Mar 152009

Last week Gabriele and I enjoyed a get away from the daily hustle and bustle. We rented a well appointed cabin in the Shenandoah valley and brought our own supplies, including of course some wine. We also visited two Virginia vineyards, Rappahannock Cellars and Fox Meadow winery.

The big winner of what we brought was a delicious Adler Fels 2007 Pinot Noir. A staff member at Total Wine in Alexandria has recommended it, and we’re glad she did. It was smooth and very tasty, with a slightly earthy aroma but none of the funkiness of some burgundies. It had strong but balanced fruit and lingered pleasantly on the palate. The wine was also an excellent value for $20.

We were less impressed with a 2005 Titus Amphora. We had really enjoyed a Titus cabernet and decided to give this blend a try, with 48% cabernet, 45% merlot and 7% cabernet franc. The wine had a rich bouquet, but too much Merlot in the taste and finish for me. Gabriele likes Merlot a lot more, but she didn’t like the finish either, said she tasted first the creaminess of Merlot and then a cabernet aftertaste that didn’t mesh. Not a favorite of either of us and not a good value at $30.

When we visited Rappahannock Cellars the guy who gave us a tasting, Nick was really welcoming and knowledgeable. He was happy to give us a red only tasting, but we didn’t have anything that really impressed us. We had a Bordeaux style Claret blend, a 2006 Cabernet Franc and a 2006 Meritage made up of cabernet, cabernet franc and petit verdot. The Meritage was the best of the three, but not worth $29.

We really wanted to buy something, and luckily Nick also let us try a dessert wine, a 2007 Vidal Blanc. It was sweet but not cloying, a lot of peach and apricot with a clean finish. Gabriele likes dessert wines, so we picked up a bottle for $18.50.

Tamara welcomed us to Fox Meadow and we had the place to ourselves — a benefit no doubt of visiting on a Tuesday. She poured us a number of 2006 reds, some interesting but none really impressive. Two were cabernet francs and very different, one very light and almost pinot-ish, the other more traditionally spicy. The best wine was the Fox Meadows Vineyards Le Renard Rouge, a 60% merlot, 40% cabernet franc blend. It had a subtle, interesting aroma and taste but wasn’t a great value at $30.

After getting back home, we had a very good experience at the french restaurant Bastille. We both ordered the four course tasting menu, but wanted a bottle of wine rather than the assigned glasses by course. Our waiter was very familiar with the wine list and after I couldn’t find a Rhone wine that sounded right, he offered us a Bordeaux that had been taken off the wine list. He recommended it and offered a discount off the usual price. Sold!

It was a Chateau Mongravey 2006 Margaux. The wine was light, soft and flavorful, 55% cabernet, 35% merlot, 5% cabernet franc and 5% petit verdot. It was a very good food wine, just right with each course for us. Special mentions go to the beet salad with a delicious light, whipped blue cheese and the grilled branzino filet.

We’ll be back out to the Shenandoah again, and will plan on hitting more of the local Virginia wineries. And I recommend Bastille the next time you’re wanting French cuisine.

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