offer her a little encouragement surely she will tell you something about the people, their vineyards, their wineries, and even their cuisine.

That’s it for this weekend folks, I’ll let you know if I hear of anything else!

Hiking + Wine

Not at the same time, of course, but a day that involves hiking followed by wine has to be an excellent one in my opinion.

Now that Russ the Winehiker has returned from his long, and as of yet unexplained, absence, I believe it is high time that I got around to writing a review of his site!

Picture this: You are out in CA wine country doing the usual ho-hum visiting of tasting room after tasting room after tasting room. After the 20th or so visit, you have to think, there has to be more to do than just following the crowd from winery to winery. And then it dawns on you! Contact the Winehiker at California Wine Hikes to schedule a fabulous day of hiking in the gorgeous wine country, ending with a personalized trip to a winery for a tasting and tour.

Here comes the hard part! How do you choose just one of the fantastic sounding tours that Russ offers? If I were you, I’d mosey on over to the tours section of the website and start reading about all the options, from Walking the Zinfandel Trail to Elephant Seals, Fir Forests and Formal Tasting. I notice that Russ does have many pictures of each of his tours, but I think that the pictures are a major selling point, and make it hard to resist spending a day hiking around the wine country. I think that Russ should try to feature his beautiful pictures more prominently to entice people in!

The Wine Hikes website offers much information to digest, and the set-up is very easy to navigate. From helpful sidebar forms to find a hike you might enjoy to every FAQ you could possibly imagine, Russ covers it all. I do wish he had a section for reviews from former hikers, rather than just the one the changes in the sidebar, I’d love to hear what more people had to say.

When visiting California Wine Hikes, you need to be sure to stop by the other half of the site, Russ’ blog, Winehiker Witiculture. I love his blog. Up until last month and his strange disappearance, Russ regularly posted at least once a day and his writing is fantastic. He’s witty, descriptive, and interesting all rolled into one. I will only complain since he has been absent so long and we have not had any updates in a very long time! 🙂

My only regret is that on our last trip to CA wine country, Russ and Matt and I were unable to mesh our schedules so we could join him on a hike. I will be sure to make it work on our next visit to the West Coast!

Russ is running several contests on his site right now to win free wine, one of which is to write up a review of his site. For details, click here.

My First Chablis

And a bit of a disappointment at that. We took my younger brother, who was visiting us this past weekend, to the Melting Pot for dinner on Saturday. You’ll kind of see him mugging for the camera in the back of my picture. Our fondue for the night was sea-food heavy choice, with yummy lobster tails, so I decided to pick a white wine for the evening.

I chose a 1998 Regnard Chablis from France. It cost $40 and rang in at 12.5% alcohol by volume. I think this wine was past its prime. Or else I don’t know what to look for in a Chablis, also quite possible. The wine seemed tired, none of the flavors were very dominant and it was “blah” on the palate.

I found a bit of lemon and yeast on the nose. It smelled kind of like a very flat champagne. In the mouth there was some lemon and other vague citrus, with a bit of smoky vanilla. The flavors were reserved and the wine was dry. It was smooth and easy to drink, but overall, it just didn’t do too much for me.

Touring Tuesdays

From our travels this summer, I have quite a few Virginia wineries to review for you, so I will be starting a weekly series for the next 6 or 7 weeks to tell you about the vineyards we visited in Loudon County.

We spent our anniversary visiting the Northern VA vineyards. Our first stop of the day was to Hillsborough Vineyards. We tasted through the menu of 3 whites, 2 reds and one dessert wine. Hillsborough has a non-refundable $5 per person tasting fee, so as usual I will gripe about that.

The winery has a lovely patio where you could easily spend the day overlooking the vineyards, sipping a bottle of wine, and munching on one of the selections of cheese and crackers available inside the tasting room. I really enjoyed the koi pond on the edge of the patio. The tasting room is long and narrow, and was quite crowded when we arrived around noon. A second room where you could sit inside on a not so nice day had plenty of tables and looked cozy.

All of Hillsborough’s wines are blends and named after various gemstones:

2005 Carnelian: $18, a blend of Chardonnay and Roussanne. Slightly butttery with some oak. Light, dry and floral.

2005 Opal: $18, a blend of Viognier and Chardonnay. Peach, apple, light and silky. Another dry wine.

2006 Serefina: $18, Rose, blend of Viognier and Tannat. Very fruity on the nose, crisp, not sweet, dry. Very refreshing, strawberry, watermelon. Our favorite of the day, we took home two bottles.

2005 Garnet: $20, blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. Strawberry, light mouthfeel, but a spicy wine.

2004 Ruby: $22, blend of Tannat, Touriga Nacional, and Petit Verdot. Chocolate, leather, cherry. A very strong and powerful wine.

2005 Moonstone: $18, a blend of late harvest Viognier and Chardonnay. 6% residual sugar. Apricots, honey, sweet, but not overly so. Very well balanced. Matt really liked this one, we took home a bottle.

All in all, an excellent first stop, though again, I am never happy when tasting fees are not refunded.

WBW #37 Round-up and WBW #38

Dr. Vino has posted a great round-up of all the wines from WBW #37 Go Native! A record number of participants (52 at last count!) tasted a ton of interesting and different wines, many that I have never even heard of. Thanks again for hosting Dr.Vino and thanks for getting the post up so quickly!

Also today, the announcement for WBW #38 has been made and will be hosted by Catavino. Our theme is Portuguese Table Wines. Ryan and Gabriella have asked us to stay away from the obvious, Port and Madiera and even, if you can, Duoro and Vinho Verde. Full details are available here. I think I’ve only sampled Vinho Verde or Portugal’s wine, and I wasn’t blown away, so I will have to look harder for this assignment.