Ask Chuck

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.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

November 8, Day Seven: Richmond, Colonial Williamsburg, Williamsburg Winery, Dinner With Patrick Duffeler, AM Departure.

Omni Morning In Richmond Virginia
A wonderful and exciting night turned into a marvelous sleep and superb wake up at the Omni Hotel in Richmond. The hotel was full of  "Grande Scale" full of interesting shopping and event diversions which were hard to pass up as I made my way to the dining area to have a buffet breakfast.
I was impressed with the waiting staff whose courteousness was appreciated. At the buffet, I entered into a conversation with a lovely and gregarious server who announced  that she was still going to college and her goal was to be a journalist. The discussion lasted only a matter of minutes but her passion seemed inspiring and I told her so.
The rest of the group slowly showed up and before we knew it, check out time as upon us. This went quite smoothly as all did during the trip and soon we were all off on a small tour of the city.The tour was not an extensive one but we did go by the Museum of the Confederacy and stopped to go up the many steps of the gorgeous State Capitol building. Then it suddenly dawned on us that one of our tribe was missing! Angela was not with us!
Backtracking we made it back to the hotel to find a good humoured Angela waiting for us. How could this happen on such a beautiful day we all asked ourselves.
Soon we were all bound for Williamsburg.
As the bus pushed on ahead to Williamsburg I couldn't get over the sheer beauty that was Virginia. Compound that with the enormous history, culture, cuisine and of course people then you had a heaven on earth. I made up my mind that I must come back and film at some point.
I also figured on how lucky I was to have such great travel mates and to have traveled so far and wide. My friends now included a wide group such as Stelios from Cyprus plus all those I came in contact with there, a wide variety of new acquaintances in Italy and of course now, the group from the Circle of Wine Writers and the wonderful people we met along our way. Then of course was Devan our driver who provided comfort, intellectual discussion and comical relief along the way.
My thoughts finished as the bus approached our destination: Colonial Williamsburg!
Colonial Williamsburg
Colonial Williamsburg is like no other historical exhibit that I ever attended. It is a fully functioning community that is in its own space time continuum. It is a living document that preserves the work and ideals of such patriots as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Peyton Randolph and George Thompson to name a few.
The restoration and eventual preservation was the brainchild of a Reverend Dr. Goodwin in 1926 who, with the backing of J.D. Rockefeller. Initially a modest start, the restoration mushroomed to include about 85 percent of the original area with preservation of over 80 original buildings and the creation of public facilities.
The period setting is the 18th Century when Williamsburg was the capital of Virginia and a political, educational and cultural centre of the colonies (the capital was later moved to Richmond).
When I walked past the gates of Colonial Williamsburg, I sensed as if I was walking through a time capsule entrance. The 21st Century was left far behind and the 18th Century appeared. I could actually imagine hearing the tune of the old "Twilight Zone" series playing in my mind.
I looked back and saw modern vehicles parked on modern streets with all the modernity one was used to. Ahead was horses pulling red, green and orange wagons. Women in long gown like dresses and men wearing period clothing with some sporting a musket on their shoulders.
The signs pointed to the Black Smith Shop, Weaver, Dress Maker as well as the Court House which still held mock trials and the Capitol Building with its magnificent clock tower. The  mile long Duke of Gloucester Street featured many of the old restored houses and exhibits.
In addition to the buildings and periodic clothing was the verbal exhibits where political parlay and ideas were discussed and argued much like that of the eighteenth century. I felt the frustration of a wife who had not heard from her husband and feared him dead and the anger of a very heated street debate between two opposing political views. One was indeed became part of the exhibit.
This community (and it was a community) had all the vitality, movement, drama and excitement  of days so long gone but yet so present. I loved it.
Soon we were off to The Williamsburg Winery and Wedmore Place!   
Williamsburg Winery History    
The Williamsburg Winery location is steeped in a history that goes back to the 17th Century and a 300 acre farm known as the Wessex Hundred. This was a delegation of parcels of land that could support one hundred families. Each farmer was obligated by a law known as the Twelfth Act of 1619 whereby he would plant at least ten grape vines for the purpose of making wine on his property.
The area is known for it famous historical names such as the famous (or maybe infamous) Jean Lafayette as well as the final battle of the American Revolution known as "Yorktown"!
The winery proper was initiated in 1983 when Patrick and Peggy Duffeler purchased the land. They released their first wine in 1988. Since them they have continued to expand planting new vines and  developing  new wines.
Williamsburg Winery
5800 Wessex Hundred 
Williamsburg, VA 757.229.0999 
The Williamsburg Winery consists of a number of attrations. Of course there is the winery proper and those magnificent vineyards. Also located on the property is Wedmore Place, an experpience that combines lavishly luxurious lodgings with the very best in dining.
Located at Wedmore Place is  the Cafe Provencal, a marvelous dining spot with the spotlight on elegant and inspired French Cuisine and  the Gabriel Archer Tavern which describes itself as "farm to fork dining experience that is both delicious and nourishing.
I can certainly attest to the fine dining qualities of both and the expertise of Chef Ika Saken who cooked a marvelous meal for the Circle of Wine Writers.
Patrick Duffeler Jr., tall, athletic and charming was the perfect host as we tasted the perfect entrees with their matching wine.
Viognier 2013
Nose: Subtle oak, citrus, apple, peach, pineapple
Palate: pebble, apple, citrus, nut, pleasant tropical medley finish
Act 12 of 1619 Chardonnay
Nose: vanilla oak, butter.cream, citrus, melon, delicious apple
Palate: tropical fruit, nuts, some herbal, vanilla, vanilla/oak/nut finish
Vidal Blanc 2013
Nose: peach, apple, banana, citrus, mandarin, apricot
Palate: citrus/lemon, herbal, nuts, nice finish with lightness and pleasant acidity.
Petit Verdot 2012
Nose: Pleasant mushroom/barn, earth, toast bumble berry mixture, vanilla
Palate: Well integrated and balanced, nice body. oak, ripe plum, fig, honey spice with mixed fruit and nice mocha finish.
Govenor's White 2013  (Vidal Blanc, Traminette, Petit Manseng, Viognier)
Nose: floral, citrus, Nectarine
Palate: mid-sweet, tropical fruit, pleasant fruit finish
Trianon 2012 (Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot)
Nose: Dark fruit, berry mix, smoke and spice
Palate: Medium to full body, elegant with berry fruit and vanilla. Nice long finish.
Gabriel Archer Reserve 2012 (Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec)
Nose; mushroom, earth, smoke, cherry, raspberry and currant flavours
Palate: Medium to full in body, nice integrity and balance, oak and coffee/chocolate, long finish
Adiago 2012    (Petit Verdot/Malbec 50%)
Nose: earth, mushroom, leather, dry leaves, red fruit/berries, vanilla     
Palate: full body, caramel, toffee, chocolate, vanilla spice, round tannins, lengthy finish.
 After the tasting, the wine writers were treated to a dinner that can only be described as amazingly decadent but so very great! Here is the menu! 
Wine Writers 
Saturday, November 8, 2014 
F I R S T C O U R S E 
Seared Chesapeake Bay Scallops, 
Passion Fruit Vinaigrette, 
Topped with Shaved Coconut 
2013 Wessex Hundred Viognier 
S E C O N D C O U R S E 
Oysters Au Gratin 
Chardonnay and Shallot Creme Sauce 
2011 Acte XII Chardonnay 
T H I R D C O U R S E 
Duet of Pheasant  
Pan-seared Pheasant Breast and Stewed Thigh of Pheasant, 
With Porcini and Black Truffle Sauce,  
Sweet Potato and Spinach 
2012 Trianon 
F O U R T H C O U R S E 
Braised Lamb Shoulder Tagine, 
Manchego Polenta  
2010 Adagio 
D E S S E R T 
Trio of Confections 
Miniature Chocolate Lava Cake, 
Blancmange with Basil Infusion, 
Red Fruit Salad in Tarragon-Anise Syrup 2012 Late Harvest Vidal Blanc
What does one do after such a fine display of hosting and totally amazing food? Well, after the luscious dinner and wine tasting we basically elected to visit our rooms at Wedmore Place. Luxury plus is the name here with rooms fully equipped with wood burning fireplaces and so very comfortable beds. It was November however and the pool was out of the question.
Some of us decided to meet for a quick night cap and discussion and lovely Angela bought me a brandy. What an absolutely lovely person she was.
Night came quick and knowing that tomorrow was to be a very busy day, we all decided to check out beds early.
November 9th Day 8 and Departure From Virginia      
The old saying "All good things must come to an end!" certainly applied to our final trip from Williamsburg to Washington where we stopped briefly to have one more lunch together then go our separate ways after being dropped off at the Dulles Airport.
Thank You Members of the CWW and Virginia Wine 
Rebecca Murphy was heading my way so she so wonderfully led me through a series of short cuts at the airport which saved me much time and anguish since as we all know that I dislike airports. She was and always will be so lovely inside and out!  
Devan, our driver, did an amazing job at keeping us organized and on the go. His sense of humour and good will certainly made the trip more enjoyable.
Vivienne Franks and  Lindsay Oram were delightful companions on this tour and their knowledge was so enviable. Angela Reddin--who was my first contact with the CWW proved to be as gracious a person as I had perceived. Her elegance and grace as well as intelligent humour---not to mention her wine knowledge made my trip so much fun. 
Then there was Tanya Mann, my Russian friend from the UK whose passion for wine was so overwhelming and whose personality so infectious. Tanya had a directness and sincerity that was so refreshing plus she was also much fun!
Mick Rock and Steven Morris thought me so very much about photography but their talent shines in every picture that they produce. They were so amazing and I so envious since I will never come to understand let alone take the pictures that they produce.
Lisa Shara Hall's knowledge and direction was so much appreciated. This wonderful lady will always be in my memory.
Of course who would forget my pal and new friend Mr. Richard Leahy who inspired me with his book "Beyond Jefferson's Vines" and his guidance. Finally there were our hosts: Amy, Christi and Susan who made this trip what it was---a success.
Thank you all for widening my scope and presenting me with new faith in wine and new visions in wine country. This proves to me again that: Wine is History! Wine is Geography! Wine is Science! Wine is Culture! Most of all----Wine is People!
End of Virginia Tour