Yesterday Wine Friend 1 and I went to Slater Run, and tried to hit Three Fox, but wound up facing Crooked Run running over their entrance and their closure due to flooding. 😦 We turned around and drove back along beautiful Route 50 through Upperville and Middleburg towards Aldie, where we stopped in at 50 West, in order to check off another new to us winery to taste and review.
They do have a gorgeous site with excellent views on the patio, and it’s clearly set up as a place to stay and enjoy with friends. There are a lot of snacks to order to enjoy with your wine, and a large area to spread out, with kids welcome, and dogs welcomed outside.
It’s also set back nicely from the highway, with two buildings – one a general tasting room (that was PACKED on Saturday) and one for club members.
You get a choice of either tasting the full menu, or purchasing a three glass flight – this is an interesting option that I’ve not seen – Hillsborough offered flights, but not the choice. The tasting menu looked like this:
So we started off with the 17 Chardonnay – with some time in neutral French oak. The taste definitely had oak and apple to it. I felt like this was a chardonnay that probably had mass appeal, but wasn’t quite as crisp and clean as I tend to like it. It was soft and pleasant, and a good example of Virginia Chardonnay.
Next up – the 17 Sauvignon Blanc. I was so excited because I really do see Virginia Sauvignon Blanc as having real possibility to excel. I’m wondering how hard it is to grow here, because it does not seem to be widely produced? This was a nice example – crisp and clean, very acidic. It would have been a bottle outside on the patio if it were not 34 degrees and windy. Definitely a nice summer wine. This was actually my favorite of the tasting menu for this stop.
Up next, the 2017 Vidal Blanc. The menu above mentions banana, and I caught a faint hint of that flavor, although wine friend 1 did not. This was crisp, and a good example of this grape. This is another one that I’m wondering why I don’t see more of in Virginia – Winery at La Grange used to produce an excellent example (before it was sold), but I don’t see as much now.
Shift to their 2017 Rose of Sangiovese. I didn’t know you could grow Sangiovese well in Virginia. This was a nice rose, made they way I like it (pull the juice off the skins quickly rather than mix a red and a white). I didn’t get the strawberry flavor as much, and it was a pleasant rose. Wine friend 1 chose a glass of this while we froze on the patio (smirk). It was drier, so if you want a sweet and fruity rose this isn’t it – it still had some of that acidity typical of a rose though.
The 2017 Ashby Gap – while the menu indicated the 15, they had run out. I guess they didn’t make a 16. While the 15 was 60/50 Chambourcin / Cab Franc, the 17 was roughly 85/15 the taster told us. The chambourcin flavor really came through on this – the smoky sweetness that I always get from this grape, mixed with some of the standard cab franc pepper – but you didn’t get much (cause there wasn’t much in there).
Last on the menu was the Aldie Heights Cuvee. This was a Bordeaux style blend, and it was definitely full-bodied. I enjoyed this enough to go ahead with a glass for the patio (brrrrr). It wasn’t as rich and strong as I usually get from these grapes – especially with so much tannat and petit verdot – but it had some good depth and the general dark fruit characteristics I like from those grapes.
We sampled the mulled wine – which was purchased temperanillo (they don’t grow this one, but all the other grapes are from their five sites). They were actually selling the mulling spices so you could make your own mulled wine too. It was nice, and something you can do a small taste of, but I would never be able to drink a lot of it – the spices were pleasant but got old quickly. The temperanillo mixed in nicely though, and I wondered whose it was.
I took a look at the full purchase list and noticed a 2017 Albarino on it. Wine friend 1 and I are giddy about albarino. I asked if there was any chance of tasting it, and the taster was able to locate an open bottle and pour us a taste. It was fantastic, and in my mind, their best offering. Unfortunately, it was only available by the bottle and we could not simply enjoy a glass.
Interestingly, 50 West is also part of the Sunset Hills Vineyards family, and when I was googling to find their website, one reviewer listed 50W as a satellite tasting room for Sunset Hills. While you can get to 50W from the Sunset Hills site, Sunset Hills offers a totally different set of wines – so I’m guessing same ownership and probably sharing grapes and maybe even some advisors or winemakers, but taking different paths.
I’m curious about their events though – I would see this as a fun spot to be for live music, and they do a lot of good philanthropy (listed on their site). With a group, this is a good spot to sit outside on GOOD WEATHER DAYS (looking at you, Wine Friend 1) and enjoy good wine and good times. This menu wasn’t a good match for my taste across the board, but I can see why it’s popular and was crowded.
Have you been? What did you think?