Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Franconia, Tranquility, & Otium - Together in Purcellville

 We love our Blaufränkisch, that's no secret; but what may be is the German styled wines made at Otium Cellars located at Goose Creek Farms and Winery in Purcellville, Virginia.  Founded by Gerhard Bauer in 2007, the winery celebrates Bauer's Franconian heritage with a portfolio consisting of Blaufränkisch, Dornfelder and Grau Burgunder (a German clone of Pinot Gris).  In fact, we first sampled these three wines at 8 Chains North Winery which hosted Bauer's wines before the new tasting facility opened in April. 2012. Note: 8CN's Ben Renshaw oversees the famed Tranquillity Vineyard (located adjacent to the Otium Cellars estate) which is a very nice parcel of land with the grapes sourced to 8 Chains North and Tarara Vineyard & Winery among others.

Last week, after a stop at Catoctin Creek Distilling Company, I extended my Purcellville tour by visiting this new tasting facility.   The scenery is quite tranquil indeed with dormant vines, horses, and silos in the panorama. In fact Otium is Latin for leisure, ease, peace, tranquility.  The tasting room was empty, except for a fellow wine cask bar fan, so there was ample opportunity to interface directly with the tasting sheet. Except for their Cabernet Sauvignon (Tranquility), all the grapes were harvested directly from their estate.

I started off with three whites, two Pinot Gris and the other a Chardonnay, a slightly buttery-oaky wine with caramel at the tail. The Pinot Gris were made in two styles; the first similar to the Chardonnay, slightly buttery, whereas the second was made more into a Reisling style - off-dry with bright flavors and an balanced acidic finish. My personal favorite of the three.

Obviously my interest peaked when we moved to reds and as a bonus I enjoyed a vertical tasting of their Cabernet Sauvignon and their Blaufränkisch. You don't get the opportunity to sample successive years but Otium have both the 2010 and 2011 available for both these wines. For both wines, 2010 produced bigger, bolder styles and this was the Blaufränkisch that I shared with fellow bloggers at the 2011 Wine Bloggers Conference in Charlottesville. We compared that wine with an Austrian provided by the Wines of Austria. The general consensus was not bad - definitely more New World than Old.After re-visiting, I think I prefer the 2011 version more; its lighter with a more spicy profile and more characteristic of the old world style. Yet, for the Cab, the bolder 2010 hit home. The winery also produces a Pinot Noir and Dornfelder - admirable efforts - but currently drinking too acidic for my tastes. These need to lie low for awhile.

 However, cheers to their Blaufränkisch and look forward to a comparative tasting sometime soon.

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