Location: Whitby, Ontario, Canada

Born in Malta but in Canada since age 5. Has written three books and presently does several columns about wine and food for various magazines.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Day Four: November 5th, 2014: King Family Vineyards. Albemarie Ciderworks. Peppin Hill Farm, Lovingston Winery, Rodes Farm/Mark Addy Inn, Veritas Winery Dinner

November 5th, 2014: Holiday Inn, Charlottesville, Virginia
It was another of those mornings where the announced cloud and rain proved to be absent. The sun shone and the sky was basically blue with a few tufts and the temperature was hovering around 4 or 5 degrees Centigrade. It was fresh but not uncomfortable. Bus driver par excellence Devan was there to help us into the bus and soon after a great breakfast, we were off to our first stop of the day.
King Family Vineyards  
6550 Roseland Farm, Crozet, Virginia 22932

If things can happen "almost by accident" then the story of this vineyard certainly leans to that conclusion. New to the area and arriving from Texas, the Kings bought a farm with a sizable acreage. There was no intent on any wine being made on the property until a stranger asked them if he could do so. That implanted thought led to the developing of what is now a ten thousand case business with sixty-five full and part-time employees.
The scenery as with most other wineries in this area was stunningly beautiful with the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance. It was morning and the mist shrouded these distant hills in a beautiful transparent veil that allowed tiny streams of sunlight and peeks of blue to appear. Lovely.
With an average height of about 800 feet above seal level and with an excellent fertile/gravelly soil structure that ensures good drainage, the vines grow very well.
Brut Non Vintage 100 % Chardonnay Traditional Method
On the nose:  baked bread, toast, apple, some hint of oak and citrus/melon
Palate: apple, toast, vanilla, melon and citrus. Crisp and elegant finish.

Viognier 2013
On the nose: Melon and white fruit with some citrus/vanilla and herbal spice
Palate: Nice mouth feel, bit of peach and apple with citrus touch and spice. Nice soft pleasant finish.
Chardonnay 2013
On the nose: Citrus lemon, apple, tropical fruit, herbal/vanilla spice, oak
Palate: Medium body with vanilla, citrus, peach, mango, pineapple and nutty/butter finish.
Cabernet Franc 2013
On the nose: Black fruit, raspberry some tea, spice..
Palate: Black fruit, chocolate spice, hint of  tea,  nice body and medium length to finish.
Merlot 2012
On the nose: Ripe black fruit, raspberry, pepper spice, tobacco and oak
Palate: Ripe red and black fruit, pepper and oak with anise and a lingering finish.
Meritage 2012 (Merlot 42%, Cabernet Franc 27%, Petit Verdot 25%, Malbec 6%)
Young---On the nose: Red fruit with tea, vanilla and pepper spice, mint
Palate; Medium to full bodied, ripe wild berries, long tannins, oak on the finish.
Meritage 2007  (Merlot 56%, Petit Verdot 20%, Cabernet Franc 15%, Malbec 8%)
There is one percent missing in the above and I suspect is CF but not sure!
On the nose: Ripe black fruit, tobacco, smoke,
Palate: Black fruit, ripe cherry, smoke, chocolate, anise and clove spice with long, long finish.
Meritage 2008 (Merlot 52%, Petit Verdot 25%, Cabernet Franc 15%, Malbec 8%) 
On the nose: Clove, oak, black fruit, vanilla and wild berries
Palate: Nutmeg, clove spice, plum,  chocolate, tobacco smoke, fig. Wine is medium to full in body with a very pleasant and persistent  finish.
Petite Verdot: 
On the nose: Cedar, red fruit, floral perfumes, vanilla oak
Palate: Similar to nose. Soft and smooth mouth feel with pleasant soft finish.
Port Style: 100 % Merlot: Seven 2012
Fortified with Brandy and aged two years Kentucky Bourbon Barrels.
On the nose: Fig, bananas, vanilla, honey, some black fruit
Palate: Fig, vanilla, black fruit, plum, caramel, coffee. Long and powerful finish.
Straw Wine Style:  Loreley 2012 100% Petit Manseng
Fermented and Aged in Oak and Acacia Barrels
On the Nose: Apricot/peach/pear/lively citrus, with honeysuckle floral notes and vanilla backgrounder.
Palate: Nice body, natural sweetness with noted nose flavours. Balanced acidity/sugar. Gorgeous finish.  
The King Family Vineyards were truly enjoyable but we had to bid our adieu to this lovely spot and then off to our next wine adventure at the Albemarle Ciderworks.
Albemarle Ciderworks
2545 Rural Ridge Ln, 
North Garden, Virginia 22959
Vintage Virginia Apples  was founded in 2000 (originally purchased in 1986) and comprises of many types of apples and other fruit. The company produces a wide variety of apples-----many of which have been replaced by other, more in demand, apples. These so called "Heirloom" apples have special or unique flavours and varied uses such as cider making or apple butter.
Family head Bud Shelton actually started this company first as a hobby farm but his daughter Charlotte, now CEO, went further and in 2009 opened the Albemarle Ciderworks.
A nursery on the property produces hundreds of cultivars which are produced from cuttings and graftings of the many apple, pear, peach and other fruit trees on the property.
I was amazed to learn of so many different kinds of apples and an equal amount of uses. Not all apples are made for eating and not all apples can make good cider and not all apples are meant for making pies----in other words, an apple is not just an apple!
Jupiter's Legacy: crab and bittersweet  apples   
On the nose: apple spice, citrus
Palate: nice mouth feel, citrus, nice fresh acidity and pleasant effervescence. Tart finish.
Royal Pippin: 100% Pippin Apple
On the nose: cinnamon apple, citrus
Palate: sweet, cinnamon, pineapple, pleasant acidity, nice effervescence
Goldrush: 100% Goldrush Apple
On the nose: citrus
Palate: citrus grapefruit, spice, lingering acidity
Red Hill: Blend of Winesap/Pippin
On the nose: apple, cinnamon spice, cherry
Palate: bittersweet, tart, cherry, cinnamon
Arkansas Black
On the nose: strawberry, honey, vanilla with some mushroom overtones
Palate: semi sweet, strawberry,vanilla, earth
Old Virginia Winesap: 100% Single Variety Winesap
On the nose: cinnamon, apple pie, citrus, strawberry
Palate: baked apple, citrus, berry flavours, wood spice
Ragged Mountain: Blend primarily of Pippin, Goldrush, Pink Lady, Virginia Gold
On the nose: summer garden flowers, mango, pineapple, banana
Palate: semi-sweet, vanilla spice, honey, tropical melange
Pomme Marie: Blend of Pippin/ Goldrush
On the nose: tropical melange, honey, apricot
Palate: sweet with pineapple, mango, honey and apricot on palate

It was fun tasting the various types of ciders and actually something that I would not have ordinarily done. This tasting also initiated an interest in a fruit that for the most part I have ignored. Never was an apple person------until now. Thank you Albemarle for opening up my closed mind!!
Next on our agenda was a visit and lunch at Pippin Hill Farm!
Pippin Hill Farm
5022 Plank Road, 
North Garden, Virginia 22959
One of the newest wineries in Virginia is just over two years old. However it has already achieved notoriety for its well made wines by winemaker Michael Shaps. The winery and building are "spanking" new but their staff is well seasoned to the trade in both the wine and food areas.
The food is superbly designed and produced by Executive Chef Bill Scatena  (His sister, Amelia Scatena who was the Executive Chef when I visited, has moved on to Pippin's "sister" business restaurant called "Cannon Green" in Charleston, South Carolina.

Michael Shaps is a decorated winemaker who operates a "Crush" known as the Virginia Wine Works. His partnership with Pippin Hill Farm Winery has flourished and Chardonnay, Viognier, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon , Petit Manseng, Meritage blends, Sparkling Blanc de Blanc and Rosé wines are made at/for Pippin Hill. Here are some notes on wine tried and tasted!
Viognier 2013
On the nose: apple blossoms, apple, peach, apricot,citrus   
 Palage: peach/apricot, pear, citrus, honey. Medium bodied and pleasant acidity.
Chardonnay 2013  
On the nose: Fruit forward with apple/pear/tropical flavours, some smoke and citrus
Palate: Smooth, white fruit with butter, tropical nuances pleasant acidity.   
Chardonnay Reserve 2013    
On the nose: vanilla oak, toast, smoke, butter and butter scotch, walnut, citrus some minimal nuances of stone fruit.
Palate: vanilla, pear, honey, mineral.  Very pleasant and lingering finish.
2013 Winemaker's Select Blend: 80% Chambourcin/20% Merlot
On the nose: cherry, red berries, earth with some mushroom/barn aromas.
Palate: red fruit with a touch of plum, some earth and tobacco. Easy sipping and nice clean finish.
2012 Red Pump: Blend of 50% Merlot/50% Chambourcin
On the nose: ripe red fruit with fruity sweetness, earth, woodsy.
Palate: red fruit sweetness, soft forward tannins, medium acidity----easy drinking.

Cabernet Franc 2013
On the nose: red/black fruit with ripe black cherry prominent, woodland/burning leaves, currants, smoke
Palate:black cherry, blackberry, raspberry, pepper spice, tobacco, nice finish.
The wines indicate that this winery has a great future in store for it. And the food-----!!!!!
I remembering ordering the Buffalo Creek Striploin but do not remember what the rest of the group had. Here is the menu and please do not dribble as your mouth waters. BTW: I had the Cabernet Franc with the .meat  

Cheese Board, three local & international cheeses, spiced nuts, fig mostarda, seasonal jams | 18

Charcuterie, three local & international cured meats, marinated olives, arugula pesto, grape must | 17

Tapas, Olli chorizo, Cabrales blue, aged Manchego, olives, Marcona almonds, date & brown butter jam | 17

Chicken LiverPaté, Cabernet Sauvignon jelly, house cured pickles, toast | 10


Fried Polenta, local fall Chicories, gorgonzola espuma, saba | 14

Curried Ancient Red Quinoa, tempura avocado, grilled scallion, charred salsa | 13

Roasted SquashCappellacci, sage, duck confit & cracklings, crispy chestnuts, brown butter | 16

Carpaccio of Buffalo CreekStriploin, potato gaufrette, puntarella, queso Zamorano, chimmichurri | 16

Rainbow Trout, shaved Brussels sprout, guanciale, baby leek brodo, crispy shallots, tōgarashi | 18

Croque Monsieur, Virginia Country ham, gruyère, merlot & onion jam, garden herb salad | 14

Pippin Sliders, Bundoran Farms grass-fed beef, McClure cheese, caramelized shallots,

grape vine smoked ketchup, parmesan frites | 16


Warm Honeycrisp Apple Crumble, wildflower honey gelato, cider reduction | 8

Petit Verdot Cupcakes, dark chocolate, thyme frosting, Chambourcin reduction | 7

House-Churned Gelato and Sorbet, made with seasonal ingredients & Pippin Hill wines | 5


after 3:00 pm

House-made Kettle Chips, caramelized Rossa Lunga onion dip, Jacobsen sea salt | 10

Roasted GarlicHummus, red sea salt, rustic bread | 8

Crispy Chesapeake Oysters, Sambal aioli, celery slaw | 11

Cheese Board, three local & international cheeses, spiced nuts, fig mostarda, seasonal jams | 18

Charcuterie, three local & international cured meats, marinated olives, arugula pesto, grape must | 17

Tapas, Olli chorizo, Cabrales blue, aged Manchego, olives, Marcona almonds, date & brown butter jam | 17

Chicken LiverPaté, Cabernet Sauvignon jelly, house cured pickles, toast | 10

Petit Verdot Cupcakes, dark chocolate, thyme frosting, Chambourcin reduction | 7

House-Churned Gelato and Sorbet, made with seasonal ingredients & Pippin Hill wines | 5

Executive Chef Bill Scatena

vineyard-to-table cuisine | Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards | Tuesday - Sunday, 11 am - 5 pm

 For scenery and atmosphere I would highly recommend this newest of wineries in Virginia.
Next we were onto a real and interesting treat at Lovingston Winery.
Lovingston Winery
885 Freshwater Cove Ln
Lovingston, Virginia 22949

Lovingston Winery
The recipe for this winery goes something like this: You take a heaping amount of prime land, add owners who really want to do something with their wines, one cupful of Bordeaux, a pinch of South Africa and a big helping of rock star and you get Lovingston.
Chief winemaker Riaan Rossouw has all the makings of a rock star turned winemaker. Young, flamboyant, expressive, spontaneous, probably a bit impulsive and most of all passionate,this fellow is what makes individuality individual.
When he talks, what he says is not memorized but from the thoughts that are there right now. Yet, he makes sense and is probably the most "off the top" interesting people that I have met. It works for him and I am glad because he is a breath of fresh air and is very likeable.
There is nothing fancy here. The tasting was done within the production area on tables with the Stainless Steel tanks behind us. The money here goes into the making of wine.
Seyval Blanc 2013
On the nose: citrus grapefruit, apple, pear,
Palate: Light, crisp, pronounced melon, grapefruit, apple, mineral with refreshing acidity
Seyval with Carbonic Maceration 2013
On the nose: Fresh, citrus, honey, tropical flavours
Palate:melon, tropical papaya, cantaloupe, banana 
Cabernet Franc 2012
On the nose: red fruit, rhubarb, pepper, herbal spice
Palate: Medium body, red fruit, vegetable flavours, soft tannins and finish
Pinotage 2011
On the nose: Earth, mushroom, strawberry, rhubarb,
Palate: red/dark fruit, earth, balanced acidity, pleasant fresh finish
Estate Reserve 2010:Blend of 90%Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc 5% Pinotage 
On the nose: floral violet, red fruit, chocolate, strawberry with the beginnings of a mushroom, woodland earth nuance.
Palate: Full bodied, nice mouth feel, soft tannins, blackberry, caramel, wild berry, chocolate, light nuances of mushroom/barn developing in the lower nasal. Long finish.
There was no fancy dinner----though I did create some excitement when my camera strap caught onto the glass stem and I spilled red wine over my pants----however it was a visit worth the price of admission and I found Riann utterly charming and so very straight forward honest. Love to get the guy on camera!!!!
Next on the agenda was a quick visit to our lodging for the next two nights and then to Veritas Vineyards for a lovely dinner.
Rodes Farm     
826/939 Rodes Farm Drive
Nellysford, VA, 22958 
Some of the most breath-taking scenery I have seen anywhere exists at this location nestled amidst the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Now you remember what I told my daughter Taryn about how at least I was going to get away from horses and barns and stables----well, you may remember what my initial surprise was at the Salamander Resort----here was the other shoe falling. This is the very accurate description of what was written on the Rodes Farm website.
" Historic Rodes Farm sits on five manicured acres in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, surrounded by horse-filled pastures and stunning panoramic views. Dating back to the 1840s, Rodes Farm is nestled into, and quietly embraces, the glorious Rockfish Valley of Nelson County, Virginia. "
This place was a horse haven and stable in addition to being an amazingly well renovated early 19th Century location that is full of history and scenery that doesn't stop! But---so much for no horses etc. etc. They were everywhere.
During its past it was used as a Civil War hospital as well as a girl's boarding school. Now it is a phenomenal place for everything from a Bed & Breakfast to a special event location to weddings. Several of us registered there while several others registered at the Mark Addy Inn located down the road at 96 Rodes Farm Drive. The absolutely best thing of all about Rodes was the lovely host that greeted us----Barbara Funke. She was a lodger's dream and more about Barbara in the next blog---Day 5. Barbara, wherever you are-----a big thank you from all of us!    
Veritas Winery Dinner  
72 Saddleback Farm
Afton, VA  22920
We arrived at Veritas approximately at around 7 PM. How many good things can one take in one day. Here was a six room Bed and Breakfast farmhouse built in 1839 that was impeccably kept since it belonged to the same family for over 200 years.
The history of Veritas began in 2002 when Andrew and Patricia Hodson opened their winery. To assist them their three children assisted them with one of them, Emily, obtaining her Masters Degree in Oenology and became a full time member of the business. Her work shows for itself since her wines are turning heads wherever they appear. Emily won the "Judges Choice" as top national female winemaker in 2007.
The Dinner
We arrived ready for a dinner but what was waiting for us was so much more than "just a dinner" as the better description for it would have been "a marvelous, first class feast"!
First Course
Butternut Squash Bisque With Candied Papitas, Herb Bread Crumbs And Siced Bacon
Wine: Veritas Viognier 2006 and 2012
Second Course
Arugula Salad Tossed In An Apple Cider Vinaigrette With Pecan Crusted Goat Cheese And dried Cranberries
Wine: Veritas Rose 2013
Third Course
Kalimotxo-Braised Short Ribs Over Whipped Sweet Potatoes And Roasted Brussel
Wine: Veritas Cabernet Franc 2007   
Fourth Course
Apple Brown BettyWith Cinnamon Ice Cream, Black Berry Syrup And BrownSugar Whipped Cream
Wine: Veritas Petit Manseng 2005 and 2013
Emily gave a masterful description of the wines, the food and the eventual match quality. She answered without uttering a word the question of how and why Virginia is producing such astounding wine--------winemakers such as she is the answer. Thank you so much for such a great experience.
Wine Descriptions
Viognier 2006
On the nose: Pronounced peach/apricot with ripe fig and mandarin
Palate: Medium body, apricot/peach with dried fig nuances, low acidity 
With Food: Preferred 2012---would have loved to try it with fish/rice dish 
Veritas Viognier 2012 Viognier 93% and Petit Manseng 7%
On the nose: citrus, ripe peaches, apricots, honey, orange peel
Palate: Medium body, peach/apricot/honey/melon flavours with good acidity and finish.
With Food: The wine complemented the flavours of the squash and acidity cut through the heavier flavour of the bacon and squash. Nice  
Veritas Rose 2013  50% Blend Each of Merlot/Cabernet Franc
On the nose: strawberry, raspberry with cherry on the end with some herbal characteristics.
Palate: similar, dry with medium body and berry flavours. Prominent acidity.
With Food: Rose is made for a dish such as the above. The lightness does not challenge the dish itself and the herbal characteristics of the blend goes well with the salad while the fruit and acidity certainly complements the nutty/creamy, tart and tangy taste of the goat cheese. Neither the apple vinaigrette nor the wine blend challenges the other.
Veritas Cabernet Franc Reserve 2007 
On the nose: Dark fruit mainly currant and blackberry, some smoke and leather
Palate: Full bodied, again dark fruit, herbal characteristics and touch of chocolate. Lovely smooth finish.
With Food: Classic example of a perfect wine match.
Veritas Petit Manseng 2005
On the nose: tropical fruit, pineapple, vanilla, fig
Palate: sweet, excellent mouth feel, dried fruit, peach, apricot, fig 
With Food: Fruit of the wine and dessert mingle well. Wine's sweetness/acidity melds well with the ice cream.
Veritas Petit Manseng 2013 
On the nose: tropical fruit, vanilla spice, tropical melon
Palate: coconut, pecan, exotic tropical fruit and fig. Sweet finish.
With Food: as above but with certain flavours more pronounced.
Both wines were a nice match for the dessert.
Other Wines
Veritas produces some other fine wines such as a great Sauvignon Blanc, Reserve Chardonnay, a unique blend of Viognier, Traminette, Chardonnay and Petit Manseng called "White Star", Kenmar a dessert wine which is made from Traminette (Gewurztraminer hybrid) and named after the family grandparents (Kenneth and Marjorie), Othello 75% Tannat and 25% Merlot Blend,   Claret and Vintners Reserve, both Bordeaux blends, Red Star, light blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Chambourcin, Merlot and two Traditional Method Sparklers: Mousseux made from 100% Merlot and Scintilla made from 100% Chardonnay. 
The evening was full of fun but soon it was time to depart for our lodging and off we went. Much of the gang gathered at the Manor house which is the main building at Rhodes Farm and decided to ---Oh my God! They decided to try more wine! Me----I had enough for that evening---even though none of us was inebriated since the amounts we consume at one time was minimal! I went out on the porch as it was a reasonably warm night and looked upon a massive 100 foot high Magnolia Tree growing in front of the Manor house.
"What history this tree must have witnessed!" I thought to myself. I do not know how long I stayed out on the porch, sitting on a very comfortable chair but I then got up and bid adieu to the group as I knew that tomorrow would be just as busy a day as this was.
End of Day Four