Monday, December 3, 2007

Vintage Ridge Vineyards

Last Saturday we visited one of Fauquier County's newest wineries, Vintage Ridge Vineyards. The winery is located in the historic village of Rectortown, which still contains many 100 + year old houses - and was where General McClellan was camped when relieved as commander of the Army of the Potomac. The vineyards are hidden from the main road; but once you drive up the driveway the estate opens into an array of vines surrounded by woods and views of the Blueridge Mountains. An amazing site.

I am constantly surprised when new wineries produce quality wines in their first vintages, and Vintage Ridge Vineyards is no exception. They started by planting vines of two grapes that grow extremely well in Virginia: Cabernet Franc and Vidal Blanc. Plus, they added a little character by growing Mourvedre. Thus all their wines are estate grown, except for a Syrah where the grapes are grown in another Fauquier County vineyard.

Vintage Ridge has a very unique method for serving their wines. Visitors can purchase a tasting platter containing meats and cheeses as well as access to a variety of mustard and chutneys. The tasting sheet offers suggestions for pairing the wine with specific meats, cheeses, or spreads. The winery wants visitors to appreciate how a wine's flavor changes when combined with different foods - plus it makes the tasting experience a lot more entertaining. The first wine was a dry vidal - the Summer Night (dry) - which has a nice floral aroma and dry fruity finish. I preferred the next wine, the Maiden Voyage, a blend of Vidal and Mourvedre. This is your refreshing afternoon wine after a day of work - smooth with a refreshing acidic finish. Moving to the sweeter whites, Vintage Ridge produces a second Summer Night, this one with 1.5% RS. This is an alternative to a semi-dry Riesling. And then there's the Ice-wine styled Late Harvest Vidal Blanc - made from grapes frozen after harvest. This is the wine to have the most fun tasting with chocolate, the chutneys, and even spicy mustard.

Turning to reds, Vintage Ridge poured two excellent wines from Cabernet Franc that show why this grape is special in Virginia. The 2005 Cabernet Franc was aged one year in the barrel and is a full bodied spicy wine. Spicy from the initial aroma to the "tail". The 2006 Cabernet Franc is smoother and more complex - more reminiscent of a Bordeaux styled wine. Both are completely different - but excellent in their own styles. The final wine was a Syrah - but after the Cabernet Franc - my attention span was wavering - so any thoughts would not give this wine justice. Next time, I'll try this wine first.

If I can't return to the winery before Christmas, I look forward to my next visit in the spring. Plan ahead and give yourself ample time to try the wines and food - I plan to spend an afternoon.
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