Thursday, August 19, 2021

Central Loudoun County - Middleburg AVA


Tarting Room Casanel Vineyards
Leesburg, VA
August 13, 2021
Chris and I headed off to the Leesburg, VA, area this past weekend to sample wines from wineries and vineyards that we had not yet had the opportunity to visit.

Let me begin by writing that there are more wineries and vineyards in this region of Virginia than can possibly be sampled in a single weekend or for that matter likely in a month. Trying to keep the weekend sane and to truly experience the wines and ambiance of the vineyards we limited ourselves to three tastings per day. So for the weekend we visited six wineries or vineyards. We had alternates selected to account for unforeseen circumstances and, in fact, the first stop was at a winery we had previously visited, but forgotten, and so we went to our second planned stop instead and added the alternate to become the third stop of the day.

The six wineries or vineyards were chosen based upon a review of their websites and the types of wine offered. Two were chosen because they offered varietals not normally experienced in Virginia. One offered both a Tempranillo and an AlbariƱo, while another offered a Vermentino. We were not disappointed at either vineyard, although truth be told, the Tempranillo was made with grapes sourced from Washington State. My understanding is that Tempranillo does not grow well in Virginia.

So the scorecard for the weekend was six stops at wineries or vineyards. Of there six, four were definite keepers, one is on the must revisit after COVID list, and one was truly disappointing despite having a magnificent facility and a seemingly diverse and exciting wine list. That said, we purchased wines from all six wineries and vineyards and joined the wine club at one of them. Yes, I came home with bottles of all three of the wines that most interested me and many more. 

So the top four, in no particular order:

Casanel Vineyards

Stone Tower Estate Winery

8 Chains North

Walsh Family Wine

Important safety tip: Check the websites at any winery/vineyard you intend to visit to determine how or if they are conducting tastings during COVID and whether reservations are required.

Important Safety Tip #2: Drink and drive responsibly. It is OK and desired for you to spit after tasting to avoid alcohol loading.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Key Lime Pie and Shiraz


Key Lime Pie and Shiraz
A couple weeks ago, while dining at a friend's for Happy Hour I experienced something unexpected. I enjoyed wine, as we usually do, but as we moved onto dessert we put together Key Lime Pie and a very special bottle of Australian Shiraz--Mollydooker The Boxer, 2016. 

I initially thought that this experiment was doomed for failure. How possibly could a fully bodied Australian red wine work with one of my favorite desserts: Key Lime Pie. 

But work it did. 

The pie and wine went together exceptionally well and it wasn't to just my opinion, but the opinion of everyone at Happy Hour. The deep rich flavors of the Shiraz blended perfectly with the sweetness of the Key Lime Pie and made a very pleasant and enticing dessert combination. 

When working with food and wine it is important to experiment and  sometimes something good happens, like Shiraz and Key Lime Pie!

I am going to save this combination for the future.

-- Bob and Chris Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Weather and Wine Flight Tastings


Loudoun County Winery, VA
June 6, 2021

We experienced a COVID-19 modified wine tasting at a prestigious Northern Loudoun County, Virginia, winery the other day.

The facility was beautiful and reservations were highly encouraged for the Sunday tastings. I had made a reservation and the check in process went smoothly. We were given a nice souvenir glass, which I think we left at the table when we departed, and went off to the covered porch to enjoy a nice tasting. There was pleasant music and everything seemed very to be working perfectly. 

Then came the tasting. 

There were, in fact, two tastings--the first, for $22 was for six of their normal wines and the second for $18 was for three of their recent award winning wines. We did both--starting with the normal tasting. The wines were poured into plastic cups and I have to admit they were very small pours. We then took the tray with the cups and information about the wines to our seats to conduct the tasting on our own.

Here comes the problem. It was a near 90 degree day. Meaning it was hot. With the small pours and all six wines already poured the samples quickly warmed to a temperature which was not suitable for the tasting. We tasted two whites, one rose, and three reds during the first tasting. I have to admit, none of the wines, except for the Meritage tasted well. 

Believe it or not, I then went and bought the second tasting which was the real reason we visited the winery. Same problem. Three wines, all red with price points above $50 per bottle were too warm and were not enjoyable by the time we tasted them. 

I dearly wanted to buy something and find a drinkable wine, but because of the environmental conditions of the day, there was no way the wines could hold up. 

Lesson Learned: tasting flights of wines outside on a hot day is not a good way to enjoy the fruits of the winemakers labors.

-- Bob and Chris Doan, Elkridge, MD