Friday, May 16, 2014

Virginia Wines & Robert Wiedmaier's Food

I first met Chef Robert Wiedmaier at a the home of renown wine importer Bobby Kacher earlier this year during a tasting lunch with several French winemakers. A man in the kitchen was cooking up some risotto, slicing salmon and otherwise making the house smell amazing. I didn’t recognize him immediately, but when I realized who he was, I nerded out. I stuttered a bit before saying something dumb, like, “You’re Robert Wiedmaier? Wow, I’m a huge fan!”

Robert is a big, affable guy with a firm handshake and an all-around awesome personality. I’ve long been a fan of his restaurants, especially the mussels and beverage selections at Brasserie Beck and Mussel Bar & Grille. So I was excited when I was invited to attend a wine dinner in March at Robert’s flagship restaurant, Marcel’s in Washington, DC.

Chef Robert Wiedmaier at work on some
canapes in London. Photo credit: Marcel's. 
The dinner was designed as a dry run for a similar event Robert was conducting the next week at the U.S. Embassy in London. The seven-course meal included dishes like pan seared scallop with black fermented garlic and squid ink, roasted pigeon with potato risotto and black truffle, and plum tarragon tart with honey and cinnamon ice cream. Yeah, the food was epic.

Considering this meal was designed for Brits, Robert could’ve arranged to pair the food with white and red Burgundy, which would’ve been spectacular with the rich but delicate food. He could’ve served aged Rhone wines, or maybe some high-end California wines. But Robert chose the accompaniment of Virginia’s finest.

What better way to get consumers excited about Virginia wines than pairing them with Robert’s incredible dishes? Hat’s off, Robert! I think it’s great that he chose to promote Virginia wines and serve them alongside his food. So much of the food comes from local sources, so why not the wine?

I’m a fan of Virginia wine, and every year there is more and more of it to explore. Virginia wines have never been better, and there’s good reason to believe that the glory days are still ahead.

The wines were presented by guest sommelier Jason Tesauro, who did a great job explaining how various grape varieties fair in Virginia and the unique aspects of the state’s winegrowing regions.

Here are my notes on a delicious evening.

2008 Trump Winery Blanc de Blancs Kluge SP - Virginia, Central Region, Albemarle County
Bready on the nose with lemon peel and seashell notes. Firm acid on the palate with lemon and lime, green apple peel, creamy and mineral notes add complexity. I enjoyed this more than the bottle I had in mid-2012, as this showed a bit more complexity and nuance. (87 points)

2012 Chatham Vineyards Church Creek Steel Chardonnay Eastern Shore - Virginia, Eastern Region, Eastern Shore
I have little experience with Eastern Shore Chardonnays, but this one has a lot to like. Smells like fresh green apples, tangerine, honeysuckle, sea shells. Medium-bodied with creamy apple, honey and apricot flavors. Clean, fresh, floral, this stainless steel Chardonnay isn’t complicated but it’s very well done. (87 points)

2013 Boxwood Winery Estate Rosé - Virginia, Northern Region, Loudoun County
Light salmon colored. So perfumed on the nose, with notes of red apple, strawberry and chalk. Medium-bodied, creamy but fresh acid. Juicy red apple, strawberry, all sorts of fruit blossoms, some slight pepper, and ocean note. One of my favorite wines of the evening. (88 points)

2012 Ingleside Albariño - Virginia, Eastern Region, Northern Neck
Faulty. All sorts of dried nail polish going on. Oops. (Flawed)

2012 Linden Sauvignon Blanc Avenius - Virginia, Northern Region
Love the freshness on the nose: sea salt, grapefruit, dandelion, orange blossom. Creamy texture, acid is fresh, I get fleshy white peach and apricot fruit mixed in with notes of white pepper. I wish Linden’s Avenius Chard found a way into this tasting, because I love that wine, but this is still a solid Sauvignon Blanc. Fleshy, creamy, some nice spice but not too herbaceous. (86 points)

2012 King Family Vineyards Viognier - Virginia, Central Region, Monticello
Honey, flowers and sea shell aromas. Juicy on the palate with white peach, golden apple and floral notes. Creamy finish. Clean, fresh, tangy finish, I like this style of Viognier. (87 points)

2012 White Hall Vineyards Viognier - Virginia, Central Region, Monticello
Flowers, peaches and banana aromas. Bold on the palate with a rich texture, flavors of pineapple, lychee, banana, some peanut and floral notes. (85 points)

2012 Ankida Ridge Pinot Noir - Virginia
Light ruby color. Juicy berries on the nose, rhubarb, notes of white pepper and red licorice candy. Bright and fresh on the palate, fine tannins, juicy cherry fruit. Notes of rhubarb, pepper and earth add complexity. Not incredibly deep or profound, but a really solid and promising Virginia Pinot Noir for sure. (88 points)

2012 Veritas Vineyard Cabernet Franc - Virginia, Central Region, Monticello
Smells like sweet berry compote, cedar, mulling spices and a soy note. Fresh and juicy on the palate with sweet strawberries and cherry fruit. Very mild tannins and brisk acid, a bit lacking in depth but some nice pepper notes on the finish. (85 points)

2010 Breaux Vineyards Nebbiolo Barrel Select - Virginia, Northern Region, Loudoun County
Spicy nose with dark berries and a bit of alcohol. I get a lot of red fruit, even some red apple peel and white cherries. The wine is very big (16% alcohol) with medium tannins and acid. Some nice spice and tobacco undertones. I’ve liked some Virginia Nebbiolo, and this is good, but it’s not what I was expecting. (85 points)

2010 Williamsburg Winery Adagio - Virginia
Smells like a campfire, with notes of sweet blackberry jam. Rich on the palate with fine tannins and a silky mouthfeel. Sweet plums, mocha, smoke and spices. A full and jammy style but it’s so well made. Big-time deliciousness factor. 42% Cabernet Franc, 30% Merlot, 28% Petit Verdot, aged 14 months in French, Hungarian and American oak, about 40% new. (88 points)

2010 Boxwood Winery Boxwood - Virginia, Northern Region, Loudoun County
Juicy red and black fruit on the nose, some mocha as well. Fresh and silky on the palate with great balance. Love the jubilant red and black fruit, and the notes of mocha, cedar soil and earth give it lots of complexity. Very tasty stuff, showing complexity and elegance. Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Verdot. My wine of the night. (89+ points)

2010 Barboursville Vineyards Octagon - Virginia, Central Region, Monticello
The black cherry aromas are laced with olive, smoke, earth and charcoal. Fine tannins and fresh acid on the palate, the fruit is ripe and opulent but not overdone. Black cherries and mixed berries, roses, smoke, cedar, also some black olive and dried floral notes. Long, silky, complex, another great Octagon from Barboursville. Merlot, Cab Franc, Cabernet and Petite Verdot. (89 points)

2008 Barboursville Vineyards Malvaxia Passito - Virginia
Honey and almond past on the nose. Very honeyed on the palate, with apricot jam and almond paste. I like the acid here, keeps it from being cloying. (85 points)

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