Thursday, November 15, 2012

Some Secrets at Tarara Winery

This week I had a little business to conduct at Tarara Vineyard & Winery and used the opportunity to catch up on their latest vintages. The last wine I had tasted was their very successful and highly acclaimed 2010 Honah Lee White which was awarded a Gold medal in the newly revamped 2012 Governor's Cup. And one of the reasons for my trip was to acquire more of this single vineyard blend. Unfortunately, I got sidetracked by their latest releases and totally forgot the purpose of my trip. During the tasting I sampled three whites, three reds, a dry rosé, and a dessert wine. With the exception of the Long Bomb Edition Three (as my mother-in-law says, I'm always "againsting" that wine), I enjoyed all the wines and they were very solid representations of the grape varieties.

I started with the 2011 Viognier ($20), sourced from two Northern Virginia vineyards: Williams Gap and Maggie’s Vineyard. And I encourage readers to visit the Tarara website which provides excellent information about all the vineyards where they source fruit.  This is a solid Viognier, more citrus and grassy than peach, with balanced acidity.  Next was the 2011 Petit Manseng ($23), one of my latest favored varieties, and at first I was stumped? Where was the sugar. The wine had pineapple flavors and the typical great acidity - but no sweetness. Then I learned the secret. This is a 100% dry Petit Manseng - very very little residual sugar with the bonus that it retains the flavor depth of a semi-dry or dessert wine. Nicely done. The final white was the 2010 Charval ($20.00) - and interesting blend of Chardonnay 65%, Sauvignon Blanc 14%, Petit Manseng 12%, Viognier 7% and Roussanne 2%. This is a crowd favorite; off-dry, easy drinking, fruity, and crisp acidity. What's not to like?

You want a value wine? Then check out their 2011 Rosé, a kitchen sink blend dominated by Malbec, with Syrah, Pinotage, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine is currently on sale for $10 and is a sold dry rosé - raspberry aromas lead to a light strawberry flavor. For that price and quality, I couldn't resist.

Turning to reds, their 2010 Long-Bomb Edition Four ($20) completely makes up for my apathy to Edition Three. The wine is made from mostly Bordeaux grapes but resembles a Burgundian styled wine, strong dark cherry aroma and flavor with a slightly spicy finish - but complete silk in the mid-palette. The Pinot Noir dominates Bordeaux in this one. I was ready to run home with this one until I was told a secret - that is - given an opportunity to sample the 2010 #socialsecret. This is a limited edition wine marketed solely through social media. The wine is a blend of somewhat "secret" grape varieties: Tannat, Petite Verdot, and Pinotage that is silky smooth - with the profile and texture of a Rhône styled wine - and no smoke from the Pinotage. This is probably my favorite wine of Jordan's and I'm sure he and his staff had fun devising the final blend. The downside: $40 - on the very high end of our wine budget - but with the limited release I figured I could return another time for the LB4.

The final wine was the Late Harvest Petit Manseng, at 6% RS, more of the style of wine I had been expecting earlier. And with the grape's inherent acidity, this is a nice balanced wine between sugar and acids.

There's much more at Tarara: other vineyard designate wines, the Commonwealth Collection, views of the Potomac and Maryland, and a responsive tasting room staff. We'll be back. Cheers.

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