Over the past few weeks I've been visiting several Northern Virginia wine stores to inform them of the new Virginia Wine Lover Magazine, that will debut in May. These visits introduced me to a new world of wine events, the weekend public tasting. Each wine shop had different versions, perhaps a distributer was pouring various wines from a region or just a sample of wines from their inventory. Or representatives from a winery would pour their wines. No matter the forum, the opportunity is present to sample wines that you would not normally be able to taste. And since almost every town has a boutique wine store, the opportunities are plentiful. In my hometown of Vienna, Virginia there are four wine shops - all that provide weekend tastings.
In nearby McLean Virginia, there are two stores which I visited today. Ceciles Finewine was hosting Chalie Hoppes, owner and winemaker from Washington's Fidelitas wines. Fidelitas makes a wide array of Bordeaux styled wines from grapes sourced from several preeminent vineyards throughout Washington. Today Mr. Hoppes was pouring their 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley, 2005 Syrah Columbia Valley, and 2006 Semillon Columbia Valley. These were three good wines that I normally would have looked at, but maybe not purchased if not for the tasting opportunity. The Syrah was my favorite; it had a jammy cherry flavor with a smooth, slightly spicy finish. However, I returned home with the Semillon since we had a low inventory of food friendly white wines.
A short distance away, The Vineyard of McLean VA was hosting the wine distributer Nice Legs for their Saturday tasting. They were also pouring wines from the Columbia Valley, and also from Oregon's Willamette Valley and Sonoma. The 2004 Sonoma Coast Vineyards Pinot Noir was awesome; silky smooth without the overly fruity flavor and high alcohol that my Oregon friends warn about California Pinots. But at $60, you pay for quality. My next favorite was the 2005 Russell Creek Tributary Red a blend of Cabernet Sauvigon and Merlot. This wine has cherry flavors with a slight spicy finish - but soft tannins that produce a smooth tail. At $22, this wine falls within my price range.
Wine-Compass.com has a listing of wine retailers by state. To search for wine events, click the Wine Map tab, click a state on the map, then click the Festivals & Events button. To view the retailers click the Retailers button. If your favorite wine shop is not listed, just send us its name, address, and url. In the coming months we plan on attending a few wine shop events including Klaus Wittauer and "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Austrian Wines, But Were Afraid to Ask" on May 1st at Out of Site Wines and Ceciles Finewine's Spring Wine Festival May 17th and 18th. See you there.