Friday, June 17, 2011

CWTA in Virginia - The Winery at La Grange

Later in the week during my trip to Virginia I departed from Fairfax Country and headed out to explore another winery, this time in Haymarket Virginia.

Haymarket is a town in northwest Prince William County. A well traveled Indian hunting path became Old Carolina Road which was later used by settlers as a route from Pennsylvania to the Carolinas. Haymarket then became a crossroads at the intersection of Carolina and Dumfries Roads.

Later during the Civil War almost the entire town was burned by Union troops in 1862. Only St. Paul’s Church and three small houses nearby survived. Since then, the town has been revived with a collection of quaint restored buildings and shops, including the manor which now serves as a tasting room at The Winery at La Grange.

The Winery at La Grange – Haymarket, Virginia

The Winery at La Grange opened September 2006 as Prince William County’s only established winery. The red brick three and a half story La Grange manor house built in the 1790s is now owned by group of investors brought together by Chris Pearmund, who also founded their sister winery Pearmund Cellars and he also helped start Paradise Springs Winery in Clifton, Virginia. 

While the 5,500 newly planted Cabernet Sauvignon vines are still maturing, the manor house has completely refurbished and the new Winery building is being put to good use, making and storing wine.

After a stroll around the grounds, snapping pictures of the vineyards and facilities I ventured into the manor to taste their impressive lineup of wines – three whites, one rosé, seven reds and one port styled wine.

My first white wine was the 2010 Pinot Gris. Also known under the Italian name “Pinot Grigio” and the German “Ruländer” this grape is highly reflective of the terroir in which it is grown so I was really curious of how well it would do in Virginia soil and climate. I picked up hints of grass, pear, lemon, ginger, peach and lemon on the nose. On the palate this wine is fruit forward with full mouth feel and a fresh yet soft lingering finish. This wine sells for $20.

My second white wine was the 2008 Fletcher’s Chardonnay. Fermented in French oak fermentation with no malolactic fermentation, this wine is big and mouth filling with melon, crisp, apple and a little citrus. There is an earthy component followed by a little almondine and vanilla. This wine sells for $24.

My third wine in the lineup was the 2009 Viognier. An aromatic wine with aromas of honeysuckle, tangerine and orange blossoms as well as lemon peel and grapefruit. Like the Veritas Viognier I had tried earlier in the week, it had loads of fruit and floral character but it was not as crisp as I tend to expect from a Viognier. As this was my second Virginian Viognier I was beginning to suspect that this may be what is to be expected from VA terroir.

My fourth wine was the 2009 Cuvee Blanc (40% Traminette, 30% Vidal Blanc 20% Viognier, 10% Reisling). Like Paradise Springs Winery’s Sommet Blanc, this wine is also a white blend containing Traminette, although a higher percentage, as well as Vidal Blanc. Vidal Blanc is an inter-specific hybrid variety of white wine grape, a cross of Ugni Blanc (also known as trebbiano which is the most widely planted white grape of France) and Seibel, another hybrid grape, which was developed by in the 1930s by Jean Louis Vidal. This wine is similar to Sommet Blanc as it has on the nose floral and tropical aromas with pineapple, but with more peachy notes. This wine is off-dry white on the palate, crisp with pleasing acidity and a prolonged clean finish. This wine sells for $20. 

My fifth tasting was the 2010 Rose of Merlot (90% Merlot and 10% Chambourcin). This was the first wine I have ever had that is blended with Chambourcin. It is a French-American interspecific hybrid grape variety. It was originally named Johannes Seyve 26-205 after its developer Joannes Seyve and it was released in 1963. When Seyve died he left no documentation of its parentage so its heritage is a mystery. It is most likely based on better Seibel hybrids and may involve as many as eight American Vitis species. This dry wine is light peach in color and on the nose and palate it has aromas and flavors of strawberries, cranberries, and raspberries. It sells at a fair price for $18 a bottle.

My first red wine tasting was the 2009 Cabernet Franc. Varietal correct, on the nose and it has intense plum, strawberry, and dry rose petals. On the palate I also picked up a slight bell pepper character. It sells for $22 and I found this wine to be the most impressive in the lineup and I brought one home to share with friends.

My second red wine was….. interesting…  the 2009 “Benoni’s Dead But Still Red.” It is 100% Cabernet Franc BUT it is infused with cherry concentrate which overwhelms the palate on the finish. It sells for $18 and that is a lot of money for a wine that tastes like cough syrup.

My third red wine was the 2008 Merlot. On the nose and palate I picked up red cherries, plums and soft tannins, a touch of spice and a long finish. At $22 a bottle, this wine is just “okay.”

My fourth red wine as an the 2008 Meritage. The 2008 is a blend of the five traditional Bordeaux Varietal’s but it is higher in percentage in Cab Franc and Petit Verdot than normal - (38% Cab Franc, 23% Petit Verdot, 23% Merlot, and only 16% Cabernet Sauvignon which, in California, is usually the dominant grape in Meritage blends. The wine has been aged 14 months in American Oak, which is noticeable but is not too oaky. Garnet in color, the wine is notes of red currant, cherries and a hint of vanilla. The fruit is lively and there are some herbal notes on the return and prolonged finish. A fair wine at $25 a bottle.

My fifth red wine was the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon. Bright, fresh berries, layers of red and black currants dominate this wine with a subtle earthiness in the transition on the mid palate, finishes well with subtle tannins and a prolonged return. It sells for $26 a bottle.

My sixth wine was the 2008 Tannat. Rarely am I impressed with a non-blended Tannat as I tend to find them to be a one trick pony, but I found this one to be quite nice. It is full bodied wine with tobacco, smoke, plum and raspberry, great tannin structure followed by a long, generous finish. This wine sells for $26 a bottle.

My final tasting of the day was the port styled wine, the 2009 Snort. This dessert wine is a blend of two French varietals, Petit Verdot and Tannat, with two traditional Portuguese grapes - Touriga Nacional and Tinto Cao. Although it has 17.6% alcohol and 8% residual sugar it is not goopy, syrupy or overwhelmingly sweet and it has an extremely silky finish. I’m not a big fan of ports, but I found this one to be impressive at $35 a bottle.

To see more pictures of the Winery at La Grange, check out Erik Wait’s Wine Country Photography at:

For more information, to order wine or arrange a visit:

The Winery at La Grange
4970 Antioch Road
Haymarket, VA 20169
(703) 753-9360

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