Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Red and White from Jefferson Vinyards

In October of this year, Shirley and I spent a week in Virginia Beach attending a reunion of the ship I spent my Naval active duty on, the USS Pocono AGC/LCC-16. While there I visited a few wine shops and a few wineries on the Chesapeake Wine Trail.  I was already sold on Virginia Viognier(vee-own-YAY) from past visits, so this time I wanted to bring home a few red wines.  From recommendations at the wine shops, I brought home some Cabernet Franc and a Norton.  Norton was first cultivated in Richmond, Virginia and is the official grape of the State of Missouri.  I haven't opened the Norton yet, but I did finish the Cab Francs.  The first three were very disappointing.  Something about East Coast red wines I often find not to my liking.  Right from the start, I get a lot of aroma's of damp soil and black olives and although drinkable, I can't rightfully say much more.
That changed this week when I opened the Jefferson Vineyards' NV Cabernet Franc($22).  This was not a very typical Cabernet Franc, but was a nice fruit flavored, soft wine that paired well with Shirley's chicken stew.  Light aromas of red cherry with a little oak and earth.  Very fruity in the mouth with cherries and some plum.  The finish was a bit short with some red fruit, a small taste of cranberry and soft. This wine is not going to blow you away, but it was pleasant and I can, at least now, get a bit more excited about trying more Virginia reds. 

I have never been to the Charlottesville region of Virginia, although I moved to New York from Arlington VA and did travel much of the Commonwealth while living there, but now I must make plans for a summer visit, if only to visit the Jefferson Vineyards'.  Not because the Cab Franc, but in October, Shirley and I fell in love with the Jefferson Vineyards' Viognier.
Our first evening in VaBeach we dined at a restaurant on the boardwalk. Since we have been vacationing there, Mahi Mah's oceanfront restaurant at 6th street has become our favorite and we tend to visit there as soon as we arrive.  What was very pleasing to see this time, was a selection of over 20 Virginia wines on the menu.  May have been because October is Virginia's Wine Month,  but nonetheless, I don't recall seeing anything similar here in New York.  Here I had the Bronzed Salmon rubbed with cajun seasoning and brown sugar, then grilled. I paired the salmon with a 2009 Jefferson Viognier.  Color was a golden yellow, showing a little age, but still filled with floral, tropical fruits and peach.  A very delightful meal, but I was still wanting more of this wine and I found it on our last night out.
dinner at Tautog's
While visiting the Virginia Beach Aquarium and Marine Science Center a volunteer at the Aquarium recommended a restaurant one block from the beach on 23rd St., Tautogs Restaurant at Winston's Cottage.  On the wine menu was a 2009 Jefferson Vineyards Viognier, which was a mis-print, because they were serving the 2011 vintage at a very nicely priced $34.  I immediately knew what wine I was ordering and matched it with fresh local Tuna Martinique - Fresh Tuna marinated in Lime with Cracked Black Pepper, Garlic, Olive Oil, and Zesty Red Onions.  I honestly cannot say which was better, the wine or the food.
The color of the wine was a lot clearer than the '09 and filled with aromas of honeysuckle, peach, apricot and some guava/papaya like aroma.  The palate was coated with hints of apple, tropical fruits and honey leading to a thick rich velvety finish.  Unlike the Cab Franc, this wine will blow you away. I can safely say that Viognier is my favorite Virginia wine and I  will be back for more.

Jefferson Vineyards is one of the first to introduce quality, modern viticulture to Virginia and at long last help realize Thomas Jefferson’s dream of the native production of wine in Virginia. Through thirty years of experience, this modest farm winery offers select wines of superior quality.  They produce between 6000 and 8000 cases annually. The wines they offer you are entirely of Virginia. The grapes are grown here on their property and in select sites across the Commonwealth.  They do not buy fruit from outside Virginia, nor do they  use any commercial concentrates or additives to intensify their wines. These choices are consistent with their values, and they believe they are true to Jefferson's original vision of winemaking in Virginia. Further, they believe these choices create a better bottle of wine and I am not going to argue with that.

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