Monday, January 16, 2012

A Few Hours in Loudoun: North Gate Vineyards & Hiddencroft Vineyards

Being a little stuck inside stir crazy, we headed out for a short trip to Loudoun County to visit two wineries: North Gate Vineyards & Hiddencroft Vineyards. North Gate is owned and operated by Mark and Vicki Fedor, who were working the tasting bar on our arrival. They've been tending fines in Loudoun for almost 15 years and were the initial winemakers at Corcoran Vineyards several years ago. At this point in time, the winery is sold out of some wine (Viognier and Petit Verdot), but we sampled their 2010 Chardonnay, 2010 Petit Mensing, 2009 Cabernet Franc, 2009 Merlot, 2009 Meritage, and NV Apple. All the fruit is sourced from Loudoun County and the resulting wines were rather enjoyable. And affordable - all under $20; which makes their Meritage (Cabernet Franc, (47%), Cabernet Sauvignon (26%), Petit Verdot (21%), and Merlot (6%)) a rather nice deal. The Chardonnay was also a favorite, being both fruit forward and slightly creamy after having been fermented and aged in a combination of older (neutral) and new oak. The Apple and Petit Mensing were also very nice - with any residual sugar equally balanced from the wine's acidity. We plan on getting easier access to their wines, since the winery participates in the Winter Falls Church Farmer's Market.

From North Gate we headed through Hillsboro to Hiddencroft Vineyards after not having visited the winery in a number of years. We did get a chance to sample their Gold winning 2009 Cabernet Franc, which was in the running for last year's Governor's Cup. On arriving at the winery we were briefly disorientated because they have expanded into the adjacent property and moved the tasting facilities into a new building, an 1830’s farmhouse they christened "Dutchman’s Creek Tasting House". Clyde and Terry Housel were also both in the tasting room and Terry guided us through the wines. And we really love these wines, not only their quality but also the range in varietals. As Virginia moves into the Vinifera world, many are replacing hybrids with Bordeaux grape varieties. Not at Hiddencroft. Yes they produce a mighty fine Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc and Tannat (one of the few 100% varietal Tannats in the state), but there are few places in Loudoun where you can sample a Vidal Blanc, Traminette, and Chambourcin, as well as a range of fruit wines. The Traminette was a real surprise, produced dry with a powerful floral aroma that seizes your attention, then mellows into the spicy Gewurtz flavor. Very nice. And the fruit wines are delicious - made sweet but with enough acidity for balance. The Blackberry was the bomb: it has the fortified raisin flavor of a port - without the alcohol. And the blackberries are grown on the estate. The Raspberry Chambourcin Vitis Rubus is another fruit wine worth savoring. I think Hiddencroft has it all, dry viniferas for the "serious" wine consumer and flavorful and enjoyable hybrids and fruit wines for the casual wino. Cheers.

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