Keswick 2021 Chardonnay and Barboursville Octagon make Wine Enthusiast's Top 100... Jump Mountain Borderland 2019 (Red Blend) wins Shenandoah Cup... Delfosse 2021 Screaming Hawk Meritage wins 2023 Governor's Cup... #VAWines capture 80 medals; 7 double golds @SF Int. Wine Competition... MV@MV - Muse Vineyards at Mount Vernon

Friday, November 17, 2023

Wine Dogs Talk Turkey

Thanksgiving Wines that Won't Bust Your Budget

Alexandria, Virginia

The Wine Dogs hosted their first official wine tasting,  "Thanksgiving Wine Pairings that Won’t Bust Your Budget," on Friday for about 50 neighbors at Marina Towers. It was fun – and with the positive feedback, we thought we’d share our recommendations to our fans.

Remember, the food is the star on Thanksgiving – they call it Turkey Day for a reason. So you don’t need showboat wines to upstage the food. 

Sparkling for Appetizers

Bubbles make any occasion festive – so why not start with a sparkling wine to pair with your appetizers? A dry (Brut) will keep the palate fresh for the feast to follow. 

Ecco was lobbying for her namesake Prosecco. But ultimately, we decided on Cava, the “champagne” of Spain. Small, tight bubbles without the big price tag. Our choice was Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava, available at Total Wine for $8.99 a bottle.

Going native with Virginia wines? Try Rappahannock Cellars Prestige (Traditional Method, Chardonnay grapes).

A Clean Crisp White

We were excited to introduce our neighbors to the lesser known Gruner Veltliner. The name translates to “Green Wine of Veltlin,” an area in the lower Alps that is now part of Italy. Gruner is the main grape of Austria, and can also be found in Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia.

The Gruner is clean and minerally, letting food stand out while offering refreshment from the buttery, creamy excesses of the meal. We chose the Paul D (Direder) Gruner Veltliner, available at Balducci’s for $12.99 a bottle.

Other “clean” white grapes to consider are Viognier, dry Riesling, Albarino, and even a steel Chardonnay. Avoid the more tropical varietals like Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio.  

Going native with Virginia wines? North Mountain Vineyard and Winery harks to its Austrian roots with a Gruner Veltliner of its own.

Or an Oaky Chardonnay 

Going in the opposite direction, consider Chardonnay, the most commonly planted white varietal.

Chardonnay comes in different styles, but in this case, we wanted barrel fermented with oak and butter notes to play off the roasted meat and rich gravies and sides of our Thanksgiving meal. 

The VINTJS 2021 Chardonnay from Sonoma filled the bill at a price tag of just $8.99.

Going native with Virginia wines? Keswick Vineyards 2021 Chardonnay just made Wine Enthusiast’s list of the top 100 wines of 2023 (only a touch of oak).

The Classic Thanksgiving Wine

Yes, you can drink Red with your turkey; in fact, Pinot Noir is considered the classic Thanksgiving wine. Made famous in Sideways. Pinot Noir is a medium-bodied grape with acidity to melt though buttery gravies and stuffing and stand up to turkey. Its tart, tangy red fruit notes complement the cranberry sauce. 

Oregon is the go-to for Pinot Noir in the United States, and we selected Samuel Robert Pinot Noir Willamette Vintner's Reserve 2021, which sells for $15.99 at Total Wine (discount coupons brought price down to $12.66). 

Other red option include Beaujolais, Cabernet Franc, and the current in vogue GSMs (and the Syrah by itself). Avoid the heavier reds such as Cabernet and Meritage blends; I find Merlot too fruity and Zinfandel a little too jammy.

Going native with Virginia wines? Virginia’s Ankida Ridge has the cool climate conducive to an excellent Pinot Noir. 

Wine Dogs "Human" Terri Hauser relaxes after the presentation. Terri holds a Level 2 Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET2)

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Wine Dogs Host VAWine Lovers Weekend

The first ever Virginia Wine Love Weekend is happening on May 13-14, and it's going to be PAWSOME! Fifty wineries are participating. If you want to take your best friend of the four-legged sort wining with you, join the Virginia Wine Dogs! We're hosting tables at four of our fav, dog-friendly venues (8 Chains North, Breaux, Fox Meadow, and Three Fox). Continue reading to see what else is in store at these locations.

We guarantee you will be treated well. Ecco has packed up some of her favorite treats to share with her guests. And we will have dog toys (small) to give away to the first three pups at each location.

SATURDAY (Loudoun County)

8 Chains North Winery

Virginia Wine Dogs hosting 11-2 PM 
  • 10% off bottle purchases
  • 10% coupon given with purchase for future bottle purchase until 7/31/23
  • Winery has an off-leash fenced area just for pup!

Breaux Vineyards

Wine Dogs hosting 2:30 - 5:30
  • Craft vendors (2-5 PM)
  • Virginia Wine Love member-only Nebbiolo guided tasting (1 PM, $25)
  • Guided Wine Flight for Virginia Wine Love Group (2 PM, $15)
  • Live Music with Shane Hines (2-5PM)
  • Leave a Virginia Wine “love note” using sidewalk chalk
  • Take pics and tag Breaux on social for chance to wine great prizes
  • Pre-Register and in addition to the Arrival Meet & Greets (12-1 PM, you'll also get a wristband good for 15% OFF ALL WINES ALL WEEKEND.
Don't miss Dog Day at Breaux on May 27.

SUNDAY, Fauquier County

Fox Meadow Vineyards

Wine Dogs hosting Noon - 2:15 PM
  • Reserved seating for VA Wine Love group members – see you in the gazebo
  • Live music with Adriel Genet (1-4 PM)
  • Giveaway raffle for VA Wine Love group members each day at 3 p.m. (one bottle of wine and two logo glasses) – must be present to win
  • Cellar tours at 1 and 4 PM
  • 10% of all bottle purchases
  • Special Mother's Day Brunch Available at Noon ($75)
Penny's Puppy Pantry is always available on the deck. Rumor is Fox Meadow winery dog Penny and her sibling will also make a guest appearance on Sunday.

Three Fox Vineyard and Brewery

Wine Dogs hosting 2:30 - 5 PM
  • Unreleased barrel sample for Wine Love members 
  • Enter a giveaway of a private tasting for 4 guests
  • Wood-fired brick oven pizzas available for purchase
  • Live music with The Cold North 2-5 PM 
  • Dog Treat Flight (while supplies last)

Thursday, February 23, 2023

It’s a Petit Year for Virginia Wine at the 2023 Governor’s Cup

Main Street Station
Richmond, Virginia

Small grapes, big wines... that's the big story the Virginia Wine Dogs took away from the 2023 Virginia Governor's Cup Competition. And as a member of one of the smallest breeds in the dog world, Yorkshire Terrier and blogger-in-chief Ecco is thrilled the wine world has discovered small is beautiful. 
Governor Glenn Youngkin introduces the winemakers in the Governor's Cup Case, noting: "We only serve Virginia wines" at the Executive Mansion.

Before introducing Virginia's top 12 wines for 2023, a few observations.

Big Future for Petits
Half of the wines in this year's outstanding Governor's Cup Case come from the small berries of Petit Verdot (four wines) or Petit Manseng (two wines). And Petit Verdot is the dominant grape in the Delfosse Screaming Hawk, the Governor's Cup winner. Historically, Petit Verdot was a blending grape, and Petit Manseng is traditionally crafted as a sweet desert wine. Now these grapes are shining in Virginia as single dry varietals. Once thought to be Virginia's signature red and white grapes, it appears Cabernet Franc and Viognier are being eclipsed by the Petits (neither made the case).

Red Blends Finish Strong and Long
Rounding out the reds in this year's case are four strong Bordeaux-style blends, among them the Governor's Cup winner from Delfosse.

Virginia Wines Coming of Age
The 2023 competition saw a record 142 gold medals awarded by the distinguished judging panel. Consider that only 13 golds were awarded in 2012 when the competition first took on its current format. That speaks volumes for the high quality wine being produced in Virginia today. 

2021 Shaping Up to Be a Strong Year
Last year's competition saw 2019 vintages shine; this year, they're sharing the stage with their younger siblings from the class of 2021, which earned five spots in the case.

Monticello Reigns Supreme
Not only is the Governor's Cup returning to the Monticello AVA, but six more wines from the region where Mr. Jefferson first dreamed of growing wine in Virginia made the case. Northern Virginia, Shenandoah, and Eastern Virginia also are represented.

Best of the Best
After an evening of tasting the Governor's Cup Case wines (and a few others), the Wine Dogs had some favorites of our own. We'll lead with our top four, in no particular order, followed by the rest of the case. 
Kim and Mark Kramer showcase the Mountain and View Screaming Hawk from Delfosse; York checks out the cup with winemaker Andrew Bilenkij
Wine Dogs agree the 2021 Screaming Hawk Meritage from Delfosse Vineyards and Winery is a winner. With Petit Verdot in the lead (50%), the blend is rounded out with 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 10% Malbac for a long and pleasant finish. Delfosse also won golds for their 2020 Petit Verdot Reserve and 2021 Go-Go Girl. 

Cellar Rat Cory presents the case wines from Trump Winery
A second red blend that delighted the Wine Dogs' palate is the 2019 New World Reserve from Trump Winery, with 45% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc, 15% Petit Verdot, and 10% Malbec. As per usual, a Trump sparkling found its way into the case - this time the 2016 Blanc de Noir. Three additional Trump wines earned gold.
Paradise Springs Tasting Room Manager Molly Hoke pours the wine while Founder and Yorkie lover Jane Kincheloe raises a glass to the Wine Dogs
In a rich field of Petit Verdot's, the Paradise Springs Winery 2021 Brown Bear Vineyard PV stands out as everything they say a Petit Verdot can't be. This is a complex wine that hits all the right spots on the palate with enough fruit to balance the tannins, even at a young age. Paradise Springs took five additional gold medals home to Northern Virginia. They will be opening a second Virginia winery and tasting room in the Charlottesville area in the fall.

Eric Paddock does a little bit of everything at Barboursville, while Luca Paschina consistently makes some of the most outstanding in Virginia
Refreshing was the word the Wine Dogs chose to describe Barboursville Vineyards 2021 Vermentino Reserve. The 2020 Vermentino claimed a place in Virginia's prestigious case last year, leaving the Wine Dogs to wonder why more Virginia wineries aren't trying this grape. Barboursville also earned gold for the 2021 Sauvignon Blanc Reserve and 2021 Sauvignon Blanc.

Director of Operations Aubry Fisher shows off the 50 West Vineyards 2020 Petit Manseng
The first of the Petit Mansengs in this year's case was produced by winemaker Jason Burrus for 50 West Vineyards, recently purchased by Katie and Chris Key, along with Sunset Hills Vineyard, which earned gold for their 2020 Reserve Cabernet Franc. 

Linda, JJ and Mark were having a great time serving Barren Ridge's Petit Verdot
Barren Ridge Vineyards added a taste of the Shenandoah Valley to the Governor's Cup Case with their 2019 Petit Verdot, produced by winemaker Jessi Gatewood who forged her love of the science and art of the vine under the guidance of Gabrielle Rousse.

Celebrating with Jefferson Vineyards Winemaking duo David Woodside and Chris Ritzcovan; Chris remembered the Wine Dogs from their 2012 visit
Jefferson Vineyards landed two spots in the Governor's Cup Case. There's the refreshingly dry 2021 Petit Manseng and a well balanced Meritage in Jefferson's signature chalkboard bottle. Jefferson also took home a golds for a pair of Petit Verdots.

Owner David Foster and Winemaker Eric Schenkel assure us Mountain Run Winery is very dog friendly   
The newcomer to this year's Governor's Cup Case is Mountain Run Winery in Culpeper, Virginia. In addition to placing their 2021 Petit Verdot in the top 12, Mountain Run earned golds for their 2021 Petit Manseng and 2021 Viognier. "Of course" Mountain Run allows dogs: look closely at the Petit Verdot label and you'll find a dog statue atop the large rock.

Pollak's Wine Club Manager Sarah has a winning smile to go with a winning Petit Verdot
The closest thing to a Cabernet Franc in the case is the Pollak Vineyards 2017 Meritage crafted by Benoit Pineau. The oldest Meritage in the case has had time to develop silky tannins in a full-bodied wine featuring 60% Cab Franc as its base, followed by Merlot (24%) and Petit Verdot (16%). 

Henry is crazy about Williamsburg wines and Yorkies (Wine Dog shout-out to Bailey and Peanut)
Last but certainly not least among the four Petit Verdots in the Governor's Cup Case is the 2019 Petit Verdot Reserve from The Williamsburg Winery. A lovely wine with a finish that lingers with satisfying warmth. Enjoy it by your fireplace with your favorite Wine Dog!

Delfosse Screaming Hawk Soars to Top in Governor’s Cup Competition

Winemaker Andrew Bilenkij takes home Governor's Cup with first vintage-to-bottle wine at Delfosse  

Main Street Station
Richmond, VA 

For the second year in a row, a Meritage blend claimed Top Dog honors in the Virginia Governor’s Cup competition, and once again, Petit Verdot is the dominant grape. The 2021 Screaming Hawk Meritage from Delfosse Vineyards and Winery is a blend of Petit Verdot (50%), Cabernet Sauvignon (30%), Cabernet Franc (10%) and Malbec (10%). The grapes are estate-grown.

Located in Nelson County, about 30 miles outside Charlottesville in the Monticello AVA, Delfosse was established by the late Andrew Delfosse in 2002. 
Founder Claude Delfosse at a winery brunch in 2012

High school sweethearts Mike and Adrienne Albers realized a dream when they purchased the 330-acre property in 2016. This year, after bringing on Andrew Bilenkij as winemaker, they realized another goal when Governor Glenn Youngkin announced Delfosse won the 2023 Governor’s Cup.
Governor Glenn Youngkin presents the 2023 Governor's Cup to Delfosse’s owners Mike and Adrienne Albers and winemaker Andrew  Bilenkij

“Since coming to Delfosse in 2019, this is one of my first vintages to see from vineyard to bottle,” Bilenkij noted. His Screaming Hawk Meritage bested 614 entries from 115 Virginia wineries, to claim best-in-state honors. 

Albemarle CiderWorks claimed repeat honors for best-in-show cider in Virginia, this year for its 2021 Orchard Blush. 
York congratulates David Timmerman, Assistant Cidermaker at Albemarle CiderWorks 

In all 142 wines, ciders and meads won gold in the competition and were showcased at the Celebration, with special recognition given to the top 12 (including the Delfosse Screaming Hawk), which will comprise this year's Governor's Cup Case. Read about them here.  

Virginia Wine Dog Pomeroy visits Delfosse in 2012. The winery remains pet friendly. Look for a rebranding as Mountain and Vine Vineyards and Winery.

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