Off the Rack…Wine Review for the Weekend

In the past, I have been kind of neglectful when it comes to posting.  It is sad, but of course, life happens…which is good, right?  Well, there are times for relaxation in my world through running, yoga, and entertaining.  Entertaining is one of my favorite things to do, and so one night, my boyfriend decided to bring a bottle of wine over that was reminiscent to the one we had on our first Valentine’s Day together.  This is the basis for the Wine Review for the Weekend series.

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Source: Trump Winery

This week, the wine of the weekend is Kluge Estate (now Trump Winery)’s New World Red.  It is one of the best red wines I have tasted, and it is versatile enough to pair with steak and chocolate.  While the wine we had on our first Valentine’s Day was from the Kluge Estate repertoire (Albemarle’s Simply Red), this red was full bodied with hints of oak, black cherry, and currant.  Of course, we chose to celebrate Valentine’s Day with chocolate and this wine.

There is no doubt that we will be adding more bottles of this, and the Albemarle Simply Red to the wine rack shortly.

Luck of the Irish…or Luck of the Unicorn

Lately, we have been blessed by beautiful weather here in Virginia. Today, despite the sneezing from allergies, my boyfriend and I decided to visit Unicorn Winery in Amissville. Three weeks ago, we attended my friend’s wedding in Fredericksburg, and while traveling back from the ceremony, we visited Hartwood Winery. Hartwood was having a Mardi Gras festival, and Unicorn was there providing tastings as well. One of the owners gave us a complimentary tasting card, and we decided to visit.

Unicorn Winery is a small winery, but they offer amazingly good wines at reasonable prices. We happened to visit during their St. Patrick’s celebration, which we happened to miss since they ran out of soup. However, the staff made up for it by providing a fun atmosphere with the tastings. The man in charge of our tastings was very knowledgeable about the wines and what food would pair well.

Some particular favorites included:

2008 Chardonnay: If you don’t like a lot of oak taste, then this wine only provides just a little hint. This wine is full bodied with hints of apple blossom, honey, and pear. It would pair well with seafood, especially scallops and mussels.

2008 Traminette: Thai food will pair well with this wine. With hints of honeysuckle, lavender, and citrus, this wine has a sweet, smooth taste. Traminette was first produced at Cornell University in 1984.

2008 Meritage: This Bordeaux-style blend provides a literal party in your mouth, as hints of berry, smoke, and cherry come into play. This full bodied wine will get better with age. In fact, our tasting guide told us that the 2002 vintage is served at the Inn at Little Washington. This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot. Enjoy this one with good BBQ or Sharp Cheddar. This is also a good wine to enjoy with cigars.

2005 Cabernet Sauvignon: This wine is as full bodied as you might think. In fact, it was a light bodied wine with strong hints of cherry and raspberry. The smoky hint would pair well with a burger or any pasta dish.

Overall, the atmosphere and great wines made this worth the traffic we encountered earlier. This wine was truly a luck of the Irish find.

Winery Review: Naked Mountain Winery

If you travel westbound on I-66, there are several great wineries to choose from during your trip towards I-81 or Front Royal. For one, I like traveling on the winding country roads in search of a good Virginia winery. Two weekends ago, my boyfriend wanted to test out his truck in order for it to pass the dreaded vehicle emissions test. We drove west to visit North Mountain Vineyards, and along the way, we passed the signs for Naked Mountain Winery. I mentioned this winery to my boyfriend about stopping by, since I have never been there, and he said we stop by this one on the way back.

After the visit to North Mountain, I was excited to try out Naked Mountain. First, I had heard some great things about their white wines. In fact, one of my friends raved about their Chardonnay, and this intrigued me more since I was on a white wine kick. Normally, I love the full bodied taste of red wines, but ever since visiting some great wineries in upstate New York, I have been reverting back to white wines. Upon traveling down the winding driveway, we arrived to find a packed tasting room. I always like to say that the sign of a great winery is often determined by the crowded nature of the tasting room.

As soon as we found a tasting area, we got to sample two amazing chardonnays. The 2006 Chardonnay had a wonderful taste of oak and citrusy hints. It did not taste like it was fermented in oak, rather steel, since the finish was crisp. On the other hand, the 2007 Chardonnay was perfect. I think I might have found a Chardonnay from Virginia that I love, since it had a creamy taste with hints of vanilla and apple. The 2007 will pair well with any chicken, seafood, or pork dish that I prepare. The server even recommended pairing this wine with apple pie. While we sampled their Chardonnay-Riesling, I eventually settled on purchasing the 2007 Chardonnay.

The server moved on to the reds, which was particularly exciting for both me and my boyfriend. We love red wines. If you served us a glass of Cabernet Franc, we would be happy with this decision. We started off with the Cabernet Franc. Virginia is the capital of Cabernet Franc, and I don’t think another state could compare with this title. I had Cab Francs in Ohio and upstate New York, but none of those could compare to those in Virginia. The Cab Franc from Naked Mountain was smooth and had a great balance in tannins. This could seriously pair well with a charteucerie plate.

The second offering was the Scarlet Oak Red, and this wine was our favorite.  This wine would complement my kitchen sink pizza and a good steak.  It had a smooth, yet spicy taste.  The flavor was complex, as the wine consisted of 45% Syrah, 45% Mouteverde, and 10% Tannat, but it finished with hints of berry.

The Merlot was also a good smooth tasting wine, and there was no doubt that I was torn on deciding which wine to buy.  This Merlot was blended with Cabernet Franc, Tannat, and Petit Verdot.  This wine had hints of oak, cherry, and vanilla, and this would pair well with Elk and Venison.

There were two pre-release wines that we sampled:  Raptor Red and Cabernet Sauvignon.  The Raptor Red was very good, as it was a blend of Merlot, Petit Verdot, Tannat, and Cab Franc.  The wine was medium bodied, and the taste was smoky.  While this wine would pair well with a cheese platter, I found myself leaning more towards the Scarlet Oak Red due to its smoother taste.  The Cabernet Sauvignon was also good, as it tasted more of plum and earthy hints.  This wine would pair well with cheeses too.

By the time it came to purchase the wines, my boyfriend and I had a hard decision to make concerning the reds.  We were sold on the 2007 Chardonnay, but we were torn between the Cabernet Sauvignon and Scarlet Oak Red.  Eventually, we decided on the Scarlet Oak Red due to the complex flavors.

This winery is a hidden gem, and there is no doubt that there will be return visits in the future.