Sunday, April 24, 2011

Wintergreen Winery

My friend Ellie was on Spring Break and planned a day of wine tasting in Nelson County, VA.  We went to three vineyards, which I’ll be blogging about throughout the week. 
 The first vineyard on the trip was Wintergreen Winery, a charming vineyard tucked away at the foot of Wintergreen Resort.  They have picnic tables, a cozy stream, and a great deal of scenery.  Wintergreen Vineyard encourages you to feel at home on the grounds, offering cheese plates and picnic baskets to enjoy with a bottle or glass of wine.  Marian, who did the tasting for us, was sociable and very knowledgeable about all the wines.  Her welcoming personality coupled with the homey appearance of the tasting room has a feel of going to visit friends. 
 Wintergreen’s tasting is free and we sampled eight wines.  The offered some older vintages because they are currently in the middle of a bottling period and some of the noteworthy wines are being replenished.  Of the eight wines, there were 2 whites (Black Rock Chardonnay ’09 and Viognier ’08), 4 reds (Cab Franc ’08, Cab Franc ’04, Merlot ’04, and a Three Ridges Red), and 2 fruit wines (Mill Hill Apple and Mill Hill Raspberry). 
Of the whites, the four of us in the car picked the Chardonnay as the favorite.    The tasting sheet mentions that the wine has notes of pear and apple with a little citrus.  I definitely got the tartness of the apples and the citrus gave the chardonnay a lot of brightness. 
Of the reds, my car chose the Three Ridge Red.  This wine has just recently been bottled and was chewy, bold, and with plum notes.  It was great to sip but would also be fantastic with a juicy steak.  The other car of our friends chose the Merlot as their favorite.  This was also a solid wine that had a nose that starts off sweet and then finishes smoky.  The palette of the wine mirrors that dynamic because it starts cherry and finishes smoky.
The fruit wines were also noteworthy.  Between the seven of us, we were fairly divided on which of the fruit wines we preferred.  Some liked the raspberry.  Wintergreen gives you some chocolate morsels to eat with the tasting and that influences the flavor, reminding me of eating a piece of raspberry-chocolate candy.  Without the chocolate, it was a little too sweet with not enough tartness.   I preferred the apple wine which was tart and sweet and really rang of apples.  After tasting it, I tried to talk Ellie, who is a wiz with an ice cream machine, into experimenting with an apple wine ice cream.  She liked the idea and thought about adding caramel.  I was in full support.
 Wintergreen Winery was a great start to the wine trip.  They have quite a range of tasting options so there is a wine for everyone.  The wines also are unique; the ’08 Cab Franc had lavender notes, which I’ve never experienced in a red.  The beauty of the setting and the welcoming feel of the staff and the tasting room go a long way to making you feel just as excited about the wine as they are.

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