Monday, April 20, 2009

Napa Vs.Virginia Wine

I recently was able to go on vacation visiting Napa and Sonoma counties in California. As I introduced myself to the tasting room staff and told them I was from Virginia I believe they were quite taken aback with my amount of knowledge and that I wasn't an aficionado of "fruity" wine. I think it's still somewhat the stereotype in the west that us east coasters are still finding our way in the wine world.

While we were there my friend and I visited about 18 wineries all over the place. In Sonoma we were in the Alexander Valley, the Dry Creek Valley, and the Russian River Valley. In Napa we tried wines in Napa proper, Yountville, Rutherford, Calistoga, and St. Helena. The California climate can specialize in varietals that Virginia can't even touch (the big one being Cabernet Sauvignon). But where I think Virginia has California beat by a mile is the exquisiteness of our Viognier. I only had one Viognier in California that I thought could rival Virginia's.

My assessment as we were leaving is that Virginia can easily rival in the white wine world. I absolutely loved the concentrated Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel which California does very well but I was very happy to return back home to the warmer weather that we have been having and open up a delicious bottle of white wine.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Wine Terminology

As we begin the busy wine tasting season I thought it would be fun to go over some of the Wine Terminology that you will be hearing in the tasting rooms or at any of the upcoming wine festivals. Some will be told that the wine is Buttery, Chewy, Firm, or even Velvety, but what does that really mean? Here are a few definitions I think are very helpful…

ACIDITY: The presences of natural fruit acids that lend a tart, crisp

taste to the wine.
AROMA: Smells in wine that originates from the grape.
BOUQUET: Smells from winemaking, aging and bottle age.
BUTTERY: Rich, creamy flavor associated with barrel fermentation.
CHEWY: Wine that has a very deep, textured and mouth-filling sensation.
CORKED: Wine that has been tainted with moldy smells or other obvious flaws from a bad cork.
DRY: No sugar or sweetness remaining and a fruity wine can be dry.
EARTHY: Flavors and aromas of mushroom, soil and mineral.
FIRM: Texture and structure of a young, tannic red.
LEGS: Teardrop impressions of alcohol weightiness that are visible on the inside edges of a wine glass.
MALOLACTIC: Conversion of hard, malic acid, which is green apple flavors, in wine to soft, lactic acid, like rich butter flavors.
TANNIN: A drying, astringent sensation on the palate that is generally associated with heavier red wines.
TERROIR: French word reflecting the expression of soil, topography and climate in a wine.
VELVETY: Smooth-textured with deep, rich aromas and flavors.
VINTAGE: Year that grapes were harvested and fermented to make a wine.

Enjoy the holiday weekend.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Local Spring Break Ideas

Many of us have had to put all those vacations to the exotic places on hold for Spring Break but that doesn't mean you can't get creative in your own backyard. Loudoun County is now DC's Wine Country. We have 23 wineries and more are popping up all the time. Each winery has its own personal touch so that each one you go to is a brand new world. Several are located near to one another making it convenient to experience all of these "worlds" in one day.

Also, in order to be a responsible wine taster, there are a ton of B&B's in the area which are very popular with the locals and a lot of them specialize in winery tours or know who to put you in contact with. With Loudoun having some of the most beautiful landscape in Northern Virginia, you can't go wrong with the hospitality, views & relaxing atmospheres.

You also can't miss all the must see (or taste) "non-chain" restaurants that Loudoun has. If you want to eat at the start of your tour or the end of your tour then Leesburg is the place to be. Market Station, which is a wooden 2 story "strip mall" in downtown Leesburg is a great place to find a unique place to eat. Also in downtown Leesburg if you walk up and down either Loudoun St or King St you are bound to see a quaint place that will offer what you want. Purcellville is a good town to visit if you want to eat in the middle of your winery visits. Places like Magnolia's at the Mill, the Grill, and tons of other "mom & pop" places are there as well. Another unique place is a restaurant out past Hillsboro called Grandale Farm Restaurant. This place is out in the "middle of nowhere" as it has been described but once you go there the trip is worth it.

Loudoun Wineries are a fun place to visit but just remember a few things before you head out: have a designated driver, if coming with a group of 6 or more you will want to call ahead or make an appointment to make your visit more enjoyable, check the hours of the winery as they all aren't the same and some may be closed on Easter Sunday.

Happy Spring Break & Easter!
Corcoran Vineyards