On days when the thought of alcohol makes you shudder, to the point where even using listerine or rubbing alcohol is out of the question, it is difficult to write about wine. Simply typing "chardonnay" is making my stomach curdle. Regardless, my wine mission shows no mercy and cares not for my irresponsible imbibing.
New Jersey was abandoned this weekend as I headed down to Richmond, VA for Kate's 25th birthday. It was a gorgeous drive and it was interesting how many of the NJ leaves had changed to color in comparison to how green the VA leaves still were. More on the rest of the weekend later, right now let's talk wine. Saturday afternoon five of us delta rhos took a quick venture to James River Cellars.
We headed inside and for $5 you get a tasting of all wines but cannot keep the glass. All five of us tried the wines with varying tastes; Kate toward the sweeter whites; Amber and Allie somewhere in the middle; Amanda more into reds although she is somewhat of a wine connoisseur herself.
Our pourer was named Jean, but a volunteer named Sarah also attended to us. The tasting room was packed when we got in there but all five of us got spaces at the counter within minutes.
Reserve Chardonnay - An oak chardonnay that was just okay. Amber commented it has bite; Amanda said it was a standard chardonnay. Jean explained she calls this the "winter white".
Chardonnay - As it is the "summer white" it is a stainless steel chardonnay that all agreed was better than the reserve. There is a typo on the tasting sheet saying this is from the year 2098, which of course I thought was pretty epic. It is my first taste of wine of the future!
Saude Creek - 100% apple that is well done. Most apple wines I have found are sweet and dessert; this, on the other hand, as Allie said, is tart and fruity. Kate also enjoyed the taste but mentioned she couldn't enjoy a whole glass of it.
Gewurztraminer - Jean's favorite. Very mellow with a light aroma; for this type of wine it had a bizarre flavor that was almost rosy.
Vidal Blanc - Amber, Kate, and Allie ended up splitting a bottle of this on the patio at the end. All three of them explained it was the best so far. At this point Allie noted all of the whites smell floral, and I completely agreed. Finally someone pinpointed all of the aromas I cannot define!
Chardonel - A cross between Chardonnay and Seyval grapes that is described as containing "provocative spicy banana aroma". I was excited to try this, however I did not note any banana. Kate didn't like it, Amber said the flavor wasn't as strong as the aroma, but I disagreed with both of them as I thought the flavor lingered and was very tasty.
Rad Red - Named for a friend of the winemaker who has passed on. A portion of the proceeds go to a cancer center. Amber said this tastes like a merlot and I agreed; it is smooth and would make a great table wine. Amanda said it was boring.
Cabernet Franc - Amanda and I split a bottle of this at the end, partially because it was on sale for $10. The cashier, Jennifer, walked by as this was being poured and commented she likes to put this in chili. Sidenote: I had a bowl of chili in Richmond the night before and I had forgotten that when the south says spicy, they mean spicy. So goooood. Allie noted many spices in the aroma but it was too peppery for her tastes. The smell tingled in Amber's nose. I liked it.
Merlot - Cherry tones here were notable, although this wine just didn't have much flavor. Very smooth and easy going down.
Petit Verdot - the most full-bodied red sold at the vineyard. Allie said it went down very easily for her; for me it was the opposite as this had quite a bit of kick to it.
Hanover - Amber likes this and was excited for us to taste it. Amanda and Allie agreed it was sweeter; that combined with the cherry tones made me dislike it. Amber explained it's a lighter red, which is why she enjoys it.
Chambourcin - As usual I was excited to try this but was surprised at how sweet it was. By far, this is the sweetest Chambourcin I've ever had which made me miss the dark flavors of NJ. Amanda, who doesn't usually enjoy Chambourcins, loved this. After our first sip, Jean gave us all pieces of chocolate to eat with the glass. This completely reversed the flavor and I enjoyed it after the chocolate. Amber commented that every wine tastes different on the second sip, and I agreed.
Colonial Red - A wine that you can mull and "tastes like Christmas" as Kate described it. "You can't say it tastes like Christmas," I said, "I already described another wine like that." "Cinnamon!" Kate said. "Apple cider!" I took a sip, and both of those were true. Kate stuck her nose back in the glass. "I just want to smell this all day," she said.
Montpelier Blush - Amanda noted this tastes like a White Zinfandel, which pinpoints this exactly. Kate grinned when she sipped this and explained this is what she looks for in a wine. Allie noted how light it was. This blush was dryer than a lot of blushes you find, but very light and like the whites, floral.
Divino - "Now that's sugary!" Amanda exclaimed. This is the dessert wine that I couldn't finish, Amber had to take over for me. Allie said she could never drink a glass of this but could enjoy it poured over a dessert and the rest of us agreed. The grapes for this are picked, frozen, and then pressed to make this similar to an ice wine.
With our bottles we headed out to the patio to relax and catch up. Unfortunately, the winery was preparing to host a wedding which limited what we were able to see at the vineyard. Soon we were evacuated from the patio and abolished to picnic tables near a sign that read:
We laughed it off and relaxed at the nearby picnic tables.
Amber and Kate are the ultimate cat ladies as this fine fellow waltzed right up to them. And as it was black, it was very fitting for our Halloween themed party that was to take place that evening.
Visiting James River was enhanced simply by the fantastic company I was with. Tasting with any friends is always a treat. This is my fourth Virginian winery this year and I do still love the grapes that are there. The western part of the state is littered with vineyards that someday I'd just like to drive down and hit up a whole bunch of them. Caravan, anyone? Maybe for the next passport endeavor.