Regardless of how kind winter has been this year, one can't help but be enlivened with the realization spring and all its splendor arrives in two weeks.
Wine drinkers, who've presumably been sipping luscious reds of late, are sure to welcome the seasonal shift and the accommodating fluctuation in drinking preference.
Uncharacteristically warm day in April? Cool down with a refreshing rosé. Cold, feisty May night? Revisit those winter-friendly cab francs. Depressed on account of the tab that came with finally finishing your taxes? Quaff a glass (bottle?) of an invigorating, citrusy white.
Spring: The season for all wines.
Loudoun, with the most vineyards of any county in Virginia, has earned its nickname “D.C. Wine Country.” And 2013 has already been good to the local wine scene: Purcellville's Sunset Hills' 2010 Mosaic placed in the 2013 Governor's Cup Case as one of Virginia's top 12 wines; during the same Governor's Cup gala, local wine pioneer and owner of Leesburg's Willowcroft Vineyards Lew Parker was honored with a lifetime achievement award; and Bluemont Vineyard in Round Hill rounded out the ceremony with a Governor's Cup Gold for their 2011 cabernet franc, one of only 20 golds given in this year's competition.
These laudable achievements are well-deserved and no small deal. The region's wine industry evolves with each year, as does the quality of vin.
After swirling and sipping more than 50 Loudoun wines in the early months of 2013, we narrowed down eight fascinating offerings we encourage you to try.
Would've we loved to list more than eight? Indeed. Are there dozens upon dozens of local wines worthy of inclusion here? Of course. But time, space and blood-alcohol-content limited us.
Please note a key element in the wines described here is accessibility: Will the average visitor to the wineries each weekend have a chance to sip these labels? For this reason Sunset's Mosaic and Bluemont's award-winner, “The Horse,” aren't included, given the Mosaic was a limited-batch wine and Bluemont's is offered only to its wine club members.
*Hillsborough Vineyards' 2008 Bloodstone
– Arguably this writer's favorite wine in Loudoun County, Hillsborough's rustic, medium-bodied “Bloodstone” is composed predominantly of the fer servadou grape (about 94 percent), a relative of malbec. Peppered with vanilla, dark fruit and firm minerality, the earthy Bloodstone is a revelation among local wines. The fact a fer servadou-dominated wine can seldom be found around here (or anywhere in America, actually) only adds to this seductive, well-structured red's mystique.
*Breaux Vineyards' 2011 Rosé
– Blended of 54 percent nebbiolo, 34 percent cabernet sauvignon and 12 percent chambourcin, this rosé– like all good rosés – is made for spring, for a new day. Thankfully, the too-long-held cliche that pink wine is for headache-ridden mothers of three is starting to fade. Breaux's rosé is at once fun and serious, dry and fruitful, with strawberry and fresh fruit on the bouquet and solid body and zesty finish in the mouth.
*Bluemont Vineyard's Farm Table White NV
– This is what a firm, balanced everyday white wine should taste like. Flavorful, crisp and quick, with a sweeping strike of citrus that doesn't hang around too long, Bluemont's Farm Table White is blend of vidal blanc, viognier and petit manseng grapes, making it a cheery and diverse conversation-starting wine.
*Willowcroft Farm Vineyards' 2011 Cabernet Blanc
– The fact that two of the eight wines listed here are either a rosé or blush means the secret's out – this drinker has a severe affinity for any and all alluring non-white or non-red wines. With 2 percent residual sugar (a general measure of sweetness), this fruit-forward but far-from-elementary wine is perfect for summer days at the beach or the new wine drinker (or the new wine drinker drinking at the beach).
*Fabbioli Cellars' 2011 Chambourcin
– Ladies and gentlemen, let us give a quick round of applause for well-respected Loudoun winemaker Doug Fabbioli for his production from the daunting 2011 vintage. With stubbornly wet conditions, many Loudoun winemakers opted to largely scrap or blend their red grapes from 2011. Not Fabbioli, who just weeks ago unveiled a resilient and impressive string of '11 reds, including this sleek and steely chambourcin, resembling a pinot noir from the deep south of France or northern Italy.
*Chrysalis Vineyards' 2011 Albarińo
– Of course Albarińo grows different in the Old Dominion than it does in its native Spain. But what doesn't change is this: When grown well and meticulously tended, Albarińo, whether in Spain or elsewhere, makes for a perplexing, powerful white. Chrysalis' 2011 edition is strikingly bold but not too bold, deeply citrusy without being “simple.”
*8 Chains North's 2010 Furnace Mountain Red Reserve
– Petit verdot. Cabernet sauvignon. Merlot. Malbec. Whew. The robust power of this red is going to knock you out of your chair (in a bad way), right? Nope, not at all. (Much to the delight of this lesser-bodied fan.) The Furnace Mountain Red is full-bodied, sure, with a nuanced quilt of plums, black cherries and other dark fruit, but it's far from a one-dimensional fruit bomb. Depending where you are in the mouthfeel, the wine can provide a rush of fruit flavor, a dipping of tannins or some rich soil. Or all of the above.
*Loudoun Valley Vineyards' 2010 Pinot Noir
– She was a brave woman who grew pinot noir in Loudoun County. Notoriously challenging to do well, Bree Ann Moore accepted the pinot-planting challenge and saw through a silky, surprisingly balanced pinot noir that belittles many of the lame, mainstream efforts coming out of California. Standard pinot traits like dark cherry and red fruit exist, but they're matched with lovely Virginia smoke and nice acidity.
|Times-Mirror Staff Photo/Trevor Baratko|
Loudoun Valley Vineyards' pinot noir is a smooth transition wine from the brisk winter months into the inviting spring