Sunday, August 26, 2012

Tasting Tuscany Wines--Bin 201

Yesterday, I sojourned to Annapolis to a wine store named Bin 201 for a tasting of wines selected from Italy and more specifically, Tuscany and some of the nearby regions.

I enjoy attending these tastings because they are more than just tasting wine--they are about understanding the grapes and conditions in the region.

Bin 201 Being Prepared for Tasting
Although Tuscany was the principle region for yesterday's tasting, I was also treated to a sampling of wines from Umbria, Marche, and Abruzzo.  But the wines of the day truly were from Tuscany: Chianti, Chianti Classico, Super Tuscan.

I admit, one of the wines did not have a pleasant nose--it smelled like a cat box, but most of them were very nice and enjoyed. The tasting was complete with a plate of cheese, salami, prosciutto, and of course some palate cleansing bread.

The Canalicchio di Sopra Brunello de Montalcino 2000 Tuscany was clearly the wine of the day. But it was $87.99 and I just don't buy wine that expensive because I never want to drink it--so the enjoyment is never fully realized because it just stays on the wine rack.

The best buy was Ornellia "Le Volte" 2009, Bolgheri, Tuscany for $29.99. This was a Super Tuscan, being a blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. It gets a solid average 88 rating on Cellar Tracker and I think it will be awesome with pasta.

I love expanding my wine knowledge and my tastes, and yesterday was no exception as I also tastes a few whites--but nothing spectacular.

While the Bin 201 tastings are not free, they are not expensive--less than tastings for more in Napa. And, we tasted 10 wines coupled with history and a small intimate group of 14 people. It makes for a nice Saturday afternoon activity. I highly recommend these events.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, August 3, 2012

Prince Michel Vineyard - Review

Wine on the Vine at Prince Michel
Although not actually placed on one of the Monticello Wine Trails, Prince Michel Vineyard and Winery sits at the northern gateway to the region right astride Route 29, the main north-south road into Charlottesville. I always find that as I am traveling into the wine region that this winery is definitely worth a stop--if not just to get into the mood for the day's activities.

The winery is well marked--I believe the first sign is about 8 miles form the entrance, but it comes up very quickly. Don't panic though if you miss the first driveway, there is a second on just past the building and at the bottom of a small road.

As always, check the website for current hours, but one advantage for this winery is that it opens at 10 am on Saturdays and Sundays, making it one of the early openers in the area. This means that driving from the Baltimore area, I am usually driving by the winery right as it opens.

The self guided tour of the wine making process is well planned and allows a nice behind the scenes view of the process. The wine tasting area is large and also contains a large assortment of wine related items which can be purchased.

The wines are good. I found the whites to be the best. Especially noteworthy was the 2009 Chardonnay, which I thought was an especially good value.

Enjoy Prince Michel. Stop and get a day of wine tasting started.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, August 2, 2012

White Hall Vineyard - Review

Along the Monticello Wine Trail, one of the vineyards we visited was White Hall Vineyard. The winery is on the Northern Monticello Trail and a bit of a drive (OK, maybe 15 minutes) to get there but we were rewarded with some very drinkable wines and a generally good time at a very nice facility.
White Hall Vineyard Tasting Room

The whites are very nice, I especially enjoyed the German-style wines like Gew├╝rztraminer, Petit Manseng, and Chardonnay. They also had a nice Bordeaux blend, Cuvee de Champs, which was very enjoyable. I found the remainder of their extensive red wine offerings to be somewhat light and thin. I found the 2010 Pinot Gris and the 2010 Viognier to be good, but not exceptional as compared to other wineries in the region.

The facility is really enjoyable and on the Saturday we visited there was live music to accompany the tasting the wines.

The wine tasting area in in the middle of a large, nicely sized, modern building which serves create an enjoyable atmosphere for wine tasting. The server was knowledgeable of the wines and the grapes form which they were made or blended.

The overall experience was pleasant and I recommend this winery as a stop on a Monticello Wine Trail tasting day.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD