Tasting at James River Cellars

Virginia is for Wine Lovers!  I’m not joking.  According to the Virginia Wine Board’s website there are 251 wineries in the State.

Recently, I trekked to the Richmond area where I managed to have a Virginia wine experience.  While there are a number of wineries within a reasonable driving distance from Richmond proper, the closest is probably James River Cellars just north of Richmond in Glen Allen.

The winery is easy to get to – a short way off I-95 on US Route 1.  The winery is set back from the road, and the drive up to the tasting room takes you past a driving range.  When I stepped in the front door, I was immediately greeted by the winery staff.  Friendly and knowledgeable, the staff took me through a full range of wine options for the very modest fee of $5.  Normally, the fiver gets you samples of 13 different selections.  If you’re lucky – like I was on my visit – they may have an additional selection or two open which they will share as well.  Below are the wines I got to try.


Regular Tasting:
2013 Reserve Chardonnay
2014 Chardonnay (un-oaked)
2014 Petit Manseng
2013 Vidal Blanc
2013 Rad Red – 43% Cabernet Franc, 30% Petit Verdot, 20% Chancellor, 7% Sangiovese
2012 Cabernet Franc
2012 Monitor vs CSS Virginia – 47% Cabernet Franc, 44% Merlot, 9% Tannat
2012 Meritage – 45% Merlot, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc, 11% Peti Verdot
2014 Montpelier – 63% Pinot Gris, 20% Chardonel, 17% Chambourcin
2014 Hanover White – 45% Chardonel, 45% Pinot Gris, 5% Petit Manseng, 5% Muscat
2013 Chambourcin
2013 Real Santa Red – 58% Merlot, 42% Touriga Nacional

Bonus:
2014 Chardonel
2012 Petit Verdot
2012 Hanover Red – Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Touriga Nacional

There was a lot to take in during this tasting.  Even so, I thought they had a number of selections I might like to buy.  The Reserve Chardonnay had bright acidity, a silky mouthfeel and citrus flavors including lemon and grapefruit.; the Petit Manseng had flavors of spiced stone fruits; their Petit Verdot was smoky and earthy; and there are two wines I’d call specialty wines which would make great additions to holiday celebrations.

Those specialty wines are the Chambourcin and Real Santa Red – a blend of Merlot and Touriga Nacional.  The winemaker has added sugar to the Chambourcin which for me makes it a bit like berry (cranberry?) sauce in a bottle.  It is definitely a dessert wine, in my opinion.  Then there is the Real Santa Red to which they have added cinnamon.  Although not dessert-wine sweet like the Chambourcin, I think Real Santa Red would be a nice accompaniment to holiday pies (apple, pumpkin, cherry, etc.) and cakes.

If you find yourself in the area, you should definitely stop by the winery.  If you can’t make it to the folks at James River, their wines can be purchased from the winery and shipped or at a number of retailers in Central Virginia.  See their website at jamesrivercellars.com for details.

 

Advertisements

Fetzer Gewürtztraminer 2013

Awhile back I had the 2011 Fetzer Shaly Loam Gewürtztraminer, so I wanted to compare the experiences.  But upon closer inspection, I realized this one is from Monterey County not the broader California appellation.  Even so, I decided to taste and see how the two vintages compare.  Notes from my first Fetzer Gewürtztraminer can be found by clicking here.

Winemaker:  Fetzer
Varietal:  Gewürtztraminer
Vintage:  2013
Appellation:  Monterey County, CA
Price:  $12.49

Notes:  This selection was a golden yellow in the glass with a bouquet of peach and warm spices.  It’s a medium-bodied wine with good acidity.  The flavors for me were sweet – almost syrupy – peach with spice, a touch of grass, and a tart citrusy finish.  Alcohol was at 12%.  I think this would serve well as an accompaniment to a light cake or as a sweet sip at a warm-weather outdoor reception.

So how do they compare?  Well, in my opinion this selection seems a bit more in the typical varietal style – medium-bodied and a tad sweeter to the taste buds – than the 2011.  Even so, both were perfectly fine wines.

Kendall-Jackson Zinfandel 2012

There’s a reason Kendall-Jackson has been a powerhouse in the American wine industry for years now.  Having spent not a few nights at business receptions in my life, I can remember colleagues practically sending up a cheer when hosts served Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay.  As we know, however, KJ is no one-trick pony.  A few months back I tried the 2012 Syrah.  Staying with their reds, I more recently popped the cork on one of their Zins.

Winemaker: Kendall-Jackson
Wine:  Vintner’s Reserve Zinfandel
Varietal: Zinfandel
Vintage: 2012
Appellation: Mendocino County, CA
Price: $14.49

Notes:  The bouquet of this dark garnet-colored wine was surprisingly understated but certainly present with round scents of dark fruit and earth accented by a sharp turpentine note.  Acidity was good on this medium-bodied Zin.  Tannins struck me as being on the lighter side of medium, and alcohol was at 14.5%.  On the palate, I found this Kendall-Jackson to be a mouthful of fun.  This is the kind of Zin that got me hooked in the first place.  It could easily cellar a few years.  Still, if you don’t mind a somewhat boisterous glass of wine, you may enjoy it now.