White Hall Cabernet Franc 2014

I like a good Cabernet Franc.  So, when I see one on the shelves of my local store, I tend to gravitate toward it like a little rocket ship sucked in by Gorath.  Gorath, for those who haven’t been watching old science fiction movies, is a super dense “wandering” star featured in an eponymous 1960’s Japanese movie.  In addition to this wine being a varietal very frequently used in blending rather than a single star in the bottle, it was made by a vintner in Virginia.  OMG!  The gravitational pull just doubled.

Winemaker:  White Hall Vineyards
Varietal: Cabernet Franc
Vintage:  2014
Appellation:  Monticello, Virginia
Price:  $14.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes:  This White Hall offering was a pretty ruby in color with scents of red berries, menthol and turpentine in the bouquet.  The body was light and acidity fairly high while tannins were medium.  Alcohol was at 13%.  I got quite a bit of pepper on the palate along with currant, pomegranate and turpentine.  In a perfect world, I would have enjoyed it all the more with less turpentine and more body.  Even so, it was certainly no plonk, especially if you like a racier style of red.

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Horton Norton 2011

This is the second of the two selections I brought back from the Vintage Virginia 2013 wine festival.  The brief sample I got at the Horton booth put this wine on my “buy” list.  Of course, it didn’t hurt that it was a varietal I’d never tasted.  I enjoy new wine experiences.  And then there was the name.  The name of the wine made me immediately think of Dr. Seuss.  You know … Horton Hears a Who.  But in this case, Horton Makes a Norton.  OK!  I’ll admit that I have a warped imagination and sense of humor.

Horton Vineyards is a winemaker in Gordonsville, VA.  Given that the Norton grape varietal – named for it’s creator Dr. Daniel Norton – was first grown in Virginia, this seems like a natural fit.  From it’s origins in the Richmond area, Norton cultivation has spread to the Mid-Atlantic States and the Midwest.  Evidently, the Missouri wine industry relies heavily on the Norton.  This selection, however, is from it’s home turf.

Winemaker:  Horton Vineyards
Varietal:  Norton
Vintage:  2011
Appellation:  Monticello, Virginia AVA
Price:  $15.00

Notes:  Not only do I like tasting varietals that are new to me, but I also like pleasant surprises.  This wine, my friends, was truly a pleasant surprise.  In the glass the Norton Horton made was a deep purple.  On the nose I smelled tangy berries, earth, spice and violets.  It was medium-bodied with good acidity and dry at 13% alcohol.  The flavors for me were dark sweet berries at the fore (blackberry, black currant), a hint of pepper, notes of black plum and hints of fruit bread as well.  Tannins were soft but present.  On the finish I found a green, leafy note and cranberry.  While I’m sure the wine could pair well with food, this is the kind of vino I like to just sip on it’s own because as it runs the palate you get an enjoyable variety of flavor experiences.  It’s also a well balanced red in my opinion.  The Norton wines were called Virginia Claret in the 1800’s, and there is something of the more restrained European tradition in this selection.  I enjoyed it and was glad to note recently that it is available at my local Safeway!

Important: I am not a professional sommelier or wine connoisseur.  See “About” for the full disclaimer.

First Colony Chardonnay 2011

This is the first of the two selections I brought back with me from the Vintage Virginia 2013 wine festival a few weeks ago.  This is a winery that was new to me, and I was intrigued enough by a quick sip or two of their wines to want to experience more.  I probably would have purchased more than just one bottle then if I’d had the room to tote them home with me.

First Colony makes a couple of Chardonnays.  One is labeled Estate Reserve and spends some eighteen months in a combination of new American and neutral French oak barrels.  This one, on the other hand, is unoaked.

Winemaker:  First Colony Winery
Varietal:  Chardonnay
Vintage:  2011
Appellation:  Monticello, Virginia AVA
Price:  $14.00

Notes:  This Virginia Chardonnay was a medium yellow in the glass with a tinge of goldenrod.  On the nose I detected light fig and citrus with some floral hints.  It was a medium-bodied Chardonnay, and the acidity was fairly lively.  On the palate I tasted fig, citrus, brown spice, and the slightest touch of butter with a nice grassy finish.  Alcohol is at 11.4%, but it didn’t present as a sweet wine.  I definitely enjoyed the fact that the flavor profile was just a tad outside the “usual” for Chardonnays I run across.  I liked it.   By the way, the winemaker says this wine presents with banana, lime and kiwi flavors.  Maybe my taster was off this go-round, but I’m sticking with my notes.  If you give it a try, please post a comment and let me know what you think.  Either way, I thought it was a pleasant Chardonnay that would pair very nicely with some succulent summer barbecue – chicken or pork, your choice.

Important: I am not a professional sommelier or wine connoisseur.  See “About” for the full disclaimer.