It was my birthday weekend (woohoo!) and I made a plan to visit two new-to-me wineries this weekend out past Warrenton, VA. Wine friend 1 had a family emergency and could not go, wine friend 2 very busy with work, and husband (and I) didn’t sleep much last night due to a very sick dog. 😦
So I grabbed dad and off we went, with a very early stop at Narmada. We got there at 11:20, and there was a small group already at the tasting bar.
The Narmada website describes the winery and winemaker/owners’ story, and it’s a good one. They wanted to bring a taste of India to the (far out) VA exurbs. It’s gorgeous inside though, inviting and pleasant. Big windows overlook massive acreage of vines.
Amy, the tasting room manager, described the three tasting flights. We went with flight 2, subtitled “Fruity, Fresh, Fun.” Amy was nice enough to sub out the Chardonel (not a grape I like at all) for the Viognier from another flight – and that was a good call as it was a great crisp example of Viognier – that nice apple/pear citrus flavor to it with lots of acidity. I thoroughly enjoyed the Viognier, and would have loved a whole bottle. Dad thought that Chardonel was ok. (No offense Amy, I think you said you love that grape! It’s just sweeter than I like).
We were treated to a taste of “MOM” (the winery is named after the owner/winemaker’s mother) – this is a Chardonel/Vidal Blanc blend. This had the nice crispness that I like from Vidal blanc, without being overly sweet – these two fit together nicely in this wine. Dad considered buying a bottle, and I’ll grab one for him next time I’m there.
We moved to their rose, Gulabi. I cannot remember the grapes they pulled it from (new vocabulary word – Saignee method – when you pull the juice off the skins quickly so it doesn’t take on the richness of the color and you ferment it separately from the richer juice that absorbs tannins, etc from the skins), but it had a strawberry, that really morphed to cranberry taste at the end. It was acidic and nice, and would be good on a hot summer day. Their notes suggest a tuna steak with a balsamic reduction, which I would see as a perfect match for this rose.
On to the reds! The first red on our flight “Reflection,” was chambourcin. I’ve found that chambourcin can get very sweet if not done properly and taste very sweetly fruity rather than putting the dark fruit notes in front without the sugary taste. Not so with this one. The tasting notes mention black cherry and plum which I got, but also I noticed a nice smokiness on the finish. This was a very drinkable chambourcin that I bet will be great all winter.
Second red, Cab Franc. This was a smoky, peppery dark example of the “big grape” of Virginia (I’d still agree with some that petit verdot will become the big VA grape, but for now, Cab Franc claims the title). Dark fruit in it, with no sweetness and none of the harshness that cab franc sometimes has, especially when its young. The tasting notes mention a finish of Vanilla, which dad and I both picked up on, but the whole glass was very pleasant.
Final red, Melange. This “mix” was basically the meritage blend (apparently you have to pay some folks if you want to use the “Meritage” label, which seems quite silly). It’s cab sauv heavy, and you can taste the cab sauv clearly in it. It’s got the dark fruit flavors in the beginning but it’s not a heavy blend so it’s very pleasant and drinkable and probably accommodates most tastes. This is the red wine to serve when you have a mix of guests at a party – it will appeal to folks who don’t know much beyond grocery store wine as well as those who may know more about it.
Amy is going to win my “Tasting Bar Employee of the Month” award, because I asked if we could taste the malbec, and she agreed to pour us a little bit. It’s a 2011 malbec and it has wonderful deep rich dark fruit flavors – I’d say currant, blackberry, and then as the tasting notes said, leather. This was really incredible stuff, some strong malbec. She noted that the winery has had a hard time with growing the grape due to some very hard freezes in the winter, but they’re continuing to try it. I definitely enjoyed this, and dad and I settled in for a nice glass of it at a table.
The malbec paired gorgeously with food, including the winery’s vegetable samosas and their cheese plate.
It made for a great hour sitting there (the tasting room had a small steady flow in the lunchtime range) enjoying our food and sipping the malbec. The site is simply gorgeous with a deck overlooking the vines. The tasting room has wine-related items and winery logo items for sale. The staff are tremendous, with Amy very willing to engage in conversation about the wine and seeming genuinely interested in our thoughts on it, and the gentleman who brought our food was prompt and helpful. Amy managed the flow at the tasting bar well, moving between tasting groups as the flow picked up.
I almost joined the wine club, and probably will when I go back (sorry husband, I’ll quit one soon when I finish the year commitment, I promise!) – it’s a great value with free tasting for four, and purchase of three bottles quarterly (and if you respond promptly you can trade bottles you’re less interested in for preferred ones). The wine is priced very reasonably for the quality – ranging in the high 20s per bottle. Club members get 20% off bottles, and at 6 bottles you get 10%, 12 you get 15% as a non-club member.
I grabbed a malbec to bring home, and we will be sampling malbecs at the beach this coming weekend, so expect lots of feedback as we taste all this wine I’ve been buying!