Monday, March 22, 2010

Dry Mill Vineyards & Winery - Leesburg, Virginia

This weekend we finally visited Dry Mill Vineyards & Winery, another infant winery located just outside Leesburg, Virginia. Actually, the winery is only a year old, but the Vanhuss family has been growing grapes in their Lovettsville vineyard for over a decade. Many of these grapes have gone into making Naked Mountain's award winning Chardonnay. When the stable and barn that housed the horses and dogs of the Loudoun Hunt Club became available they swooped in and purchased the property. A winery was born. While they converted they former Hunt Club stable into a tasting room, the contracted with Kerem Baki to produce the wine at Hillsborough Vineyards.

Before our visit, we had called ahead to confirm that NCAA basketball was playing on the big screen. The renovated Loudoun Hunt Club stable was a work of art; they used as much of the original wood as possible as well as the original large wooden storm shutters that kept the horses warm in the winter. Where these horses once slept, we planted our feet in front of the tasting bar.

Dry Mill's offerings contains many traditional Virginia wines: Chardonney, Viognier, Cabernet Franc, Norton, and Traminette. They enhance their portfolio with a Syrah and an off-dry Rose - made from a blend of multiple grapes. We started with several, actually, quite disappointing wines. The Traminette had a powerful floral aroma, but like the Steel Chardonnay that followed, the flavor was weak. This was particularly surprising since their grapes had gone into Naked Mountain's chardonnay. And their Barrel Chardonnay had too much of a spicy finish for our tastes that overwhelmed any chance to savor the chardonnay grape. After not caring for their Syrah - we were ready to throw our hands in - but then came the Cabernet Franc. Finally, a really good wine - full bodied, with flavor - smooth - but with a hint of a spicy finish. Their Norton followed and this was one of the better versions - they have extracted the acidic grapey characteristics inherent with the grape and produced a full bodied, smooth wine. There are no astringent acids effecting the tongue, so you are free to enjoy this wine; and the touch of Mourvedre really gives some additional flavor and smoothness. We finished with the Rose, both chilled and at room temperature to see how serving warmer increases the wine's sweetness.

Unfortunately, the winery doesn't provide a sample of their Viognier, since it was selected as one of the tops in the area. We decided to purchase a body anyway and spent the remainder of the afternoon on their back patio enjoying the day. And yes, this is one fine wine - apricot flavors throughout. This and their Cabernet Franc will pull us back in. It also helps that their back patio provides a relaxing environment and the winery provides live music on occasion. And as their other wines improve - this will be one of the top attractions on the Loudoun Wine Trail.
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