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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Wine Dogs Hang Out at La Grange

THE WINERY AT LAGRANGE, Haymarket, Virginia

When the weather outside is frightful, the Winery at La Grange offers a warm and inviting setting for wining away the afternoon.

La Grange opened in 2006. It is the sister to Pearmund Cellars, and is producing its own distincitive collection of wines, marked by Chris & Company's high quality.

But beware of ghosts! Thirsty spirits haunt this winery... getting ornery when someone forgets to leave a glass of wine on the tasting room mantle (they prefer the Norton). Send those ghosties to Obedience School.

Munchkin and Pomeroy visited the historic 18th Century manor house on a icy cold, blustery Saturday... the kind of weather no dog should be out in. The tasting room filled up quickly. Everyone joined in trying to guess the answer to the question of the week: Which country produces the most hectaliters of wine a year? Guess wrong and we'll give you the boot (hint, hint).

Cheryl guided us through the standard tasting featuring seven wines - 3 whites, 4 reds - followed by the reserve tasting - 4 more reds. The tasting finished with the Snort - not a reference to Munchkin's breathing, but the name of La Grange's port-style wine. Interestingly, this is not the area's first fine port-style wine. In the 1800s, Robert Portner's vineyard in the area grew grapes for the "Pride of Virginia Port" and won a bronze medal. And to come full circle, Pomeroy lives on a street named for Mr. Portner, who also made a great beer.

Back to the wines. Pomeroy's Dad liked the 2006 CabFranc, with it's peppery finish. The 2006 Fletcher's Charonnay was also a winner. Produced Old World style, without malolactic fermentation, it takes a smokey taste from the oak but is not buttery. The 2006 Tannat was another excellent selection, and will age well. But Munchkin decided the Paws Down favorite was the 2005 Reserve Petit Verdot.

We took a bottle to enjoy in front of a warm fire. Pomeroy chose this elegantly furnished parlor. La Grange has a double set of fireplaces, the legacy of a marital tiff after which owner Benoni Harrison vowed never again to share a hearth with his wife.

For an entirely different experience, check out the cellar at La Grange. The Wine Dogs are especially fond of this room, with its stone walls, wooden tables, and low beamed ceilings (they feel right at home). And the thoughtful proprieters have put out a variety of games and other trivial pursuits. Whatever room you choose, La Grange is a great place to hang out!

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